Ghani labels Pakistan safe haven for militants

News Desk

President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan said on Wednesday that the keys to war are in Islamabad, Quetta, and Rawalpindi, as Pakistan was a safe haven for cross border militant activities. He once again accused Pakistan of supporting militant activities in Afghanistan.

Hesaid that the key to peace was in Afghanistan as talks between Taliban and the US government officials on ending the 17-year long civil war in Afghanistan appearto be gaining traction.

The statement came after the visit of US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalizad to Kabul for consultation on his progress in talks with the Taliban.

Ghani also questioned the religious legitimacy of the Taliban, who have repeatedly refused to hold direct peace talks with the Afghan government.

“If the Afghan government is illegitimate, so where does the Taliban get their legitimacy from?” he said. “Islamic scholars in Makkah and Indonesia said that suicide attacks and killing of civilians does not have a legitimacy… so where is the source of Taliban’s legitimacy?” he asked.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen based in Qatar, where Taliban have a political office, said in a statement that they are not seeking a monopoly on power in future administration in Afghanistan but they are lookingfor ways to co-exist with Afghan institutions as they haven’t any intention torule Afghanistan alone.

The statement came after the United States-led efforts to resolve the issue of long-running Afghan civil war.

US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad reported this week that there had been “agreements in principle“toward a framework for peace with the Taliban, who now control almost half ofthe country and carry out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting Afghan securityforces and government officials.

The Taliban spokesperson further said:

“After the end of the occupation, Afghans should forget their past and tolerate one another and start life like brothers. After the withdrawal,we are not seeking a monopoly on power.”

“We believe in an inclusive Afghan world, where all Afghans can see themselves in it,” he added.

He also said the Taliban envision a reformed police and localpolice forces, without offering specifics. Afghanistan’s local police forces have been widely criticized as deeply corrupt and intimidating of the local population.

“The withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan is a shared responsibility and a pride for all Afghans,” he said.

He said that another round of talks with Khalilzad is planned for February 25 in Doha.

Zalmay Khalilzad, who held talks with the Taliban for six days last week in Qatar, said during a visit to Kabul on Monday that much more remains to be done but that there has been significant progress toward an agreement with the Taliban to end the insurgency.

The statement by Taliban’s spokesperson is being regarded as the most conciliatory statement to date from Taliban.

Earlier the direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban collapsed in 2015, and the Taliban continued fighting to drive out international forces and re-establish their version of strict Islamic law.

The Taliban, who had ruled Afghanistan since 1996, had imposed a strict form of Sharia law in Afghanistan. Their regime was heavily criticized by many countries of the world for implementation of strict policies.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 along with its NATO allies in response to the September 11th attacks and ousted the Taliban, who supported Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

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