Kabul: In line with the announcement of a ceasefire by the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani instructed government forces to observe the ceasefire on Eid days and not to hesitate to defend the people if the Taliban violates it.
Ghani stressed that the government is aware of the Taliban’s announcement of a three-day ceasefire on Eid al-Fitr, but emphasizes that a real and lasting ceasefire is the need of the hour.
The President said that resorting to violence, killing of civilians, destroying infrastructure and public places not only on Eid days, but on any other day is not legal and now that the international forces are leaving Afghanistan the Taliban have no “religious reason” to continue their “war”.
Meanwhile, with the US and NATO troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, military officials familiar with the developments state that the US would “prefer” to redeploy troops and equipment coming out of Afghanistan into Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, two of the three former Soviet republics bordering the war-torn country to its north, the Wall Street Journal reported.
However, the sources added that Russia’s military presence in the region and China’s growing influence “complicate plans” for any US deployments in Central Asia.
Tajikistan is a full-fledged member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization alliance, and Uzbekistan, which suspended its membership in the alliance in 2012, still continues to maintain strong economic and security ties with Moscow, including observer status in the Eurasian Economic Union, and membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
US special representative for Afghanistan Zalamay Khalilzad visited both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan over the past week, and is said to have discussed the need to prevent violence from getting out of hand in Afghanistan before America and its allies complete their withdrawal.
European Union foreign ministers on Monday too discussed ways to maintain support for Afghanistan’s government after the attack on a girls’ school. They are reluctant to be perceived as abandoning the country especially when there is rising violence.
Just hours after the Taliban announced a ceasefire for Eid, a bus in southern Zabul province struck a roadside mine on Monday, killing 11 people.
“After the terrible attacks of recent days, it is all the more important for the EU to make very clear that Afghanistan and the Afghan government can continue to count on Europe’s support,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels.
“We will continue to make available sufficient funding for civilian reconstruction, and we will do everything we can so that the ongoing peace negotiations reach a conclusion,” Maas said.
Peace talks however remain suspended for the time being