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Editorial: Back to square one

With immense pressures from the international community regarding forming an inclusive government, feuding Afghan leaders are finally caving in. President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah – the twin presidents who both sworn in on the same day – are reportedly inching closer to a rapprochement with their spokespersons confirming that both the teams are attempting to reach a deal and end their disagreements. It seems they are being impressed upon by multiple fronts, including the US, UN and NATO, to end the current political impasse and form an inclusive government that could provide security and participate in the peace process. This is while the miserable state of affairs emanating from the coronavirus pandemic is making the situation all the more urgent. Under the current circumstances, unity of the politico and the government isn’t unreasonable but due to such instances of power-sharing deals, the Afghan leaders are essentially setting a precedent for the future. Ever since the presidential crisis, politicians have been trying to mediate between the squabbling leaders – among them former President Hamid Karzai, Jihadi leader Abdul Rab Rasool Sayyaf and some Wolesi Jirga members. The situation got more serious after the US decision to immediately reduce assistance to Afghanistan by $1bn due to the political wrangling. On top of this, the urgency created by the coronavirus, which threatens to wreak havoc on a catastrophic scale, provided further ostensible justification for the leaders to come together. By potentially sharing the government, the Afghan leaders are brazenly going to trample on the demagogic claims and promises they held out during electoral campaigns when they would speak strongly against repeating the fiascos of 2014. Nevertheless, the signs of new ‘shared government’ taking shape are evident from recent appointments taking place three weeks after Ghani’s inauguration. Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal has been appointed as acting finance minister. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed about new appointments in foreign missions in line with the president’s approval. Meanwhile, Former National Security Advisor Haneef Atmar is likely to return to the fold as a foreign affairs minister. Given this, we see that Afghan leaders’ interpretation of inclusive government is making the government a public corporation, meaning electoral democracy here has no meaning and value. If yet another power-sharing deal happens among the leaders, which is most likely now, they will be in fact setting a precedent, taking us back to square one as we are going to witness yet another national unity government, probably under a different name. In the future, if there is political controversy, if any, power-sharing would guide the circumstances.

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