Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

War and Peace

The Eid Ceasefire: Allowing Afghans to imagine their country at peace

Kate Clark 18 min

Ceasefires by the government, the Taleban and the United States over the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr has partially ended with the Taleban ordering their fighters back to “normal operations.” However, the three-day truce resulted in an unprecedented peaceful movement of fighters and soldiers into territories controlled by the other. The media was full of pictures and videos of Afghans in uniform or wearing black turbans fraternising with each other and with civilians. The Taleban rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s call to join government forces in extending the ceasefire, and some Taleban attacks were reported on 18 June, the day after their ceasefire ended. Nevertheless, says AAN Co-Director Kate Clark, the genie may be out of the bottle. It may now be more difficult for those who have just celebrated Eid together to return to killing (with input from Thomas Ruttig, Ehsan Qaane, Rohullah Sorush, Ali Yawar Adli and Ali Mohammad Sabawoon).

Interior Minister Wais Barmak stops on the road into Kabul to meet Taleban who have come into the capital during the Eid truce (Photo: taken by someone in the crowd and posted on social media)Interior Minister Wais Barmak stops on the road into Kabul to meet Taleban who have come into the capital during the 2018 Eid truce (Photo: taken by someone in the crowd and posted on social media)

The ceasefire to mark the end of Ramadan was a government idea. On 7 June 2018, President Ghani called a unilateral halt to all offensive government actions from the 27thday of Ramadan to the fifth day of Eid (12-19 June). (1) That appears to have bounced the Taleban leadership into announcing their own three-day Eid ceasefire two days later, although they did not refer to the government announcement. It would have reflected badly on the movement if it had insisted on continuing to fight and kill during the religious holiday when the enemy said it would not.

Matters did not look encouraging during the days of the government’s unilateral ceasefire before Eid, when Taleban killed dozens of members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) in attacks in Jalrez district of Maidan Wardak, Jurm in Badakhshan, Muqur of Ghazni, Kohistan in Faryab (capturing the district centre and killing the district governor, among others), Qala-ye Zal of Kunduz, Zawol in Herat – a sub-district of Shindand –  and Sayad in Sar-e Pul (press reporting here, here and here [in German]). Even so when the end of Ramadan came and the Taleban truce kicked in, the cadres stopped fighting. They not only obeyed the order to cease fire, but went a lot further than the Taleban leadership could have imagined.

The ceasefire begins

Combatants and officials mainly, but not exclusively from the Taleban, took the opportunity to visit places and see people they had not seen for years (see the annex for a list of reported events). They filmed and photographed themselves, including taking selfies with the enemy and posted the pictures online. Anyone with a smart phone and internet connection has been able to see peace breaking out in many parts of the country: joint Eid prayers, members of the Taleban and Afghan National Security Forces embracing each other, euphoric crowds, a Taleb handing out roses to Afghan army soldiers, Interior Minister Wais Barmak coming back from Maidan Wardak stopping his car to greet some Taleban who had entered Kabul. Such ‘fraternisation events’ were reported in Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Farah, Ghazni, Paktia, Paktika, Logar, Wardak, Kabul, Laghman, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Takhar, Baghlan, Faryab and Badghis. Quite a few meetings involving ‘seniors’ – government and shadow district and provincial governors, police and army chiefs and Taleban commanders – were also reported to have taken place during the three-day truce:

  • The Badghis governor Abdul Ghafur Malekzai met Taleban

  • The Farah governor Basir Salangi met Taleban

  • The Logar governor and Taleban shadow governor offered prayers together

  • The Herat provincial police chief met local commanders­
  • The Logar provincial police chief, Muhammad Abdali, met commanders
  • The provincial chiefs of police and NDS in Uruzgan marched towards Taleban positions to invite them to join Eid celebrations
  • A “big meeting” of officials with Taleban in Jalalabad took place at the governor’s office

  • “High-ranking Taleban” met officials in the Zabul governor’s office

https://www.facebook.com/sabawoon2014/videos/2002963806633798/

 

The mingling was spontaneous and uncontrolled, the result, a sort of benign chaos. There was a lot of risk in this. Taleban fighters, for example, did not all leave their arms when they crossed the ‘frontlines’ into government-controlled areas, but ANSF allowed them through anyway. It seems the fighters did not abuse that trust (although fears have been voiced that the Taleban may have pre-positioned armed fighters for after the Eid – more on which below).

Reports from both media and social media were overwhelmingly positive, although there may be some reporting bias here, that fraternisation was reported, but its absence in other places was not. Uneasiness from some in the general population was also reported, although less prominently than the euphoria (see press reporting here and here). Amrullah Saleh, claiming to represent a large swathe of the population, also tweeted his bewilderment at events: “The anti Taliban constituency which provide the bulk of troops to ANDSF [Afghan National Defence and Security Forces] feel betrayed, confused & sold out.”

Women were noticeable by their absence. Where they were publicly involved, it was noted: young activist Muqadasa Ahmadzai going to a Taleban-controlled area of Nangrahar to demand they extend the ceasefire, women in Helmand demonstrating and also demanding the Taleban extend the ceasefire and the BBC’s Malaeka in Kabul going to “challenge” Taleban entering the city on their policy of excluding women from public life.

The ceasefire was broken by only two attacks, both in Jalalabad, and the first, at least, claimed by the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP). On the second day of Eid, 16 June, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a crowd of Taleban, ANSF and civilians in Rodat district in Nangrahar province. The bomber killed 36 people and wounded many more. On the third day of Eid, a bomb planted near the governor’s office in Jalalabad where people waited for the end of a meeting of government officials and Taleban, killed at least 18 and injured 45, according to the local health department.

The Rodat bombing on the second day of Eid was the official reason given by the Taleban leadership for ordering their fighters to “remain in their trenches [sic] and areas of control and to not venture into enemy controlled areas or cities even briefly.” A statement said they wanted to remove the opportunity for “the enemy” (unspecified) to misuse the ceasefire to harm the Taleban and other Afghans and so were ordering their fighters to stop “participating in… crowds and gatherings.” Ordering Taleban to return to their side of frontlines, however, actually looked like an attempt to stop fighters fraternising with the enemy (more on this below).

The leadership warned it would deal “rigorously” with “cases of violation.” 1TV reported the leadership was angry with Taleban who had taken selfies with ANSF. Given that Taleban were killed in the second bombing in Jalalabad and mingling continued to be reported on day 3 of Eid, some fighters did violate the leadership’s order.

Ghani calls for an extension of the truce, the Taleban go back to fighting

On 16 June, President Ghani announced a unilateral extension of the ceasefire until 20 June and called on the Taleban to do the same. In a series of tweets (2) and a televised address, he said it could be a time when wounded Taleban could seek treatment and family members visit Taleban prisoners. He also, again, offered “comprehensive negotiations” saying that Kabul was ready to discuss an issue of central importance to the Taleban – the presence of foreign forces. This suggestion first came in the final declaration of the February 2018 Kabul Process 2 meeting (AAN analysis here). Ghani also said “issues of mutual concern with neighboring countries” would also be up for discussion – possibly intended to allay the worries of the Taleban’s backers in Islamabad.

The Taleban refused his offer, saying “normal operations” would resume on 18 June. Insisting that their ceasefire had not been a “response to the ceasefire of the Kabul regime,” they said it had proved the cohesiveness of their command, while the welcome given to their fighters “by the people proves that the demands of the Islamic Emirate and the nation are identical – all want the withdrawal of foreign invaders and establishment of an Islamic government.” It called on the US to sit and negotiate with the Taleban and to withdraw its forces, a demand repeated from Taleban leader Hebatullah’s Eid message on 12 June.

