ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani on Friday welcomed the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar’s approval for the peace talks being brokered by Pakistan, calling negotiations “the only way to end bloodshed” and bring peace to the war-torn country.
“I welcome the remarks of the Taliban leader [Mullah Omar] who has described talks as the solution to the [Afghan] problem,” President Ghani was quoted by the Afghan media as saying in his first Eid message to the nation.
“The Taliban issue is different than others. They want to join the system and if they have some problems, that can only be resolved through talks,” Ghani told senior Afghan leaders — including his predecessor Hamid Karzai — who joined him in offering Eid prayers at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
“The negotiations are the solution… to end the bloodshed… and this is what our nation wants,” he said, adding that it was important that the Taliban are willing to integrate into the political system.
‘Second round in a few weeks’
In earlier remarks, the Afghan president indicated that the second round of talks being brokered by Pakistan could be held in a few weeks’ time. He called on the leadership of the Afghan Taliban to come up with their demands and conditions, and put them in writing.
Talking to Tolo TV, National Security Adviser Hanif Altmar said the second round will be held on July 30. He did not mention where the talks will be held. The High Peace Council, which is mandated to hold talks with the Taliban, also welcomed Mullah Omar’s message and hoped the peace talks will produce results.
“Mullah Omar has not dismissed the peace process. This is a major change in their approach. It seems the Taliban will now push the peace process,” council member Habibollah Fawzi, told the Afghan media.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015.