India on Sunday welcomed the ceasefire agreement reached between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban on the occasion of Id. It is understood that the ceasefire is likely to prepare the ground for the intra-Afghan negotiations.“We hope 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 Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement, welcoming the three-day truce.Afghan sources indicated that the ceasefire, which came after hectic negotiations mediated by U.S. representative Zalmay Khalilzad, would most likely lead to intra-Afghan negotiations as envisaged in the February 29 U.S.-Taliban agreement.Mr. Khalilzad has described the ceasefire as a “momentous opportunity”. The Taliban was earlier criticised for not declaring a ceasefire during the month of Ramzan. President Ashraf Ghani has instructed the national forces to observe the ceasefire.Afghan sources hinted that talks on an agreement on the release of elderly and ailing Taliban prisoners were at an advanced stage.The ceasefire was declared soon after Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a statement greeting the people on the occasion of Id. He reached out to regional countries and sought a constructive engagement with them at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taliban fighters have been instructed not to initiate fighting during this period, though they are allowed to defend themselves in case of an attack.The Taliban leader accused foreign intelligence networks of promoting hatred and bigotry in Afghanistan.
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