The US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass said on Wednesday that Washington is working on a program aimed at persuading Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and other regional stakeholders to convince the Taliban to enter into talks with the Afghan government.
Speaking at a ceremony marking America’s Independence Day, Bass said the hopes and aspirations of the Afghan people doubled following the ceasefire over Eid-ul-Fitr.
He also said the US and its allies continue to fully support efforts by the National Unity Government (NUG) to end the war and violence in Afghanistan.
“The United States and the other members of the coalition are strongly supporting the unity government’s efforts to find a way forward to end this terrible conflict, that’s why the United States is continuing to encourage all of the neighbors and all other countries to push the Taliban to start the conversation with the Afghan government about how to end this conflict,” said Bass.
Also at the event, CEO Abdullah Abdullah said there is a need for collective efforts to end the war and violence in Afghanistan.
“The way forward is to make joint efforts, to facilitate, for our people, to exercise their rights and secure better conditions,” said Abdullah.
But outside the US embassy, the Helmand Peace Convoy continued with their sit-in protest and chanted slogans of peace on Wednesday.
Raz Mohammad, 23, is one of the peace activists who walked from Helmand to Kabul in a quest for peace.
He has lost two family members to the war. According to him one was serving in the ranks of the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the other was fighting for the Taliban.
Both of them were killed in one month in the southern province of Kandahar, he said.
“Two of my cousins, one with the Taliban and the other with the police, were killed. Our family is one of the victims of this war, therefore we joined this convoy from Kandahar,” said Raz Mohammad.
This comes as calls for a ceasefire and peace continues to grow in the country.
In line with this, the Minister of Interior Wais Ahmad Barmak said that the Afghan government is ready to extend the ceasefire with the Taliban – if the group agrees.
The Eid “ceasefire was announced on the orders of the supreme commander of the armed forces of Afghanistan, but the Taliban did not extend its three-day ceasefire over Eid. We could not continue the unilateral truce, but if the Taliban are ready to announce a ceasefire, the Afghan government is ready for a ceasefire,” said Barmak.
Ghani called a ceasefire on June 12 – that was carried out over Eid-ul-Fitr. The Taliban in turn called for a three-day ceasefire over Eid.
On the third day of Eid, Ghani extended government’s ceasefire by 10 days. However the Taliban failed to respond and immediately resumed attacks across the country once its three-day truce ended.
Government’s unilateral ceasefire officially ended on Friday and Ghani ordered security forces to resume operations across the country.
On Saturday, Ghani said government was working hard to achieve peace but rejected rumors that government was planning to hand over territory to the Taliban.
He made it clear that all Afghans want peace and that there is consensus, across the board, on this issue.
But, Afghan and US officials are hopeful that the Taliban responds to the calls for peace and a ceasefire can be announced.