General Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterates Islamabad's support for peace process to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, as Taliban and government declare a three-day ceasefire.

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani meets with Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 10, 2021.
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani meets with Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 10, 2021. (Reuters)

The Pakistani army chief has offered Islamabad's support for the Afghanistan peace process in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghania in Kabul amid growing violence as the United States withdraws its troops.

Pakistani Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterated to Ghani that "a peaceful Afghanistan means a peaceful region in general and a peaceful Pakistan in particular," a Pakistani military statement said on Monday.

"We will always support 'Afghan led-Afghan owned' Peace Process based on mutual consensus of all stakeholders," it said.

Britain's Chief of Defence Staff General Nicholas Patrick Carter also attended the meeting. 

Britain still has troops in Afghanistan in a war that started with the overthrow of a Taliban government following the 2001 attacks by militants in the United States.

READ MORE: Afghan mourners bury victims of Kabul school blasts

Pakistan, a key player 

Pakistan is a key player to resolve the conflict between the Western-backed government and the Taliban insurgents.

In the past, Islamabad has been accused of harbouring the Taliban but in recent years Washington and other Western powers have acknowledged its efforts to push the militant group to take part in peace talks.

In recent weeks, Pakistan has been negotiating with the insurgents to try to get them to commit to a ceasefire, Taliban and diplomatic sources have told Reuters.

Pakistan is also trying to persuade them to agree to an extension of the US-Taliban agreement which stipulated US and other foreign forces should withdraw by May and to continue to take part in planned peace talks in Turkey. 

But violence has risen starkly in recent weeks as the US forces pull out.

READ MORE: US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a pandora's box

Taliban's Eid ceasefire 

Meanwhile Afghan government declared a three-day ceasefire for this week's Eid al Fitr holiday, matching Taliban's three-day truce, following a sharp spike in violence as Washington goes about withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan.

Early Monday, the Taliban instructed their fighters "to halt all offensive operations against the enemy countrywide from the first till the third day of Eid".

That was matched later in the day by Ghani, who went further by urging the Taliban to announce a permanent truce to end the bloody war.

Afghanistan's presidential palace said security forces would also observe the ceasefire.

Eid al Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fas ting month of Ramadan, and the holiday begins according to the sighting of the new moon.

Surging violence

Violence has soared since May 1 — the deadline missed by the United States to withdraw the last of its troops — and while the Taliban have avoided engaging American forces, attacks against government and civilian targets have not stopped.

In the latest, the interior ministry said Monday that at least 11 people were killed by a bomb that struck a bus overnig ht in southeastern Zabul province.

That followed Saturday's carnage outside a school in the capital Kabul when a series of bombs killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 100 — most of them young girls.

READ MORE: Taliban declare three-day Afghan ceasefire for Eid holiday

Source: TRTWorld and agencies