Finally there is a faint chance of progress in Afghanistan now that President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah have agreed to a power sharing deal a good two months after both declared themselves president of the country. The paralysis at the heart of the government in Kabul didn’t just bring administrative procedures to a standstill, they also threw the peace process with the Taliban into disarray. As a result the Americans were pretty frustrated, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelling to Afghanistan despite the coronavirus threat, returning frustrated and suspending a good one billion dollars in aid to the war torn country.
Perhaps that did the trick, because after months of arguing about the outcome of the September presidential election last year, both Ghani and Abdullah have decided to work as partners once again, just like they did after the disputed result last time left them fighting as always and the Obama administration had to step in and work out a similar power sharing deal. The Americans clearly have a very big stake in the peace in Afghanistan but whether or not this agreement has come in time for President Trump to win his reelection remains to be seen. Abdullah represents the old Northern Alliance that has an old blood feud with the Taliban. And he apparently agreed to bury the hatchet, once again this time, after they made him head of the country’s National Reconciliation High Council, which has been given complete authority to approve all affairs related to the peace process. And since everybody knows that American interests are not exactly aligned with Afghan interests when it comes to settling with the Taliban, there are surely some more speed breakers to come down this road.
Yet, more than anything else, this predictable power play shows just how uncertain life has become for ordinary citizens. As if the times aren’t dark enough for the, and have been for decades, they are further reduced to surviving in an environment where their fortunes are decided by men embroiled in power plays to further their own power and prestige. The so called people’s leaders fight when their own political fortunes are at risk, and make up when they stand to gain more from a strategic truce. If they indeed held the people’s interests supreme, they would not have wasted these crucial few months like this. Now they must make up for it by bringing quick and lasting peace to their country.