Pakistan’s foreign minister said Saturday that Kabul was “on the brink of collapse” as neighboring nations weighed in on the Afghan conflict in a bid to draw attention to the escalating crisis.
Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a conference in Geneva that diplomats need to come up with a roadmap for rebuilding Afghanistan. “Afghanistan is at the edge of collapse. We have to make this country strong again,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Afghan’s ruling council announced it had held indirect talks with the Taliban about a potential cease-fire but the Taliban rejected the invitation.
Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said the world has let the country fall into a situation that has developed over decades, while noting that Afghanistan had become the world’s largest refugee base since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was founded in 1948.
The standoff escalated this week as the Taliban threatened to launch a spring offensive aimed at large-scale violence in the countryside. In response, the Afghan government announced that it had requested an urgent meeting with the Taliban in Qatar to try to open talks.
Despite the peace efforts, the Taliban threatened to launch a spring offensive to reverse what it calls the “occupation” of Afghanistan by U.S. forces and said government forces needed to be defeated in an effort to start peace talks.
“Our ceasefire is very imminent. All our commanders are confident of an effective cease-fire,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khurasani told state television from the Taliban’s political office in Qatar.
He also said the Taliban would halt attacks against schools and clinics.
Mr. Khurasani said the Taliban aim to start direct peace talks with Kabul this year, but wants to see the Afghan government come to the table first to discuss the way forward. The insurgents so far have refused to participate in any peace talks with the Afghan government and instead insisted on direct talks with the United States.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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