Afghan govt suggests ceasefire with Taliban

Kabul, March 20 (IANS) The Afghan government suggested a nationwide ceasefire with the Taliban to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus and deliver services to the people in Afghanistan, where the global pandemic has so far infected 22 people and forced the country to ban all types of social and political gatherings.

“In order to have prevented this pandemic in the country, our suggestion and demand is to go for a ceasefire, so we will be able to help our people with precaution and treatment of this disease in every corner of Afghanistan,” Defence Minister, Asadullah Khalid said in a video message on Thursday, accompanied by Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi.

Khalid said the Afghan government and security forces were working throughout the country to prevent the spread of the virus and to deliver necessary services and assistance to residents and needed to reach people in every part of the country, reports Efe news.

“Our suggestion is for a nationwide ceasefire, so we can work together for prevention of this disease” Khalid said.

The Taliban was yet to respond to the government’s suggestion.

The suggestion of a ceasefire came at a time the Taliban had begun armed attacks against Afghan security forces, following a week-long reduction in violence last month.

After the end of the week, which paved the way for a United States-Taliban peace agreement signing on February 29 in Doha, the Taliban stopped its attacks against foreign forces but gradually increased armed strikes on Afghan forces, which have continued despite several warnings from the government.

Khalid said Afghan troops, to respect the US-Taliban peace agreement, have remained in full defensive mood from February 22 but the militant group had “not only restarted their attacks, but even increased their attacks” after the reduction in violence ended on February 29.

“Today we directed all our forces to go from defensive mood to active defensive situation,” Khalid said.

Afghanistan has allocated $25 million and prepared several isolation centres with more than 1,000 beds in various provinces as part of its effort to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

So far all 22 people who tested positive in the country had recently visited Iran, which has been one of the worst hotspots in the world.

Afghanistan has not yet reported any death due to the virus.



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