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A situation of political disarray has prevailed in the war- torn country of Afghanistan since the results of the presidential elections have been declared. The election results have aggravated the rivalry between the two presidential candidates- Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. However, the country took steps towards peace and political stability on 17th May after a power sharing deal was signed between the two rivals.
In December, the Election Commission announced that Ghani has won the September presidential elections with more than fifty per cent votes. His competitor, on the other hand, has received over 39% votes. However, Abdullah Abdullah refused to accept the results. He along with the Elections Complaint Commission alleged widespread voting irregularities and fraud in the presidential elections. In light of the same disagreement, Afghanistan witnessed a bizarre incident of both the candidates declaring themselves President in parallel inauguration ceremonies. The country has been in a political turmoil since then.
According to power sharing deal, Ashraf Ghani will remain the president of the country and Mr Abdullah Abdullah will lead the National Reconciliation High Council. Apart from this, Abdullah Abdullah’s party members will have a 50% share in the cabinet. In addition to this, General Dostum, the former Vice President, have to be promoted to the post of Marshal. This is the highest military position. General Dostum is a controversial figure who has the allegations of torturing and ordering rape of his rival Ahmad Ischchi, among other accusations of human rights violations
The Reconciliation Council has the mandate to deal with and to approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process. This will help some prominent leaders to advice the President and end the war with Taliban by forming a United Front. The deal was signed at the Presidential Place. Increased International pressures and the fact the Taliban was benefitting with the political instability catalysed the two leaders to sign. The negotiations between the two leaders were mediated by some of the prominent Afghan political leaders like Hamid Karzai, the former Prime Minister. The negotiations were appreciated for proving to be successful, without the need of any international intervention. The deal was welcomed not only by the people of Afghanistan but by different countries as well.
Significance of this development
The power sharing agreement can be seen as step in the direction of peace and stability. It can be construed as an effort to end the war with Taliban. The creation of the National Reconciliation High Council will help in fighting the extremist group more effectively. Not only, this ends the major political feud but also paves path for an inclusive and effective governance. Following are some important aspects of this power sharing agreement-
- USA and Afghanistan
The deal was much appreciated because the political discord was shadowing Afghanistan’s peace process. The rivalry between the two candidates had induced the Trump Administration to announce a cut of $1 Billion in assistance to Afghanistan if they do not clear their differences. The reason why it announced such a measure was because of the Peace Agreement between US and Taliban which was seen as “Afghanistan’s best chance at peace after decades of war”. According to the Agreement, which was signed on February 29th, US and NATO troops were supposed to leave Afghanistan in a phased manner. US had been making continuous efforts to initiate intra Afghan negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban. The negotiations were supposed to take place in March but all the efforts were in vain. The negotiations didn’t take place because of the acrimonious relations between the two leaders and prevailing political instability. Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, proved to be unsuccessful in brokering between the two leaders. His efforts were futile in spite of the fact that he came down all the way to Afghanistan amidst the pandemic. As a result, he decided to cut aids to Afghanistan if the two continue to maintain the deadlock.
From the past 18 years, the country has been dependent on the International aid. It has received Billions of dollars yet it has remained among the poorest. The level of poverty has increased from 35% in 2012 to 55% in 2019. In Afghanistan, a person falls below the poverty line if he spends $1 or less in a day. In spite of this low criterion, more than half of the people are battling with poverty. Therefore, it cannot afford to lose $1 Billion Dollar over the political rivalry.
- US- Taliban Deal
A deal between US and Taliban was signed, at Doha, which can be construed as a way of bringing an end to the 18 years war in Afghanistan. According to the deal, there will be a withdrawal of all the US and NATO soldiers from Afghanistan in a phased manner. This deal also sought to initiate negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban. Additionally, a separate joint declaration was signed at Kabul between the US and Afghan government. The deal also talks about removing UN sanctions on Taliban leaders and releasing of imprisoned Talibs. This deal aims to lay down a roadmap for Afghanistan’s peace process. However, because of the political instability these peace-making efforts were diluted.
- Attack on the Maternity Centre
There have been instances of increased violence by Taliban in Afghanistan. On 13th May, the militants attacked a maternity ward and a crowded funeral. At the funeral, at least 24 people were killed by a suicide bomber. It is disheartening to see that the mortality figures at the ward include 2 babies and 16 women who had their delivery dates scheduled on that day. Though Taliban had denied its involvement in any of these incidents but the government strongly believes that it was behind the attacks. Taliban had been thriving on the political instability. This deal will, as a result, try to combat Taliban and will help in bringing peace in the country.
