Petty wrangling steering peace towards limbo


Turbulent developments in terms of peace risk undermining the whole process in one way or another, particularly political wrangling regarding a key national phenomenon as peace is something that could prove detrimental.

In a decree issued on Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani announced the appointment of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) members, including Jihadi leaders and key government officials. But the nominations have drawn stringent criticism from HCNR Chairman Abdullah, who deemed the presidential decree infringement of his authority. He got the message across that establishing the council did not require a presidential decree based on the power-sharing deal signed in May between President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah. Moreover, former president Hamid Karzai, named as a member of the HCNR, excused himself of participating in a government formation of any sort. Following his suit, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Salahuddin Rabbani also refused to accept the membership of the peace council. These are indeed some worrisome episodes in the peace process.

At a time when unanimity on peace should be the paramount concern, the peace bid is taking a turn for worse due to such political and petty wrangling, as well as public outcry over a lack of inclusivity in the composition of the council. These cracks and objections are going to further delay the overdue intra-Afghan talks and mostly likely diminish success in achieving the goals expected of peace. Meanwhile, the whole point of intra-Afghan talks is in tatters now since political parties have taken it upon themselves to arbitrarily go ahead and enter into talks with the Taliban. Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) leader Gulbadin Hekmatyar notifies about a lack of consensus on peace among government and political parties and thus his party preferred to launch direct talks with the Taliban.

At this stage, this lack of confidence among key stakeholders of peace within Afghanistan should be brought to a halt. Although the specific mandate on matters regarding HCNR is clearly explained in the power-sharing deal, the current publicized controversy between Ghani and Abdullah is unreasonable and denotes fragility within the government. Lack of coordination with political parties, as well as within the government, is steering the whole process towards limbo. Both President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah should work on establishing a direct channel of communication and move ahead with a unified voice and stance. Otherwise, these are the early signs of their tussles leading to the recurrence of the same fiascoes that occurred during their term under the National Unity Government (NUG) but this time the Afghans stand to lose a lot – after all the peace process is deciding their future. The approaches and paths of the leaders, as well as that of the political figures and parties, should converge and not diverge in terms of peace so they avoid risk jeopardizing the peace process. The success of the intra-Afghan talks is in synergy and moving ahead in unison. Therefore, they are well-advised to avoid squabbling because such controversies of theirs are only delaying the talks and increasing the chances of incidents of violence flaring up and damaging the delicate situation.