WASHINGTON: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said some members of the Taliban had legitimate grievances given the torture and ill-treatment they had suffered. In the same breath, he said it was necessary to find a way to apologise and heal national wounds.
“People were falsely imprisoned, people were tortured. They were tortured in private homes or private prisons. How do you tell these people that you are sorry?” he made the remark during a visit to Washington on Wednesday.
While giving an example, President Ghani said South Africa and Rwanda, which set up truth and reconciliation commissions to come clean about past abuses but not necessarily to punish them, had been most effective in “devising collective forms of therapy” for traumatised nations.
He also said peace with the insurgents was “essential” and that some Taliban members had legitimate grievances.
Last month, officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan said the Afghan Taliban had signalled they were willing to open peace talks with Kabul.
Speaking at the US Institute of Peace think-tank, Ghani praised a report by a US Senate committee chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein that said the CIA acted more brutally and pervasively than it acknowledged in its torture of detainees after the Sept.11 attacks, including in Afghanistan.
The Afghan president pointed to local Afghan systems of justice based around the tribal jirga, or council, and contrasted these with “Western justice” which responded to killing with killing.
He further stated that Europe after World War Two was an example of “historical amnesia.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2015.