Ashraf Ghani: ISIL defeated in eastern Afghanistan

World

Although the group briefly took the northern city of Kunduz past year, it does not control any provincial capitals.

Taliban however rejected the offer in a statement on Saturday, terming the peace efforts as meaningless and the armed outfit’s leadership has yet to decide on peace talks with the government.
“No one has been tasked by our leader to attend the meeting nor has the leadership council decided on the participation of the meeting”, Zabihullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
The Afghan government has given Pakistan a list of specific insurgents with whom it hopes to negotiate, the Afghan official said.
“We urge the Taliban to join peace talks and determine the best way to serve Islam and Afghanistan”, Ghani said while opening the parliament on Sunday.
The Taliban said Saturday they will not participate in a peace process with the Afghan government until foreign forces stop attacking their positions and leave the country.
The announcement appears to be a significant blow to the peace talks and is a reversal from what the Taliban reportedly have done in the past.
The Taliban have meanwhile accused the United States of boosting troop numbers and carrying out airstrikes and night raids on residential compounds.
Ghani also added that the Afghan army is independent of politics and is a conscious force that is affiliated to the national interest of the country only.
He said the Taliban were facing a major test to choose whether they wanted peace or war. Terming al Qaeda the main element of the war, he also mentioned the Islamic State, militants from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya and Xinjiang, Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, and the “undeclared war between Pakistan and Afghanistan”.
He says Afghanistan will be a “graveyard” for ISIS.
Before this, the US President Barack Obama, during a video conference call with Ghani on Friday, welcomed Ghani’s recent efforts for direct talks with Taliban – which is expected to be held in mid-March.
Over the past months, Taliban militants have captured some key areas in the north and south of Afghanistan.
The Taliban have intensified their war to overthrow the Kabul government.
A historic first round of Taliban talks took place in Pakistan last July, but came to a standstill after the insurgents confirmed longtime leader Mullah Omar s death, which had been kept secret for two years.