Afghan President: ‘I Will Negotiate with the Taliban’s Leader Anywhere’

Ashraf Ghani
AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in an op-ed published Wednesday, again supplicated the Taliban terrorists to embrace his U.S.-backed offer of a truce and official acceptance of the group as a political organization, stressing that he is willing to “negotiate” with the Taliban’s chief “anywhere he wants.”

Ghani’s most recent plea comes a day after the Taliban ardently defended their “jihadic resistance” in Afghanistan, suggesting that they intend to continue fighting until the U.S. agrees to direct negotiations with the jihadis that would primarily revolve around the withdrawal of foreign forces.

At the end of Ramadan (June 15 thru June 17), Afghans got what some a top U.S. State Department official described as “an exhilarating first taste of what peace might look like,” referring the unprecedented ceasefire agreed to by the Taliban and Kabul.

The Taliban and Afghan forces feasted together during the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, to the dismay of leaders of the terrorist organization.

In the op-ed published by the New York Times (NYT), President Ghani notes:

About half of Afghanistan’s population — around 33 million — is young enough to have never seen a day of peace. … For 38 years now, peace in my country has remained a dream, a prayer on our lips. On June 15, on the festival of Eid, our prayers were answered. … For three days, it made no difference whether you were a Talib or an Afghan soldier; a woman or a man; a Tajik, a Pashtun or a Hazara. For three days, Afghans were united and elated by the possibility of peace.

We rediscovered tolerance and acceptance within us. As president of Afghanistan, the most difficult decision I have made was to ask my people to join me in this bold experiment to reject the perceived wisdom of the analysts and observers. The cease-fire proved the wisdom of the Afghan people over all other assumptions [that peace is impossible].

Kabul, backed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, has been vigorously pushing for a ceasefire since the brief truce, unilaterally declaring an extension of the truce the Taliban has repeatedly refused to accept.

Ghani writes:

The Afghan people demand peace … I will sit and negotiate with the Taliban’s leader, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, anywhere he wants. … I call on them [Taliban] to respond positively to the peace proposal I extended to them in February, extend the cease-fire, agree on a venue for negotiations and engage in a formal negotiation process in good faith.
The people of Afghanistan deserve an end to this war, and the region and the world at large have much to gain from it.

In February, Ghani offered the Taliban a ceasefire and official recognition as a political organization, a proposal backed by the United States.

Reconciliation between Kabul and the Taliban is the primary goal of U.S. President Trump’s strategy in Afghanistan.

The U.S. has refused to accept the Taliban’s precondition for peace negotiations — the total withdrawal of foreign forces. U.S. officials have also insisted that Kabul lead the peace negotiations. Anything short of that would confirm the Taliban’s assertions that the Kabul government is an illegitimate U.S. “puppet.”

U.S. and Afghan officials have expressed optimism towards peace negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan that started in October 2001, citing the brief ceasefire at the end of Ramadan this year.

“For the civilian population, on whom the war is taking an increasing toll, more than mere respite, the ceasefire offered a glimmer of hope and a possible indication of what peace in Afghanistan could someday look like,” Vice News acknowledges describing the historic Eid ceasefire from inside Afghanistan.

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