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Ghani cautiously optimistic of Pakistan’s support

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani has expressed cautious optimism about winning Pakistan’s support for negotiating a peaceful end to the 13-year-old Taliban insurgency.

Addressing an audience at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), he said Kabul and Islamabad had agreed in talks since November that “for 13 years, we have been in an undeclared state of hostilities.”

Pakistan’s acceptance of that notion — that the real conflict has been between the two states, rather than within Afghanistan — is a breakthrough, according to the president.

In a statement from USIP, he said: “The problem, fundamentally, is not about peace with Taliban. The problem is fundamentally about peace between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Ghani admitted challenges of implementation would be immense once any peace deal was reached. He recalled years ago researching hundreds of peace deals from recent conflicts worldwide, and said: “50 percent of peace agreements globally break down within five years,”

He described a new “ecology of terrorism” represented by the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and its efforts to find footholds in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

On his plans for prosecutions of those suspected of war crimes, Ghani voiced caution. He praised efforts by South Africa and Rwanda, but said his great focus would be on ensuring justice in the present. “We cannot sacrifice the future for the sake of the past.” (PAN)

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