AFGHANISTAN. Herat: US Secretary Antony Blinken’s letter to President Ashraf Ghani and chairman of Higher Peace Council Abdullah Abdullah has been criticized by the senior Afghan politicians.
In the letter, Blinken proposed a United Nations-led peace conference in Turkey aimed at forming an inclusive Afghan government with the Taliban and establishing a three-month reduction in violence that will lead to a ceasefire.
During an event on the 7th death anniversary of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, Amrullah Saleh, the First Vice President, said that the Afghanistan will not accept “illegitimate demands” that negate the people’s rights to vote.
No compromise on constitution
“For the Afghan government, it was “not a concern” and the government will not change its stance on reconciliation efforts,” said Saleh at an event on Monday. He also emphasized that there will never be any compromise on Afghanistan’s Constitution and on the people’s right to vote.
“We will not ignore our Constitution. We can discuss the election and the date but will never let anyone take the people’s right to vote.”
Saleh said that the United States can hold a conference and decide on the presence of its troops in Afghanistan or negotiate with the Taliban. He also added that it is the legitimate right of the Afghan government to not compromise based on others’ calendar over the fate of 35 million people in Afghanistan.
“We will never accept a coerced and imposed peace,” he said.
The right to vote
At an event, Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said that he received the letter two days ahead of US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s trip to Kabul.
Abdullah cautiously supported the US remarks in the letter and said that “Although I don’t want to defend the letter, there are important issues that have been brought up in it.”
“No one can impose anything on the people of Afghanistan,” Abdullah said.
“Division, discrimination, and disunity allow anything to be imposed on us.”
Abdullah reiterated that the right to vote is one of the biggest achievements of Afghans that should not be compromised.
Blinken’s “coerced” language
Senior advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Mohammad Mohaqiq, echoed Saleh’s remarks, saying the country’s achievements of the last two decades will not be ignored.
Mohaqiq said that “coercive” language and a “coerced” peace are not possible in Afghanistan. “The weakness in the message of the US State Department is that they have not recognized Afghanistan’s structure and it has coercive language and a coerced and tailored peace will not lead anywhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a tweet, EU special envoy for Afghanistan, Roland Kobia, said, “Afghanistan has a Constitution, had elections, held Loya Jirgas, has Joint Declaration with the US, is engaged in Doha process.”
He said that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has the support of the “vast majority” of the international community, and “the world in United Nations Security Council and Geneva has committed to protecting achievements and Republic.”
Blinken’s Letter to Ghani
The Blinken letter that was leaked by the media put four suggestions to the Afghan government to accelerate the peace process. The suggestions included convening an UN-facilitated conference with international stakeholders, facilitate discussion between the two sides [Taliban and the government] to form a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, a meeting in Turkey between both sides to finalize a peace agreement, and a revised proposal for a 90-day reduction in violence.
However, along with the proposals, Blinken made clear that the United States is considering all options regarding Afghanistan, including the May 1 deadline for full withdrawal.
feature image: Photo Credit: TOLO News. First Vice President, speaking on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of the death of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim.