The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that the Taliban will not agree to a comprehensive ceasefire until there is a political settlement in place in the country.
“The [Taliban] will not accept a ceasefire--comprehensive and permanent--until there is a political settlement. And that is not unprecedented in similar conflicts elsewhere, I think they can do a reduction of violence, they have said they will consider it depending on what the proposal is. The government is supportive of it too,” said Khalilzad in an interview with PBS News Magazine.
Khalilzad said that Washington is ready to work with the Afghan government and the Taliban for a reduction in violence.
This comes as the Taliban continues to increase attacks in multiple areas in Afghanistan.
Increased Taliban violence, including operations on the outskirts of Kabul, have caused serious concern among residents.
But the Afghan security agencies insist that the security forces are capable of defending the nation anywhere.
In the latest incidents of violence, clashes were reported in parts of Faizabad city in Badakshan; in Taluqan, the center of Takhar province, and in Kunduz province.
Reports indicate that violence is currently surging in ten provinces of the country.
“You are not safe inside the city, with all that is going on here,” said a resident of Kunduz.
“Around 3:00am, the Taliban launched an attack on the checkpoints of the local police in Doaba area. As a result of the attack, four Taliban fighters were killed and five more were seriously wounded. Unfortunately, a local commander named Ghazi was martyred in the attack and one of his colleagues was wounded,” said Sanaullah Rouhani, a spokesman for Badakhshan's governor.
“If our security agencies do not come up with more robust and coordinated planning to counter these operations in the outskirts of the city, perhaps the peace talks will change in favor of Taliban,” said Mohammad Hassan Sharifi Balkhabi, a member of parliament.
After the US-Taliban agreement in Doha on February 29, the Afghans were hopeful that the level of violence would decrease in the country after the deal, but the Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada in a message after the deal called on his fighters to organize their ranks and increase their military capabilities.
Footage shared on social media shows that the Taliban fighters established a checkpoint in the western area of Kabul and were discussing the return of their Islamic emirate with travelers of the road.
“The physical presence of this group (Taliban) is not permanent anywhere, they are always on the run from one place to another,” said Tariq Aryan, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior.
“The security sector should act stronger and with new planning, because if they (Taliban) demonstrate their military power during the talks, we must demonstrate our defense capability,” said Neelofar Ibrahimi, a member of parliament.
This comes hours after President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in a telephone conversation on Friday discussed the Afghan peace process.
The Palace said that the two leaders discussed relations between both countries and they agreed a ceasefire is needed for Afghan peace, Sediqqi said, who added that Ghani invited Khan for a visit, which Khan accepted.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office in a statement said that “the two leaders exchanged views on (the) Afghan peace process and strengthening of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral engagement.”
Khan “reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support to the Afghan peace process and noted the positive results of these efforts culminating in US-Taliban peace agreement and the commencement” of the negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban, it said.
Based on the statistics of the Afghan security agencies, over the past two weeks the Taliban initiated 350 operations in various regions of Afghanistan, resulting in "20 Afghan civilians killed and 80 more wounded."
The Taliban spokesman has rejected claims by the Afghan government about the civilian casualties, saying the casualties occurred as a result of mortar attacks by the Afghan forces.