Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday addressed a virtual conference of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) attended by heads of state, and he highlighted the ongoing developments in the region and focused on Afghanistan’s strategic location in Asia and the Afghan peace process.
At the event, Ghani said that for forty-two years, the Afghan people have been denied the foundational right to peace and security.
He said that the ongoing conflict has turned Afghanistan into a killing field.
“It is time to stop the violence that has turned our beautiful country into a killing field,” said Ghani.
“We, the people and government of Afghanistan and our international partners, have a true sense of urgency to make and build peace. Your support for a comprehensive ceasefire to accelerate the negotiations in Doha is essential,” said Ghani.
Ghani reiterated that Pakistan has a large amount of leverage to use for peace in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has an especially significant role to play in supporting a lasting peace process, for it is the country most likely to suffer from the adverse consequences of a failed peace process,” said Ghani.
“Internationally managed and monitored elections to elect the next president is the critical criteria for ensuring a balance between constitutional continuity and change,” said Ghani.
On Afghanistan’s geostrategic importance, he said “Afghanistan is poised to serve as a roundabout between central, east, south and west Asia and a platform of international and regional cooperation.”
Ghani’s remarks come as a fresh round of diplomatic efforts is underway to further the Afghan peace process amid high levels of violence.
As part of the new efforts, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad this week arrived in Kabul where he met with Afghan political leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation.
On Wednesday, a US State Department official on condition of anonymity told TOLOnews that the United States suggested an international conference on Afghanistan to move the peace process forward.
The US peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad during his three-day visit in Kabul has met with influential political figures and Afghan government leaders and discussed the establishment of a transitional period to move toward a future political structure, define the principles of the future system, and to hold a UN-hosted international conference on Afghanistan, according to the US official.
According to the sources, the US envoy told the Afghan politicians that the peace talks in Doha will be sidelined and that a Bonn Conference-style meeting will be held at the international level to discuss the prospect of a participatory government that would include the Taliban.
Nevertheless, former Afghan Vice President Mohammad Younus Qanooni on Thursday said that a new roadmap for peace in Afghanistan is taking shape with the support of the international community, and that the main focus will be on forming a regional and national consensus for peace in Afghanistan.
The Presidential Palace has not commented so far, but President Ashraf Ghani has in the past rejected the prospect of an interim setup in the country.
Recently, Ghani said that the Taliban will not see an interim government in Afghanistan while he is alive.