Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed to give his life for peace with the Taliban in a speech delivered Sunday after he officially joined at least 14 other candidates expected to run for the presidency during the July 20 elections, including the notorious Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, known as the “butcher of Kabul.”
“We will work for peace on behalf of a dignified and a painful nation, but we will not beg for peace from anyone,” the 69-year-old Ghani, who is seeking a second five-year term, declared in a speech after registering on Sunday, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
Ghani was elected to the presidency in 2014 after a bitterly disputed vote that prompted a U.S.-brokered power-sharing agreement with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who has also registered to run.
Khaama Press (KP) reports:
In his speech to the media after completion of registration process, Ghani promised to work towards peace and bring stability in the country, emphasizing that his team would strive for peace but would never beg it from the others.
He also added that his team would remain committed that no deal would be made to compromise with the dignity of the nation and the Afghan national defense and security forces.
Ghani said the first peace offer to the [Taliban] militants was made by him and he would be ready to lay his life for peace.
In recent months, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has boosted its efforts to pressure the Taliban into a negotiated settlement with the Afghan government, to no avail.
The Taliban recently canceled the peace negotiations with the United States over America’s insistence that the terrorist group talks directly with Kabul, among other reasons.
Taliban terrorists continue to dismiss the Afghan government as an illegitimate “puppet” of the United States despite Ghani’s U.S.-backed offer of a ceasefire and political recognition as an official political group.
On Sunday, Ghani registered as a candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for July 20, setting up a rematch with Abdullah and vowing to continue to work towards a peace agreement with the Taliban.
Ghani and Abdullah are among at least 14 candidates who have joined the race, delayed from April 20 to July 20 over security and other concerns.
On January 3, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) began a 17-day registration process for candidates seeking to run for the delayed presidential elections.
Ghani also highlighted “good governance, maintaining international relations based on national benefits, and [social] reforms” as priorities for his second term, KP notes.
Former warlord Hekmatyar, the notorious U.S.-designated global terrorist known as the “butcher of Kabul,” is also running for president.
After reaching a peace agreement of his own with the Ghani administration, Hekmatyar urged his alleged Taliban “brothers” in 2017 to “stop this pointless holy war” in Afghanistan.
Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) group, also known as Hezb-i-Islami, signed a peace agreement with the U.S.-backed Afghan government in September 2016.
U.S. officials have linked HIG with the Taliban, their al-Qaeda allies, and the death of American civilians and military personnel.
In 2016, the Department of State welcomed the peace agreement between Hekmatyar and the U.S.-backed Kabul government but added that he would remain a designated terrorist. Despite the peace pact, Hekmatyar criticized the Ghani administration, saying it was not working.
The Taliban has continued to wreak havoc across Afghanistan amid the recently stalled peace talks.
President Trump has made a negotiated political reconciliation between the Taliban and Kabul the primary goal of his strategy to end the more than 17-year-old war.