The Taliban said it has agreed to a temporary cease-fire across Afghanistan, creating a window of opportunity to hash out details of possible peace talks toward ending an 18-year-long war with the United States, according to reports.
The ruling council confirmed the cease-fire to The Associated Press over the weekend. The head of the Taliban, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, hasn’t approved the deal, although AP reported that it’s expected.
The Taliban hasn’t made any official announcements about the deal.
It’s not clear how long the cease-fire would last; at least one report said it would last a week, while AP reported that it would last 10 days.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Taliban council came to the agreement Dec. 25 in the Pakistani city of Quetta.
“It is said that the Peshawar council, which has the largest number of Taliban leaders, has made a positive decision on the ceasefire, but when the Taliban delegation went to Quetta, the Quetta council, which is mostly military, had different views on the ceasefire,” said Sami Yousufzai, a freelance journalist in Doha, told Afghan website TOLO News. He made the comments several days before the cease-fire reports emerged.
Jalaluddin Shinwari, a former member of the Taliban, said: “Every decision taken by the leadership is obeyed, based on Sharia. But since a discussion is an Islamic principle, there must be some discussion between the political leaders and military commanders of the (Taliban).”
Last week, the U.N. Secretary General’s special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, called on the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the United States to make a deal on a permanent cease-fire.
“The United Nations urges all stakeholders to seek ways to reduce levels of violence, especially the violence which harms civilians, on the way to a lasting political settlement and a permanent ceasefire. Implementing a reduction of violence is also important in creating an environment that enables constructive intra-Afghan talks on peace to take place,” Yamamoto said in a statement.
U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Dec. 7 held the first official talks with the Taliban, coming several months after President Donald Trump declared that a peace deal with the terrorist organization was dead. Trump made the comment after the Taliban claimed responsibility in September for a terrorist attack in Kabul, the nation’s capital.
On Thanksgiving Day in November, the president visited a military base in Afghanistan and served food to U.S. troops stationed there. There are about 12,000 troops currently serving in the country, amid the conflict triggered by the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal. We’ll see if they want to make a deal. It’s got to be a real deal, but we’ll see. But they want to make a deal,” Trump told reporters at the time.