Afghan President Ashraf Ghani firmly reminded US and Taliban of his presence and position as ‘decision-maker’. In a recent interview with Afghan broadcaster TOLO news, Ghani said, “At the end of any peace deal, the decision-maker will be the government of Afghanistan.”
Ghani added, “No power in the country can dissolve the government,” and the Afghan government can “stand and defend our country”
Taliban currently holds almost half of the districts across Afghanistan, hence striking a peaceful agreement with it would be of prime importance for Afghan government, which doesn’t want to be sidelined from the truce talks
The US-Taliban peace summit which was held last month at Doha concluded with both sides claiming a reasonable in progress in talks. Afghan government has not been a part of the recent US-Taliban talks as the Afghan militant group considered Ghani and his administration to be US puppets, and have refused offers for truce talks with it.
Responding to questions relating to the absence of Afghan government participation in the talks, Ghani said “Rest assured that no one can push us aside.” He also mentioned that the US negotiator has kept him fully informed of progress, despite exclusion from the talks.
He added, “The Taliban said they are ready to sever ties with al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and this is a good development.”
U.S. General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. military for Middle East, said that the United States would need to continue its support to Afghan security forces financially even if U.S. troops withdrew. He added, while explaining the scenario with respect to US-Taliban talks to Senate, “I would characterise where we are in the process as very, very early in the process.”
Taliban, who recently held two-day talks with prominent Afghan leaders including the former president Hamid Karzai at Moscow. The meet excluded the Afghan government from the Moscow Talks. Taliban raised the demand for drafting a new constitution for Afghanistan stating “The Kabul government constitution is invalid. It has been imported from the West and is an obstacle to peace…It is conflicted. We want an Islamic constitution,”
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban delegation said that the new charter would be drafted by Islamic scholars.
The Afghan President mocking the validity of the Moscow talks said, “Let hundreds of such meetings be held, but these would only be paper (agreements) unless there is an agreement by the Afghan government; Afghanistan’s national assembly and Afghanistan’s legal institutions.”
US initiated peace talks with Taliban to put an end to the 17- year old war and to convince the militant group to negotiate with the government in Kabul. Taliban has agreed to hold talks with the government on condition that US withdraw its troops from the territory, an issue whose resolution is still pending.
Currently, United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission and a separate counter-terrorism effort to prevent the spread of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State in the country.
The next round of US-Taliban talks are scheduled to be held in Doha on February 25