The fact that the Taleban only issued a statement saying operations would resume very late on the last day of Eid suggests the decision had not been straightforward. Indeed, The Guardian reported that discussions had been difficult:

According to insiders, the leadership was stunned by the jubilant scenes in city centres. The hardline deputy leader and son of Mullah Omar, Mullah Yaqoob, was particularly dismayed. In an audio message obtained by the Guardian, he said there had been “no permission for mixing with Afghan forces”, which he said “totally disobeyed the terms of the ceasefire”.

One senior Taliban member said the leadership, recognising the pressure for peace within the group’s ranks, was considering a 10-day ceasefire over the next Eid festival, in September. However, he said there was disappointment that Ghani had not been more specific on the subject of US troop withdrawal. “Ghani should have created a timeline,” he said. “That might have created attraction to extend the ceasefire.”

On 18 June, the Taleban did, bloodily, resume, their operations, with the shooting of Subhanullah Khetab, acting governor of Ghanikhel district in Nangrahar, as he drove to his office. According to government officials, there were Taleban attacks in nine provinces, including Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman in the east and in Helmand and Kandahar in the south, with 12 soldiers killed (media report here).

The end of the ceasefire also coincided with the arrival of the Helmandi peace marchers into the Afghan capital, boosted along the way by supporters. This spontaneous, grassroots, non-aligned initiative is demanding that both sides stop fighting, enter talks, draw up a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops and devise a system “acceptable to all sides” (see AAN reporting here). The sight of the men walking 700 kilometres in 40 degrees of heat while abstaining from water during the Ramadan fast, but supported by villagers all along the way, was intended to demonstrate, the marchers said, ordinary Afghans’ “thirst for peace.” It has also helped galvanise popular, pro-peace sentiments in the county.

What does the ceasefire mean?

Calling a unilateral ceasefire was a gamble by Ashraf Ghani that, so far, appears to have paid off. It forced the Taleban first into calling their own ceasefire and then into embracing a stance that publically favours war over talks – after peace was shown to have popular and widespread appeal, including among some of their own fighters.

For the Taleban, who feel they are doing well in the war, taking territory and threatening the government in a number of provinces (see AAN reporting here, here, here and here), the attraction of fighting on is strong. Despite the extreme unlikelihood of anyone winning the war militarily, the leadership may believe they can improve the movement’s relative position. Nevertheless, their insistence on continuing to fight has now cast them strongly as the ‘pro-war party’ and this may be politically damaging for them.

What happened over Eid was deeply subversive, politically and militarily dangerous to any party wanting to prolong the conflict. It demonstrated that a ceasefire, held to completely by both sides, is possible. It revealed a strong peace camp among Afghans that crosses frontlines, and it opened up the imaginative space for Afghans to see what a future without violence could look like. Perhaps most significantly, it allowed human contact between enemies. After the mass fraternisation, it may be more difficult for Afghan combatants to think of killing each other. After praying with your fellow Afghan, it may be trickier to cling on to the view that he is just a puppet of the kufar or of the ISI.

This works both ways of course, but it seems particularly dangerous for the Taleban, given that they have ended the truce unilaterally. Moreover, this is a movement that relies on discipline, obedience and a belief in the rightness of the armed struggle, that members are  fighting a jihad. After the three-day holiday truce, some Taleban may be left wondering why it has become religiously justified to start killing again. Those who came into the cities will have found them not to be the cesspits of decadence and Westernisation they had been told they were, but to be populated by people celebrating Eid as they do (see here).

There has already been some disobedience in the ranks, with not all Taleban following orders and going back to the ‘trenches’ on the third day of Eid. Anecdotally, not all were pleased at being ordered to fight again after the end of the holiday – see statements in the annex. The Guardian quoted one fighter, 22-year old Muhammadullah, saying:

“I and thousands of Afghan Taliban definitely want the ceasefire extended,” …“I went to the city and the mosques were full of people, I did not notice anything against the Islamic rules. After the sweet three days of peace, going back to bloodshed looks strange. How can you even compare peace with war?”

One gathering of Taleban was also reported on 18 June in Paktika’s Urgun district, an area under Haqqani network control where fighters called on their leadership to extend the ceasefire. It is difficult to think of a precedent for this sort of behaviour.

