NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg made a surprise visit to Kabul on Tuesday and held a press conference with President Ghani. The NATO chief firstly congratulated the country for holding parliamentary elections.
Right after, Mr Stoltenberg called on Taliban to end any fighting and subsequently open their doors for peace talks, “I call on Taliban to stop the war and sit down with the Afghans at the peace talks. The group should not send suicide bombers to people’s homes. We also call on neighbouring countries to not support the terrorist acts.”
He added that all casualties are a tragedy in the face of war. But he also clarified that the apparent increase in loss of Afghan government forces was due to the fact that they are looking after the overall security of the country.
Assuring NATO’s support to Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said that NATO will continue to stand by the country. “We will crush the terrorists,” he said.
With respect to advisors, he expressed that there is need for more military advisors in Afghanistan and there is also requirement for more strength in terms of numbers in Afghan forces.
He called on regional and neighbouring countries to do their bit to stabilise Afghanistan and in a possibly subtle message immediate neighbours of Afghanistan, he said that they need to stop giving safe havens to terrorists.
“The potential for peace is greater now than ever and we need Afghan-owned and led process which must be inclusive,” he added.
Stoltenberg emphasised that NATO’s role in peace process is clear, and that a ceasefire was the right option as enforced by Afghan government. Although NATO is not directly involved in process, he assured that it cooperates with Afghan government to create the platform for peace.
Stoltenberg also affirmed that it is crucial to send a tough message to the Taliban to think about peace rather than war, because they cannot win through war.
President Ghani also addressed the press conference and stated that the government leads the peace process and clarified that he was himself responsible for offering unconditional talks, “I announced a ceasefire which was an unprecedented move, we had the support of clerics & we achieved good results”.
Afghan people’s want for peace was expressed by Ghani but he pointed that the war has been imposed on the country, “We need cooperation on a regional and international level to expedite the process of peace and find a political solution to the conflict”.
While thanking NATO for its support in Afghanistan, he assured that key reforms in structure of Afghan security forces have been brought. He added that as parliamentary elections were held successfully, the security forces “played a key role in safeguarding the elections”. He clarified that the presidential elections will be hold on time.
Zalmay Khalilzad’s stance, wh is US’s special representative for reconciliation in Afghanistan was also cleared by Ghani as he said that the US envoy has supported the government & he plans to have a team that will pave the way for serious talks.
On Mullah Baradar’s arrest, President Ghani said that it was a negative move in Pakistan was as Baradar wanted to work on peace. He called on Pakistan to support peace and take action on ending the war.
But President Ghani also commented that most terrorist networks are housed and based in Pakistan.
With the recent killing of foreign service members, President Ghani expressed that the country is always grateful for the service of NATO soldiers.