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Pakistan holds ‘keys to war’, says Afghan president

KABUL: Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said that the “keys to war are in Islamabad, Quetta, Rawal­pindi”, suggesting Pakistan was a safe haven for cross-border militant activities.

Ghani said the “key to peace was in Afghanistan”, as talks between Taliban and US officials on ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan appear to be gaining momentum.

 

Ghani made the remarks as US peace negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad visited Kabul for consultations on his progress in talks with the Taliban.

In 2017, Pakistan began building a fence on its disputed 2,500 km border with Afghanistan to prevent incursions by militants.

Ghani also questioned the religious legitimacy of the Taliban, who have repeatedly refused to hold direct peace talks with the Afghan government.

“If the Afghan government is illegitimate, so where does the Taliban get their legitimacy from?” he said. “Islamic scholars in Makkah and Indonesia said that suicide attacks and killing of civilians does not have a legitimacy… so where is the source of Taliban’s legitimacy?” he asked.

Direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban collapsed in 2015, and the Taliban, fighting to drive out international forces and re-establish their version of strict Islamic law, have said they plan to continue negotiating with the US officials on Feb 25.