For any Taleban who have privately pondered the rightness of this war, but (correctly) judged it too dangerous to voice their concerns, it may now be easier to do so. There have been discussions about entering negotiations at the leadership level before, but in recent years, it has been a taboo subject in the ranks. The unsayable may just have become sayable – that negotiations and peace could be both possible and desirable. The mass fraternisation seen over Eid may prove more dangerous to the Taleban’s cause than the deployment of any number of American or Afghan soldiers.

The truce has been very much an Afghan affair, despite the US also honouring it. Where Taleban were quoted in news reports, they often insisted their fight would go on until foreign forces left. Their anti-foreign rhetoric was often reported as going down well with local civilians – and presumably some members of the ANSF (see the annex for details); this might be a sentiment that Afghans could coalesce around.

The old dilemma of who talks to whom, that the Taleban insist they will only speak to the US, while both Kabul and Washington saying the Taleban must negotiate with the Afghan government, remains. Yet it could be cut through with sensitive US diplomacy. This appears to be the conclusion, for example, of the former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department, Laurel Miller (see here).

Shifts in positions do seem to be occurring. Ghani has said (again) that his government is willing to discuss the presence of foreign forces. There were also hints in US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s statement of the possibility both of US-Taleban and Afghan-Afghan dialogue. He cited Ghani as saying that “peace talks by necessity would include a discussion of the role of international actors and forces” and that the US was “prepared to support, facilitate, and participate in these discussions.” He also said:

We have seen pictures of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan soldiers and police with Taliban fighters offering prayers for Eid side by side.  If Afghans can pray together, their leaders can talk together and resolve their differences.

Agreeing to begin peace talks is an expression of determination to create a unified Afghanistan in which all its citizens can live in peace and dignity.  The United States stands ready to work with the Afghan government, the Taliban, and all the people of Afghanistan to reach a peace agreement and political settlement that brings a permanent end to this war.

What happens next is less predictable. Letting genies out of bottles opens up the possibility of many different unexpected consequences. Much depends on how convinced Taleban fighters remain of the rightness of their armed struggle and whether dissidents remain obedient to the leadership. There also remains a risk that Ghani’s move has allowed the Taleban leadership to pre-position armed fighters in the cities. If matters do go badly, opponents of Ghani’s unilateral peace policy will be strengthened in their belief that it is futile to talk to the Taleban.

If Afghanistan is lucky, the three day ceasefire will have changed the dynamics of the conflict. The various meetings between Taleban and government officials may yet yield local reductions in violence. Those within the Taleban ranks who favour trying to negotiate an end to the conflict may be strengthened. The popular support and pressure for peace so publicly demonstrated in the last few days may also have given a momentum for talks – between Taleban, government and Washington, in various combinations – to actually begin.

 

Edited by Thomas Ruttig

Annex: Reports of Fraternisation

The news agency reports compiled here should be reliable, but tweets may not be. We include them as we want to give readers a taste of what was reported round the country. In the tweets, we have kept the original (mis-spellings and only corrected names where necessary). 

Kunduz

16 June: An unknown number of Taleban entered Kunduz city and were warmly welcomed by people gathered on the streets. Tolonews reported Taleban saying they wanted the foreign troops to leave the country and they would only end their war with Afghan government forces once this has happened. Civilians told Tolo they were happy with the joint celebration of Eid.

Tolo also mentions ANSF here. AP quoted a local resident speaking of nearly 2,000 Taliban seen celebrating in the city, many of them with family and friends.

16 June: Hamid Saifi, a soldier scholar & commander of an #ANA battalion in [Dasht-e] Archi district in #Kunduz, meets the #Taliban commander who he has fought with & lost several men under his command in fierce battles in the last two years. #CeaseFire

17 June: Another CBM [Confidence Building Measure], two cricket teams in Dasht-[e] Archi district of #Kunduz provinceplayed a friendly match. Wonderfully, and surprisingly, one team came from the government and the other from the Taliban controlled areas. Strange people! Cricket diplomacy @ACBofficials @rashidkhan_19

Takhar

Abdul Rahman Aqtash, chief of police of Takhar province and some other local authorities welcomed Taleban in Chawk-e Taloqan city of Takhar. Security forces, Taleban and local authorities chanted the slogan “Let us take part in reconstruction of our country.” and Taloqan residents appreciated that. Both sides invited each other for peace and reconciliation and said it is the ceasefire that paves the way for peace.

