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Editorial: Interim government

The escalating violence and the sluggish process of prisoner release have slowed down the speeding momentum made towards the launch of the crucial intra-Afghan talks. In the world’s history, belligerents have often sought leverage by increasing violence before negotiations start but the raging violence in Afghanistan is gravely undermining the sides’ faith in each other. This is while the government defers releasing Taliban prisoners and the insurgent group responds by wreaking havoc to show it still has the upper hand on the ground. Amid all this is the recently pumped up issue of US troop withdrawal, which may reportedly happen prematurely and before the agreed-upon schedule. President Ashraf Ghani downplays the gravity of the matter by saying the US should be concerned about its own security, given the threats of terrorism as he warns that a full US troop withdrawal before the schedule would affect the peace process and it doesn’t send a good message. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the High Council of National Reconciliation has hinted at the possibility of ‘interim government’ being tabled for negotiations in the intra-Afghan talks which are expected to be launched next month. The issue of the interim government has always been contentious and controversial when it comes up for discussion. Chairman Abdullah Abdullah told a video discussion hosted by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) that all crucial issues, including forming an interim government, could possibly be added to the agenda of intra-Afghan talks. However, he acknowledged compromises would have to be made and not just by the Afghan government side. If there are compromises, they have to be on both sides and for the sake of the common interest of the broader public. This comes as during the controversies that stemmed from last year’s presidential election, establishing an interim government was the slogan of many presidential candidates, including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Meanwhile, there is a large base of politicians who support this idea. However, a few weeks ago, President Ashraf Ghani, during a conference with the Atlantic Council, had stated that talking about the interim government was something premature. At this juncture, discussing the interim government is truly ahead of time because with the recent political agreement, the current dispensation has just started functioning properly and the Afghan masses have witnessed relevant stability in government. An interim government is in no manner in Afghans’ interest during the current circumstances. Just thinking about the dismissal of the current government and forming up an interim dispensation is a complex ordeal and is easier said than done. On the other hand, the government authorities need to align their rhetoric when it comes to key national issues. Ghani deems it premature while Abdullah, unwittingly perhaps, is promoting the idea by saying it might be tabled for discussion. Thus, at this stand, all focus should be on creating an inclusive negotiating team, resolving issues in terms of prisoner releases, and the earliest initiation of the all-Afghan talks and not on floating infeasible ideas that could harm the peace process and disrupt public mindset.

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