The Taliban have announced a three-day ceasefire starting Thursday for Eid festival. And the government of President Ashraf Ghani is expected to reciprocate, like in the previous year. So the violence-hit Afghan citizens are likely to pass the three days of Eid in relative peace. While the days before the ceasefire announcement witnessed a spike in violence — also including multiple blasts outside a girls school in Kabul in what has turned out to be the worst terror attack in Afghanistan in a year — the time after the ceasefire is unlikely to allow any further calm, given the uncertain political future of the country in the wake of the US troops withdrawal.
The Saturday’s school blasts, meanwhile, rocked the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood which is home to the Hazara ethnic community who adheres to the minority Shia faith of Islam. The Hazaras have been a regular target of militants. Besides the nearly 70 dead in the three blasts near Sayed Al-Shuhada school, more than 160 people were also wounded. Most of those killed and wounded were female students, confirms the Interior Ministry. The school blasts were followed, a day later, by a bomb blast that hit a bus in the southern Zabul province, killing at least 11 people. Both the terror attacks have been blamed by the Afghan government on the Taliban even though Deash too has been involved in similar attacks in the past. The Taliban, on their part, have denied a hand in the attacks on civilians.
With the US troop pullout continuing and only four months away from completion, the surge in violence is pretty visible, further dimming the prospects of a dialogue leading to an agreement on a post-withdrawal political settlement between the main stakeholders — the Taliban and the Ghani administration. So while the September 11 withdrawal would bring the longest US war of history to an end, it is unlikely to result in peace in the war-torn Afghanistan. Time for all Afghan stakeholders to act in the interest of the poor Afghan civilians who have been longing for peace virtually since time immemorial.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2021.