President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday unveiled a three-point strategy to secure long-term peace in Afghanistan, including better relations with countries in the region, strengthen the armed forces and reconciliation with the Taliban.
“We must secure peace,” Ghani asserted as he spelled out details of his vision before a joint session of the US Congress. Pushing for national reconciliation is an important part of his initiative. He said the Taliban being sons of the soil were unlike Al-Qaeda, he observed, believing he could deal with legitimate grievances if the combatants agreed to respect the constitution and the rule of law. Afghans, he said, had shown its skills of fighting. “Since as far back as the invasions of Alexander and the more modern expulsion of the Soviet Union, Afghans have shown that we will protect our country against foreign attack -- no matter how steep the price or how well-armed the intruder.”
He also referred to meetings CEO Dr. Abdullah and he held with leaders of Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and China.
Their commitment was to build mutual security across nations includes an end to financing and sanctuary for extremist groups, Ghani added.
The second initiative is to build up the ability of our own armed forces to project the elected government across our entire national territory.
Self-reliance: Afghanistan owes a profound debt to the 2,315 US servicemen and women killed and the more than 20,000 wounded in his country, Ghani said.
“The story about Afghanistan’s path to self-reliance has already started. It began with last year’s election and the formation of our national unity government,” he explained.
Afghanistan’s isolation, he said, was over as awareness was growing that the country was the heart of Asia. Asia cannot become a continental economy without Afghanistan.
In the next 25 years, he predicted, Asia would have its 1869 — the year that the east and west coasts of the United States were joined through the transcontinental railway.
But this completion of a new, inter-connected Asia cannot happen without Afghans, he insisted, receiving several rounds of standing ovation during his address.
Ghani said ending corruption and impunity was the precursor of self-reliance, but the true test would be whether it could restore the fiscal basis of public expenditure.
“We must create the environment where private investment, sustainable natural resource, and critical market-linking infrastructure development provide our youth with jobs, help us balance the budget,” he concluded.