KABUL: Taliban militants in Afghanistan halted their Eid cease-fire on Sunday, dashing hopes of a revival of peace talks. “Our cease-fire ends at the end of today,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Arab News.
The resumption of violence is a rejection of peace overtures by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who on Sunday extended the government cease-fire by 10 days.
The government-appointed High Peace Council (HPC) said it had been in direct contact with Taliban leaders since the truce began. There was no excuse to continue the fighting, it said.
President Ghani’s willingness to discuss the future of US-led troops in Afghanistan “implies that no hindrance remains for peace,” said Akram Khpelwak, head of the HPC secretariat. There is a consensus among the public, the government and the Taliban to end the war, he said.
However, there was criticism of the cease-fire, during which the Taliban freely entered Afghan cities, including Kabul. Ghani had committed “a grave mistake” by allowing Taliban fighters into government-controlled areas, said Amarullah Saleh, former head of the National Directorate of Security. “We don’t have mechanisms in place to mitigate a breach of the cease-fire by the Taliban.”
A Western diplomat said Ghani’s decision was “a bold move” but questioned what happens if the Taliban did not reciprocate. “The consequences could be disastrous,” he said.