LONDON: President Ashraf Ghani outlined his vision for a more self-reliant Afghanistan at a conference in London on Thursday (Friday in Manila) as he welcomed the withdrawal of foreign combat troops after 13 years.
Ghani pledged “results” from peace talks with the Taliban and stressed he would “do things differently” from his predecessor Hamid Karzai, who had troubled ties with Western countries.
After agreeing to form a national unity government with chief executive officer Abdullah Abdullah in September, Ghani has vowed to build up Afghanistan’s self-reliance, reducing its dependence on aid by boosting its feeble economy and rooting out corruption.
“The world is not responsible for everything for Afghanistan. It is us who are responsible for everything,” Ghani said after the meeting. “We are determined to do business differently,” he added.
The conference came with the international combat mission in Afghanistan, which peaked at 130,000 troops in 2010, winding down at the end of this year.
Some 12,500 North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops, mainly American, will stay on for several years to train and advise Afghan forces.
Ghani hailed the move away from having foreign combat forces in Afghanistan and the continued partnership with donor countries.
“Your continued support for Afghanistan gives us the confidence that you will be standing next to us, though in a non-combat role, he said. “This transition from combat to non-combat is most welcome,” he added.
However, President Barack Obama’s pick to be the next US ambassador to Kabul said this week that US leaders will discuss whether to prolong the timetable for the withdrawal of American troops with Ghani when he visits Washington early next year.