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Editorial: Behold the hilarious sadness here

Subsequent to the Taliban breaking off negotiations with the Afghan government mainly due to a failure to hammer out a prisoner swap – agreed upon in the US-Taliban peace pact inked in February – the US, whose reputation is at stake at the moment, gets back at the fragile Afghan government with yet another harsh blow. As the Taliban dubbed meetings with the Afghan government ‘fruitless’ and blamed President Ashraf Ghani for delaying the prisoner release “under one pretext or another,” frustrated US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an unannounced visit to Kabul asked the bickering Afghan leaders to reach a deal with the Taliban or all US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Because the US wants the already-tenuous agreement with the Taliban to serve as a fig leaf for their withdrawal plan, as well as it be construed as a success for its longest war of Afghanistan, this means the superpower would go to any lengths to keep its reputation intact. As the lingering differences between President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah over who holds the mantle of presidency directly intensifies violence and thus threatens to unravel the US-Taliban peace pact, the US has resorted to extreme measures to dictate an ‘inclusive’ or ‘unified’ government with somewhat political stability. The country is pushing hard for this because partial political stability in Kabul means the US’s triumph. This ultimatum of withdrawing troops follows that of a $1 billion cut in financial aid announced by Pompeo last month, along with a harsh message from President Trump to these bickering leaders. As rightly stated by the Pompeo on Tuesday, the deadlock over prisoner exchanges between the Ghani administration and the Taliban is a mere ‘posturing’ as both sides are trying to get most out of the situation. Under the pact, negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban were scheduled to take place on March 10, but the effort has been scuttled by sharp divisions, which also have frustrated donors against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic, among these leaders. Given the intransigency of the leaders to stick to their guns and for the purpose of salvaging its peace deal with the Taliban, this hard blow by the US would undoubtedly serve its purpose. Unfortunately, it is a hilarious sadness to behold yet another government jumbled under pressure and at the behest of the US – a future which was predicted and calculated for Afghanistan long ago. There is nothing face-saving left for the Afghan government and leaders as the presidential upheaval shamed Afghanistan and made it lose face to the global community. The warning of the complete withdrawal directly impresses upon these leaders that the US will hand over Afghanistan to the Taliban unless they resolve their differences – something they will shamelessly do in the next few days as they are cognizant of the stakes.

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