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Editorial: Repeating the past

The continued existence of the current dispensation in Afghanistan is in its unity – something that it seemingly lacks. A power-sharing deal between President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman Abdullah Abdullah which was signed in May following last year’s controversial presidential election paved the way for forming up an inclusive government whereby the cabinet posts are supposed to be distributed 50-50 among the political rivals, along with some other provisions and conditions. But recent developments warn that this government is not so different from the failed recipe of the national unity government. Once again, these leaders are reportedly engaged in mutual recriminations and are set out to exactly repeat their past term’s squabbles. Earlier, there was a standoff with regards to introducing cabinet picks from Abdullah’s side and now they are divided over the contentious issue of Taliban prisoner release. This comes as the Chairman of the High Council for Nation Reconciliation Abdullah had earlier expressed willingness to release 600 Taliban inmates as part of facilitating the intra-Afghan talks. However, the Presidential Palace said these inmates were involved in big crimes such as murders, robberies, and rape charges, and would thus not be freed. The National Security Council has in the meantime demanded the Taliban to send a new list of their prisoners with lesser and petty crimes. This is while the release of 5,000 Taliban inmates in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security personnel was agreed in a US-Taliban peace deal signed in February. Of this figure, over 80 of percent prisoners have so far been released by both sides. Amid all this progress in the peace process, it reflects badly on the government when there are differences within, let alone with the Taliban. As stated in these columns before, the key to sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan is unity – unity of leaders and people. The government needs to coordinate its rhetoric when it comes to peace talks. It’s an utter recipe for disaster when a decision already made, amidst these delicate and crucial moments, is overruled by a superior authority, something that gives rise to further confrontation and disunity. Therefore, these leaders are well-advised to avoid the repeat of past fiascoes and don’t be a hurdle to one another’s plans but rather work in synergy. Being at odds over the prisoner release is something that further delays the all-Afghan talks which are expected this month but would most likely not happen as planned considering the current circumstances.

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