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Afghanistan’s Ashraf Ghani Offers Taliban Olive Branch

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As part of a proposed political process with the aim of ending the 16 years of war in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani has offered to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political group. He made the offer at the start of an international conference for peace talks, showing a huge concession on the Western-backed government in Kabul and the willingness to dialogue with the Taliban.

President Ghani has proposed ceasefire and the release of prisoners, organizing elections with the militant group as well as a constitutional review as part of the package to bring an end to the conflict which only last year has killed and wounded some 10,000 civilians.

At the opening ceremony of the conference attended by delegates from around 25 countries, President Ghani said ”We are making this offer without preconditions in order to lead to a peace agreement, the Taliban are expected to give input to the peace-making process, the goal of which is to draw the Taliban, as an organization, to peace talks.” He went ahead to add, that he would not ”pre-judge” any group wanting peace.

Those comments came after suicide attack a month ago killed 100 people, a change of tone for President Ghani who previously labeled the Taliban ”rebels” and terrorists” even though he had offered peace talks with parts of the organization that accepted it.

The UN mission in the country welcomes the offer, noting that it ”strongly supports the vision for peace through intra-Afghan dialogue”.

The desire to see a major regional gas pipeline from Turkmenistan could be the motivating factor behind Ghani’s recent shift for the peace momentum as neighboring countries are willing to see a stable Afghanistan.

There has been no immediate response to Ghani’s offer but the Taliban officials have faced pressure from friendly countries, urging them to accept talks who have shown concern that they could be standing in the way for any peace process. President Ghani says the process would accompany diplomatic support, a global concerted effort to convince Pakistan of the advantages of a stable Afghanistan.

He rejects accusation and finger-pointing of the thousands of citizens already killed by militants, the release of prisoners and their names removed from international blacklists while making security arrangements for the Taliban to join a reconciliatory process. Promising the reintegration former fighters and refugees who could be provided jobs.

 

 

 

Neba Benson,

BaretaNews Foreign Correspondent/Analyst

 

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