President Ashraf Ghani delivered a speech at the India Foundation on Wednesday after meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
Ghani said: “Afghanistan serves as a platform for regional and global cooperation and stability and Afghanistan firmly believes in becoming a roundabout (for trade)”.
He said the Afghan government is continuing its efforts to become a trade and transport hub in Asia and a platform for cooperation.
The Nature of the war
Discussing the ongoing war in Afghanistan Ghani said this is “an unrestricted war” adding that he wanted to explain the “nature of the war” in Afghanistan.
“This war is against civilians. This war is against religious institutions. This war is against both secular and sacred places,” he said in reference to recent terror incidents in Kabul.
He said the 20th attack on west Kabul happened two weeks ago by terrorists who were against “a particular pre-distinguished group of Afghan men and women who ethnically call themselves Hazaras”.
“This is a war against our national unity and against our religious freedom,” he said but added that it would not affect national unity among Afghans.
“We will not tolerate it, we will not allow it, we will contain it and we will defeat it,” Ghani said. “Every Afghan believes in the equality of other Afghans.”
He called on international organizations to probe the recent explosion in Dasht-e-Barchi in the west of Kabul that left over two dozen people dead and many others wounded.
“We ask the international commission of civil society and security sectors from the world to investigate this crime that we considered to be a crime against humanity,” Ghani said.
He talked about the strength of the Afghan security and defense forces and said the country has a 40,000 strong commando unit “who can reach any place in Afghanistan”.
“State collapse is not an order. The main reason that the war has become unrestricted is that they have not been able to defeat the Afghan security forces,” he said.
According to him, Afghanistan has paid a terrible price through the years of war – which has claimed the lives of countless civilians and security forces.
“Let the enemies of peace and order know that this is not a nation that will accept surrender, defeat or act as cowards,” he said.
The Region is a Crossroads
Ghani meanwhile stressed the need for connectivity and further cooperation among countries in the region.
“South Asia is the least economically integrated region in the world. We need to overcome the past to create the near future. This war is not our past. South Asia for thousands of years was a region of connectivity,” he said.
He described the importance of an Afghanistan in the region and said “a stable Afghanistan will allow upliftment from poverty to prosperity, from disconnection to connectivity and shared understanding. This is what Afghanistan and India are practicing, this is where our common vision unites us”.
Peace and Ceasefire
The president stressed the need for an intra-Afghan peace and said that Afghans must be the stakeholders of peace in the country.
“An intra-Afghan peace is our most significant national priority and part of consensus. A recent survey established by civil society showed that 93 percent of Afghans desire peace,” he said.
He mentioned the Eid ceasefire between government and the Taliban and said “over 30,000 Taliban came to the cities. Do you think they were greeted with hatred? Were they lynched? Were they shot? No. You saw scenes on global television of Afghans joining celebrations and accepting each other”.
“The most important thing we learned from the ceasefire is that the Afghans as a nation are willing to forgot the past in order to get the future,” Ghani said.
He said the Afghan society has (reached) a consensus on peace and that Afghans are a stakeholder society. “Peace must be Afghan-inclusive peace, not a partial peace.”
He said peace with Taliban is important because if the Afghan government reaches a peace agreement with the group it can concentrate on counter-terrorism efforts.
He said Taliban are part of the Afghan society and that “foreign fighters, members of Daesh are international terrorist networks”.