Ghani urges Islamic countries to help bring peace

Kabul, Jan 10 (IANS) Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has urged Islamic countries to put pressure on extremist groups to join the peace process in the conflict-ravaged nation, media reported on Tuesday.

Tolo News quoted Ghani as telling Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that it was important for Taliban to separate itself from terrorist groups that pose a threat to Islamic nations.

“We hope that Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, exert pressure on extremist leaders to push them towards reconciliation,” he said.

Ghani also said that Afghanistan had strong relations with Saudi Arabia and described it as “strong and essential”.

The Afghanistan President said the country has good ties with other Islamic countries as well, including the United Arab Emirates. Regarding Pakistan, Ghani said Islamabad’s best interest lies with Kabul.

He called the Islamic State terror group as a threat to the entire region.

“When you look at the history of these groups, you see that each lifespan is on average between 20 to 40 years and we need a minimum of 20 years to stop them,” Ghani said.

When asked whether he was concerned regarding foreign interventions in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, Ghani said: “Millions of Afghans fled to neighbouring countries at the beginning of the crisis and some moved to different cities in Afghanistan. By the end of 2016, one million Afghans returned to their country and we welcomed them.”

In an apparent reference to eastern neighbour Pakistan, he further said: “Unfortunately, some countries differentiate between a good and a bad terrorist. Those who conduct operations outside their countries are good terrorists and vice versa.”