Afghanistan is reaching out to regional neighbours and the wider international community to secure their support to end the war in the country. The initiative, to be called the Kabul Process, will be launched at a conference next month.
Unveiling the plans at a meeting in Kabul with western diplomats, President Ashraf Ghani said that this will not be a ‘ceremonial process’, but the beginning of a move towards commitment to lasting peace.
The Kabul Process aims to secure support for an agreement to end support for cross-border terrorism. The President said that Afghanistan was the victim of an ‘undeclared war by non-state actors.’
He said that a stable Afghanistan would benefit the region and the world, and stressed the potential for gas pipelines, internet connectivity and other advantages of the strategic location of Afghanistan at the heart of Asia.
The President quoted the poet Iqbal, who said ‘when Afghanistan is in discord, Asia is in discord. When Afghanistan is in accord, Asia is in accord.’
As Afghan reforms become more evident, and its armed forces daily more effective, the Kabul Process will include an intensive period of peace-building inside Afghanistan, winning wider consent for a lasting peace settlement.
The peace deal with Hezb-i Islami, the first such negotiated end to hostilities in four decades of war, showed that peace is possible. President Ghani acknowledged to the ambassadors that this process was not without risks, but ‘a government willing to take risks is a credible partner in peace.’ What was being undertaken would not be easy. It was ‘a process not a panacea.’
He pointed to the local deals made in Zabul Province, where Daesh and the Taliban were defeated, and their fighters reintegrated, by local villagers. The president heard this success when elders from the region visited Kabul this week, and pledged their loyalty to the government.
This lays the ground work for peace-making with the Taliban and other opposition actors, which the president said would be an Afghan-led process. He warned that the terrorism that Afghanistan faced was quite different from that of the past. It was ‘more lethal, more global, more violent,’ and that was why it needed determined international support to be tackled.