UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sunday welcomed the announcement by the Taliban and the Afghanistan government of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in peace, urging all parties concerned to seize this opportunity and embrace an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
Hours before the three-day festival of Eid al-Fitr was due to begin, Taliban made the declaration that they would attack only if their positions were hit, leading President Ashraf Ghani to welcome the move shortly afterwards, and release a statement saying security and defence forces would comply.
“The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement by the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban of a ceasefire to enable the Afghan people to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday in peace,” a statement issued by Stephane Dujarric, the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said.
It added that Guterres urges all parties concerned to seize this opportunity and embrace an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. “Only a peace settlement can bring an end to the suffering in Afghanistan,” and the UN is committed to supporting the people and Government of Afghanistan in this important endeavour.
The development comes after an escalation in attacks in recent weeks by the Taliban against the backdrop of stalled peace efforts, and violence from other extremist elements, including the ISIS.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), also welcomed the move, saying on Twitter that “the Afghan people deserve a respite from violence. The UN urges parties to respect the halt to fighting and urgently look to make it permanent. Intra-Afghan peace negotiations need to start.”
The head of the mission, and UN Special Representative, Deborah Lyons, who took up the top job just last month, declared the announced a “reason to hope” and a welcome move.
She noted that it also echoed the call from the UN Secretary-General for a ceasefire to focus on “the new enemy”, the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Cases in Afghan, according to latest World Health Organization figures, stand at more than 9,860, with 211 recorded deaths.
“Let wisdom and compassion” during Eid, “convince all to make this permanent and move to peace talks”, she tweeted.
Just on Friday, she conveyed the UN’s warm wishes to all Afghans on the occasion of Eid, hoping that “every family can celebrate this auspicious and important time in peace