Afghanistan has seen momentous developments during early March. After the US–Taliban agreement was signed on 29th February, for facilitating intra afghan dialogue for restoring much desired peace in the war torn country; the Afghan democratic government was expected to unitedly lead the peace loving Afghan people for a dialogue with the Taliban, who represents the extremist elements of the Afghan society.
However the deep divisions are visible now, after the results of the Afghan Presidential elections have been announced. This has created despondency not only among the Afghan people but the external powers also who are looking for an early peaceful settlement of the political tussle currently reigning in Kabul.
The Afghan election Commission announced serving President Ashraf Ghani as the winner in the Presidential election conducted late last year. However, the official declaration of Ashraf Ghani as the President was contested by another powerful faction of the government led by D. Abdullah Abdullah. Refusing to accept Ashraf Ghani as the President for a second term, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah simultaneously organised a parallel swearing-in ceremony as the next President of the country. This has not only embarrassed the current ruling dispensation in Kabul, but also put a question mark over the united face of the democratic government of Afghanistan, which has been tasked to negotiate with Pakistan backed Taliban .
The incumbent President Ashraf Ghani has reportedly offered a compromise power sharing formula to the Chief Executive of the Afghan government Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Unless the two powerful factions of the Afghan government come together to fight the extremist agenda of the Taliban leaders, the future of Afghanistan will continue to be in a limbo.
The differences among top Afghan leaders could jeopardise the intra-Afghan talks, which is slated to begin from 10th March. At a time when the democratic government in Kabul was expected to present a strong united face, the deep divisions among them will weaken their claim to continue ruling over the country. The democratic government of Afghanistan was installed after giving the opportunity to Afghan people to elect their own representatives to run their own government. The Afghan people, especially the women, during last two decades, have tasted freedom enjoyed by other free societies.
However, the extremist Taliban, which was dethroned from power after the horrendous 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, continued to flourish with support from the Pakistani authorities
The Taliban over the last two decades had challenged the might of US forces which were deployed to protect the democratic regime in Kabul.
Even after the 29th February US-Taliban deal, the Taliban continues to pose hurdles in further conduct of the peace talks. Only a day after the deal, the Taliban asked for the release of its 5000 men jailed for various crimes including terrorism. This was naturally refused by the Ghani government. Kabul wanted the release demand to be linked to the progress in intra- Afghan dialogue.
India has played a stellar role in the reconstruction of the Afghan nation and society during last two decades. New Delhi has always expressed its commitment to any process which promises peace and stability and which is Afghan led and Afghan owned. Reacting on the continued stalemate in Afghanistan, India has clearly expressed its commitment for supporting Afghanistan’s aspiration for peace. Commenting on the Afghan developments, the Indian External Affairs Ministry has stated that India will continue to extend all possible support to the Government and people of Afghanistan in realizing their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future, where the interests of all sections of the Afghan society are protected. India has invested over US $3 billion, during the last 18 years to rebuild the war-ravaged nation, the destruction of which after the Soviet Forces left Afghanistan in early nineties. The Afghan people love India because of the role India has played in rebuilding the country.
Script: Ranjit Kumar, Senior Journalist