By Ajit Kumar Singh
August 27, 2018
On August 19, 2018, Afghanistan President
Ashraf Ghani stated
As we approach
Eid-ul-Adha [festival of sacrifice]… we announce a ceasefire that would take
effect from tomorrow, Monday [August 20, 2018], the day of Arafah, till the day
of the birth of the prophet (PBUH) i.e., Milad-un-Nabi [November 30, 2018],
provided that the Taliban reciprocate. We call on the leadership of the Taliban
to welcome the wishes of Afghans for a long lasting and real peace, and we urge
them to get ready for peace-talks based on Islamic values and principles…
n August 20, 2018, two unnamed Taliban
‘commanders’ responded with the statement that their supreme leader
Sheikh-ul-Hadith Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada had rejected the offer on the
grounds that it too would only help the American-led mission. One of the
‘commanders’ added, “Our leadership feels that they [US] will prolong their
stay in Afghanistan if we announced a ceasefire now.” They also asserted that
the outfit would persist with their attacks.
On the same day (August 20), the Taliban
abducted and held hostage over 180 passengers – including at least 160
civilians and over 20 Security Force (SF) personnel – aboard three buses, when
they were travelling through the Kunduz Province from the Takhar Province on
the way to Kabul. Zabihullah Mujahid, a ‘spokesman’ for the Taliban, stated,
“We decided to seize the buses after our intelligence inputs revealed that many
men working with Afghan Security forces were travelling to Kabul… We are now
identifying members of the security forces.” All civilians were released later.
Ghulam Rabani Rabani, a provincial council member in Kunduz Province disclosed
on August 21, “More than 160 civilians have reached home safely but at least 20
soldiers and policemen have been taken to an undisclosed location by the
Taliban.” The Taliban confirmed the release of civilians claiming that they had
no intention of harming them. The SFs were shifted to a Taliban ‘secret jail’.
“Most probably we would exchange them for our prisoners later,” an unnamed
Taliban ‘commander’ stated. Referring to the incident, he added, "We
wanted to convey a powerful message to the Government that we can launch many
attacks and defeat them at every level."
Apart from this, the Taliban have also claimed
at least 57 incidents in which 78 SF personnel were killed between August 20
and August 26. On the other hand, SFs continued with their operations in Ghazni
Province, where fighting between the Taliban and Government Forces intensified.
Most recently, on August 24, 2018, at least 18 Taliban militants were killed
during an air operation in Muqar District. Two ‘top members’ (identity not
known) of the Taliban were among the dead.
Clearly, the purported cease-fire has
'ceased to exist'.
Earlier, President Ghani had announced a
unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban from June 12, 2018, to June 19, 2018,
during Eid al-Fitr [celebrated by Muslims worldwide to mark the end of Ramadan,
the Islamic month of fasting]. Ghani had then tweeted on June 7, 2018,
of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announces ceasefire from the 27th of
Ramadan [June 12, 2018] until the fifth day of Eid-ul-Fitr [June 19, 2018]
following the historic ruling [Fatwa] of the Afghan Ulema… This ceasefire is an
opportunity for Taliban to introspect that their violent campaign is not wining
them hearts and minds but further alienating them.
In response, the Taliban declared, in a
June 9, 2018, release
are directed to cease all offensive operations against the domestic opposition
forces during the first, second and third day of Eid [June 15, 16, 17] however
if Mujahideen are attacked, they must defend with their utmost capability…
The ceasefire, in this case, held till the
Taliban declared its end stating , in a release dated June 17, 2018,
In order that
our countrymen may celebrate their Eid festivities in ease and comfort, the
Islamic Emirate announced and successfully implemented a three day ceasefire.
This ceasefire was not in response to the ceasefire of the Kabul regime but was
announced for the wellbeing of the nation and has to end tonight. Mujahideen
throughout the country are ordered to continue their operations against the
foreign invaders and their internal puppets as before.
This was despite the Ghani Government's
announcement, on June 16, 2018, of a 10-day extension of the ceasefire, i.e.
till June 29. On June 30, 2018, Ghani declared,
has ended and our security and defence forces are allowed to continue
operations. Now, it is up to the Taliban's decision, whether they want to join
the peace process or keep on killing in the country.
Though Ghani claimed that the second
ceasefire (June 12 – 29) had been “98 per cent successful”, Taliban-linked
violence remained unabated. According to partial data compiled by the South
Asia Terrorism Portal, there were at least 227 Taliban-linked fatalities (25
civilians, 79 SF personnel, 123 militants) during this period. Some of the
major incidents (each resulting in three or more fatalities) during this period
June 27: 16 Afghanistan Border Police (ABP)
personnel were killed and four went missing after an attack by Taliban
militants at an outpost in the Yatimi Tapa area of Chah Ab District in Takhar
15 Taliban militants were killed and another
eight injured in five air-strikes conducted by Afghan Forces in Khwaja Sabs
Posh District of Faryab Province.
June 24: At least 10 Afghan National Army
(ANA) soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush in Badghis Province (area not
June 22, 2018: At least 15 pro-Government
militia men were killed by Taliban militants in Badghis Province (area not
June 20: 11 armed Taliban militants were
killed in clashes with SFs in Trenkot city, the provincial capital of Urozgan
About 17 ANA personnel were killed when Taliban militants attacked a
security shell in the Shakh Walwal region of Jorm District in Badakhshan
At least 10 Taliban militants were killed
and another seven wounded after they carried out an attack on Afghan National
Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) checkpoints in the Pusht Roaud District of
At least 13 Taliban militants were killed
during clashes with SFs at unspecified places in Helmand Province.
June 12: 10 Taliban militants and five
Policemen were killed and another 26 injured in a Vehicle Borne Improvised
Explosive Device (VBIED) attack using a Humvee military vehicle in the Muqur
District of Ghazni Province.
Taliban killed 18 ANA soldiers and captured
their post during an overnight attack in northeastern Badakhshan Province.
These incidents clearly suggest that the
ceasefire was meaningless as there was no respite from terror during its entire
duration, including the three days of the overlapping ceasefire – June 15, 16,
The first overlapping ceasefire between the
Government Forces and Taliban were observed, according to Special Inspector
General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) latest quarterly report (July
30, 2018), in 2008, when the Afghan Government, international military forces
and the Taliban, each announced a ceasefire coinciding with the International
Peace Day (September 21). Again, in 2009, the Afghan Government, international
military forces, and the Taliban announced new ceasefires coinciding with the
International Peace Day. Bothe these ceasefires lasted for just the one day.
These ceasefires and ongoing efforts to
include Taliban in peace-process have
all proven futile, as the Taliban has clearly stated its goal to continue jihad
till it achieves its goal of ousting foreign forces and forming a Government of
its 'own'. Taliban chief Sheikh-ul-Hadith Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, thus
stated [https://alemarah-english.com/?p=33332] on August 18, 2018,
…it is incumbent
upon us to show our appreciation of Divine Help and Jihadi victories with
further Jihadic efforts and services and with further rectification of our
intentions and deeds in order to become even more deserving of Allah Almighty's
help and assistance because righteous actions produce firmness and
steadfastness in Jihad. …We pray to Allah that He (SwT) free Afghanistan from
the American occupation, end the long tragedy of the valiant Afghan people
through His Bounty, safeguard the Muslim Afghan nation from all enemy plots
through their unity and bless them with an Islamic government on their own
soil, of their own choice and choosing…
The war in Afghanistan continues.
Ajit Kumar Singh is a Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management
South Asia Intelligence Review