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Afghan Leader Declares Unilateral Cease-Fire in Fight Against Taliban

Borhan Osman, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Afghanistan who has kept a close eye on militant movements here, said Mr. Ghani’s cease-fire announcement furthered the challenge presented to the Taliban by his offer months ago of a detailed peace plan that the militant group is still considering without a clear response.

But it also reflected a battlefield reality, he said, where “more than 90 percent of the attacks in Afghanistan are initiated by the insurgency these days.” The government is already on the defensive, he said, so it might as well use the cease-fire to build trust with the Taliban and test how serious they are about negotiating peace.

“The Taliban have always expressed concern that the government is not serious about peace, and not coherent enough to be a reliable partner for talks,” Mr. Osman said. “Today’s announcement could be a step toward addressing those worries, showing that Mr. Ghani as commander in chief has the power to halt offensives by all pro-government forces.”

It is unclear how the Taliban will react to Mr. Ghani’s unilateral cease-fire. The movement’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said he was consulting the leadership about their position.

Mr. Osman said the Taliban would closely watch the implementation of the cease-fire to see whether Mr. Ghani has full control over his forces, or faces dissenters who will rebel and take things into their own hands.

Source: NYT > World

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