Geneva Conference: Ghani Calls for Immediate Ceasefire

President Ashraf Ghani who addressed the opening ceremony of the Afghanistan 2020 Conference in Geneva on Tuesday called on the Taliban to agree on an immediate ceasefire to move the peace process forward and end the suffering of the people of the country.

President Ghani said that despite the suffering, “our commitments to negotiations with the Taliban remain firm.

“We need to create a strong regional consensus for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan,” Ghani said.

“The ultimate result of our work moving forward, and the ultimate benefit of our committed partnership, comes when we move past the war, the poverty, and the pandemic,” Ghani said.

He also said that after the international forces reduced from 150,000 in 2011, to below 10,000 in Afghanistan, the Afghan security forces “successfully took over responsibility for security and counter-terrorism operations in 2015.”

“We have held the frontline in the global fight against terrorism. We held our provinces. When Taliban managed to take temporary control of a district, we quickly took back most of them,” Ghani said.

Ghani said that in Doha, the Afghan Republic negotiating team is working on making peace, and responsibility for “ushering the peace-making process forward is now in the hands of the two negotiating teams at the table.”

“We must create conditions of well-being. We must also create rules of the game, so that we do not find ourselves pulled backwards by vacuums of governance in which destructive forces can thrive, such as corruption, unequal distribution of resources, and internal conflict,” he stated.

Ghani said the Afghan people, the government and the international community share a vision of a sovereign, unified, democratic Afghanistan at peace with itself, the region and the world, capable of preserving and expanding the gains of the past two decades.

“Our three-pillar approach of peace, state and market-building presented in the second Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework were validated and further enriched through a series of workshops with our partners in a spirit of genuine openness from both sides,” he said.

On fighting corruption, President Ghani said that the anti-corruption commission has been formed.

“We are working collaboratively on a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy to take us through 2024,” he said.

At the conference, the UN Secretary General António Guterres urged immediate humanitarian ceasefire to “save lives, curb COVID-19 impact and better atmosphere for Afghanistan peace negotiations.”

“We have a moment of hope when combined with enhanced economic opportunity supported by Afghanistan 2020 Conference,” Guterres said, adding “Afghanistan’s gains must be preserved and built on.”

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) chief Deborah Lyons also said that despite decades of conflict, the people of Afghanistan have made significant progress over recent years.

“The Afghan economy has diversified. Improved infrastructure and power supplies are connecting remote areas to national economic opportunities, and to neighboring countries. More women are in government, and in legislatures at the national and local levels,” Lyons said.

Lyons said Afghans have made remarkable progress in achieving their human rights – particularly those of women, minorities, and children but adding that the people of Afghanistan face serious challenges, including conflict, poverty and the uneven application of the rule of law.

“I am also deeply concerned about continued high levels of violence, particularly he recent heinous attacks on civilians, including students. The Afghan people have suffered for far too long,” she said. “I urge the redoubling of efforts towards an immediate, unconditional ceasefire.”

Josep Borrell, the EU Minister for Foreign Affairs, said “violence in Afghanistan must stop, not tomorrow but by now,” adding that “women’s rights in Afghanistan must be protected.”

Foreign ministers of other countries also reiterated on ceasefire and an end to violence in Afghanistan.