ISLAMABAD: Days after’s Ashraf Ghani letter urging arrest of Taliban militants in Pakistan was ‘leaked’, the Afghan President has called for holding peace talks with Pakistan first before holding similar talks with the Taliban.
Speaking in Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace, Ghani said that, "Reconciliation does not take place with a brother but it is done with those who fight with you," he said as quoted by the correspondents who attended the gathering during Ghani’s visit to the city.
"We should open peace talks with Pakistan to encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiation table," he stressed.
He also reportedly referred to the remarks by his predecessor Hamid Karzai that those Taliban leaders who reportedly wanted to join the peace process had either been killed or arrested.
Regarding the hue and cry raised over a recent understanding reached between the Afghan and Pakistani intelligence agencies, Ghani said he will personally review this agreement, adding it will be formally signed only after a consensus is developed in Afghanistan.
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“The agreement has not yet been signed and reports about its signing are only speculations. The proposed agreement will be sent to the country’s National Security Council for its approval,” he maintained.
He urged the tribal elders and religious leaders in Kandahar to launch a door-to-door campaign and also visit mosques to mobilise public opinion in favour of the peace process.
The Taliban had refused to hold talks with Ghani's after he signed a security pact with the United States and NATO that allowed nearly 12,000 Western troops to remain in the troubled country.
While former president Karzai had refused to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement with the US, Ghani inked the same hours after he assumed the office in late September.
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According to the Presidential Palace in Kabul, the president told tribal elders, religious scholars and members of the provincial councils in Kandahar that the issue of Durand Line is ‘absolutely not part of the peace talks as it is not him but the people who have the power to make a decision on the issue.’
"We have inherited problems but we have a strong will and determination to solve them," the Palace quoted the President as saying.
He also called Kandahar ‘the heart of Afghanistan’ and said that instability in the city is tantamount to instability of the entire country.