President Ashraf Ghani on Monday signalled a major shift in Afghanistan’s policy on the Taliban, saying he expects Pakistan to take military action against the militant group instead of bringing it to the negotiating table.
In an address to a joint session of both houses of Parliament, Ghani called on Islamabad to take action against all militant groups that are using Pakistani soil to target Afghanistan.
The leadership of the Taliban is based in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar, from where they coordinate and launch attacks in Afghanistan, he said, according to reports in the Afghan media.
The Afghan government “will no longer call on Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table” despite having relied on it in the past to do so, he said.
Pakistan should act responsibly in the fight against terrorist groups, he added. Ghani warned that Afghanistan will approach the UN Security Council and other international organisations to lodge complaints if action is not taken by Pakistan.
The doors to peace will now be open only to some factions of the Taliban and there will be no difference between “good terrorists and bad terrorists”, Ghani said.
The Taliban “will suffer in the battlefield and eventually request for peace talks”, he said.
The Afghan government, he added, has “ended its efforts in calling for peace and will now use all its resources to defend the country”. The “time for unjustified amnesty” has ended and terrorists will be executed, he said.
Ghani described the enemies of Afghanistan as “alien hireling groups like Daesh, al Qaeda, murderous groups of Haqqani and some Taliban who enjoy shedding their countrymen’s blood and continue the war and terrorism”.
The President’s remarks came against the backdrop of last week’s deadly bombing in Kabul by the Taliban that killed 64 people and injured more than 340. Afghanistan has seen a major spike in violence since the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive earlier this month.
The joint session was attended by MPs, senior officials and members of the High Peace Council and Ulema Council. However, CEO Abdullah Abdullah was absent from the session.