Truce with Taliban will help focus on pressing issues: Afghan Prez Ashraf Ghani


President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Twitter Photo

President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Twitter Photo

Batting for peace with the Taliban, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Wednesday said a truce will help his government focus on pressing issues such as poverty and counter-terrorism in the country, where 40 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Referring to the Eid ceasefire with the Taliban announced by his government this year, the Afghan president said the “bold move” was largely successful and welcomed by an overwhelming majority of people.

He said the Eid ceasefire was 98 per cent implemented.

“Why is peace with Taliban important? Because, if we arrive at peace with Taliban, we can concentrate on (matters like) counter-terrorism,” Ghani said at an event organised by India Foundation.

With the presence of foreign terrorists and ISIS in Afghanistan, it is necessary to devise a method to separate the Taliban and others, he said.

“Consequences of this will enable us to embark on the real task. 40 per cent of Afghans are below poverty (line),” he said.

Asserting that peace must be “inclusive” and not “partial”, Ghani said dictatorship has no place in the future of Afghanistan.

He said the ceasefire reflected that Afghans are willing to forget the sufferings of the past for a better future.

Ghani said at present, Afghanistan spends USD 6.2 billion on security, while its national revenue was USD 2.4 billion. The government is committed to reducing it.

With US troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, he said his country’s people have demonstrated that they can defend themselves.

He said Afghanistan has over 40,000 commandos in its special forces and they can reach any place in the country in a few hours.

Ghani, who was on a one-day visit to New Delhi, said India can play a major role to develop the underdeveloped resources of Afghanistan.

“That is how we can make every Afghan a stakeholder in society, in the economy,” he said.

India has been undertaking several developmental projects in the country that has witnessed civil strife and war for decades. It has also committed millions of dollars for aid, Ghani said.

He said nearly 15,000 Afghan students have been studying in Indian institutes.

“A stable Afghanistan will allow uplifting from poverty to prosperity, from dis-connectivity to connectivity in shared understanding. This is what Afghanistan and India were practising. This is where our common vision unites,” he said.

Ghani also called for an international commission of civil society and security experts to investigate crimes on Afghans, which he termed as a crime against humanity.

He concluded his speech with ‘Jai India, Jai Afghanistan’ slogan.

In March, India welcomed the Afghan government’s call to armed groups to cease violence and join national peace and reconciliation process that would protect the rights of all Afghans, including the women, children and the minorities.

“There can be no compromise with terrorism and action must be taken against those who continue down the path of violence and those who finance them and provide safe havens and sanctuaries,” the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.