تازه:گروه طالبان را در چوک شهر تالقان مرکز ولایت تخار؛ عبدالرحمن آقتاش فرمانده پولیس و شماری از مقام‌های محلی پذیرایی…

Posted by ‎Habib Najafizada – حبیب نجفی زاده‎ on Sunday, June 17, 2018

 

Baghlan

15 June: Taleban went to Pul-e Khumri citywith their white flag and said “Happy Eid “ to the people and security forces.

16 June: Taleban stood under pictures of Ahmad Shah Massud and Dr Abdullah in the main square of Pul-e Khumri

16 June: Asadullah Shabaz, head of the provincial council, told AP unarmed Taliban joined in prayers at a local mosque.“We are all just so tired of war,” he said.

Badghis

16 June: Governor Abdul Ghafur Malekzai walked to the roundabout of Qala-ye Nawand celebrated Eid and ceasefire with Taleban. Malekzai asked them to enjoy the ceasefire and join the peace process. They prayed together in Qala-ye Naw mosque and kept their fingers crossed for permanent peace.

Herat  

16 June: Police Chief of Herat Meet Taliban Local Commanders

See also here.

Kabul

15 June: Tolo News journalist Tamim Hamid visited areas under government as well as Taliban’s control in Maidan Wardak. Mohammad Naeem Entiqam, a Taliban commander, accompanied the Tolo team to Tangi area in Sayedabad district (…)Taliban members were seen in the only market in Tangi on the same day.

16 June: Tolo News reports dozens of Taliban members on Saturday came to Kabul city from Maidan Wardak and Logar provinces and its journalists met with them and people in parts of the city, reporting the atmosphere was jovial. Kabul police said Taliban members handed in their weapons and ammunition belts before entering the city. However, footage shows that in a few parts of the city, Taliban were carrying their weapons. In Kabul’s Koti Sangi area security forces however arrested a Taliban member who was carrying a weapon.

16 June: Hashmat Stanikzai, advisor to the 101 Asmai Zone police headquarters, told Pajhwok that a number of government opponents were allowed to enter Kabul through the Arghundi gate in Paghman district. Video clips on social media show a number of militants with white flags in their hands stand together with Afghan security forces on Kota Sangi bridge in Mirwais Maidan area of Kabul (see here).

16 June: Interior Minister Wais Barmak, driving back into Kabul from Maidan Wardak, stopped in Pul-e Kampani to talk to Taleban who had come into the city (see here and also here).

16 June: BBC Persian also published pictures showing unarmed Taleban militants carrying white Taleban flags riding motorcycles in Kabul city, a group of young men sitting on top of a bus, carrying government and Taleban flags in the Arghandeh area of Kabul.

17 June: MP Nader Khan Katawazai from Paktika province posted photographs of himself with a Taleban commander in Kabul City.

17 June: Reuters relayed a story doing the rounds on social media that one Taleb, after hugging Kabul residents, asked for directions to Baharistan, to the west of Kabul. “I have heard there is very good ice cream there”.

17 June: Civil society activists hold up red cards to protest the presence of armed Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, June 17, 2018.

Their slogans read (in Persian), “We forgive, but never forget, No to secret peace talks, No to Taliban’s military presence in Kabul.”

(AP Photos/Massoud Hossaini)

Maidan Wardak

16 June: Residents, security forces and Taleban celebrated Eid together, reported Tolo News. See also pictures from BBC Persian

Ghazni

 17 June: Dozens of Taleban used the ceasefire to visit their families in Ghazni city, reported Sana News Agency. It also reported that the Ghazni Ulama Council had held a press conference, welcoming the ceasefire and demanding peace. They issued a statement saying there was no Islamic justification to continue the conflict.

