In the closing speech at Wednesday’s Kabul Process meeting CEO Abdullah Abdullah reiterated the president’s earlier statement that government is ready to talk to the Taliban and hold peace negotiations without any preconditions.
“We are ready to talk directly, without conditions or threat of violence.
“Our messgae is unambiguous. We are committed to talking and engaging the Taliban on the basis of a realistic reconciliation program that addresses issues that divide us or are cause for armed conflict.
“We aim to conclude with a credible peace and dignified return of Afghan citizens back to their homeland,” he said.
He pointed out that the theme of Wednesday’s meeting had indeed been as indicated earlier by President Ashraf Ghani – about the Afghan people’s desire to seek security for themselves, their family and community, and their country, as well as government’s national goal to restore a just, credible and durable peace after many years of conflict, displacement and destruction.
He said throughout the day, there had been a spirit of engagement among the delegates, who represented 25 countries and international organizations.
He said all speakers expressed their constructive views based on a realistic assessment of the situation in and around Afghanistan, as well as on global trends that call for effective measures to combat terrorism.
“This process is mutually complementary, and its success relies on developing a common stance to enable more effective approaches and policies.”
He stated that the process was also multilateral because the Afghanistan case is not a purely domestic issue; nor is it a purely non-Afghanistan matter.
“However, it is up to the citizens of this country – regardless of affiliation – to agree and to come to terms with their disagreements, their dissatisfactions, their aspirations, and to form a common perspective that can be translated into a national vision.”
He said: “At a talk in Geneva yesterday, I told an audience of practitioners that different explanations are given by different experts on the causes of the 40-year long Afghanistan conflict. Some say it’s a function of geography; others point to the shifting tensions between contending geo-political and strategic interests, while others point to Afghanistan’s relations to the State system.
“I am of the view that at varying degrees these causes have and continue to play a role. But one complicating factor is the use of violence and terror as a foreign and security policy weapon. It should no longer be tolerated,” he said.
“That is why our challenge involves more than just opposite Afghanistan sides or just our countries in the neighborhood. It is within that context that today we are seeking new ways and means of reaching our stated objectives in a manner that can assure the kind of peace and security that is broadly supported, while it does not antagonize any legitimate stakeholder or their vital interests.”
But he said, at the same time, Afghanistan can not ignore the reality that it has a 15-year-old covenant with the Afghanistan people that assures an Islamic Republic within the confines of a constitutional order, guaranteeing fundamental human and democratic rights, and a better life, while remaining mindful of cultural and traditional tendencies within society.
“The spirit of this covenant is solid, but the path to peaceful and legitimate deliberation, amendment and change is also clearly stated under specific conditions,” he said.
He went on to say that the other notion that is part of the Kabul Process theme is “cooperation”.
“We have also learned over the years that political will precedes cooperation. How do we reach that stage is the question that needs to be answered by those who have lacked that resolve or acted as spoilers, if cooperation is to help us make headway.”
He said international cooperation was critical as long as it was in accordance with laws and norms, including sovereign equality and non-interference.
“International cooperation can take on many forms and involve different actors. The United Nations and all relevant resolutions adopted by the Security Council cannot be ignored, especially in regard to nation-state cooperation in the counter terrorism arena,” he said.
In a message to neighboring countries, Abdullah said: “To our friends and neighbors in the region, we say: We have no option but to work together, share intelligence, coordinate and, when necessary, take action against terrorists regardless of their affiliation or motivations.
“We appreciate international condemnations when innocent lives are lost by wanton terrorism and violence. But condemnations are not enough. We also need to make better use of international law and humanitarian norms to prosecute and bring culprits – whoever they may be - to justice.
“On our side, we are committed to protecting and providing better security in cities, districts and villages, wherever our presence is possible and necessary.
“We agree that at the end of the day, we cannot achieve our security goals without having an inclusive political process in place. If we claim to have learned the hard lessons of the past, it should be clear that terrorist sanctuaries and infrastructures, wherever they may be, need to be on our radar screens.”
In conclusion he said the Kabul Process aims to achieve several vital objectives: respect and defend the fundamental rights of our people, including women and children, while government provides a platform for the renunciation of violence and denounciation of international terrorism.
“The government’s job is to manage this process through national, regional and international efforts,” he said adding “we welcome your endorsement as we collectively take action to meet our objectives as soon as possible.”
This comes after Ghani on Wednesday morning put an offer to the Taliban to join the peace process.
Ghani stated that if the Taliban comes to the negotiations table, government will allow them to open an office in the country, even Kabul if so desired, and declare them a political group.
Other suggestions included issuing them with passports and possibly freeing Taliban prisoners.
Ghani also emphasized that government is ready to reconcile and make peace with the insurgent group.