intra-Afghan talks
Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem al Omari

Interim political setup is on the way, say observers

“My basic goal is to be able to hand power, through the will of the people, to my elected successor. This is crucial to enable us to both honor the sacrifice of our civilians, our activists, and others,” President Ghani said, talking to CNN. Ghani’s remarks come at a time when the country, as some put it, is preparing to sign a power-sharing deal with the Taliban. Last week, Hafiz Mansour, a prominent member of the government-led peace delegation, said that the two sides—the peace delegation representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Taliban negotiators—were likely to reach a political settlement, forming an interim government.

Independent observers say that given a deadlock the two parties have trapped in, an interim government is the only setup to break the deadlock. The Taliban, however, have not commented on formation of an interim setup.

Speculations over formation of an interim political setup are made while President Ghani’s bloc is putting efforts to consolidate power and oppose foundation of a future interim government.

Three choices at table of talks

Ahmad Idress Rahmani, who is a political commentator, believes that the ongoing peace talks in Doha will eventually come up with three options. “Formation of a government under the Taliban leadership with some Afghan political figures participating in it is the first option. The second one is that the Taliban will participate in the incumbent Afghan government. The third option is establishment of a new government with offer for the two sides to participate in it. In this case, its name can be whether an interim government, a transitional administration, or under any other title,” Rahmani predicted, adding that he thinks the third option is the only possible and an exit from the status quo.

Prominent political figures like Hamid Karzai, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, and Abdullah Abdullah, who are members of leadership council of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), support an interim government to be placed. “The three [figures] are interested in interim government. Hamid Karzai, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, and Abdullah, each think they are most suit candidates [for leading the interim government],” Rahmani claimed. He, however, stated that the three figures also know it well that the Taliban do not accept their leadership.

Rahmani is of opinion that any political setup, approved by the American, will take shape. “Zalmay Khalilzad met some political figures few days ago. He will meet all political figures in coming days and will bring all of them together under a setup which has already been planned by the Americans,” the political commentator said, adding that they will isolate any other figure who is not aligned with that setup.

Nazif Shahrani, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University, says that the Americans will support if all Afghan political parties back an interim government as a solution in the intra-Afghan talks. Both, the international community and the political factions in Afghanistan will support [establishing] an interim government, if it would be proposed, particularly, by the High Council for National Reconciliation or by [negotiating teams] in Doha and agreed between negotiation teams of the Taliban and the Islamic Republic, he asserted.

Karim Pakzad, an observer, says that the ongoing war in Afghanistan has roots even before the 2001, after which the US forces became a party to it. He is of opinion that ending the war and finding a solution is not possible without establishment of an interim government. “Though the two negotiating parties fear formation of the interim government and do not see their interests in it, the interim government is the only solution for breaking the political deadlock and ending the war in Afghanistan. Likewise, experiences of all countries suffered from civil wars suggest that conflict resolution is not possible without an interim-government.”

Afghan parties are divided

Though efforts made in recent years to build a national consensus in support of the peace process, the Afghan parties are divided over peace process, says Omar Samad, a former Afghan ambassador. “They have not achieved a final agreement on a mechanism of authority and the Presidential Palace is waiting for a green light from Washington.”

He added that if there is a real and honest will for bringing about peace in Afghanistan, they should have focused on building trust and pave the ground for resolving the conflicts. But, now it is in reverse.

Rahmani also supports this argument, pointing specifically to President Ghani, he said that Ghani was thinking on how to continue in his office, instead of making peace. “Mr. Ghani is not looking for peace at all. He is sticking to continue of his power,” he asserted.

Taking on this, Shahrani, interpreted Ghani’s reiterate to hand over the power to an “elected successor” as an attempt for keeping his reign in power. “Mr. Ghani is looking for a pretext to maintain his position in power,” Shahrani said.

Although the negotiating parties have not officially confirmed yet that what they have put on their negotiation agendas, Mr. Mansour said they would discuss a power-sharing deal in the second round of talks with the Taliban.