Afghan Taliban reject Ghani’s ceasefire call

By: News Desk      Published: 12:07 PM, 24 Apr, 2020
Afghan Taliban reject Ghani’s ceasefire call

Rejecting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s call for ceasefire during the holy month of Ramazan, the Taliban said the agreement with the United States outlined an internationally endorsed “comprehensive framework” on how to promote Afghan peace.  

Suhail Shaheen, the Afghan Taliban spokesman, in a tweet said, “If it is implemented [fully], it will take us to a lasting cease-fire and peace.”

"In a time that the lives of thousands of [Taliban] prisoners are being put into danger due to the coronavirus and hurdles are created in the way of the [Afghan] peace process and complete implementation of the agreement, despite that, asking for ceasefire is not rational and convincing,” Shaheen said.

The announcement came as Ghani on Thursday appealed to the Taliban for a ceasefire, citing the special conditions of the countrywide spread of the coronavirus amid escalating violence in many parts of the country.

In a message, Ghani had urged the Taliban to stop “killing Afghans” and said the government will continue helping vulnerable families during the coronavirus crisis in the country.

See Also: Afghan president, wife negative for virus after palace outbreak

The agreement for a phased withdrawal of US and coalition troops from Afghanistan calls for the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners from Afghan jails in exchange for 1,000 government security forces.

However, the Afghan government has agreed to the release of 1,500 prisoners but through a conditioned and gradual process.

According to National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, five out of 15 prisoners specifically requested by the Taliban were involved in major attacks in Kabul, including the German embassy bombing that left dozens of civilians dead.

The US-Taliban deal, endorsed by the UN Security Council, required the prisoner swap to be concluded by March 10, when Taliban and Afghan teams were supposed to open direct peace talks to negotiate a sustainable cease-fire and power-sharing arrangement. 

The Afghan government, which was not part of the accord, began a phased release of prisoners earlier this month and so far has freed fewer than 500 Taliban inmates.  

In return, the Taliban have set free 60 prisoners, although Afghan officials insist the released men are mostly civilians.