Afghanistan President Ashraf Gilani declares Eid ceasefire with Taliban

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has declared a conditional ceasefire with the Taliban ahead of Eid al-Adha, effective from Monday.

In a televised address on Sunday, Ghani said the truce would be “until the prophet’s birthday provided that the Taliban reciprocate”, referring to the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday which is celebrated on November 21 in Afghanistan.

Ghani, who was speaking during a ceremony to mark the 99th Independence Day of Afghanistan at the iconic Darul Aman palace in the capital, Kabul, said the decision was reached after extensive consultation with different segments of the Afghan society and Islamic scholars worldwide.

The Taliban did not respond to requests for comment immediately but released a statement saying that they planned to free “hundreds of prisoners” on the occasion of Eid.

Ghani’s ceasefire announcement was limited to the Taliban and excluded other armed groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

It was immediately welcomed in neighbouring Pakistan.

“Pakistan fully supports all such efforts that contribute to achieving durable stability and lasting peace in Afghanistan, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement.

“The people of Afghanistan deserve it. Coinciding with the Independence Day of Afghanistan, the announcement has an even greater significance.”