KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban until June 20, coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting season, but he excluded all other militant groups, as the Islamic State.
The decision was made after a meeting of Islamic clerics from across the country this week that declared a fatwa in the Taliban attacks. A suicide bombing declared by the Islamic State killed 14 people at the entrance of the peace shop of the clerics in Kabul.
The clerics recommended a ceasefire with the Taliban, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their expulsion in 2001, and Ghani approved the recommendation.
"This ceasefire is an opportunity for the Taliban of introspection (sic) that their violent campaign is not winning hearts and minds but alienating them even more," Ghani said in a message on the Twitter social network after a television speech.
"With the ceasefire announcement we embody the strength of the Afghan government and the will of the people for a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict."
There was no immediate reaction from the Taliban.
On the government side, not everyone agreed.
Former army general Atiqullah Amarkhel said the ceasefire would give the Taliban the opportunity to regroup.
"From a military perspective, it's not a good move," he told Reuters. "It will give the enemy the opportunity to prepare for more attacks."
He also said he doubted the Taliban would lay down their weapons and deny themselves the opportunity to fight during the holy month of Ramadan in which attacks have intensified.
The Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan is at the end of next week.
Ghani in February offered the recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group in a proposed political process that he said could lead to talks to end more than 16 years of war.
Ghani proposed a ceasefire and the release of prisoners from a variety of options including new elections involving the militants and a constitutional review in a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that killed or wounded last year. more than 10,000 civilians.
U.S. President Donald Trump in August revealed a more aggressive military approach to Afghanistan, including an increase in air strikes, with the aim of forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Afghan security forces say the impact has been significant, but the Taliban cover large swaths of the country and, with foreign troop levels at around 15,600 compared to 140,000 in 2014, there seems to be little hope for a victory absolute military
Report of Hamid Shalizi, Qadir Sediqi and Rupam Jain; Written by Nick Macfie; Edition by Clarence Fernández, Robert Birsel