India has joined countries such as the US, Germany and Iran in welcoming a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan, saying it hopes the truce will be further extended in order to address the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country.
The Taliban announced the ceasefire for Eid-ul-Fitr on Saturday evening. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed it and extended an offer of peace from his government.
He instructed Afghan security forces to comply with the three-day ceasefire and to “defend only if attacked”.
The external affairs ministry said in a statement on Sunday: “India welcomes the understanding reached for a ceasefire in Afghanistan for three days during the Eid.
We hope that this ceasefire would extend further and become permanent to address the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and pave the way for durable peace and stability for the people of Afghanistan.”
The statement added, “India stands with the people of Afghanistan in their quest for enduring peace, security, sovereignty, and prosperity.”
On Sunday, Ghani announced his government will release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture in response to the ceasefire, and take further steps in the peace process.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo welcomed the announcement of the truce . “We worked hard to achieve this moment, and I hope that this respite from conflict gives Afghan people the space and security they deserve to celebrate Eid, while allowing the Taliban and the government the opportunity to take additional steps toward a peaceful future,” he said.
The Taliban had last called for a ceasefire during Eid in June 2018. However, violence has significantly increased in Afghanistan since the US and the Taliban signed a deal in February.
The world community has been calling for a reduction in violence so that the fraying peace process can be taken forward.