As government’s unilateral ceasefire comes to an end, officials in Badakhshan province, in the far northeast of Afghanistan, said a large number of Taliban members are interested in joining the peace process.
According to the police chief of Baharak district, Abdul Wadood Rasikh, a local committee has been holding talks with Taliban members from some Badakhshan districts.
“No doubt, they (Taliban) are from this country and take an interest in their families and in the country. You witnessed this during the three-day ceasefire. Many of them are in contact with us. This shows that they are interested in talks,” said Rasikh.
“One team of them (Taliban) came to a village in Darayem district and visited government forces. No doubt, Taliban will join peace if efforts are made for it. Some of them have shown a green signal for peace,” said Ahmad Mir Jawad, the district governor for Darayem.
The efforts for peace talks between government officials and Taliban at a local level started a week ago, said Ghawsuddin Rahmani, head of the provincial peace committee.
“We will hold a big meeting of tribal elders, civil society members, religious scholars, local commanders, influential figures, and local officials in Baharak which is the center for many districts. We will discuss peace at the meeting,” he said.
Badakhshan residents meanwhile called on the Taliban to end the war and join the peace process.
“We are happy that Taliban came to the cities during the three-day ceasefire. But we are upset that they have gone back to their activities,” said Rahimullah, a resident of Badakhshan.
Hopes for peace were raised after President Ashraf Ghani announced a unilateral ceasefire that started on the 27th of Ramadan to the 5th of Eid-al-Fitr.
After government’s announcement, the Taliban also ordered its fighters to observe a three-day ceasefire over Eid.
On the third day of Eid, Ghani extended government’s ceasefire for another 10 days – this officially ended on Friday.
Taliban however did not extend their ceasefire and immediately after Eid took up arms and carried out attacks around the country.
On Saturday, Ghani addressed the nation and said government’s ceasefire would not be extended again and that security forces would resume operations against the Taliban.