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July 27, 2020

Ghani: Afghan govt will enter talks from strong position

Top Story

July 27, 2020

KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani, who visited the western province of Nimroz on Sunday, said the Afghan government will not enter negotiations with the Taliban from a position of weakness, and that the republic and the national security and defence forces will not be compromised in the talks.

“I will not compromise on the republic. I will not compromise on Afghanistan. We are proud of the republic,” Ghani said.

The Afghan peace process has reached a critical point as the intra-Afghan negotiations are expected to begin in the near future if the prisoner exchange between the government and the Taliban is completed. The US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad also started a five-nation trip on July 24.

In Kabul and Doha, Khalilzad will press for resolution of the remaining issues ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, specifically final prisoner exchanges and reduced violence, according to a statement by the US Department of State.

The president meanwhile vowed that work on Kamal Khan dam will be completed within the next four months. According to engineers, the dam will irrigate thousands of hectares of land and will generate nine megawatts of power.

Nimroz residents said the president has not fulfilled the commitments he made in his previous trip to the province. “Our 100-bed hospital has been left unconstructed for the last five years.

It has been taken by the OSOPND (Operations and Support Office of the President for National Development) but it has not been started yet,” said Baz Mohammad Nasir, head of Nimroz Provincial Council.

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who accompanied Ghani on the trip, said the Taliban has had no achievement despite increased violence in the country.

Meanwhile, Afghan legislators and citizens on Sunday called on President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah to complete the cabinet, which still has empty positions almost 70 days after the two signed a political agreement.

Based on the agreement, which was signed in May, Abdullah will head the High Council for National Reconciliation and will be able to have his picks in 50 percent of the cabinet. The Presidential Palace has said that it has prepared its part of the cabinet, but it is waiting for Abdullah’s list. Meanwhile, Abdullah has not yet appointed three deputies of the High Council for National Reconciliation, which has five members in total.

“They should not take the cabinet hostage. They should use the opportunity and send their picks to the parliament (for a vote of confidence),” said Abdul Rahman Wardak, an MP. “Lack of implementation of the political agreement can cause problems for the peace process and the intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Abdullah Qarloq, a senator. Sources have said that a list of Abdullah’s picks for the ministries has already been sent to the Presidential Palace, but some names in the list have been rejected by the president.

“They are not thinking about the people. They are thinking about their own interests,” said Qand Agha Barazanda, a Baghlan resident. “They (Afghan leaders) should prioritize national interests rather that their own interests,” said Ahmad, a Kabul resident. Based on the political agreement, Abdullah will lead the peace efforts for the country, but, according to critics, he has not made a tangible effort in this respect so far. “Mr. Abdullah has shouldered a big responsibility, which is peace. First, he should complete the formation of the High Council for National Reconciliation as quick as possible,” said Shahzada Massoud, a political affairs analyst.

Abdullah’s spokesman Fraidoon Khwazoon said discussions are underway over the choice of individuals for the cabinet and the three members of the High Council for National Reconciliation. “Discussions have been held. Various meetings have been held.

The list of the high council has been prepared; the general assembly has been prepared. All these will be announced,” said Khwazoon. The Presidential Palace did not comment, but it has already appointed some acting ministers, including for the defense and the interior affairs ministries.