US envoy urges Afghan leaders to settle differences

The US Especial Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad has asked the Afghan leaders Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to settle their differences. He has also urged the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire and stop violence.

The call by US envoy comes while the two rival leaders—Ghani and Abdullah— continue to contest each other over disputed results of the 2019 presidential elections.

Following the long-delayed disputed presidential elections, the Afghan election commission declared Ashraf Ghani as winner but his main election rival Abdullah Abdullah, who represents a political bloc, challenged the official results announced by the Afghan election authorities.

Public opinion over election dispute in Afghanistan, however, remains divided, with some pro-Ghani government employees support President Ashraf Ghani while an ample number of population support Abdullah.

“Ramadan offers Afghan leaders, President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah, the opportunity to put the interest of the country ahead of their own,” reads a tweet posted by the US envoy on Sunday, April 25.

Khalilzad’s call on Taliban comes at a time when the insurgent group have ramped up their military campaign. Over last couple of weeks, as many as 53 Afghan soldiers lost their lives in multiple Taliban attacks in Balkh, Faryab, Helmand, Logar and Urozgan provinces.

“Similarly, Ramadan offers the Taliban an opportunity to embrace a humanitarian ceasefire to reduce violence and suspend offensive military operations until the health crisis is over,” said Mr. Khalilzad.

Afghanistan is facing a difficult time. A squabbling political crisis over disputed election results has put the Afghan leaders in a political cul-de-sac, the Taliban insurgents continue to ramp up violence, and the fatal corona outbreak spreads to climb while unemployment and political uncertainty are on the rise in the country.