Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has called on Pakistan to cease supporting the Taliban and instead join in the fight against the insurgents, saying if the neighboring country fails to cooperate then Kabul will take the issue to the United Nations Security Council.
In a somber speech to the joint session of both houses of Afghan Parliament on April 25, Ghani said his compatriots want him to raise the issues of Pakistani support for Afghan insurgent groups. He said these groups “are being hosted and aided from the territory of Pakistan.”
The Afghan leader said such support violates the charter of United Nations and various Security Council resolutions, which binds member states not to support terrorist groups against another country.
“If we don’t see [a change in Pakistani policies], we will be compelled to consult the UN Security Council for serious diplomatic actions despite our wishes to resolve such issues through regional cooperation,” he said. “Similarly, we will ask responsible international organizations to take action against those whose hands are dyed with the blood of our compatriots and who operate from abroad.”
His address comes amid mounting public pressure a week after a Taliban assault in Kabul killed 64 people and wounded another 340. Since assuming office in September 2014, Ghani pivoted toward Pakistan in the hope of enlisting its support to end his country’s nearly four-decade war through negotiations with the Taliban and allied insurgent groups, most of whom operate out of Pakistani sanctuaries.
The Afghan leader, however, ended his pivot toward Pakistan last summer after Islamabad failed to prevent the Afghan insurgents from launching their biggest offensive since the overthrow of their regime in late 2001.
Late last year, Afghanistan again joined Pakistan, China, and the United States in a diplomatic forum called the Quadrilateral Coordination Group. In February, the four nations agreed on a road map aimed at ending the Afghan war through direct negotiations with the Taliban brokered by Pakistan, where a senior official admitted that Islamabad is hosting Afghan Taliban leaders.
But the Taliban rejected peace talks and instead unveiled another summer offensive aimed at capturing more territory and toppling Ghani’s government.
Ghani has now called on Islamabad to battle the Taliban rather than try to bring them into peace talks.
The Afghan leader said Kabul no longer expects Islamabad to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in Pakistan, adding that Pakistan should instead launch a military operation against the Afghan insurgents operating from inside the country.
“We expect Pakistan to honor its commitments in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group and take military action against those who, according to our security institutions and the intelligence services of our allies, are operating out of Pakistan,” he told lawmakers. “Even the Pakistani leaders have acknowledged that their [the Afghan Taliban’s] headquarters and leadership are inside Pakistan.”
Ghani added that if Islamabad is unwilling to take military action against these “criminals,” it should hand them over to Afghan courts so that justice can be served for their actions.
“We expect Pakistan -- and the international community shares our views -- to abandon its distinction between good and bad terrorists and take action against all as a responsible state,” he said.
Ghani characterized the insurgents as criminals fighting a legitimate government. He vowed war against radical groups like the Islamic State, commonly known in Afghanistan as Daesh, and the Haqqani network while leaving a door open for compromise with some Taliban factions.
"The enemies of Afghanistan are Daesh, al-Qaeda, the murderous Haqqani network, and some of the Taliban who enjoy shedding the blood of their countrymen," he told lawmakers in a speech broadcast live on television.
Ghani emphasized that the doors of negotiation would remain open for those Taliban ready to bring an end to the bloodshed. "This opportunity will not be there forever," he warned.
With reporting by Radio Free Afghanistan, AP, Reuters, and DPA