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A temporary ceasefire

Opinion

June 22, 2018

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Eid is a festival of peace, love, brotherhood and equality. This year, we practically witnessed the positive impact of Eid in Afghanistan. On June 7, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a temporary ceasefire with Taliban fighters so as to ensure a violence-free Eidul Fitr. As a goodwill gesture, the Afghan government also decided to release many Taliban prisoners.

In response, the Afghan Taliban vowed to halt attacks on government forces. This is the first time that the Taliban accepted the ceasefire offer since their government was toppled in 2001. On Eidul Fitr, dozens of unarmed Taliban fighters reportedly emerged from their hideouts and visited different Afghan towns and cities, including Kabul, where they were greeted by locals, government officials and the security forces.

A number of photographs and video clips have gone viral on social media in which Taliban fighters, the people and the security forces are seen celebrating Eid festival in a cheerful manner. Many Taliban fighters were seen taking selfies with people. In a video footage that was aired on an Afghan TV channel, a Taliban warrior is seen arriving in a town on a motorcycle and subsequently taking selfies with an Afghan soldier. Photographs of Afghanistan’s interior minister meeting a Taliban delegation also emerged on the second day of Eid.

The Eid celebration also portrayed a soft image of Afghanistan as a whole.

It is a universal truth that violence can never help win the hearts and minds of people. At the end of the day, peace has to prevail. World history serves as a testament to the belief that all violent conflicts ultimately have to shift towards dialogue and mutual understanding. Now, it is in best interest of the Taliban to adopt a political and democratic means to achieve their goals.

The successful ceasefire also came as a pleasant surprise for the international community. A tweet by German Ambassador to Pakistan Martin Kobler stated that: “Impressive pictures from the first-ever truce in #Afghanistan showing the thirst for peace. Some scenes remind me of the joy after [the] fall of [the] Berlin Wall. Hope both sides will continue [the] truce, enter in[to] immediate negotiations”. The German envoy, who is popular among Pakistanis due to his various public diplomacy initiatives and tweets in Urdu, also shared a photograph of a Taliban fighter accompanied by Afghan soldiers holding rose flowers in their hands.

Even the US – a key player in the war on terror – has welcomed the temporary ceasefire. A statement issued by the US State Department said that the Afghan government’s offer of a temporary ceasefire underscores its commitment to peace as both a national and religious responsibility. Endorsing the US narrative, various world leaders hoped that the ceasefire will allow the people of Afghanistan to move their country towards peace and prosperity. In contrast to the despair spread by many so-called analysts and think tanks, the Eid celebrations in the country successfully opened new avenues for more hope and expectation.

However, the attacks carried out in Nangarhar on June 17 were quite unfortunate and resulted in the loss of many people – including civilians, government forces and Taliban fighters who were celebrating Eid. The horrific blast reportedly happened outside the regional governor’s office in Jalalabad city when the governor was meeting a Taliban delegate. This tragic incident proves that it is not wise to blame the Taliban for all acts of militancy. The Western media believe that Isis was involved in the attack. But it is too early to reach a conclusion.

The Afghan government and the Taliban must jointly investigate the matter and find the culprits. Various global players or non-state actors are presumably not in favour of peace in Afghanistan as it does not serve their vested interests. They must not forget that ensuring a peaceful society is dream of Afghans – whether they are in the government or in the Taliban ranks.

Despite all the troubles created by the Afghan government since the outset, Pakistan always stands with the people of Afghanistan. The Afghan leadership must understand that an effective and joint border management system will ensure peace and prosperity for both countries. The positive role of the Pakistan Army in curbing terrorism must also be acknowledged. Let’s hope that we get to see the day when Afghanistan will announce a ceasefire with Pakistan on all fronts.

The writer is patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani

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