“I call on the Taliban to show their Afghan will, and accept Afghans’ demands for peace, and enter serious talks with the Afghan government,” President Ashraf Ghani said in a nationally televised address from the Presidential palace in Kabul.
Now is the ‘right moment’ for peace in Afghanistan, Ghani said on Wednesday as he once more called on the Taliban to negotiate with his government. The Taliban have steadfastly refused to discuss peace with Ghani, whom they consider a US stooged heading an illegitimate regime.
But a series of talks in recent days seems to have shifted the needle in Afghanistan’s war, with the US and the Taliban claiming to have made significant progress during a summit in Doha.
Additionally, some members of Ghani’s circle attended overlapping talks in the Qatari capital with the Taliban, though only in what they called a ‘personal capacity’.
“In the past 18 years the time was not right for peace, for a realistic peace. Today is the right moment,” said Ghani at an EU anti-corruption conference being held in Kabul. “If we lose this opportunity then the responsibility (for the loss) is big.” Ghani also said concerted efforts are being made for the restoration of peace in the country and in any event the rights of the people would not be compromised in the name of peace.
Ghani stressed that the Taliban and his government must negotiate. “We are the two warring side,” he said. Following days of talks last week with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the Taliban met Afghan representatives at an ‘Intra-Afghan dialogue’. According to a statement released by the Afghan President’s office, the Taliban have demanded from Khalilzad the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, however no agreement has been made yet.
The US has insisted on such talks and the two Afghan sides issued a joint resolution pledging a ‘roadmap for peace’ for the war-torn country.
“We want peace, we want it fast but we want it with a plan,” President Ghani said in his address on Monday.