By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: In a virtual interview with the Atlantic Council on Thursday, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani laid out his vision for peace in Afghanistan and highlighted the importance of a ceasefire and reduction in violence to jump start the intra-Afghan talks.
“I think now we are on course and next week we should be able to inform the world of the next steps,” President Ghani told Atlantic Council’s Stephen Hadley as they discussed intra-Afghan negotiations.
“The United States and Afghanistan are completely aligned. getting to peace is my absolute priority.” Said President Ghani.
“My vision is to enable my fellow Afghan women and men to enjoy the conditions and implement visions of a common future President.”
He also paid tribute to the sacrifices of US service members and civilians killed in Afghanistan in the line of duty, saying: “A grateful nation a grateful government and a grateful president honor this partnership.”
President Ghani shared five key objectives that provide the foundation for that vision.
“It’s fundamental that partnerships shift from a predominantly security focus to strengthen economic & cultural ties that enable Afghanistan to tackle fundamental issues of poverty, exclusion & violence,” he said.
President Ghani called for a humanitarian ceasefire amid COVID-19 and said that the pandemic has caused 88-90% of the Afghan population to require food assistance and other medical attention.
On the ceasefire, he said, “The Eid ceasefire was a major movement, to enable us to take some bold and critical decisions. As you saw…I announced the release of 2,000 Taliban prisoners and managed to release one thousand within two days, I think the final numbers by the two teams–we have a Taliban team in Afghanistan present that are checking the numbers–today we should have reached or crossed the 3,000 figures.”
“The remaining commitment, my colleagues and I have made the decision to release an additional 2,000 prisoners with a very short period, we will announce the date soon,” said the president.
The president said that peace with the Taliban does not mean an end of threats from Al Qaeda and other terror groups.
“The ultimate approval of the peace agreement that we are very keen to ensure will be decided by the Afghan people (at the) institution of the Loya Jirga. Loya Jirga cant not be manipulated, they are truly an institution of democracy in practice,” said president Ghani.
He said that violence will not influence gestures of reconciliation or acceptance.
“The war has no winner, all of us are loser in a war, the winner of peace will be the people of Afghanistan and our neighbor,” he said.
On the peace negotiations he said that the negotiating team is all-inclusive and it represents all the people of Afghanistan.
He said that Afghan women are serving directly on the negotiating team.
President Ghani said that it’s premature to talk about an interim government in Afghanistan.
“Any discussion of an interim government is premature, I serve the will of the people of Afghanistan not the will of the Taliban,” President Ghani said.