Logar

15 June: Afghan soldiers test cease-fire with visit to Taliban strongholds, photo shows armed Taleban watching the ANSF convoy.

15 June: Taliban walked freely through the bazaar in the capital of Logar province.

15 June: Franz J Marty* @franzjmarty (an occasional guest author with AAN. See here and here) tweeted:

Yesterday, on Eid (15th of June), first day of #Taliban #ceasefire I witnessed how armed local Taliban gathered on the main road just outside #PuliAlam,the capital of #Logar, talking, hugging and laughing with government forces#ANDSF. #Afghanistan

Afterwards, local elders and at least one purported local #Taliban commander peacefully confered with #AfghanNationalArmy in brigade base near #PuliAlam #Logar. No concrete results and unclear, whether it will lead somewhere, but shows what might be possible. #Afghanistan.

Pictures from the #Eid #ceasefire in #PuliAlam #Logar #Afghanistan that I myself took yesterday (16th of June 2018). For more details see description on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

Afghans celebrating an unprecedented nation-wide #ceasefire in #PuliAlam, the capital of #Logar province, just south of Kabul, #Afghanistan, waving the Afghan national #flag and the white #Taliban flag, many from a #MRAP and a #HMMWV driven by soldiers of the #AfghanNationalArmy #ANA (16th of June 2018). Apart from two very bloody attacks in the eastern province of Nangarhar claimed by the local branch of the self-declared Islamic State, the ceasefire held during three days (15th to 17th of June 2018) over the religious holiday of #Eid which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The ceasefire lead to before unimaginable scenes of Taliban meeting up with Afghan government forces, hugging them and talking and laughing with them. However, it remains to be seen, whether and what lasting impact these peaceful scenes will have – while the Afghan government intends to extend the ceasefire, the Taliban announced that their ceasefire will end as planned on 17th of June 2018. #conflict #peace #reconciliation #insurgency #reporting #photoreportage #photojournalism #photodocumentary #dangerousplaces

A post shared by Franz J. Marty (@franzjmarty) on

16 June: Chief of Police Muhammad Abdali said: “I, myself, met with six Taleban’s militants in the city. They were happy that were able to enter the city and to visit their families.” (reported by Deutsche Welle)

16 June: AP reported dozens of Taliban on motorcycles roaring through the provincial capital of Pul-e-Alam, some of the vehicles festooned with the Afghan flag. According to provincial police spokesman Shahpur Ahmadzai they were unarmed. Abdullah Faizani, a Taliban fighter from Logar’s Baraki district, said it had been seven years since he has been to the provincial capital.

15 June: Voice of America @voadeewatweeted:

#Afghan Governor for #Logar province in joined by his rival #Taliban’s shadow governor and together they offered their #Eid prayers. Others who were also in attendance told #VOA, Taliban governor was unarmed when he entered the mosque. #Afghanistan #Ceasefire #peace

Rare pictures, #Taliban fighters with #Afghan security forces together on first day of Eid as it is #ceasefire day. The moterbike picture taken by @Haqmal in #Logar PoliAlam seems #Taliban fighters have city tour with no clash from both side. #Afghanistan #Peace

Wardak

16 June: According to member of the provincial council, Ahmad JafariANSF members and Taleban prayed together on the first day of Eid in Jalrez district (reported by Deutsche Welle).

Khost

 17 June: HBABUR‏ @Humayoonbabur

Massive gathering in Khost province #Afghanistan due to supports ceasefire with Taliban.

 

Paktia

16 June: Khalid khi‏ @khalid_pk

Afghan citizen makes emotional appeal to Taliban to stop fighting, make peace since both sides of lost many lives, in Paktiaas the country witnesses 2nd day of Eid and ceasefire

17 June: Haqmal Masoodzai‏ @HaqmalMasoodzai

#Ceasfire Taliban, Afghan securuty forces and people are celibrating Eid togather in Gardez city, Paktia Province. Eid 2nd day.

