Afghanistan: Ghani orders resumption of anti-Taliban operations

President Ashraf Ghani’s 18-day ceasefire with the Taliban ends with a call on the group to agree to full peace talks.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul
In a news conference in Kabul, Ghani said the ceasefire helped in breaking the deadlock towards talks [Reuters]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a formal end to his government’s ceasefire with the Taliban and ordered security forces to resume operations against the group. 

In a press conference on Saturday in Kabul, Ghani repeated an appeal to the Taliban to join a peace process after declaring an end to the 18-day government ceasefire. 

“No one has the right to monopolise the peace process,” Ghani said at the press conference. “It is now the Taliban’s decision, whether they want to keep killing or join the peace process.”

In an unexpected move on June 5, Ghani announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban, coinciding with the end of Ramadan.

On June 9, the Taliban announced that their fighters would stop attacking Afghan security forces for the first three days of Eid.

The overlapping ceasefire saw unarmed Taliban fighters on the streets of Kabul with civilians greeting each other and taking pictures and videos together.

Ghani said the truce proved to be “98 percent successful” and that the majority of the Taliban fighters and civilians wanted peace.

“[It is the] Taliban’s turn to give a positive response,” he said. “I am ready to extend the ceasefire anytime when the Taliban are ready.”

A group of Afghan peace activists walked from the southern province of Helmand to Kabul this month with pleas to all sides to end the conflict, but the Taliban rejected talks and continued fierce fighting in parts of Afghanistan.

The Taliban are fighting to expel foreign forces from Afghanistan and to impose strict Islamic law in the country, which they had done before their removal by US-led forces in 2001.

“No one is speaking about the withdrawal of foreign forces. Their objective is that we lay down our weapons and accept the regime imposed by the invaders,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement sent on Monday.

On Saturday, the Taliban said they had attacked Dasht-e-Qala, a district in the northern province of Takhar, killing several hundred police officers and taking over government buildings.

Taliban fighters killed 30 security forces in an ambush on two checkpoints in the western province of Badghis on Wednesday, according to Abdul Aziz Bek, head of the Badghis provincial council.

“Large numbers of Taliban came from several directions,” Bek said. “After hours of heavy fighting, 30 Afghan security forces were killed and the Taliban captured the base.”

A suicide bomber targeted a police checkpoint in the eastern district of Kunar on Monday evening, killing at least eight people.

Source: Al Jazeera