Afghans call for ceasefire

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Despite Taliban’s refusal to lay down their arms and agree on a truce with the Afghan government, dozens of Helmand residents, religious scholars, tribal elders and activists at a gathering in Lashkargah city on Sunday called on the two sides to announce a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramazan which begins on today.

Taliban has said that their “Jihad” will have more rewards during Ramadhan as they rejected the ceasefire suggestion raised by almost 3,200 delegates in the last week’s grand council, also called the Grand Consultative Jirga for Peace.

“To respect the holy month of Ramadhan, we urge both sides (the Afghan government and the Taliban) to announce a ceasefire in order to provide the ground for peace talks,” said Nazar Mohammad Rodi, a civil society activist in Helmand. “Forty years of war has badly affected our county. It is enough now.”

“Those who have gathered here are seeking peace. We call on the warring parties to announce a ceasefire,” said Abdul Khaliq Zwakman, an activist.

Religious scholars at the gathering said the current war is not in favor or any side.

“In the holy month of Ramadhan, the doors of heaven are open and the doors of hell are closed; therefore, they (the Taliban) must stop the war and should join their families,” said Jannat Gul, a religious scholar.

“Stop killing of the poor nation and the bloodshed. We do not want to see the bloodshed anymore,” said Abdul Bashir, a religious scholar from Helmand.

Abdul Haq, a Helmand resident who lost his two sons in a roadside mine blast in the province last year, said Afghans are really tired of war.

“Last year, I lost my two sons in a roadside mine blast in Shawal area when they were on their way to work. The area was under Taliban influence. I am ready to forgive those who killed my sons if the Taliban and the government forces lay down their weapons,” he said.

“We want ceasefire and peace. We do not want brother killing. We call on the Afghan government and the Taliban to declare a ceasefire in Ramadhan,” said Jalaluddin, a Helmand resident.

Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto in a message on the occasion of Ramadhan extended his warmest wishes to all Afghans and called on all parties to the conflict to halt the fighting.

President Ashraf Ghani, who addressed the closing ceremony of the Grand Consultative Jirga on Peace on Friday, May 3, said the Afghan government is ready to announce a ceasefire if the Taliban show readiness in this regard, but the Taliban rejected the call for a ceasefire and emphasized on battle against security forces during Ramazan month.

Taliban announced their spring offensive called “Alfatha” on April 12 and declared that it was in response to the Afghan government’s operation announcement.

The Afghan government announced a security plan, called Khalid Operation, on March 13 and according to a Presidential Palace statement, the announcement is not a barrier on the way of peace, rather it provides the ground for moving forward the peace process. (TOLOnews)