Kabul’s open disagreement

Mohib’s remarks caused affront in Washington

Editorial March 17, 2019

With President Donald Trump firmly focused on exploring a way out of Afghanistan — whatever it may take and however it may happen — differences between Kabul and Washington over the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban are out in the open. President Ashraf Ghani is understood to have sensed the urgency in White House to pull the US troops out of Afghanistan even if it comes at the cost of kicking his government out of favour. After all that is how Trump has so far acted in bid to keep his various election pledges. And mind you the US elections are coming up next year.

The recent remarks in the media attributed to the Afghan National Security Adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, clearly shows Kabul’s disagreement with the Trump’s approach to reconciliation in the war-torn country. In what is the first time a Kabul government official has publicly criticised Washington, Mohib accused US Special Represen¬tative Zalmay Khalilzad of “weakening the Afghan government so that he could become Afghanistan’s viceroy”. He also remarked that holding talks with the Taliban amounted to dishonouring the 9/11 victims as well as hundreds of US troops who lost their lives while fighting in Afghanistan.

Mohib’s remarks caused affront in Washington. Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale summoned Mohib to reject his public comments even though it is rare that a senior visiting official of another government is summoned by the US State Department. Mohib was told that his public comments could hurt the ongoing Afghan peace process.

While Taliban’s reluctance to hold talks with the Ghani administration shows no signs of softening, it will be interesting to see to what length Washington will be ready to go in order to protect the interests of its allies in Kabul. Well, the US record at that only signifies self-centredness.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2019.

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