Ghani: Afghanistan ‘Ready’ to Fight Taliban after US Pullout

President Ashraf Ghani said that the Afghan government is ready to fight against the Taliban after the full withdrawal of international troops from the country, reiterating that the key to peace talks is accepting the election as a way forward for Afghanistan’s future government.

“The threat of terrorism has changed. It has not disappeared. We are all agreed on this,” Ghani said in an interview with PBS on May 17. “The United States is committed to support things, providing support. This is financial, in the security area, in the economic area, in the humanitarian area, because the United States, fortunately, shares the values of supporting the gains of the last 20 years. And our discussion is enormously productive. The same, fortunately, applies to NATO members and non-NATO members who have been our partners.”

President Ghani has recently held talks with influential political leaders, namely the reconciliation council chief Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai, former mujahedeen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, and others to build a consensus around peace and form a high-level state council.

Sources familiar with the meetings said that the list of the members of the council will be finalized by the end of this week.

Moreover, the Taliban has shown signs of willingness to resume the peace negotiations in Doha. But in Afghanistan violence remains increasingly high despite a three-day ceasefire from May 12 to May 15.

The Defense Ministry reported clashes in 18 provinces just two days after the end of the ceasefire.

President Ghani once again reiterated that that “the key to a political dialogue is that the Taliban accept that the future political system of Afghanistan is based on elections.”

“That is the fundamental bottom line. Other things are discussible, negotiable. But if that fundamental issue is not granted, then the question of rights and the question of gains that have occurred in the last 20 years, particularly vis-a-vis women, youth, minorities, all walks of life, will be put into question,” Ghani said as quoted by PBS.

US and coalition forces commander, Gen. Scott Miller, said this week that the Taliban might increase violence after the three-day ceasefire that ended on May 15, but he reiterated that the US will support Afghan forces until the full withdrawal of their troops from the country.

On Monday, some sources close to the Taliban said that there has been some progress in the release of 7,000 prisoners of the group by the Afghan government. They said that the Taliban is expected to hold a session with the US about the withdrawal of American forces from the country.

But the Afghan government said that the release of prisoners will depend on agreements within the peace negotiations.