President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said on Monday military operations against the Taliban will continue, unless the group announces a formal ceasefire.
This comes after Ghani announced a conditional ceasefire on Sunday. He said security forces would observe a ceasefire if the Taliban reciprocated and also called a truce.
“The order was issued for operations, today and last night there were operations in at least four or five provinces,” said Chakhansuri.
The Afghan government is waiting for a response to the ceasefire announcement from the Taliban, said Chakhansuri.
Ghani said on Sunday the ceasefire would only be implemented if the Taliban respect it.
Ghani also said the conditional ceasefire would be for three months and that the Afghan government will respect it as long as the Taliban also call a truce.
Meanwhile, Afghans across the country have called on the two sides to end the war and embark on a permanent ceasefire.
“The ceasefire is in the interests of all of us and our next generations,” said a resident of Kabul, Ahmad Shah.
“We want the ceasefire to be on a permanent basis,” another resident, Abdullah said.
If the Taliban accept the ceasefire offer, the Afghan government will establish a coordination center in Kabul which will operate around the clock to monitor the implementation of the truce, said Chakhansuri.
The government has said it will also form a commission under the leadership of the Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish that will manage and monitor the ceasefire.
The United States on Monday welcomed the announcement by the Afghan government and said this was what the Afghan people want.
In a statement issued by US Secretary of State Michael Pompei he said: “This plan responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan people for peace.”
He said the “last ceasefire in Afghanistan revealed the deep desire of the Afghan people to end the conflict, and we hope another ceasefire will move the country closer to sustainable security.
“The United States and our international partners support this initiative by the Afghan people and the Afghan government, and we call on the Taliban to participate. It is our hope, and that of the international community, that the Afghan people may celebrate Eid al-Adha this year in peace, free from fear,” he said.
“Ceasefire and peace are among the fundamental aspirations of the Afghan people, our people want the ceasefire to be for permanent basis,” said Anwarul Haq Ahadi, chairman New National Front of Afghanistan.
Not long after Ghani announced the conditional ceasefire, the Taliban put out a statement saying it would release “prisoners” on Monday.
The Afghan government in turn has called on the Taliban to send a list of names to government of detainees they plan to release.
On Monday, many countries welcomed the ceasefire move including Pakistan and China.
Former president Hamid Karzai, who issued a statement on Monday, failed to mention the ceasefire but said the only solution to the ongoing crisis in the country is to convene a traditional Loya Jirga.
“Over the course of history, the people of Afghanistan have settled their key national issues through referring them to the traditional Loya Jirga which reflects the determination of the people. Therefore, with consideration of ongoing situations in the country, now the only way to get rid of the current challenges and for reaching to peace and security, Loya Jirga is the only option where we the Afghans can determine our future by taking collective decisions,” said Karzai in the statement.
Karzai also called on the Taliban to end their war and engage in Afghan-owned talks.
“We also call on the Tehreek-e-Islami Taliban to stop the war and pave the way for Afghan-owned talks to save our beloved Afghanistan from the plots and interference of strangers and bring peace, harmony, security and prosperity to our people,” he said.
Reports have meanwhile emerged that Russia is planning to meet with the Taliban in Moscow on September 4.
An Interfax news agency report stated on Monday that Zamir Kabulov, special representative of the Russian president on Afghanistan said a meeting has been organized for September 4 and that a Taliban delegation is expected to attend.
Kabulov said the talks were “in the framework of launching a process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan.”
Kabulov went on to say that Moscow views “positively” the truce offer extended by Ghani, which followed a bloody week of fighting across Afghanistan, including a Taliban assault on the key provincial capital of Ghazni