President Ashraf Ghani offers a share in power to Taliban, provided the militant group "gives up the war" as Afghanistan celebrates Victory Day to mark Mujahideen's overthrowing of Soviet-backed Kabul regime in 1992.
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani has offered a share in power to the Taliban, provided the insurgent group ends fighting, a day after US asked all Americans to vacate the country "as soon as possible".
In his message on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the toppling of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul by the Mujahideen, Ghani said lessons must be learned from the bitter experiences of the past and wisdom applied in the peace process.
"No one in Afghanistan can impose will on the people through war and violence, it is time for the Taliban to give up the war and turn to democratic mechanisms to share power," said Ghani in a televised address on Wednesday.
He recalled that Afghanistan plunged into political and security chaos, and witnessed destruction after the successful jihad against the Red Army.
"Afghanistan is once again facing critical circumstances … the success of jihad was due to harmony among the people and the national unity. Similarly, we can reach sustainable and just peace through a cohesive and unified voice," he added.
The country is witnessing flare-up in violence especially ever since US President Joe Biden unveiled the departure plan for American troops with September as the exit date.
US peace broker defends exit plan
On Tuesday, top US peace broker for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad defended the Biden administration's exit strategy, while briefing the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee.
Khalilzad said Washington and its allies will sanction the Taliban if they pursue a military takeover of Afghanistan.
In his testimony, the seasoned diplomat of Afghanistan said the US will renew its commitment to a results-focused peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
"It has been evident now for years that there is no military solution to a conflict in Afghanistan that has now gone on for over 40 years. A negotiated settlement within the country itself, supported by the regional powers, is the only path to sustainable stability," he said.
Pakistan's leverage over Taliban
Khalilzad also underlined Pakistan's role in supporting peace.
"We have urged Pakistan’s leaders to exercise their considerable leverage over the Taliban to reduce violence and support a negotiated settlement," he noted, adding that Pakistan's leaders have emphasised publicly and to US officials that they do not support a military takeover by the Taliban.
"I believe they understand that not only Afghanistan, but their country too will face grave consequences in the event of a return to a wider civil war."
Hours before his speech, the State Department advised US citizens "wishing to depart Afghanistan should leave as soon as possible" and ordered non-essential US embassy workers to leave the country, saying "travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe."