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.