Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday portrayed a grim picture of the situation in Afghanistan, saying that between February 29 and July 21 up 10,708 members of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) have been killed and wounded.
“Between February 29, 2020, and July 21, 2020, ANDSF losses have been 10,708, with 3560 martyred, 6781 wounded and the rest kidnapped, imprisoned or unaccounted for,” said Ghani while speaking at the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Kabul.
He said that the Afghan civilian losses during this period have been 3073, with 775 killed, 1609 wounded and 689 kidnapped.
Ghani also said that rocket attacks during his provincial visits have become routine.
On Taliban-Al Qaeda ties, Ghani said: “There is no evidence that the Taliban have severed their ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations nor have they socialized peace among their commanders and fighters.”
Ghani said that to ensure that the window remains open for peace in the country, the Afghan government has offered proof of its commitment and moral courage by the release of Taliban prisoners.
“To ensure that the window remains open, we have offered proof of our commitment and moral courage by the release of Taliban prisoners, a move without precedent in the annals of peace-building,” he said.
On the controversy over the release of the Taliban’s 5,000 prisoners, Ghani said: “To demonstrate the government’s commitment to peace, the Islamic Republic will soon complete the release of 5000 Taliban prisoners as part of the exchange with ANDSF prisoners. With this action, we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week’s time. We call on the Taliban to join us at the negotiating table and to concluding promptly there a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. Commitment to a ceasefire during the coming ‘Eid will be an indication of things to come.”
On Tuesday evening the Taliban called a three-day ceasefire for Eid.
“Our condemnation of senseless violence and strong voice in support of a humanitarian ceasefire, and the start of direct negotiations between us and the Taliban, is reassuring to our people and the ANDSF, who have displayed immense restraint in the face of a Taliban campaign of violence,” President Ghani said.
“There is a national outrage against corruption and a demand for accountability and sufficient capacity in the accountability, rule of law, and security organizations and the active engagement of the media, the Ulema and civil society organizations have created the enabling conditions to have a comprehensive strategy to make measureable and sustained progress against corruption,” Ghani said.
Ghani also said:
We are determined to complete all the remaining benchmarks of our current anti-corruption strategy and to enforce the decisions of the Attorney General on those found guilty by the end of October.
“We invite all our bilateral and multilateral partners to join the people and government of Afghanistan in identifying key drivers of corruption and bad governance through a mutual accountability framework based on UNCAC and governing the norms of conduct and accountability of all parties engaged in allocation, distribution, and management of resources for Afghanistan. Dealing explicitly with “special treatment” granted to some individuals and organizations will be essential. Even more essential will be to make anticorruption an integral component of the political agreement with the Taliban,” Ghani said.
Ghani also highlighted some mutual accountability items:
Reform of revenue, grants and aid in terms of OECD standards and tools.
• Welcome robust conditionality on policy.
• Welcome strict criteria on outcomes of programs and projects.
• Welcome third party evaluation and monitoring.
• Thanks to sustained work by bi-lateral and multi-lateral organizations, scholars, and international civil society networks, there is a range of tools addressing the questions of what to do, how to do it, and how to measure it. We request a core group from you to work with us online and in-person to help us reform and strengthen our accountability and rule of law institutions and organizations by tailoring an approach suited to our complex context.”
Afghanistan’s economic situation:
In the speech, Ghani also defended his economic policies and portrayed an optimistic picture of Afghan exports.
“We expect to export 6,090 (metric) tons through the air corridor in 2020. Our exports through the dry port of Zarang alone, however exceeded 6k tons up until now, underlining the crucial role of regional connectivity in the generation of prosperity. Thanks to President Aliyov and Birdie Muhammadov for the recent virtual summit on trade, transit and investment along the Lapis Lazuli corridor. Thanking Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the rail corridor as well as power transmission line. A contract for 1,000 megawatts at 5 cents for 10 years is an important signal, as well as USAID’s support for private sector investment in renewables,” said Ghani.
“Revenue projection has been reduced from Afs 208.9 billion to Afs 175.8 billion, amounting to 12% instead of 13.7% of the GDP. As of July 27, we have collected 54% of the revised target and expect to meet the target by the end of the year. We expect to spend 93% of the development budget by the end of 2020,” he said.
Ghani thanked SOM members for their continued support of Afghanistan.
“Heartful thanks for your continued interest, support, and partnership for the government and people of Afghanistan, women, and men who are striving to lead meaningful, peaceful, and productive lives in a democratic polity and tolerant society,” said Ghani.