On the last Sunday of 2019, Afghans woke up to an exciting news of the Taliban insurgency agreeing to possible ceasefire, a much-needed respite from the constant violence. Reports suggested that this temporary truce with the US administration could last for as long as 10 days – a week longer than the last ceasefire between the two warring parties, during which time they would sit down to sign a deal to end America’s longest war.
There was no mention of negotiations with the Afghan government in Kabul, a party to the conflict with whom the Taliban have consistently refused to talk to. But that did not deter the jubilation among the public who have been the worst victims of a war that began in 2001, when US-led forces – in response to the September 11 attacks on American soil – invaded the country and unseated the terror group from power. People posted on social media about plans to explore their homeland and visit far corners of the country that have been under Taliban control. There was talk of bonhomie and brotherhood between the Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters, much like during the three-day ceasefire – the first of its kind – that took place during Eid Al Adha in June 2018.
However, the celebrations were short-lived. No sooner had the news made rounds in all local media, that the shadowy Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, came forward and dismissed them. “The Islamic emirate has no intention of declaring a ceasefire,” he said in his statement, issued the very next day. “The United States has asked for a reduction in the scale and intensity of violence and [the Taliban leadership] has not yet issued a final decree [on this matter],” he explained, dismissing the news reports as propaganda.
Interestingly though, Mujahid felt the need to clarify that such contradictory statements did not mean that there are differences within the Taliban. “Propaganda by some outlets has even reached heights of supposed schism within the Islamic emirate on the issue of a ceasefire – and neither are there any differences within the Islamic emirate related to this issue,” he said.
But despite Mujahid’s insistence, the proverbial split is wide open for everyone to see. This is not the first time that the Taliban have issued contradictory statements or acted against their word, especially while negotiating with the US administration over the past one year.
Read the full Opinion on The National UAE