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It is a country I love, and I will die defending says Afghan President Ghani

It is a country I love, and I will die defending says Afghan President Ghani

The United States formally begins withdrawing its last troops from Afghanistan bringing its longest war nearer to an end but also heralding an uncertain future for a country in the tightening grip of an emboldened Taliban.Since the US withdrawal deal was struck the Taliban have not directly engaged foreign troops, but insurgents have mercilessly attacked government forces in the countryside and waged a terror campaign in urban areas.  The exit of US forces has only exacerbated the fear felt by ordinary Afghans.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is also concerned though he is making a brave face. Ghani said President Joe Biden’s decision to bring home the last of the 2,500 troops from the country provides the Afghan people with a chance for "real sovereignty." According to Ghani, the only way forward for the country would be for the Taliban to forsake violence and become an active part of the country's decisions in a meaningful, peaceful manner.

In an interview with the German Magazine, DER SPIEGEL, the Afghan President talked about the future of the country, possibility of civil war, Taliban’s takeover and how important  is Pakistan’s role for the stability.

In the interview, Ghani said that every now and then, the demise of the government keeps coming but that is not going to happen. He said that

“The probability of a civil war is there. But it doesn't have to come to that. You know, when the combat mission officially ended in 2014 and was modified as a training mission, everybody already saw the demise of the republic coming. But we made it work. Please take into consideration that all of this is also a question of narrative: The more the scenario of destabilization is spread, the more we are confronted with violence here,” Ghani said to the German Magazine.

He said it is a wrong perception that Afghan government would fall shortly after the US and NATO withdrawal, as had happened post the Soviet withdrawal and he will be “forced” to leave.

“I know I am only one bullet away from death. There have been many attempts on my life. But Afghanistan is not South Vietnam, and I did not come here in a coup. I was elected by the people. I’ve never had an American bodyguard or an American tank protecting me. Before I became president, I lived abroad for 28 years, and had a successful career. But I was not happy. No power in the world could persuade me to now get on a plane and leave this country. It is a country I love, and I will die defending,” he said.

Ghani says that the deal between the Trump administration and the Taliban gave the opportunity more to the Taliban and that’s why there are so many challenges to the peace process right now. “Western diplomacy should stop coddling them. The Taliban are criminals. They kill innocent people – as they did just a few days ago, in an attack on a girls' school in Kabul, in Dasht-e-Barchi, which cost the lives of 85 people. Do not validate these criminals as a shadow government! The Taliban made the environment for these crimes possible – they did not cut their ties with al-Qaida." Ghani said.

When asked after the US  is gone, will the Taliban work to settle its scores and reestablish the Islamic emirate, will the men be forced to wear long beards once more and will the women not be allowed to leave the house?

The Afghan President said that We will not allow them to do that. The Taliban will not beat the youth of Afghanistan into submission. “I assure you, the women will no longer give up their rights here, nor do they need foreign advisers to represent them. Thirty percent of the administration are women, 58 percent of government officials are young, well-educated people under 40. Our army is a volunteer army. Afghan society has a lively discourse among itself; it makes sovereign decisions. I think this awareness in society is irreversible.” Ghani said.

The Afghan President made it clear that the world needs to put pressure on Pakistan because peace will primarily be decided upon regionally, It is first and foremost a matter of getting Pakistan on board. The U.S. now plays only a minor role. The question of peace or hostility is now in Pakistani hands. “Pakistan operates an organized system of support. The Taliban receive logistics there, their finances are there and recruitment is there. The names of the various decision-making bodies of the Taliban are Quetta Shura, Miramshah Shura and Peshawar Shura – named after the Pakistani cities where they are located. There is a deep relationship with the state,” Ghani pointed out that future security agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan is necessary for the  peace but “ my goal is the neutrality of Afghanistan.”

 (You can read full interview here : https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-afghanistan-president-ashraf-ghani-i-know-i-am-only-one-bullet-away-from-death-a-82dc3dd6-3c27-4f93-97c9-d6cddf0cd117 )