President Ashraf Ghani at an online event on Thursday said the Afghan government “is not at risk of collapse” as Afghanistan's allies, mainly the United States, have announced to withdraw foreign forces from the country in the upcoming few months.
“The narrative of the Afghan government falling apart is a false narrative,” Ghani said.
President Ghani said that Afghan commandos, special forces and air force alone are 40,000 and that “they have trained among the best, they are among the best in the region.”
“As long as this force stays, there is no risk of state collapse,” Ghani reiterated.
He said that all these forces have been brought into one command of the Afghanistan National Authority for Special Operations and that they carry 30 to 40 operations every day.
Ghani mentioned that he is ready to hand over power to his elected successor.
“I have four years of my term left but for the sake of peace, my colleagues and I are willing to hold elections from six months to a year, maximum, so that the will of the people – the key to us is the right of the people to choose their leader and for me to hand over legitimate authority to my successor,” he said.
Ghani said that now is the time for the Taliban to choose whether they will opt for peace or for violence.
“It is a moment of choice for Taliban. Will they opt for a peace that is on the table or will they opt for conquest,” Ghani said.
He said that the announcement of the withdrawal of US and NATO forces withdrawal has also created a moment of choice for Pakistan.
“For Pakistan, it is a decision of destiny. Will it opt for regional cooperation, international partnership, and regional prosperity through joint efforts, or will it give way to the forces that have headered to support and sustain the Taliban and the wave of extremism for which Pakistan next to Afghanistan has probably paid the highest price? So, it is a moment of decision. We will need to watch.”
He added that the Afghan government is committed to talks and that it is now up to the Taliban to act.
“The ball is in the court of the Taliban. We are fully prepared for Istanbul. There is a consensus on this, national and within the government. We will see now whether the Taliban opt,” Ghani said. “The key is that the political committee does not represent, unfortunately, the military committee or the commanders. They (Taliban) have not socialized peace yet, but it’s a jolt that they need to absorb because they could not think that the United States will withdraw.”
He said that the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan "is no surprise" for him.
Ghani added that the decision “clarifies a lot of things and it allows us to move forward so the right decision will have the consequences of making Taliban think seriously.”
“If they (Taliban) engage in war, they would have lost a golden opportunity and I hope that they don’t do that,” he stated.
The United States has announced that all its troops will be out of Afghanistan by September 11.