Zakhilwal: Early Election Welcomed, Ghani ‘Should Resign’

Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, the head of the Harakat-e-Nejate Afghanistan, a newly established political party, on Sunday said that an early election based on President Ashraf Ghani’s proposal will be possible only when the president resigns from his post, and he blamed the president for disrupting peace efforts.

He said that the president’s proposal for peace is an obstacle to the process.

“We see it as an excuse against peace and an act of sabotage against the peace process. If they really want an early election for peace, we welcome it, but based on the Constitution he should resign,” Zakhilwal said, who addressed a gathering in Herat province where he opened a branch of his party.

He said that the government has wasted opportunities for peace under the pretext of defending the republic and the Constitution in recent years.

“When it comes to peace opportunities in the last two-and-a-half years, the only thing the government has done is disrupt peace efforts, sometimes under the pretext of preserving the republic, sometimes the Constitution or other things,” Zakhilwal said, who has served as finance minister under former President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Some members of the party said that the outcome of the upcoming Istanbul conference will not be acceptable for them and the talks in Qatar will fail if the conference is not held in an inclusive way.

“The historic opportunity of the Turkey conference should be maximized, and failed mechanisms like Doha, which wasted a number of opportunities, should not affect the opportunity,” said Ghulam Farooq Wardak, head of the central council of the party.

“Who knows what is expected of Afghans at the Turkey conference? Let us know if anyone knows, including Mr. Ghani,” said Jafar Mahdawi, the deputy head of the party.

Other participants said that the people of Afghanistan have not been given their role in the ongoing peace efforts.

“There is a need for real peace that ends the war in the country,” said Nooria Arian, a resident of Herat.

“The people of Afghanistan have been the main victims of war, but they have always been sidelined. This reality is something that is felt by everyone,” said Ahmad Wali Paiman, a resident of Herat.

This comes as sources at the Presidential Palace said that Khalilzad has shared the agenda of the Turkey conference and that all sides are prepared for the summit. But the Taliban said that they have not made a final decision on their participation in the meeting.

Sources close to the Taliban said that the group is seeking the release of its 7,000 prisoners and the removal of their leaders’ names from UN black list in exchange for 45 to 90 days presence of US forces following the May 1 deadline.