In a landmark development, the Afghan government on Thursday announced a unilateral cease-fire with the Taliban from the 27th of Ramadan (June 12) until the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr, the Muslim holy festival due next week.
In a televised announcement, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) would only stop offensive maneuvers against armed Taliban and would continue to target Daesh and other foreign-backed terrorist organizations and their affiliates.
Ghani noted the cease-fire was an opportunity for Taliban militants to realize that their violent campaign was not winning them hearts and minds but was further alienating the Afghan people from their cause.
“We also welcome the unprecedented fatwa [religious decree] that only the state can declare jihad thereby rendering violent campaign by any group anything but a holy war,” Ghani said referring to the ruling issued by a group of over 3,000 Afghan religious scholars against terrorism.
On Monday, the unprecedented gathering of Afghan scholars had issued a religious decree denouncing the attacks in the country.
“Suicide attacks, explosions killing people, causing division, insurgency, different types of corruption, robbery, kidnapping and any type of violence are counted as big sins in Islam and are against the order of the Almighty Allah,” the decree said.
The scholars also renewed their call for the Taliban to shun violence and join the Afghan peace process.
Up to 14 people were killed in a suicide attack close to the gathering as the scholars were leaving for home.
The Taliban had issued a clarification denying any involvement in this attack. However, in the past, the militants have dubbed such pro-government religious scholars as “puppets”.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, many provincial heads of the pro-government National Council of Ulama (religious scholars or clergymen) and other pro-government religious figures have been assassinated in Afghanistan
The Taliban are yet to respond to this cease-fire announcement.
© Copyright Andolu Ajansi