Afghanistan’s Ghani proposes three-phase peace roadmap: Document

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, on November 19, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will put forward a three-phase peace roadmap through a conference on the Afghan “peace process” in Turkey, aimed at finalizing a peace deal between Kabul and the Taliban militant group, according to a document.

The first part of the proposal -- titled “Reaching an Endstate”-- includes a consensus on a political settlement and an internationally monitored ceasefire, the document revealed on Sunday.

The second part will be holding a presidential election and the establishment of a "government of peace" and implementation arrangements for moving towards the new political system.

The third part will contain constructing a “constitutional framework, reintegration of refugees and development” for Afghanistan moving forward.

Ghani’s plan can be presented as a counter to proposals put ahead by Washington to discuss the formation of an interim administration in Afghanistan in the coming weeks that would involve Taliban representatives — an idea opposed by the Afghan government.

A senior government official has mentioned that Ghani has already shared his peace plan with foreign countries.

The Afghan government and a number of politicians also said they would have to agree on an agenda with the Taliban before the proposed US-meeting in Turkey.

In a bid to accelerate the stalled peace process, Washington is pushing for a meeting to be hosted by Turkey, with UN involvement, this month between the representatives of the Afghan government and the militant group.

The exact date is yet to be determined but multiple sources have told Reuters it could take place in two weeks' time.

The latest development comes as a May 1 deadline looms for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

Last month, the Taliban threatened to resume attacks against US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan following remarks by US President Joe Biden that he may extend the US military presence beyond the May 1 deadline.

The Taliban said in a statement that if Washington fails to meet the deadline – set in a peace deal negotiated by former president Donald Trump – the group will be “compelled" to continue "armed struggle against foreign forces to liberate the country.”

The threat by the armed group – which continues to control most of Afghanistan despite the massive presence of US-led forces – came after Biden said it would be hard to withdraw the remaining American troops by May 1.

The Taliban's statement underlined that the group was committed to the agreement, which it described as the “most sensible and shortest path” to end the conflict.

Under the February 2020 “peace” deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration, Washington vowed to withdraw all 2,500 US troops remaining in Afghanistan. In return, the Taliban pledged to stop attacks on US troops.

However, attacks continue to plague the South Asian nation, including a recent upsurge in killings of journalists, aid workers and government employees.

Ghani, whose government was sidelined from the US-Taliban talks in the Qatari capital, Doha last year, has been demanding that foreign troops remain in Afghanistan for a few more years and that the Biden administration review Trump’s deal with the Taliban.

The US along with its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the guise of war on terror and dismantling the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

The invasion — which has turned into the longest war in US history — removed the Taliban from power, but the militant group has never stopped its attacks, citing the foreign military presence as one of the main reasons behind its continued militancy.

More than 100,000 Afghans have been killed or wounded since 2009 when the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan began documenting casualties.

Biden, like his predecessor, has promised to end the longest US conflict and bring American soldiers back to the country.

Roughly 7,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan rely on the US for logistics and security support and will also have to pull out if the American forces withdraw.

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