Afghan Taliban refuse to cease fire in Ramazan


ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban on Monday rejected a ceasefire appeal for the holy month of Ramazan saying they would instead step up attacks. The appeal was made by the UN mission in Afghanistan and the government-sponsored High Peace Council (HPC).

“…specially during Ramazan, I call upon all parties to the conflict to respect this month and allow Afghan families to worship in peace,” UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom said in a statement.

“I hope the occasion of Ramazan, observed in a spirit of peace and compassion, can help pave the way for sustainable peace in Afghanistan,” he added. “The United Nations continues to stand with the people of Afghanistan in their quest for security, stability and prosperity.”

The HPC also urged all sides in the conflict to give up violence in Ramazan which commenced in Afghanistan on Monday.

“We want the armed opponents to show respect to the holy month of Ramazan so the people could focus on worship in a peaceful environment,” it said in a statement posted on the council’s official website.

The Taliban were quick to dismiss the appeals. “Jihad is an obligation and worship. Our Jihad will gain more strength during Ramazan as its reward is 70% more,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said when asked about the ceasefire appeals.

The HPC also advised the Taliban to join the intra-Afghan dialogue. “The council believes durable peace is linked to full cooperation by the armed opponents, religious scholars, elders, members of civil society, political leaders, youth and women groups,” it said.

The Taliban have increased targeted attacks on the judiciary following last month’s execution of their six prisoners. Six people, including the head of the attorney’s court, were killed in an attack on a court building in Logar province on Sunday. It was the third Taliban attack on courts in less than two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar-led Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) has resumed talks with the government, a source in the group said on Monday. Hekmatyar has sent his son Habibur Rehman to Kabul to meet Afghan government officials and hand over a letter containing some new proposals, sources told The Express Tribune.

Sources added that Habibur Rehman met with HPC chief Pir Gailani on Sunday to discuss issues related to peace talks. Amin Karim, a senior Europe-based HIA leader, who had initially led the group in peace negotiations, has also returned to Kabul to discuss the new proposals.

President Ashraf Ghani’s administration had acquiesced to most of 25 points proposed by Hekmatyar, but then the HIA chief has sought some new assurances from the Afghan president, a HIA leader said.

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