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Ghani turns down rebel calls for dissolution of army

KABUL: The rebel Taliban has demanded the dissolution of the national army to halt nearly two decades of fighting, but President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday flatly refused the call and instead demanded the insurgents fight without carrying out suicide attacks and bombs.

“Those who are forcefully bringing others to negotiate must not talk about dissolving our “lions” (army); if they are so brave, then they must come and fight on the battlefield instead of carrying out suicide attacksand explosions,” Ghani said.

Ghani had been referring to a video issued by a senior Taliban member, and former head of the Qatar office, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai. Stanikzai had been discussing the Doha talks between the Taliban and the United States. In the video, Stanikzai said once the US forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan, there would be no need for an army in Afghanistan.

In response, Ghani said at an event to honor commandos, after they were freed last week from a Taliban prison, that the country’s security forces are improving and getting stronger and will eventually be able to work without foreign assistance. 

President Ghani also said that a peace agreement that’s not sustainable and temporary would not be accepted.

The president said this after conferring medals on special unit forces who participated in a recent operation freeing 38 people from a Taliban prison in Almar village of Ab Band district in southern Ghazni province.

Ghani said a peace which could not recognize the important role of the Afghan security and defense forces was not acceptable, according to a statement from the Presidential Palace.

“A peace that our security and defense forces do not guarantee is not acceptable to us,” Ghani added. 

Ghani said no Afghan security personnel fought for salary or privileges but for the country, the system and the people.

“You should be praised every day, I as the commander in chief am proud of you,” President Ghani said, after conferring medals on the commandos.

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