Peace with the Taliban is “meaningless”, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday, hours after a powerful car bombing by the Taliban in the nation’s capital, Kabul, killed at least ten civilians.
It was the second major deal attack in less than a week by the hardline group that has already reached “agreement in principle” with the US following nine months of talks in the Gulf state of Qatar.
Today’s attack in Kabul which took place only few meters away from NATO military compound and US embassy killed at least ten people including two foreign soldiers with one of them believed to be an American and wounded 42 others.
Mr. Ghani condemned today’s attack by the Taliban as a criminal act and called on the international community not to stay silent towards such attacks by the militant group.
“Seeking peace with this group who is still pursuing the killing of the innocent people is meaningless,” President Ghani said in a statement.
Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also condemned the attack and called it a “barbaric act”.
He said the Taliban wants to win more leverage in the peace process by launching such attacks.
Mr. Abdullah said that such acts by the Taliban will only increase hatred of the Afghan people against the group.
He added that the Taliban will not get any points in the peace process by such attacks.
This comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are expected to hold the first direct peace talks in the near future in case the US and the Taliban sign the draft framework agreement they wrapped following months of diplomacy in Doha.
Since his appointment to the post in September, US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban in Doha and the UAE. However, during this period, there have been conflicting reports about the US’s intention of bringing sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
Last week, US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said that the United States and the Taliban have reached an agreement in principle, but it is not final until US President Trump agrees on it.
Mr. Khalilzad said that based on the draft agreement, the US will withdraw 5,000 troops from five bases in Afghanistan within 135 days if conditions in the agreement are addressed by the Taliban.
On May 9, the sixth round of US-Taliban talks ended in the Qatari capital, Doha. The talks so far have been focused on four key issues: US forces withdrawal, counterterrorism assurances, a ceasefire, and intra-Afghan negotiations.
Last week, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is not seeking a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, after the Taliban said they are close to finalizing a peace agreement with the United States.
The Afghan conflict has cost almost 2,400 American lives and hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars. As the war approaches its 18th year, 14,000 US troops are still in Afghanistan and senior intelligence officials have repeatedly warned that the country remains fragile and could once again become a terrorist haven.