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President offers unconditional Taliban talks; Inclined for a state-to-state dialogue with Pakistan to end political confrontations: Ghani

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday offered to the Taliban ‘a comprehensive plan for peace’ which could lead to a reconciliation aimed at ending 16 years of war. The president unveiled a clear proposition for unconditional talks with the Taliban as a political group, at the start of the international conference, where representatives from over 20 countries and international organizations are in attendance for a discourse on peace and defense cooperation.

Ghani offered peace talks with the Taliban without any preconditions or restrictions, proposing a political process for reconciliation parleys be established. He also made a range of propositions including ceasefire, a release of prisoners, recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political front, a constitutional amendment as part of a peace agreement with the Taliban, and solid preparations for a free and fair elections, involving militants.

The president invited the insurgent group to open an office in Kabul. He proposed to allow the insurgent Taliban to have their Afghan passports and travel unrestrictedly and have access to media outlets, and have their families resettled.

The president also insisted on a legal solution to release prisoners and lift sanctions levied on them. Respecting the rule of law and recognition of the Afghan government as a formal government is indispensable, he said, calling for unflinching backing and cooperation of the international alliance for the proposed peace plan.

He demanded efforts for ensuring security of civilians as well as peace-seeking Taliban militants, and orchestrating stringent reforms, struggle for development, and repatriation of Afghan refugees. He stressed the need for an international diplomatic support to identify foreign fighters and seclude them from those Taliban militants joining peace process.

Ghani proposed an effective mechanism be set in place to assign circumstances and goals through short-term and long-term plans to enforce the proposition for peace talks. He insisted that his proposition of unconditional peace talks should be an agenda to reach a peace agreement.

Ghani urged the High Peace Council to assign a professional delegation – including women – for running peace dialogue. He said Kabul could be the best platform for peace negotiations, but “we are open to any suggestion from their side; we can hold talks in any other Muslim country or the UN office,” he said. The decision is yours to take, he told the Taliban.

Pointing to Pakistan, the president said Afghanistan is ready for a state to state dialogue with Pakistan. “We are ready to negotiate with Pakistan and put an end to years of political acrimony and unravel a new chapter of bilateral relations”. The government’s stance shall not be construed as a weakness. We trust our defense forces as well as our nation”, he said.

The offer comes days after the political office of the Taliban released a statement seeking talks with the US government.

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