The latest announcement by the Taliban to hold a three-day ceasefire due to Eid-ul-Azha provides a much-needed respite for ordinary Afghans. The recently announced break in the fight is one of the very few occasions of normalcy that the people of the war-torn country have seen for years. Ashraf Ghani’s government was quick to reciprocate the move. The two developments are encouraging and indicate that the two sides are making progress in the on-going peace talks. After the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani hinted at releasing five thousand Taliban prisoners, it’s clear that the Afghan state is looking to speed up the dialogue process.

The issue of prisoner release was the main bone of contention between the Afghan government and the Taliban. With that being resolved, the two sides, hopefully, will overcome all other challenges that all the stakeholders will confront while negotiating the intra-Afghan dialogue. Ghani has hinted at releasing as many as 5000 prisoners, the Taliban must now respond to the Afghan government’s request to begin the intra-Afghan talks positively. The militant group no longer has a valid excuse, at least at this stage of the talks process.

Violence remains the most pressing issue that is plaguing Afghanistan at the moment—especially the surge in violence since the signing of the US-Taliban peace deal. Since then, more than 3500 security personnel have been killed in attacks on the insurgents, both the Taliban and other groups, especially the Islamic State (IS), had carried on against the Afghan government. As suggested earlier and many a time to the insurgents, excessive reliance on the efficacy of violence can backfire. They need to initiate the intra-Afghan peace process as soon as possible, to become permanent stakeholders in the decision-making process of the country. Both sides need to accommodate all interests and try and make concessions where possible; that is the only way this process will be effective. Including all Afghan factions and parties in the intra-Afghan talks will bar the spoilers, who do not want to see a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.