The agreement reached between the Afghan presidential candidates to share power and work together after an election that produced a heatedly disputed result is highly welcome. The situation created in Afghanistan following the electoral deadlock had generated high levels of tension in that volatile country, triggering fears of ethnic and political violence. Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister for Afghanistan, had contested the result of the close poll, which ended with his closest rival, Ashraf Ghani, claiming victory and Mr Abdullah making charges of widespread rigging.
The accord between the two men was brokered after two days of intense negotiations with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry. There has also been agreement that all votes cast will be recounted to try and get a clear result. This goes beyond a previous United Nations proposal to recount a specific number of votes. Both candidates have agreed to an end-of-August deadline for the vote recount, but whether this will be met, is far from certain.
Indeed, for Afghanistan, much is uncertain. While US President Barack Obama has repeatedly stressed the main contingent of US troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the year, Republican senators have recently called for a reconsideration of this. There is obviously intense concern over the future of Afghanistan, with predictions made of a Taliban takeover with the government unable to defend itself. These fears have deepened after the failure to conduct what it had been hoped would be a peaceful transition of power. In this scenario, the accord reached between the two candidates becomes especially significant. The government of national unity that has been agreed upon sends out a highly positive signal. We must now hope the accord can be adhered to. Stability and order in Afghanistan are crucial at this time, and events there, of course, also have an impact on the entire region, including Pakistan. Afghanistan’s presidential candidates have shown maturity by sitting together and working out terms for a deal. They must now stick with it as attempts are made to sort out a major electoral mess, which left behind a divided country in its wake.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2014.
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