Friday December 03, 2021

Khalilzad calls for Afghan ‘humanitarian ceasefire’ to fight virus

April 27, 2020

KABUL: The US special envoy who brokered a deal with the Taliban called Sunday for the insurgents to implement a humanitarian ceasefire while Afghanistan tries to tackle its worsening coronavirus crisis.

In a series of tweets marking the start of the holy month of Ramazan, Zalmay Khalilzad said all sides should focus on fighting a "shared enemy".

"The well-being of the Afghan people and the country itself depend on all parties devoting their full energies to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," the Afghanistan-born US negotiator said.

"Ramazan offers the Taliban an opportunity to embrace a humanitarian ceasefire to reduce violence and suspend offensive military operations until the health crisis is over.”

Afghan officials have so far confirmed 1,531 cases of COVID-19 including 50 deaths, but with woefully limited testing available, experts fear the true numbers are much higher.

Khalilzad additionally called for an end to the dispute between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who also claimed the presidency after an election marred by fraud allegations.

“Ramazan offers Afghan leaders, President Ghani and Dr Abdullah, the opportunity to put the interest of the country ahead of their own,” Khalilzad said.