President Ghani Stresses Afghan-Pak Concerted Efforts For Regional Peace

Wednesday July 27, 2016

Kabul (BNA)  Part II
Journalist: One of the common problems is the refugee problem, and the Pakistan official, they are giving the excuse that ‘we cannot recognize Taliban’ or ‘we cannot go against them’ because they are using the refugee camps and they are active in the shape of the common refugees; so why the Afghan government is not bringing back its own citizens because we even witnessed in President Karzai’s period, no refugees came back to their country and even now in your government. So, do you have any plan for the repatriation of the Afghan refugees?
President Ghani: two very interesting comments; first is an admission that they have actually been sponsoring Taliban. So your effect said that the Pakistani officials say they are sponsoring Taliban because they are afraid of refugee reaction. This is an enormous admission. Thank you.
Journalist: But at the same time, they are saying if they will go against them then the Afghan government……
President Ghani: No, no. I am saying is that, but now the problem has been put. They have never put this to me with this clarity. If it were put with this clarity, we would solve the problem jointly. But, let them, at least, not say this to you, but not tell me, because this is important.
Second; five million refugees returned in the last 14 years, Safi Sahib. At least, 2 million of them returned from Pakistan, so it is not that we have not. This is a country which was emptied. Three, we are very keen to have a holistic approach; part of the Brussels Conference is not going to be just migration outward, but to solve …… I have repeatedly said, and I am repeating that again. Afghanistan is an incomplete body till the estimated 4 million refugees in Pakistan and Iran return back to our land. But, that means I have to have the opportunity to focus on the economy, to move the economy. If we want to refugees to be absorbed, we have to ensure 6 -9% rate of growth. I am absolutely keen to do this, but regional cooperation will cut this process (short), because all studies have shown once you go from conflict to peace, the neighbors alone benefit from 1 to 2 percent, save the country. So, it is in our mutual interest if the question of refugees and their reactions is of concern, and this would be legitimate, we can arrange as part of our discussions a systematic attempt to repatriate our refugees.
Journalist: Mr. President. Although they are challenging Afghan government, they are killing the Afghan people but at the same time the Taliban there are Afghans. So why your government is not going to talk directly to the Taliban because now their representatives are in Qatar; you can contact them, you can talk them.
So why Afghan itself is giving opportunity to third forces to come and to intervene?  
President Ghani: Several things. When we talked during President Karzai’s time, weren’t the same people arrested? Why was Mullah Brother arrested?
Because he was talking to the Afghans, we needed to make sure…Safi Sahib, this is multidimensional conflict. First thing, because of that priority was to differentiate state-state relationship with Pakistan, people-to-people relationship with Pakistan as distinct. We need first peace between the two countries. As long as a proxy war is being launched from Pakistan, and as you just said for whatever set of reasons, they tolerate it or accept it or encourage it, then we have a state-to-state problem. Show me a place where sanctuary has been provided and peace has been established through direct talks. Two, we are talking. We are talking to Hikmatyar group; we have offered talks now. Again in my speech to Afghan parliament after the attack on Kabul, I said, we do not demand peace from Pakistan. We demand commitments of a state-to-state; we are engaging and we will engage, but it was important to address that dimension that connects directly to Pakistan. And, as you have just stated, again I am stating, they have made a significant statement but this is not justification.
Terrorism cannot be differentiated, and what you have indicated citing unnamed officials is that there is good terrorism and bad terrorism, and that is unacceptable to us.
Journalist: But the Pakistani side said that when we bring Taliban to Mari, then why the news of Mullah Omar death was released to the media from the Afghan government and the Afghan NDS.
President Ghani: The news of Mulla Omar’s death came from the Taliban.
Journalist: That was not leaked by the Afghan government officially?
President Ghani: No, we didn’t leak. We gave an official statement. ‘Leak’ is when you say something and you don’t acknowledge it. My foot had been broken. I was going for an operation; I had got nineteen stitches, and it needed to come. And, the news was leaking we verified 19 different sources, all within Taliban groups. How is it that, again, that an incredibly competent regional intelligence organization did not know for two years? And, in all the discussions that were conducted with intentions of sincerity, a simple fact like this was not shared with us.
Journalist: Mr. President. What your government can offer to Taliban? Is there any meeting point because they are not accepting your constitution?
President Ghani: What we are offering Taliban is common citizenship, common destiny, common vision, and inclusion. We accept the constitution does not differentiate between Afghans, and Afghans who accept…This is the charter of our existence. And, we must live together. We are offering that and the details of what divide us are subject of peace talks. We did not put preconditions. I have looked at more than 100 peace agreements. I wrote a long article of in days when I had time to write articles, and based on that I drew lessons. One of the key lessons was that we should show our sincerity. We have shown our sincerity and our commitment. What can be brought in the negotiation process cannot be gained in the battle field.
Journalist: And what happened with the deal with the Hezb-e Islami, Hekmatyar?
President Ghani: It is proceeding. We are still in discussions. It is a constructive dialogue. We are hopeful.
Journalist: You are hopeful?
President Ghani: Yes
Journalist: And, when we should expect you in Pakistan once again in that friendly environment?
President Ghani: When Pakistani leaders come with clarity regarding the relationships and the key questions that we have. Last time I was there, reciprocity now is the leadership of Pakistan comes here. I called Prime Minister Sharif, wished him well, and informed him that we had eliminated the heinous criminal
Journalist: Our Prime Minister has just passed a heart surgery, now he has a new heart, so why you are not inviting him for these talks to Kabul?
President Ghani: We are inviting. I called the Prime Minister before he went to the operation and I have just called him again.
Journalist: And You are inviting him to visit Kabul?!
President Ghani: Of course. We are delighted to have the Prime Minister.
Journalist: Mr. President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,  Dr. Ashraf Ghani.
Thank you very much once again.

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