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Peace marchers set Taliban deadline to extend truce

Peace marchers set Taliban deadline to extend truce

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Jun 21, 2018 - 17:47

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The peace marchers on Thursday said they had set the Talibaninfo-icon a three-day deadline in a letter to positively respond to the government’s ceasefire extension after their meeting with President Ashraf Ghani.

The Helmand peace activists, who walked for about 700 kilometers in 37 days across six provinces crisscrossing between government and Taliban-controlled areas, arrived in capital Kabul on Monday.

After their meeting with President Ashraf Ghani, the peace activists presented a wish list through the media with the government and the Taliban.

Their demands included a month-long extension in ceasefire, specifying a place for starting peace negotiations, discussing withdrawal of foreign troops and bringing amendments to the Constitution.

Bismillah Watandost, a spokesman for the peace activists, told Pajhwok Afghan News that their wish for peace increased after meeting the president and they also sent a letter to the Taliban on Wednesday.

 “We have set the Taliban a three-day deadline to respond to our letter and prove their independence by responding positively to the public demands,” he said.

He said by announcing unilateral ceasefire the government proved itself sovereign. President Ghani announced the ceasefire decision without consulting foreign allies, he said. “The people expect a similar decision from the Taliban .. independent decision”, he said.

Watandost said the Taliban should respect people’s demands and extend the ceasefire for a month as the Afghan government did in order to ensure a trustful environmentinfo-icon for both sides.

They would install ‘advocacy tents’ in front of the US, British, Russian, Pakistani and Iranian embassies and the United Nations if the Taliban did not respond to their letter in two days, the activist said.

He said the Taliban had no specific address (inside the country) and they shared their letter with the group’s spokespersons. The peace activists hoped the Taliban would respond positively, he said.

President Ashraf Ghani during a meeting with the peace marchers on Tuesday repeated his peace offer and said he was ready for negotiations without setting preconditions wherever the Taliban wanted.

He said he was also ready to discuss withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistaninfo-icon with the Taliban.

Ghani said he would extend the ceasefire by one year if the Taliban accepted the government’s suggestions.

On the other hand, hundreds of tribal elders, religious scholars and youth held a gathering in Helmand province on Thursday and urged the Taliban to extend ceasefire with the government.

Border and Tribal Affairs Minister Gul Agha Shirzai also participated in the gathering.

Sherzai said hopes for peace increased following government’s recent steps.

Meanwhile, provincial council head Attaullah Afghan told Pajhwok the three-day ceasefire during Eid showed the ongoing conflict was a proxy war in Afghanistan.

Agha Mohammad Himatyar, a religious scholar, said they could pave the ground for direct peace talks but not all warring parties trusted them.

mds/ma

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