President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan has declared a ceasefire with the Taliban militants on account of Eid al-Adha starting today and will continue till the birthday of Prophet Muhammad which is celebrated on November 21 in Afghanistan.
Ghani announced that the administration had reached the decision after widespread consultation with different segments of Afghan society and Islamic intellectuals across the world. He was making a speech from the historic Darul Aman palace, in Kabul on the occasion of 99th Independence Day of Afghanistan. The ceasefire was only applicable to Taliban and was not extended to the Islamic State militants. Pakistan welcomed the move and in an official statement said that Pakistan completely supports all the initiatives which will bring lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
There were no comments from the Taliban on the issue but the insurgent group announced that they are planning to release hundreds of prisoners on Eid.
The last ceasefire which was announced by the Afghan government in June on the Eid al-Fitr was accepted by the Taliban but was short-lived and lasted only 3 days when the group had rejected the appeal by the government for its extension.
The announcement has come at a critical time when both the sides had been involved in a brutal assault by Taliban on Ghazni which took the lives of 150 soldiers and 95 civilians. The siege lasted five days and ultimately came to halt when US-backed Afghan forces pushed the insurgents back. Last six months have seen an increase in activity of the group which has been involved in blasts, suicide attacks in Afghanistan and claimed around 1600 civilian lives. A report published by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has stated that about 42 percent of civilian deaths are due to attacks carried out by Taliban while 18 percent have been attributed to the ISIL attacks.