Paktika

15 June: It is joyful when you look #ANSF and #Taliban rally to celebrate Eid-ul-fitr jointly in #Paktika province #Afghanistan #peace #Love #Ceasefire.

18 June: 1TVNewsAFVerified account @1TVNewsAFMore

A day after end of Taliban’s 3-day ceasefire, some members of the group gather in #Paktika’s Urgun district appealing for extension of ceasefire

Uruzgan

17 June: Thousands of Uruzgan civilians and government officials, including the provincial chief of police and NDS director marched towards Taleban’s positions and requested them to join them for peace on the third day of Eid (17 June) (Report from Radio Azadi).

Kandahar

18 June: Radio Azadi reported civilians, along with Afghan soldiers and Taleban celebrating Eid together in Panjwai and Maiwand districts of KandaharIt also reported dozens of Taleban coming from Daman and Arghandab district to Kandahar city to celebrate Eid. Former governor and currently Minister for Tribes and Border Affairs Gul Agha Shairzai, and former governor Zabul province, Bismillah Afghanmal, said on behalf of worshipers in the Kherqa mosque that the government should invite Taleban to observe a permanent ceasefire and come back to their homes safely.

Helmand

15 June: The Afghan Herald‏ @theafghanherald #Afghanceasefire More photos from Shahjoi, Helmand where both #Taliban and Afghan Security forces celebrated Eid together.

17 June: Tolo News reported women welcoming Taleban for the ceasefire and appealing for its extension.

Zabul 

16 June: Zabul provincial council members said 700 Taliban members on Saturday arrived in Qalat city, the provincial capital, and celebrated Eid along with the security forces and the residents, greeted and hugged them and took selfies with each other.

16 June:  The Deputy Chief of Police told BBC Persian that around 500 Taleban had come to Shahjoy district centre to celebrate Eid with locals, who, he said were very excited. This was confirmed to the BBC by a Taleban commander.

17 June: Ata Jan Haqbayan, head of Zabul provincial Assembly met Taleban in the Shibar area of Shahjoy district. He said he had invited some of the Taleban from Shinkai and Arghandab  districts to his home in Qalat city.

https://www.facebook.com/sabawoon2014/videos/2002963806633798/

17 June: Sources from Zabultold AAN that government officials met Mullah Qayum, Mullah Salim and Qari Saifullah in the governor’s house. The source said they were “high-ranking Taleban,” but did not know their exact positions. but the source did not know their exact role among Taleban. Video here.

Farah

 16 June: Shakib Mahmud‏ @ShakibMah

#Farah Governor Basir Salangi welcomes the Taliban in his office in second day of the ceasefire and Eid. #AFG and had lunch together with them.

بصير سالنگى والى فراه از طالبان در دفتر كارش پذيرايى كرده و غذاى چاشت را با آنها در يك سفره صرف كرده است.

Posted by Bashir Ahmad Qasani on Saturday, June 16, 2018

16 June: Atta Nasib‏ @NasibAtta Atta Nasib Retweeted Shakib Mahmud

Few weeks ago Farah was ransacked by Taliban, and now they’re hugging it out with the governor. Remarkable turnaround, truly emotional what few days of peace mean to Afghans.

https://twitter.com/NasibAtta/status/1008002036602982400

Faryab  

16 June: Following the ceasefire between the government and Taleban, Afghan soldiers and Taleban visited and hugged each other in Faryab. 

پیام طالبان و پیام نظام الدین قیصاری نماینده خاص جنرال در ولایت فاریاب به ملت.

Posted by ‎M-Akbar Rahimi "محمد اکبر " رحیمی‎ on Saturday, June 16, 2018

Nangarhar

15 June: Government employees, security forces and Taliban member performed the Eid-al-Fitr prayers together at a mosque in Bati Kot district in the eastern Nangarhar province.  Addressing the people at the mosque, a Taliban commander said they will not create any hurdle for government’s development and reconstruction projects in the district. “We obey our leader. During the three-day ceasefire, we will not disobey his order,” Qari Zarif, the Taliban’s shadow district governor for Bati Kot, said. “The Islamic Emirate and the Afghan government should extend the ceasefire,” Abdul Basir, a Taliban fighter, told Tolo News.

