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Our credibility relies on our capacity to deliver: Ghani in Doha

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(Last Updated On: October 6, 2020)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday evening that peace cannot just be on a national level but that it needed to be on a regional basis in order to be successful. 

Speaking at an event at the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Doha, Qatar, Ghani said: “Regional connectivity is critical to peacebuilding, and so is global cooperation.”

He also made it clear that the conflict in Afghanistan is not a civil war, but a regional war embedded in global conflict, notably terrorism. 

But in his address to guests attending the event at the independent academic research and studies center, Ghani steered away from the negative and also focused on the positives Afghanistan has to offer.  

“We share with you a vision of a sovereign, unified, democratic Afghanistan at peace with itself, the region and the world, capable of preserving and expanding the gains of the past two decades.

“This is not just the ultimate objective of our negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, but more importantly, it is also the ultimate goal of the work we do every day within the halls of government to meet our development objectives,” he said. 

“In Doha, our negotiation team is working on making peace, but here, back in Kabul, we – as a polity, an economic society, and a people – along with you, our international partners, are working on building peace.”

He pointed out that peace-building is different from peace-making because it is a “multi-dimensional, cross-sectoral, short, medium and long-term process that will allow us to actually implement and secure the components of any peace agreement that is made on paper.”

“In other words, peace-building is about implementation; peace-making is about reaching a political agreement to end violence. We must now focus on prioritizing these components of peace-building and implementing them,” he said.

The “credibility of the state and stability of the Republic, as articulated in our Constitution, depends on earning the people’s trust. Building an effective state starts with listening to our people and understanding their expectations.,” he said adding that he has “really tried to do this over the past years, with over 95 trips to the provinces and meetings with thousands of Afghans from all walks of life.”

Generous assistance raised expectations

The generous level of assistance in the last 19 years raised up the level of expectations, beyond our national resources, he said adding that in order to deliver and manage the expectations of the people, “we must fully embrace the objective of self-reliance by focusing on how to convert our latent assets and capabilities into manifest resources and capacities.”

“We must do more with less by embracing effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. We must learn to master the art of leadership and management under conditions of constant change. At the same time, we as a state must deliver services to our people. Our credibility relies on our capacity to deliver.”

He also highlighted the positive elements Afghanistan has to offer and said the country’s untapped mineral wealth could potentially render the country an extremely wealthy nation 

Mineral wealth is worth “one trillion dollars at least”, he said adding that rare earth minerals were abundant and that “the ten poorest provinces in the country have the richest mineral deposits.”

“Afghanistan’s geography is also of vital importance. Afghanistan is right in the middle” of east, west, south and central Asia, he said adding that the country also had enormous potential with sun, wind and water – which could all be used to produce energy. 

He also outlined the importance of Afghanistan’s rich culture and the people’s commitment to Islam and stated the Afghan people have an enormous capacity to move past conflict.

Citing the 2003 ceasefire with the Taliban, he said the people of the country at the time were ready to embrace peace and to accept the Taliban into their midst. 

‘Afghan women are heroes’

Lauding the women of Afghanistan however, he called them “heroes” and said they were strong and capable. 

He said he wants the world to know that Afghan women do not need someone to speak for them as they are capable of speaking for themselves. 

He also stated that Afghanistan has come a long way in coping on its own and said through mobilizing the people and even the private sector, Afghanistan was able to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. “And no food shortages in this time was reported,” he said. 

Praising the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces for safeguarding the people of Afghanistan, and the world from terror attacks, he said they were not working for money but were fighting to secure their country. 

Ghani told the audience that “the state now has the capacity to design, to think, to act,” and used the recent Parwan floods as an example. 

He said the water canal that burst in August in Charikar in the provincial capital during torrential rains was rebuilt within days after the deadly floods. 

This he attributed to Afghanistan’s improved capacity to respond rapidly to disasters and emergencies. 

On the war, he said: “Our conflict has never been about separation. Our conflict has been a form of competition about controlling the center.” 

But, “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the framework in which all Afghans can see themselves,” he added. 

On the topic of peace, he said the will of the people in terms of succession was fundamental to peace and that “Afghans are ready to overcome the past and have the desire and readiness for this.”

But to solidify peace, three qualities are needed, he said – compassion, commitment and courage. 

Compassion to understand each other, and “compassion for our common Islamic faith – which is a religion of peace,” he said. 

Peace in Afghanistan cannot be the peace of factions or one group but must be peace of the people and that “the people must come first”. 

“We need to have the ability to overcome the past. The past is about dying. We must live. We must embrace living,” he said adding that in the “weeks and in the days to come we must have the courage to call a ceasefire.”

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Biden to keep Khalilzad as peace envoy for now

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will retain his position, for now, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN. 

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues. 

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders. 

No further details were released and according to CNN the State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board. 

However, in a statement issued late Friday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib that the United States intends to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement.”

He also said Washington would assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.

Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

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Washington to review US-Taliban deal, Sullivan tells Mohib 

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Friday evening and said Washington intends to review the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year and to assess whether the Taliban is adhering to its commitments. 

In a statement issued by the White House following the discussion between the two NSAs, Sullivan said the US will support the peace process with “a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire”. 

Sullivan also made clear “the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.”

According to the statement, Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

In addition, Sullivan and Mohib discussed the US’s support for protecting the gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process. 

Sullivan also “committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies, and regional partners regarding a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for Afghanistan,” the statement read.

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Attacks are against the values of Islam, Atmar tells OIC chief 

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)

Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar held talks on Wednesday with Yousef al-Othaimeen, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Saudi Arabia and discussed the current peace talks being held in Doha, Qatar. 

In a statement, the Jeddah-based organization said discussions were held on the peace process, and on how the OIC can support the talks. 

Al-Othaimeen reiterated the OIC’s commitment to supporting the Afghan people, and development projects in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Atmar praised the OIC for its role in forging unity among Islamic countries in support of the peace process and for issuing special resolutions to form a consensus among Islamic countries to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. 

At the meeting, Atmar called the war in Afghanistan illegitimate from the point of view of Islam.

“The crimes that are being committed in Afghanistan today are completely incompatible with the beliefs of Muslims and Islamic teachings; Attacks on female judges, killings of Kabul University students and attacks on maternity hospitals are certainly not justifiable in Islam,” he said.

Atmar also stated that if the opposition is truly committed to peace, the Afghan government would not see any obstacles to national reconciliation and the success of the peace process, and would be ready to pave the way for political participation on all sides in accordance with the free will of the Afghan people and internationally accepted standards.

“We want the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to continue its previous demands to end the bloodshed and resolve the political crisis in Afghanistan through holding follow-up meetings, expert consultations and sending special groups to consult with the teams,” he said. 

In response to the Foreign Minister’s remarks, the Secretary-General of the OIC said that he commends and supports the flexible and adaptable position of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan towards peace.

Al-Othaimeen pointed out that killing, violence and intimidation are contrary to the essence of Islam and that people should be made aware that Islam is not a religion of terror and violence, but a religion of unity and convergence. 

He praised the role of religious scholars in this regard, saying that scholars in Islamic societies have an important position not only from a religious point of view but also from a political point of view.

 

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