- Ghani no longer looking to initiate talks with militant group
- Afghanistan to use all "resources" to eliminate terrorists
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he won’t seek help from Pakistan in initiating talks with the Taliban and instead called on the neighbor, which he says is harboring the militants, to use military force against the group.
"I want to make clear today that we don’t expect Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table," Ghani told lawmakers on Monday, addressing a rare joint session of both houses of parliament. "We want them to suppress the militants by military operations or to hand them over to us to get punished."
Ghani’s comments come days after a Taliban bomb attack near the Afghan intelligence agency’s office, which killed more than 60 and wounded about 350. The time for "unjustified impunity" is now over and government will execute all involved in terrorist acts in Afghanistan, Ghani said.
The U.S., China and Pakistan have tried to broker peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. A first round began last year before being halted by news of the death of the Taliban’s leader, while the militant group has been refusing to restart negotiations unless all foreign forces leave Afghanistan, the group is taken off a UN blacklist and its members are freed from prison.
It’s now up to the Taliban to denounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution, Ghani said.
"Ghani’s comments were surprising," said Ahmad Saeedi, a former Afghan diplomat to Pakistan. "His speech will make peace efforts more complex but he has now understood that Pakistan isn’t really going to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table."
While Pakistan has repeatedly rebuffed accusations of using the Taliban for attacks against Afghanistan and India, Foreign Affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz said in March that the government has "some influence" on the group.
"But we can’t negotiate on behalf of the Afghan government because we can’t offer them what Afghan government can offer them," he said. "So actually, Pakistan, U.S., and China are committed on the road map to persuade them to come together. But then it is for the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government to negotiate whatever they want."