16 June: Tolo News reports a large number of Taliban arrived in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital, and in the district centres and met with their relatives and security forces. It quotes Taliban as saying they want the temporary ceasefire to become permanent.

 16 June: Idrees Stanikzai‏ @Stanikzaiii

Zarqavi is a #Talib commander who has seen his home town Nangarhar after 9 years. He says haven’t slept since last night because of so much happiness. He said that #[K]amaDistrict has the best Ice Cream. #AfghanPeaceMarch

16 June: Young #women activist went to remote area under #Taliban control in Nangarharprovince. Demanded extension of #Ceasefire

@Sayed_Anwer, re-tweeting Muqadasa Ahmadzai in Pashto

 

16 June:Pajhwok tweeted

#Talibancommanders in #Nangarhar Governor house, in a big gathering with local officilas and the people to support #ceasefire

 

16 June: Female parliment candidate from #Nangarhar province along with Taliban during #Eid #ceasefire#ceasefireAfghanistan.

16 June: Photo from BBC Persian of a mixed gathering in Jalalabad.

Laghman 

Dozens of Taleban members gathered at a mosque in Pul-e-Alam city, the provincial capital, and celebrated Eid. 

Unknown location

16 June HBABUR‏ @Humayoonbabur Watch a video it’s very funny! … later on… a Talib fighter tells : Long live! Mullah Ashraf Ghani…!!!

 

Punishment for Taleban members  

18 June: Taleban to punish the members who took selfies with people.

18 June: A day after end of Taliban’s 3-day ceasefire, some members of the group gather in #Paktika’s Urgun district appealing for extension of ceasefire.

 

 

(1) Not everyone on the government’s side (or maybe more accurately, the anti-Taleban side) was happy with the ceasefire. Most vocally antagonistic was the former NDS director and Shura-ye Nizar stalwart Amrullah Saleh who tweeted after it was announced about the “attitude of treacherous compromise in the political constituency of NUG [National Unity Government], entrenchment of fifth column culture & confusion within the ANDSF [Afghan National Defence and Security Forces” and warned that, “Appeasement never brings peace.” When the Taleban announced their ceasefire, he predicted that if they abided by it, it would be their first humanitarian action ever.

(2) Ghani’s tweets in English on 16 June in full:

Few days ago when we were preparing for ceasefire many were skeptical that Taliban will not comply, and also how will it be put into practice? But those doubts were removed once ceasefire began and assumptions made by many analysts and politician were proven wrong.

We’re ready for comprehensive negotiations, all those issues and demands that have been put-forth we are ready to discuss them at the peace talks. The Afghan government is ready to discuss issues of mutual concern with neighboring countries, and presence of foreign forces.

Peace is an urgent need and as it turned out that in the last 24 hours there was a consensus between the Afghan government and the Taliban on peace, it proved that we are all for peace. Fortunately, there’s also consensus among the international community on peace in Afghanistan. 

A good example of this consensus is the joint Eid prayers performed by the Taliban and government employees in different mosques and Eidgahs. 

Both sides sang about peace and harmony, and in Eid the environment during the Eid sermons was different than before, all the religious scholars and Imams spoke about the value, significance and importance of peace in Islam.

To respect the public’s wishes and to support their demands about peace, I am ordering the security and defense forces to extend the ceasefire from the fourth day of Eid. We will soon share the details of the proposed ceasefire with the nation.

We also request the Afghan Taliban to extend their ceasefire. During the ceasefire, we will provide medical assistance to the wounded Taliban, and will provide them any humanitarian assistance if needed. Taliban prisoners will also be allowed to contact and see their families. 

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Taleban ANSF Eid al Fitr ceasefire

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