23 October 2020

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There Must Now be a Dividend of Peace for the Afghan People: President Ghani

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Sunday, August 16, 2020
Kabul (BNA) To fail in our pursuit of a sustainable peace is not an option; it would demand a far deadlier price — one that the Afghan people, and our international partners, cannot afford to pay, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said in a piece written recently.
In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post on Friday, President Ghani said that over the past two years, Afghans have taken multiple risks in the pursuit of peace including the “boldest” one of releasing 400 Taliban prisoners convicted of serious crimes.
“In 2018, we knew peace would be costly, but we did not know what those costs would be. We do know now, and we have paid heavily,” President Ghani wrote. “The cost of releasing these 5,000 prisoners meant, among other things, denying justice and healing for the families of those they murdered.”
“This was not a risk I could take alone, constitutionally or morally, without consulting the Afghan people.
Earlier this week, 3,400 women and men from all provinces of Afghanistan and all strata of society came together, in the presence of the country’s political leadership, at a consultative assembly known as a Loya Jirga, to deliberate and debate.
They decided to approve the release of the prisoners, and the next day I signed the order. It was the Afghan people’s latest, and boldest, risk for peace,” he noted.
President Ghani said that Afghans have also paid for peace with intensified Taliban violence. Over the past five months, the Taliban and associated terror groups killed or wounded 12,279 Afghan security forces and civilians, he said.
“We have paid the costs. There must now be a dividend of peace for the Afghan people,” the president wrote.
The president called on the Taliban to sit at the negotiating table in order to reach a political solution and to declare a comprehensive ceasefire. He said that the Taliban were part of Afghanistan’s reality.
“The Taliban must, in turn, acknowledge the changed reality of today’s Afghanistan.
The Taliban must work with us to preserve and expand the gains the Afghan people have made over the past 19 years, including for the benefit of the thousands of Taliban fighters, and refugees and returnees, who will need to be immediately reintegrated into society.”
President Ghani also urged the international community to ensure that a momentum and a level playing field are maintained. “Our international partners must also continue to stand firm for the values and principles in which we have all invested for 20 years,” he said.

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