Afghan President Ashraf Ghani calls on greater engagement with Pakistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani talks with Fareed Zakaria during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos. (Reuters)
Updated 24 January 2019

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani calls on greater engagement with Pakistan

  • Ghani said he had spoken to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan but warned that Islamabad still needed to remove the “shadow of violence”
  • President played down talk of a breakthrough in talks between the Taliban and US officials in Doha

LONDON: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday he wants greater engagement with Pakistan as he claimed his country was “turning a corner.”

Ghani said he had spoken to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan but warned that Islamabad still needed to remove the “shadow of violence” in the country.

Pakistan has long been accused of aiding militant groups, including the Taliban, in Afghanistan. Many believe that improved relations between Kabul and Islamabad are crucial to peace in the country.

“Afghanistan wants an engagement with Pakistan,” Ghani said during a conversation with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But he said that the countries needed to engage on the “issue of terrorism.” Ghani said improved relations could also make Afghanistan a stabilising force in Pakistan.

His comments came as a fourth day of talks between the Taliban and US officials were held in Qatar on Thursday. But Ghani played down speculation of a breakthrough amid frustration from Afghan leaders that they are being left out of the process.

Ghani played down talk of a breakthrough in talks between the Taliban and US officials in Doha at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “There’s discussion. But this discussion needs to be shared back (with the Afghan government),” he continued, adding that if not it “will not last.”

But he remained optimistic that the country was on the right track to bringing an end to the 17-year war with the Taliban, which still involves thousands of US troops.

“By 2024 Afghanistan will be self reliant,” Ghani said.

Afghanistan’s de facto prime minister Abdullah Abdullah also expressed his frustration at the talks in Doha, saying the Taliban are persisting in excluding his government from the negotiations

“The peace process cannot take place by proxy,” he said in Davos.

The Taliban have launched a series of attacks in recent weeks as they continue to strengthen their position in the country - now controlling about half the territory.

The insurgents killed dozens of Afghan forces this week in an attack on a military base in Wardak province.


Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

Updated 33 sec ago

Truck drives into US crowd protesting George Floyd killing, underscoring volatile situation

  • Protesters managed to stop the truck and beat up the driver, who was later arrested by police
  • A New York City Police car earlier drove into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: A tanker truck drove through thousands of people marching on a Minneapolis highway to protest the death of George Floyd on Sunday before protesters dragged the driver from the cab and beat him, according to a Reuters witness and authorities.
It did not appear any of the marchers were injured when the truck raced toward them on I-35, blowing its horn, sending protesters scattering before coming to a stop, according to the witness and a tweet by the Minnesota Department of Public Security (MNDPS).
Police arrived soon after and arrested the truck driver, who was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, MNDPS said.
Video of the incident shows protesters swarming the vehicle before it comes to a stop.
“The incident just underscores the volatile situation we have out there,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz told a news conference, adding he did not know the motives of the driver.
It marked the second incident in as many days of a vehicle driving at people protesting Floyd’s death after a New York City Police car was captured on video on Saturday driving into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with objects.
“Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators,” MNDPS tweeted.
Video showed the truck had a logo on its side for “Kenan Advantage Group,” an Ohio-based transportation company.
The company said in a statement that it was informed of an incident involving one of its independent contractors in Minneapolis and it would be cooperating with investigating authorities.
MNDPS did not identify the driver but said the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were investigating the incident as a criminal matter.