President Ashraf Ghani asserts himself, proposes Afghan peace plan for Turkey talks

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A vehicle damaged in a terror attack being towed away near Kabul (Photo: IANS)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has come up with a three-part peace plan for Afghanistan to be discussed at the Turkey meet this month. He has shared his ideas with "ambassadors of various countries and representatives of international organizations in the last few days", reports TOLO News from Kabul.

The three parts of Ghani's plan include a "political settlement" with the Taliban that ensures a ceasefire; the second envisages holding elections and forming a “government of peace” with the Taliban and lastly, "Peace building, State building and Market building" to ensure that there is a constitutional framework, reintegration of refugees and putting Afghanistan on the road to development.

TOLO News reports that President Ghani has shared his plan with Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, also.

Over the last few months, with the new American government of Joe Biden settling in, Afghanistan is experiencing numerous efforts at bringing peace to the conflicted region.

With the failure, and also the dumping, of former US president Donald Trump's Doha Peace initiative with the Taliban, Afghanistan is now dealing with multiple peace ideas and efforts. Among these is the US proposal to involve the UN to bring Afghan stakeholders to Turkey around mid-April to hold meaningful peace talks as the US plans to move out its troops by May 2021.

At the other end are the Russian efforts to deliver peace to the strife-torn country by holding talks in Moscow with Afghan stakeholders and concerned regional parties.

By proposing his three-point idea, the Afghan president has made an effort to snatch back the initiative from external powers. As Ghani takes foreign diplomats in Kabul into confidence, it is clear that he is asserting himself by propping up an Afghan idea of peace and the way forward.

Ghani's initiative seeks to first hold talks among the Afghan groups including the Taliban and then bring in international observers to implement the ceasefire. Ghani is as uncomfortable with Biden's proposal to straightaway share power with the Taliban, as much as he was with Trump's Doha Peace initiative with the Taliban.

Ghani proposes that instead of sharing power, the various Afghan stakeholders have to first arrive at a consensus or a political agreement. If this power-sharing works, then this new government can hold presidential elections to further strengthen the "government of peace", bring about development to the country as well as continue to hold a ceasefire. If this also works, the new government then "builds a constitutional framework", re-integrate refugees and take Afghanistan forward on the road to development.

An assertive Ghani has made it clear that this possible plan of action has to be agreed to by the Taliban first. The Afghan government says that talks in Turkey can be meaningful only if the Taliban agrees to an agenda for talks.

Ghani's assertion comes in the face of the Taliban pushing the Americans to quit the region by May 1 - the deadline set by Trump under the Doha Peace talks. However, the Taliban under the cover of the Trump-led talks stepped up attacks on the Afghan security forces as well as the civilian population. It also indulged in targeted killings of journalists, politicians and civil society leaders.

On the other hand Biden too has vacillated about the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan if violence reigns in the country. Meanwhile, the Afghan forces have stepped up its counter offensive against various shades of militants killing dozens in the last four days.