Two faceted lie is being sold to the Afghan populace. First, that the current Afghan government has the authority to dictate the peace process and its outcomes wherein the reality is that a large section of the agreement signed between the Taliban. Second, the citizens would only experience the cost of the peace settlement through the years that follow the agreement since they would be agreeing to a deal, the details of which they are not privy too.
The recent American rhetoric, of Special Envoy Zalmai Khalilzad to be specific, of referring to the Afghan government as the Afghan Palace is a sign of the United States government’s lack of interest in backing the state of Afghanistan. This lack of interest in turn would translate into the likelihood of the US accepting deals that might replace the current government before its time is up.
The current delegation that landed in Qatar yesterday is unfortunately a non-conclusive and non-representative delegation, that is not to say that these individuals or the parties they represent do not enjoy popular support. The security situations impact on the ability of the government to gauge the opinion of the Afghan people has allowed the strongest political factions to claim to be the voice of the people. Despite the delegation being labeled the government’s delegation, they have all been nominated by their respective blocks as per their share in the delegation’s structure. This selection mechanism means that the representatives’ agenda and loyalty would be to their faction rather than to the government or its vision of an end state. Though there might be fears that such a collective with different slants and ideologies would have a scattered agenda, perhaps the issue that would unite them would be that of proposing an interim government that ensures the implementation of any deal signed and oversees the handover to the new political system.
Interim governments have never worked in Afghanistan’s history and there is no lack of evidence to support that conclusion. Interim governments only work where there is a viable executive body or 3rd party in place that can serve as a guarantor. With the high likelihood of the American troops withdrawing before the implementation of the deal and the weakness of the Afghan army, it would be difficult to find such a guarantor. The absence of a guarantor and a prolonged interim government will inevitably inspire military solutions. Different groups are already rearming and thinking of such a possible outcome, which might be an indicator of a coming civil war.
If the current government hands over power either through election or an agreement to a new formation, the democratic process will survive. However, an interim government would spell a non-democratic and rushed change to the system. We would be wiping out all the work done in the past twenty years and starting over. Afghanistan has visited its past far too often for it to be an inspiring concept anymore. The current democratic setup might not be perfect, but it is the best setup we have.
View expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s editorial policy.