KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani gestures during a press conference at the Presidential Palace here on Friday.—AFP
KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani gestures during a press conference at the Presidential Palace here on Friday.—AFP

KABUL: Afghan Presi­dent Ashraf Ghani shrugged off on Friday criticism from the country’s intelligence chief, Rahmatullah Nabil, who had resigned a day earlier over his diplomatic outreach to Pakistan aimed at reviving peace talks with the resurgent Taliban.

“Without positive support from Pakistan, won’t the war in Afghanistan keep dragging on? You answer me,” the president asked a reporter during a press conference.

“If one of the main sources of instability in Afghanistan is our neighbour... then there is a comprehensive need to work together to end this fighting.”

Mr Nabil’s resignation comes as Afghanistan’s security establishment, already without a full-time defence minister, is struggling to rein in the ascendant insurgency.

At a conference attended by President Ghani in Islamabad this week, he and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed commitment to the Afghan peace process, with the United States and China also offering support.

Pakistan hosted a milestone round of the peace negotiations in July but the talks stalled when the Taliban belatedly confirmed the death of long-time leader Mullah Omar.

The Afghan president voiced optimism that the negotiations would resume in the coming weeks, saying his country was “thirsty for peace and stability”.

“The time has come for different Taliban factions to choose peace... The talks will start soon and we will reach an outcome,” he said.

But the Taliban rebuffed his remarks.

“The mujahideen are making rapid military gains, capturing territory and destroying enemy centres,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter. “Expecting us to surrender and come for talks is foolishness.”

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2015

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