President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday commended Afghanistan’s significant counter-terrorism gains as he told a panel audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that Afghan forces defeated Daesh in eastern parts of the country.
Ghani said that five years ago there were over 140,000 international coalition troops in Afghanistan including100,000 American troops–and there were rumors that the country would collapse once the foreign forces withdrew.
However, he said, all the predictions and perceptions proved false as Afghanistan survived and is making progress today.
Referring to the existence of coalition forces way back 2014, Ghani said there were over 140,000 NATO including 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan and is was considered that the country will destabilize after the troop’s withdrawal adding all those extrapolations proved incorrect as Afghanistan survived and is making progress today.
“The Afghan security forces have emerged to a significant force, our commandos are second to none in the region, our air force is tripled, our commandos and special forces have doubled. We have taken eight districts back from the Taliban,” Ghani told the audience.
Ghani held a number of meetings with the world leaders including the US President Donald Trump and discussed the current situation in Afghanistan, the ongoing peace process and regional security, the presidential office spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.
Trump told Ghani that the ongoing US-Taliban talks are fruitless unless and until the Taliban shun the violence, a statement issued by White House said on Wednesday.
Ghani stated that the Afghan security forces made counter-terror progresses against the Daesh militants in eastern parts of the country and hence, for the first time, thousands of Daesh surrendered to the Afghan Security Forces.
Regarding the troop’s withdrawal, Ghani said, “Security is a problem but we are going in the right direction. The Resolute Support Mission is an instrument, the key issue is the bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan and the Status of Forces Agreement between Afghanistan and NATO,” Ghani said referring to the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) signed between the US and Afghanistan in 2014. This agreement allows the US forces to remain in the country post-2014.
“The numbers can adjust, increase or decrease. A decrease at this moment will have no material impact on our capacity and our willingness to ensure moving forward.”
On a question about a relationship with US President Donald Trump Ghani said: “I have no problems dealing with President Trump. I am one of the few leaders who have an excellent relationship with President Trump, including today’s conversation we had because I frame my relationship based on priorities.”
When asked about the peace process Ghani said “Negotiation with the Taliban is a means. The desire of the Afghan people is to see the end of violence. If the Taliban are ready to end the violence, the Afghan society is ready to reintegrate them.”
Ghani also vowed not to tolerate what he described as ‘gender apartheid’ against Afghan women.
Talking about the women’s rights Ghani said: “No Afghan woman, as long as I am alive and in the position of responsibility, is going to be subject to gender apartheid. Afghan society has changed. Are the Taliban sufficiently ready to engage?”.
In a question about the ongoing peace negotiations, Ghani said this refereeing the Taliban’s spokesman Sohail Shaheen who told Arab News in a phone conversation earlier week that Taliban representatives are holding talks with US negotiators in Qatar to create a “safe atmosphere” for the signing of a peace agreement.
“There had been no discussion on cease-fire since the beginning, but the US proposed reduction in violence and our stance is to provide a safe atmosphere during the days of the agreement,” Shaheed said as quoted by Arab News.