A hardline stance: Afghan leader implores Pakistan to battle Taliban

Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Monday implored Pakistan to battle the Taliban instead of trying to bring them to peace talks, in a new hardline stance after a brazen insurgent attack killed at least 64 people.

The attack last Tuesday on a security services office in the heart of Kabul appeared to be the deadliest assault on the Afghan capital since the Islamists were ousted from power in 2001.

It cast a pall over international efforts in recent months to jumpstart Pakistan-brokered peace talks, which stalled last summer after the Taliban belatedly confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.

"I want to make it clear that we no longer expect Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table," Ghani said in an address to the Afghan parliament.

"But we expect them to launch a military operation against their sanctuaries and leadership based on their soil. If they can't target them they should hand them over to our judiciary."

Representational image. CNN News18

Representational image. CNN News18

Afghanistan for years has accused longtime nemesis Pakistan of sponsoring the Taliban insurgency.

The Pakistani government recently admitted after years of official denial that the Taliban leadership enjoys safe haven inside the country.

Ghani's remarks reflect his frustration after he expended substantial political capital since coming to power in 2014 in courting Pakistan in the hope of pressuring the militants to the negotiating table.

"There are no good or bad terrorists... Pakistan should act on them as a responsible government," Ghani said.

He also vowed a tough military response against the insurgents and pledged to enforce legal punishments including executions of convicted militants.

"The time for amnesty is over," Ghani said.

"For the Taliban who are ready to end bloodshed, we have left the door open for talks. But the door will not be open forever."

The Taliban earlier this month announced the start of their spring offensive, vowing "large-scale attacks" across Afghanistan.

The announcement came even after a four-country group comprising Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan held meetings since January aimed at ending the drawn-out conflict.

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Updated Date: Apr 25, 2016 16:07:57 IST

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