- The Taliban’s decision to cease fire(suspension of fighting) for 3 days during Id-ul-Adha has come as a relief for Afghans who have seen unabated(unstopped) violence despite a peace agreement between the insurgents and the U.S.
- This is the third official respite since the war started in 2001.
Evolution of talks:
- In June 2018 and May this year, the Taliban had briefly ended hostilities(aggression) to mark the end of the holy month of Ramzan.
- On both occasions, it refused to extend the ceasefire, returning to war as soon as the celebrations were over.
- This time, however, hopes are high that the truce(ceasefire) could be extended as Kabul and the insurgents are preparing to launch the intra-Afghan talks that were promised in the U.S.-Taliban deal.
- According to the pact, talks were to begin in March.
- But both sides failed to reach an agreement on prisoner exchange, which the U.S. had agreed with the Taliban.
- The insurgents complained that the government was not complying with the terms of the agreement, while officials of the Ashraf Ghani administration said the Taliban’s demands were unacceptable.
- Finally, President Ghani decided to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, which was followed by the Taliban’s ceasefire announcement.
- Both sides have now agreed to kick-start talks after Id and they could do it in a peaceful environment if the ceasefire is extended.
- While the cessation of hostilities is welcome, there are underlying issues that continue to hurt the peace process.
- When the U.S. entered into talks with the insurgent group, it did not insist on a ceasefire.
- So the Taliban continues to engage in war and talks simultaneously.
- Worse, the Americans, badly looking for a way out of the conflict, kept the Afghan government out of the peace process.
- U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed in February, according to which the U.S. agreed to pull out its troops in return for security assurances from the Taliban.
- The responsibility was on a weakened Afghan government to start talks even as the Taliban continued attacks.
- According to the government, 3,560 government troops and 775 civilians have been killed in conflict since the deal was signed. Also, infighting made matters worse for the government.
- Last year’s presidential election saw a disturbed pattern and a record low turnout.
- These factors allowed a resurgent Taliban to maintain the upper hand — in war and in talks.
- This will be the government’s key challenge when its representatives and that of the Taliban would be holding talks.
- Taliban sees itself as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan who has yet not recognised the country’s Constitution.
The Taliban’s ceasefire is an opportunity to kick-start intra-Afghan peace talks.
Q) Examine the role that India can play in the peace process of Afghanistan post US troops withdrawal.