Afghan president says need to find way to say 'sorry' to Taliban

Published March 26, 2015
“People were falsely imprisoned, people were tortured. They were tortured in private homes or private prisons,” he said. “How do you tell these people that you are sorry?” — AP/File
“People were falsely imprisoned, people were tortured. They were tortured in private homes or private prisons,” he said. “How do you tell these people that you are sorry?” — AP/File

WASHINGTON: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that some members of the Taliban had legitimate grievances given the torture and ill treatment they had suffered and it was necessary to find a way to apologise and heal national wounds.

Speaking during a visit to Washington, Ghani said South Africa and Rwanda, which set up truth and reconciliation commissions to come clean about past abuses but not necessarily to punish them, had been most effective in “devising collective forms of therapy” for traumatised nations.

Officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan said last month that the Afghan Taliban had signaled they were willing to open peace talks with Kabul.

Ghani said peace with the insurgents was “essential” and that some Taliban members had legitimate grievances.

“People were falsely imprisoned, people were tortured. They were tortured in private homes or private prisons,” he said. “How do you tell these people that you are sorry?”

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace think tank, Ghani praised a report by a US Senate committee chaired by Senator Dianne Feinstein that said the CIA acted more brutally and pervasively than it acknowledged in its torture of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks, including in Afghanistan.

Ghani pointed to local Afghan systems of justice based around the tribal jirga, or council, and contrasted these with “Western justice” which responded to killing with killing.

“Part of the jirga is what is called putting a stone on conflict; you bring about amnesia, for 20 years, 30 years or others, so society can function,” he said.

“Peace means forgiving blood,” Ghani said, adding that Europe after World War II was an example of “historical amnesia.” Ghani said he would not tolerate abuse of innocent people and vowed that he would “fire anybody” who engaged in this, but he said the past was “a much more complex tapestry.”

“We cannot sacrifice the future for the sake of the past. we must bring about a balance. If we go just looking at the past, we will be destroying the future,” he added.

Ghani, who became president last year, has been feted in a five-day US trip seeking to repair ties frayed under his predecessor, Hamid Karzai. In a speech to Congress on Wednesday he called national reconciliation a “pillar” of his government. He said Taliban members could find their way back into Afghan society, if they agreed to respect the constitution.

Opinion

Editorial

Shared goals
Updated 16 Aug, 2022

Shared goals

It is high time that all parties realise that negotiation on the economy does not need to be held hostage to political rivalries.
Making amends?
16 Aug, 2022

Making amends?

WHERE relations with the US are concerned, there has been a distinct shift in Imran Khan’s tone. While the PTI...
Hazardous celebration
16 Aug, 2022

Hazardous celebration

CAN celebratory actions that often result in death or lifelong injuries really be described as such? Be it Eid, New...
Taliban anniversary
15 Aug, 2022

Taliban anniversary

A YEAR ago on this day, the Afghan Taliban rolled into Kabul as the Western-backed government fell like a house of...
Extreme measures
Updated 15 Aug, 2022

Extreme measures

Government has overreacted to a degree that has given ammunition to the PTI to accuse it of ‘fascism’.
A depraved society
15 Aug, 2022

A depraved society

IF the extent of sexual violence against women and children is any measure of a society’s moral degradation, then ...