by Abdul Haleem
KABUL, June 15 (Xinhua) -- "We have offered our Eidul Fitr prayers in a peaceful environment today and I am hopeful that the brief ceasefire between the government and the Taliban would turn into a permanent one and finally a lasting peace in the country," whispered a Kabul resident, Azimullah.
Azimullah, in his 50s, said happily that over the past three decades "this is the first time that the warring sides in Afghanistan observed truce during Eid festival," allowing people to perform Eid prayers free of fears.
The Afghan government announced a seven-day ceasefire on June 7, which came into effect from June 12 or Ramadan 27, to encourage Taliban outfit to support the national reconciliation process.
Reciprocating the step, the armed Taliban group announced a three-day truce starting from the first day of Eidul-Fitr, the annual religious festival, on Friday and continuing until the end of Sunday, the last day of the festival.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, in his address to the nation after performing Eidul Fitr prayers Friday morning, expressed the hope that the current ceasefire in Afghanistan could lead to lasting peace in the militancy-plagued country.
"I am hopeful that the ceasefire between the government and the Taliban will continue to end bloodshed and eventually lead to lasting peace in Afghanistan," President Ghani said in his short speech broadcast by the national television.
Contrary to past years, Afghans across the insurgency-riddled country celebrated the first day of Eidul Fitr peacefully and so far no security incidents have been reported in Kabul or other parts of the country.
"To be frank, I am very happy and feel proud that today we offered our Eidul Fitr prayers free of fears and no suicide attacks have been reported," another Kabul resident, Mohammad Jawad, told Xinhua.
Welcoming the ceasefire, Afghans from all walks of life have been repeatedly calling upon the Taliban and the government to extend it and begin result-oriented peace talks to end the lingering crisis in the war-battered country.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the restive Helmand province, troubled Baghlan, Wardak, Ghazni and other parts of Afghanistan, by organizing meetings, conferences and rallies, have called upon the leaderships of Taliban and the government to extend it into a permanent one.
Availing the truce, the foot soldiers of Taliban outfit and the government, according to locals, offered their Eid prayers in the same mosques in Kapisa and Logar provinces and visited their families and relatives free of fears on Friday.
Religious scholars and prayers leaders, in their Eidul Fitr sermons on Friday, hailed both the Taliban and the government for observing ceasefire and called upon warring sides to extend it until lasting peace returns to Afghanistan.
"No country has experienced 40 years of war in contemporary history of our world. The ceasefire has provided a golden opportunity for all Afghans, especially the warring sides to exploit the situation for finding negotiated settlement and returning viable peace in Afghanistan," a war-weary man, Mohammad Gul, 64, said in low voice.