Afghan president unveils Taliban peace plan

Afghan president unveils Taliban peace plan
3 min read
28 February, 2018
A potential peace deal between the Afghan government and Taliban has been unveiled which could see the militant group become a political party.
Afghan forces are involved in a fierce battle with Taliban forces [Getty]

A controversial peace plan for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban was unveiled by President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday, which could see the militant group being recognised as a political party.

It comes days after the Taliban called for direct negotiations with the US and a spike in attacks by the militants.

The apparent openness by both sides to some form of negotiations came as civilian casualties have soared in recent months.

The Taliban has taken a more aggressive approach to fighting the government targeting civilians in Kabul.

The US, too, has embarked on a more hawkish military strategy in Afghanistan under President Donald Trump.

Ghani disclosed the framework at the Kabul Process, which will see a regional conference in the Afghan capital focused on bringing peace to the country. 

He called for a truce, after which the Taliban could become a political party and contest elections. 

"A ceasefire should be held, the Taliban should be recognised as a political party and trust-building process should be initiated," said Ghani, in remarks similar to past offers. 

"Now the decision is in your hands, accept peace... and let's bring stability to this country," he added.

The Taliban would have to officially recognise the Afghan government and constitution for talks to begin. 

There was no immediate response to Ghani's offer from the Taliban but the group's spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted that the conference sought the Taliban's "surrender" at a time when it is "without a doubt a force that has defeated an international arrogant power like America with all its allies and tools at disposal".

This was in response to a New Yorker article chronicling efforts towards peace talks by an US expert on Afghanistan, Barnett Rubin. 

On Monday the Taliban said it was prepared to enter direct talks with the US to find a "peaceful solution" to more than 16 years of war. 

That statement however made no mention of negotiating with the Afghan government - a condition which the US has long stated is vital to any peace process.

Offers previously made to the Taliban but this is the first time they have been arranged in a "clean peace plan" and announced at a multi-national conference, noted Afghan political analyst Abdul Bari.

"The timing is important... the Taliban might reject the offer, as they have done in the past, but at least it seems the peace process (which) stopped for a while may get back on track," he told AFP.

Fighting has continued between the Taliban and government with the militants over-running large parts of Afghanistan in previous offensives.

Taliban infiltrators have killed hundreds of Afghan troops and bomb attacks have been launched on the capital including one incident last year that killed more than 100.