Ghani calls on Taliban to become a ‘positive force’ and help bring peace

President Ashraf Ghani has called on the Taliban to play a positive role in the peace process and to work to “bring security” in the country.

Addressing a gathering in Paktika on Saturday, Ghani said: “Taliban are negative forces and they show their presence by killing people.”

He urged the Taliban to become a positive force and said “let’s put hands together to bring security across Afghanistan.”

“All people demand peace. Without peace, any development would be difficult but not impossible as you witnessed we managed to build [Afghanistan] although we sailed with a wrecked boat,” Ghani stated.

“I have built the whole of Afghanistan. Now it is time there should be a real focus on Paktia, and more than that on Paktika,” Ghani said.

“If you (Taliban) don’t have a plan and if you always make slogans, no one will be convinced; is there anyone who will be convinced by slogans? We challenge them. They should come to accept being an Afghan and Muslim,” Ghani said.

Meanwhile, a number of local reporters said that they were prevented from attending Ghani’s meeting with Paktika’s officials. They said this was in contradiction to the freedom of speech act and against the access to information code.

“We all [reporters] have decided to boycott all provincial meetings and not to cover any of their events,” said Khoshal Rahim, a journalist.

Presidential Spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi, however, said that the government will address the issue with the local officials.

“We will pursue this issue seriously with the Paktika Governor’s Office to prevent a recurrence in the future,” Sediqqi said.