Ceasefire Called Between Afghanistan And Taliban Forces, But Will It Last?

The BBC news organization this week successfully documented the extension of the Afghani ceasefire between both the Taliban and government.  This ceasefire was initially established to respect the holiness of the Eid festival and has brought a surprising and optimistic scene to the streets of Afghani communities; with both sides uniting to mingle and take selfies with the public. The Afghani president has urged the militant groups to take advantage of this time to enter into diplomatic peace talks with the government in order to create a lasting peace within the region.  Despite this ceasefire, however, there were continued suicide attacks carried out against the public within the region of Nangarhar. During this attack, 25 people died a  further 54 people were injured,  and thus begs the question of how long the ceasefire will last for.

Afghani President Ashraf  Ghani  in a TV address this week  made clear  that the government was open to negotiations with the Taliban stating that, ‘All those issues and demands….we are ready to discuss them at the peace talks.’  His stance was further adopted through the social media platform on  Twitter, where the President urged the Taliban to continue their ceasefire claiming, ‘during the ceasefire, we will provide medical assistance to the wounded…Taliban prisoners will also be allowed to see their families.’ The positive effects of this ceasefire are similarly felt through the public Afghani community with students, such as Qais Liwal from Southern Afghanistan claiming ‘tt was the most peaceful Eid. For the first time, we felt safe.’

The mingling of troops during Eid–Al–Fitr, marking the last day of Ramadan cannot be overestimated. This ceasefire provides an opportunity for diplomatic relations to be established between the two parties through which they are able to mediate their own values, objectives and futures for the country without the use of military force. This has been the first ceasefire adopted by the Taliban since their government was toppled by the American Invasion of 2001. The Eid festival has, therefore, become a platform for communication between both parties mingling optimistically for the first time since 2001.

The complexities of the Afghan war are entwined within a broad range of local and international spheres. Most significantly, the actions of the US has played a major role in the shaping, oppressing and manipulating the Taliban forces. This was established through the American intervention of 2001 which toppled the Taliban regime from their seat of government power. As a consequence, tens of thousands of  Afghans, both military and civilian alike have been killed since the conflict began in 2001. In February 2018, the Afghani President Ghani offered peace talks with the Taliban army and their political recognition as a  legitimate political party if they respected the rule of the law. This notion was rejected promptly by the Taliban and since then have sought to advocate their own political agenda outside government control.

The extraordinary scenes of   Taliban and military troops hugging, crying and taking selfies together has been perceived by many to mark the beginnings of a long road to recovery. The ability for the troops to dramatically alter their perceptions, uniforms and behaviours as demonstrated through this ceasefire, therefore, explores the possibilities of a permanent peace to be established through the country. It is unclear so far as to how long the Taliban will respect the truce for, but for now, it is clearly giving an outlook for hope for both civilians and military alike surviving in Afghanistan.

Ellie Willis