Ghani: regional co-operation, dialogue only way to fight extremism

Pakistan Forward

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the UN General Assembly September 19. Ghani called on Afghanistan's partners to help fight extremism. [Jewel Samad/AFP]

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addresses the UN General Assembly September 19. Ghani called on Afghanistan's partners to help fight extremism. [Jewel Samad/AFP]

UNITED NATIONS -- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani once again called on the Taliban to engage in an intra-Afghan dialogue and emphasised the need for regional and international co-operation to fight terrorism.

While addressing the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday (September 19), Ghani said the Taliban and their backers cannot prevail militarily.

"Only through political settlement can we achieve enduring peace, and I call upon all ranks of the Taliban to engage in an intra-Afghan dialogue," he said.

Referring to a peace deal the Afghan government made last September with Hezb-e-Islami, an armed group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ghani said his government has proven that it is committed to peace through internal processes.

"Now, we call on all of our neighbours, near and far, to join us through the Kabul Process in our comprehensive quest for peace and regional stability," he said, signaling out Pakistan as a key regional partner.

"We now also have an opportunity for a dialogue with our neighbours on how we can work together earnestly to eliminate terrorism and contain extremism," he said. "I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state-to-state dialogue on peace, security and regional co-operation leading to prosperity."

Ghani welcomed the recently announced new US strategy for Afghanistan and the region, which includes an increase in US troops on the ground.

"The strategy consolidates all instruments of American power, conveying a message that the Taliban and their backers cannot win militarily," he said, adding that the new strategy has set Afghanistan "on a pathway to certainty".

"However, a strong and enduring commitment from our international partners alone will not ensure our collective success in Afghanistan -- the roots of success are indeed within us, as Afghans," Ghani said.

The Afghan president's remarks on Tuesday follow an increasingly hardline stance against the Taliban.

"You cannot win this war," Ghani told the Taliban in August after US President Donald Trump pledged to keep US troops in Afghanistan until the militancy is defeated.

While Trump did not include detailed troop numbers in his announcement, senior White House officials said he had already authorised the deployment of up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan.

Pakistan has 'no choice' but to fight terrorism

"Regional countries have no choice but to fight terrorism and bring peace in Afghanistan," Kabul-based political analyst Nasir Ahmad Taraki told Pakistan Forward.

Pakistan should feel compelled to heed Ghani's calls for dialogue and increased co-operation in the fight against terrorism, especially after the United States sent additional troops to Afghanistan, he said.

"Regional countries should understand the danger of terrorism and should follow the US and Afghanistan in the campaign; otherwise, they themselves will be a victim [of terrorism]," Taraki said.

"If Afghans are victims of terrorism today, it will put other regional countries in trouble tomorrow," said Miagul Wasiq, another political analyst in Kabul.

"Therefore, it is necessary for countries in the region to fight against this phenomena along with the US and Afghanistan," he said, adding that Pakistan is one of those regional countries that can fight terrorism and help Afghanistan achieve peace and stability.

"In order to have a good relationship with Afghanistan and receive assistance from the US, Pakistan should play a positive role in bringing peace to the region, especially to Afghanistan," Wasiq told Pakistan Forward.

[Sulaiman from Kabul contributed to this report.]

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