- Afghan National Security Advisor says Pakistan’s role is important in attaining peace in Afghanistan.
- Says differences with Taliban remain on values and governance model of post war Afghanistan.
- US says all options remain on the table for its remaining 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, including full withdrawal.
KABUL: Afghanistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib on Sunday said that it was important for Kabul to reach an agreement with Islamabad on outstanding issues if it wants peace with Taliban and end the war in the country.
“Pakistan’s role is important and to reach peace with the Taliban, it is important to have an agreement with Pakistan to resolve all issues,” said Mohib during a news conference in Kabul as quoted by Afghanistan based Bakhtar News Agency.
Mohib made the remarks while addressing a joint news conference with senior Afghan security officials in Kabul.
Speaking about the struggles of achieving an agreement with the Afghan Taliban, Mohib said that the Ashraf Ghani-led government has taken all necessary steps to establish peace. He added that the Afghan government was waiting for the Taliban to prove that they too want peace.
Mohib during the presser also spoke about a draft proposal put forward to the Afghanistan government on the peace process by US special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.
“Khalilzad’s new plan is not a plan of the US government, but a plan to accelerate the peace process, and it is more structured and focused on the division of power in order to solve security problems,” said Mohib.
He repeated that problems between the Afghan Taliban and government were not “on the structures” but the “differences” between the two sides on the “values” and governance they want in the country after US troops withdraw.
“We are fully prepared to end the war and speed up the peace process. At present, our team is in Doha for talks. If the violence continues, Afghan forces are fully prepared to contain their attacks,” said the Afghan NSA.
Afghan officials and Western diplomats have told Reuters that during Khalilzad’s recent visit to Kabul he discussed the idea of an interim government after bringing Afghan leaders together for a multilateral conference outside the country.
A Taliban spokesman in Doha also acknowledged that the group has received a proposed draft plan for the peace process and were reviewing it.
Ghani has strongly opposed the idea of the interim government and said any new government should be formed through elections.
US says all options on table for a decision on Afghanistan
The news of the proposal comes as the US government said on Sunday that all options remain on the table for its remaining 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, saying it has made no decisions about its military commitment after May 1.
The State Department comments came after reports emerged that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had made a new urgent push for a United Nations-led peace effort that included a warning that the US military was considering exiting Afghanistan by May 1.
Blinken in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the United States is “considering the full withdrawal of forces by May 1st as we consider other options”.
The letter, confirmed by senior Afghan officials, was sent to Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the peace council, and was discussed and explained to Afghan leaders by US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad during his visit to Kabul last week, the officials said.
“The letter was handed over to President Ghani and myself two days before the visit of Khalilzad,” Abdullah told a gathering in Kabul on Monday.
A State Department spokeswoman declined to confirm the letter’s veracity but said Sunday the United States has “not made any decisions about our force posture in Afghanistan after May 1. All options remain on the table.”
According to the letter, the United States is pursuing high-level diplomatic efforts “to move matters more fundamentally and quickly toward a settlement and a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.”
The letter said the United States would ask the United Nations to convene foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States “to discuss a unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan.”
It added the United States will ask Turkey to host a senior-level meeting of “both sides in the coming weeks to finalise a peace agreement.”
Blinken said in the event of a US military withdrawal that he was concerned “the security situation will worsen and that the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains,” adding he hoped Ghani would “understand the urgency of my tone.”
Peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgents in the Qatari capital of Doha have largely stalled as US President Joe Biden’s administration reviews how to handle the peace process, including troops withdrawal.
Blinken in the letter mentioned that Washington had not concluded the review.
“We are considering the full withdrawal of our forces by May 1st, as we consider other options,” he said in the letter.
(With additional input from Reuters)