President Ghani urged Taliban to declare ceasefire

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KABUL: In a message on the eve of Ramazan, President Ghani urged the Taliban to declare ceasefire and stop what he called “killing Afghans.” The Afghan Taliban on Thursday dismissed as “illogical” a latest ceasefire call by President Ashraf Ghani during the holy month of Ramazan.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen rejected the offer and accused the government of creating hurdles for the peace process.

“Demanding a ceasefire while putting lives of thousands of prisoners at risk due to coronavirus, failing at full implementation of the agreement & creating hurdles for the peace process is illogical,” Shaheen tweeted hours after Ghani issued an appeal for ceasefire.

“By signing an agreement with the US, the Islamic Emirate accepted a comprehensive mechanism that has been endorsed by UNSC & the international community which if implemented, can lead to a ceasefire & peace,” the Taliban spokesman said.

Taliban increased attacks on the Afghan security forces in recent days, killing dozens of soldiers and members of a pro-government militia. The US and other countries are urging the Taliban to reduce violence as spike in attacks could have negative impact on the Taliban-US agreement.

Taliban resumed attacks on the Afghan forces after President Ghani refused to release 5000 Taliban prisoners that also delayed intra-Afghan dialogue.

Taliban also accused the US of violating agreement signed in February to end the 19 years in Afghanistan. The US army had denied the Taliban charges.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and top American commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller net the Taliban political negotiators in Qatar this month to review implementation of the agreement.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Daily Times last week that there is a stalemate in the US and the Taliban agreement, as the Afghan government has refused to release prisoners of the Taliban.

He said the Taliban and the US have established a “communication channel” to monitor the implementation of the agreement and to share if there is any violation.

“The purpose of the channel was mentioned in the agreement,” he said.

He says when the Taliban issued a statement about the US violation of the agreement, General Miller went to Qatar for a face to face meeting with the Taliban representatives to address to the Taliban concerns at the violation of the agreement by the US.

Taliban insist the US carried out strikes on the Taliban bases in their controlled areas where there was no fighting even.

Shaheen said a 7-member Taliban delegation held talks with the US military officials headed by General Miller.

Sources say the US military leaders called for reduction in violence but the Taliban side demanded release of their 5000 prisoners who were supposed to be freed by March 10 under the Taliban-US agreement but the Afghan government refused to release them unconditionally.

Shaheen said Taliban are ready to start intra-Afghan dialogue when prisoners are released so the Taliban also sign a separate agreement with the Kabul administration.

He said Taliban have made it clear to the US they will not hold intra-Afghan dialogue until prisoners are freed in accordance with the Feb. 29 agreement.

“Reduction in violence and a general ceasefire will be discussed in the intra Afghan dialogue,” he said.

Shaheen said Taliban told the US that Afghan forces tried to pass through the Taliban controlled areas but their fighters foiled their attempt as no ceasefire is announced so far.

“These are provocative acts on part of the Afghan forces and that is why Taliban did not give passage to the Afghan forces.”

He said Taliban shared details of the US violations to General Miller, adding Taliban will stop Afghan forces if they enter the Taliban controlled areas.

He said Taliban also raised objections at the Afghan government repeated statements that release of the prisoners is on the bases of presidential decree as the release was mentioned in the agreement.

Days after General Miller’s meeting with the Taliban officials, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad also held talks with the Taliban representatives to exchange views on implementation of the agreement.

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