President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday in a speech to the parliament said that there is "no religious justification" or legitimacy for the Taliban’s ongoing war, stating that recent attacks by the Taliban indicate that the group is still suffering from its false perception of being the victors.
While introducing ministerial nominees for a vote of confidence in the Afghan parliament on Wednesday, Ghani said that the Taliban’s halting of attacks on the US forces is a good move, however, the Afghan leader strongly criticized the Taliban’s continued attacks on the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF).
“The Taliban do not have any Sharia reason for war, if you want an example, see our religious scholars in Doha, they suggested that the Taliban settle the issues based on the Quranic verses and the teachings of the Prophet and Sharia, but they (Taliban) insist that, no, the base should be their agreement with the US. You can judge now who really represents Islam,” said Ghani.
The statement comes as violence continues to grip several in 22 Afghan provinces.
“The Taliban’s recent attacks in Helmand and Ghor provinces and rest of the country show that they still believe in their false perception of victory,” said Ghani.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaking at a pre-ministerial press conference in Brussels on Wednesday says all NATO members support the US-Taliban agreement and current Doha talks, but the Taliban must live up to its commitments.
“The Taliban must live up to their commitments, significantly reduce the levels of violence, and pave the way for a ceasefire,” Stoltenberg said.
He said NATO's stance is conditions-based and NATO is in Afghanistan to protect its own interests and to prevent the country from becoming a terrorist safe haven.
On the Doha talks, he said that they must negotiate in good faith. The talks in Doha offer the best chance for peace in a generation.
“They must preserve the gains made at such high price over the last two decades, including for women and girls. NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security,” he said.
Asked about peace talks, Stoltenberg says that the talks are the "best possible chance" for lasting peace that Afghanistan has seen in a while. He said there will be many "hurdles," and the possibility of "setbacks."
And just this week, NATO allies and partners renewed their commitment to provide financial support to the Afghan forces through 2024, he mentioned.
“My sister, go and ask Mawlavi Hibatullah (Taliban’s leader) where he is hiding and why he is killing the people? They say they are not attacking the Americans, thanks for that, but why are you (Taliban) attacking us?” asked Ghani.
“With the talks in Doha, the people have a lot of hopes for a ceasefire, but the slow pace of talks has changed people’s hopes to resignation,” said Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of Afghan parliament.
Ghani said that sealing a deal with the Taliban will need more time.
Ghani said that the US and NATO are with the government of #Afghanistan, adding that the recent US air support in Helmand is an example.
This comes a day after the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that 180 civilians were killed and 375 were wounded over the last month in a spate of violence across Afghanistan.
The statements come as negotiators representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the peace talks with the Taliban are in Doha to help find a negotiated settlement to the current bloody conflict in the country; however, no breakthrough has been achieved so far and the formal talks have yet to begin.
The slow pace of the talks in Doha and the ongoing violence have also sparked strong reactions from the Afghan public.