Ghani says truce is key for peace in Afghanistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Ghani says truce is key for peace in Afghanistan

  • In order to reach real peace, a cease-fire must happen and bloodshed must stop, Ghani says

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday that his government was ready for reconciliation with the Taliban and that a cease-fire was essential for real peace in Afghanistan.

“In order to reach real peace, a cease-fire must happen and bloodshed must stop,” Ghani said in a televised address marking International Day of Peace. “If the Taliban agree to peace, we do not want continuation of the war even for a single moment,” he said.

Ghani, who is standing for re-election in the presidential polls next week, said that peace has turned from a distant dream to a close reality.

“If the Taliban agree to peace, we do not want continuation of the war even for a single moment.”

Ashraf Ghani, Afghan president

He added the best solution for the current crisis was political participation and supporting the upcoming election. His comments follow a statement by US President Donald Trump two weeks ago, when he abruptly canceled talks with the Taliban following an attack in which one US soldier and 10 civilians died in Kabul. The cancelation of the talks came as both the US and the Taliban were close to inking an agreement after nearly a year of discussions in Qatar, which excluded Ghani’s government. 

Trump said on Saturday that he called off the meeting at Camp David because the group couldn’t agree to a cease-fire. The Taliban has repeatedly spoken about the desire for the resumption of talks with Washington, but reiterated their threat to derail the elections. Ghani’s government said its focus for now was the election, but added that the peace process would be its top priority after the vote.

“We are committed to peace,” Ghani’s chief spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, told Arab News. “In terms of policy it is still a top priority for President Ghani.”


Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 43 min 22 sec ago

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”