Ghani asks Taliban to join peace process

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani renewed his dialogue offer to the Taliban on Sunday and said the “Taliban are facing a major test — to choose whether they want peace or war.”
“Peace is in the interests of both us and the Taliban,” Ghani said while addressing the opening of Parliament on Sunday after the winter break.
“We urge the Taliban to join peace talks and determine the best way to serve Islam and Afghanistan,” President Ghani said. “Real peace cannot come from behind closed doors,” he said.
His comments came a day after the Taliban refused to hold direct peace talks with the Afghan government, dealing a blow to international efforts to revive long-stalled negotiations aimed at ending the deadly 14-year insurgency.
On March 5, Afghan Taliban discredited diplomatic efforts by the quadrilateral group, i.e. Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States, saying their political office in Qatar had been kept in dark on the reconciliation process.
A statement from the Taliban’s all powerful ‘Rehbari Shura’ or leadership council reiterated their pre-conditions, which include end to the foreign occupation in Afghanistan, release of prisoners and lifting of UN-imposed international curbs of the top leaders.
“We want peace and no one should doubt our intention. That has been our national approach. We have a strong resolve for peace and we have not given up this policy even though the environment has been sensitive and fighting has continued,” said the Afghan president.
However, Ghani said that it is not a civil war in Afghanistan, Afghans are all brothers, and it is “indeed imposed war.”
He rejected allegations that the leadership lacks the will to fight insurgents and said that the cooperation between the security forces has improved in the past year.
“The enemy suffered major casualties in winter at the hands of forces fighting insurgents in provinces including Baghlan and Ghazni.”
He called on citizens to support the national defense and security forces and added that Afghanistan has been able to receive international support for the long-term and added that the “Warsaw meeting will be held soon and support for security forces will be pledged.”
Ghani also warned the country it “should be ready for a worse situation but we have hopes for peace.” Agencies