- Disputes over Power Sharing and COVID-19
The political instability was also proving to hinder the state’s response to battle COVID-19. The divided government has inevitably resulted in a lack of a coordinated action by the government to deal with the pandemic. The testing remains at a low level. This can be a probable reason of relatively few cases in Afghanistan. Thus, collaboration of the two leaders will help the government to act in an effective manner in order to combat COVID-19.
Relevance with respect to India-Afghanistan relations
India, like other nations, has welcomed the deal. The Ministry of External Affairs made a formal statement in respect of the same. India has supported the agreement by immediately calling for a ceasefire and by extending its help to Afghanistan to combat the pandemic. India supports the inclusive nature of the government that emanates from the power sharing agreement. This can be seen as a way to strengthen national unity and the institutional order. The agreement will help in protecting the rights of different social groups better.
India is hopeful that the deal and the creation of the National Reconciliation High Council will help in bringing peace and political stability is the region. From time to time, India has expressed its concerns over increased terrorist attacks and violence. It sincerely hopes that the power sharing deal brings an end to the externally sponsored terrorism in the region.
Thus, the power sharing deal will strengthen the relations between the two countries by increasing co-operation between them. For years, India has played an important role, as a nation, in the peace process of Afghanistan. Thus, it hopes that the agreement is successful in achieving peace and stability, that it strives for.
Objectives of this agreement
The power sharing deal will check and maintain balance of power. The division of power will help in more efficient governance. The deal will also facilitate the peace negotiations with Taliban. It not only ends the political turmoil in Afghanistan but also strengthens the spirit of cooperation. The deal will also result in better implementation of law and will help in maintain the social order. This will help the government to actively combat corruption, which is stated as the main reason behind Afghanistan’s poverty by various international watchdogs. Apart from that, it will also focus of human rights issues in the country and might take steps for advancement of women. There is a need to address the gross human rights violations, that take place often in the region, stringently. It will help in restoring the people’s faith in the government. Not only the deal will reduce the burden on the shoulders of the leaders, but will also create a more accountable administration. It will lead the country on the path of progress.
Since 2001 US Invasion, disputes and controversies have continuously emerged in relation to Afghanistan’s presidential election. As the war with Taliban has intensified with time, the last two presential elections have almost led to a bloodshed. Therefore, the arena of presidential elections has been sensitive.
Interestingly, the two leaders have entered into a power sharing treaty earlier as well. In 2014 John F Kerry, who was the Secretary of State at that time, brokered an agreement between the two. As per the deal, Ashraf Ghani was the president and Abdullah was the Chief executive of the country. However, the collaboration between the two ended as differences arose. They swear not to share power in future. During the campaigning for the presidential elections, both attacked and blamed each other for government shortfalls. Last efforts of collaboration proved to be a major failure and therefore, it is important to ensure that this deal does not have the same destiny.
With time, both the leaders will have to make compromises in order to work in a coordinated manner. The disagreements that will arise in future should be resolved in a peaceful manner, so that this deal doesn’t prove to be another failed attempt. Proper division of jobs and ministries should be there in order to minimise confusion and disputes arising in terms of their working. Thus, there are a number of challenges that will emerge from this deal. It is important to take appropriate measures to make this deal a success.
The power sharing deal between the two rivals in Afghanistan is welcomed across the world. The deal will not only help in increasing the effective governance but will also help in maintaining peace and stability in the warn cladded region. The Afghan leaders, other countries and citizens of Afghanistan are hoping this deal to be successful in combating Taliban. It has a huge effect on the Afghan intra negotiation that is due between Afghan government and Taliban. It can be seen as a hope of restoring peace in this region after more than two decades. However, there are certain challenges associated with the deal.
It is an uphill battle for the leaders to deal with Taliban, poverty and COVID-19. The economic situation of the country is likely to further tighten because of growing fiscal pressures with a fall in revenues. Due to COVID-19, the foreign aid is also likely to reduce. Therefore, it is extremely important for the government to properly plan and then act. There is a need to maximise cooperation and minimise clashes between the two leaders. Efforts should be made to ensure that the history doesn’t repeat itself. Proper framework and well-defined division roles are necessary. All the required steps should be taken in order to make this endeavour a success. Ultimately, this power sharing agreement is pertinent in terms of deciding the future of Afghanistan.
Author: Ananya Singh from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law.
Editor: Priyanshu Grover from Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh.