In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Vice-President Saleh, Vice President Danish, senior officials from the three branches of government, distinguished sisters and brothers;
At the outset, I extend my heartfelt felicitations to the great nation of Afghanistan and all Muslims around the world on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. May Almighty Allah accept your prayers.
We are celebrating Eid-ul-Adha while yesterday we lost a number of our compatriots in two tragic incidents in Logarand Kandahar. Indeed, we belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return.
I vehemently condemn these acts of terror. I pray for the soul of the martyrs and offer my profound sympathies and condolences to their families. I have instructed the relevant authorities and offices to mobilize all resources available to reach out to those who sustained injuries in the incidents.
I would like to congratulate Eid-ul-Adha to our gallant Defense and Security forces, especially to the families of our fallen heroes. We acknowledge their bravery an sacrifices. It is their commitment to the homeland, devotion and sacrifices that ensure the survival of the Republic enabling us to not only be prevalent in the arena of war, but to take a strong position in peace process. The great nation of Afghanistan always provided full support and appreciation for the real sons of the country, the Afghan Defense and Security forces.
This year’s Hajj was scaled down and held with limited numbers of people due to spread of coronavirus as a result of which a number of our compatriots who were willing to attend the rituals were not able to fulfil this obligation. I am confident that Almighty Allah will accept their good faith and willing. May they have the opportunity to carry out this religious duty next year.
Similarly, Arg – The Presidential Palace – that used to host thousands of our compatriots to celebrate the Eid looks empty, where we performed the Eid prayers with limited number of people.
Covid-19 still remains a health threat. I, therefore, ask all my compatriots to follow the instructions of the Ministry of Public Health and observe social distance during Eid days as an effort to prevent the spread of the pandemic. On the other words, the m mistakes of the previous Eid should not be repeated. I extend my gratitude to all healthcare professionals and workers who are the first responders and fighting this invisible enemy and wish them well-being, health and success.
My honourable countrymen/women;
Fortunately, there is full consensus among the entire Afghan nation for a sustainable and enduring peace in the country. Taking the consensus into account, I and my team took unprecedented steps during my first term in office to put an end to the four-decade crisis in the country. And we stand ready to take more significant steps to on the one side, prove our commitment to peace and on the other side leave no room for pretexts and surmount all obstacles to start of peace negotiations.
During the forty-year conflict, our government acted rationally and courageously in taking unpresented steps for bringing peace to country, which has been crystal clear for you, the great Afghan nation, and the international community.
Two years ago, the government of Afghanistan offered [The Taliban] the unconditional peace negotiations. The offer was what our people demanded, that’s why it was overwhelmingly supported by the regional and global countries.
Two years ago, for the first time in four decades of conflict, we announced a nationwide ceasefire. Indeed, we laid the foundation for ceasefire, that fortunately the Taliban reciprocated, and today we are witnessed of the third nationwide ceasefire [between the government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban].
I do not dwell on more examples, but I want to highlight the measures we have adopted during the past few weeks toprovide clarifications to the nation. Even though the government of Afghanistan was not bound by any commitments in the US-Taliban agreement, we released 4600 Taliban prisoners from the list, provided by the group, to set the stage for beginning of peace negotiations.
Release of 4600 prisoners before negotiations kick off and prior to any peace agreement is unprecedented in the world. In spite of receiving waves of criticism, we did this to prove our commitment as well as our government-nation’s capacity and resilience for achieving a sustainable peace.
We took several steps for any small and constructive step of the other side [Taliban] and took new initiatives. For instance, after announcement of a cease-fire in Eid-ul-Fitr, we released 2000 [two thousand] Taliban prisoners.
Now that the Taliban once again agreed to a three-day ceasefire, I announce the release of 500 Taliban prisoners outside the list provided by the group to express the Afghan government’s goodwill and to accelerate the peace process. Among the batch that will be released, all issues of diversity in terms of province, ethnicity and tribe have been taken into account. The batch will be released within four days by the end of the Eid days and will bring the total released to 5100 [five thousand and one hundred].
My fellow citizens;
I want to clarify an important issue for the people of Afghanistan. in the list that Taliban provided to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, some 400 prisoners are included in the list that according to the Afghanistan Constitution and the Afghan Penal Code, the president of Afghanistan has no authority to issue order on their release.
It doesn’t mean that we provide a negative response for release of those prisoners. As I have no authority to decide on this as the president of Afghanistan, so I need to refer to the people of Afghanistan and consult with them.
I repeat it. I do not have the authority to release them.
I have to consult with the nation and call for a consultative Loya Jirga to be able to make a decision on those 400 prisoners. The Loya Jirga will be convened soon. I call upon the Upper House and Lower House speakers and all members of the Parliament to return from recess and get together in Kabul for the sake of convening the Loya Jirga. I ask all my brothers and sisters in the parliament to attend.
The reason I am doing this is to enable the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to remove all obstacles to the peace. we will release 500 Taliban prisoners within four days by the end of Eid-ul-Adha. These prisoners will be released in exchange for our Defense and Security forces and Afghan civilians who are in captivity of the Taliban.
I once again call on the Taliban to begin direct negotiations with the negotiating delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as soon as possible. The issue of remaining prisoners will be discussed and decisions will be made during the negotiations.
The Great Nation of Afghanistan:
We welcomed the Taliban’s announcement of the three-day ceasefire and I once again announce my support for it. I have commanded all Defense and Security forces to remain in full defense posture and observe the ceasefire unless the ceasefire is breached by the other side.
Every time a ceasefire was enforced, the people and government called for a lasting and permanent ceasefire. The violence across the country claimed lives of thousands of our compatriots including children, women, elderlies, youths and Islamic clerics in the interval between the two Eids. If the Taliban embraced the nation’s call for extension of the ceasefire, those who lost their lives would have been alive by now. I echo the call of our people that the three-day ceasefire should be extended.
We appreciate the United States, our foundational friend for expressing commitment to an Afghanistan with a bright future. The U.S. Secretary of State reiterated the commitment this morning. The United States have frequently renewed its commitment that its goal is a democratic, prosperous, peaceful and stable Afghanistan free from terrorism. To that end, all neighbours of Afghanistan including Pakistan and the countries in the region have provided support for this goal.
When General Qamar Bajwa, the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff visited Kabul, he clarified it to the government of Afghanistan that Pakistan is pursuing the vision that Taliban get integrated into the [government of] Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
In conclusion, the outbreak and spread of coronavirus has inflicted economic and social losses on our country. I want to assure that the Government of Afghanistan has put effective economic programs/initiatives in place to help the country and our people extricate from this entanglement so that we can recover our mobility and return to normalcy.
We need to mobilize to fight corruption. I want the Security Charter to be a breakthrough. The government is committed to keeping the nation informed of any action taken to combat corruption and against the individuals threatening our security.
Long live Afghanistan.