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Afghanistan: Transition Government and International Conference

Published Mar 05, 2021
Updated Mar 05, 2021

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is pitching for a participatory government in Afghanistan and an international conference on Afghanistan.

The proposal which commenced with the idea of an interim government has now been changed in nomenclature to “participatory government,” which obviously also includes the Taliban.

Transition Government

The proposal for transition government has been discussed with the Afghan political leaders in Kabul, including President Ashraf Ghani, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council of National (HCNR)

“A grand international conference that will be similar to the Bonn conference will be held, in which the Taliban and the republic side will participate at the leadership level. At the same time, the international community, including the United States and the regional countries, will reach a political agreement that will take its legitimacy from the international community. However, the national legitimacy (agreement of the potential conference) would take its authority from the traditional Loya Jirga,” Shahzada Massoud, a close aide to former president Hamid Karzai was quoted by the Tolonews.

President Ashraf Ghani who had resisted the idea of an interim government indicating that this could lead to a civil war seems to be amenable to the one with a change in nomenclature – transition government.

What are the contours of the so called transition government remains to be seen while the Taliban may also be amenable to the same but violence will be a major concern as there are continued reports of preparations ongoing for a spring offensive by both sides – the government and the rebel forces.

Taliban is using the areas vacated by the Afghan forces due to lack of large strength and thus is able to provide a good footprint over the country which in turn enables it to exercise greater control through coercion on the locals.

International Conference

A Bonn-model international conference is also proposed to be held to discuss the prospect of a participatory government that would include the Taliban.

The idea of an international conference on Afghanistan has been floated by US special envoy on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad during his visit to Kabul. The plan has been in the offing for some time and appears to have the consent of Russia.

Russian Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov  indicated that Moscow prefers that all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan agree on the establishment of an inclusive and transitional coalition government.

Taliban’s alleged agenda to take complete control of Afghanistan is seen as a bad scenario if the Taliban insisted on such an approach.

Russia believes that it would be good if there was a transitional coalition government in place in which the Taliban had political status as per  Kabulov who also called for the peace process to proceed in the Moscow format where there is also the presence of the US, Russia, China and Afghanistan’s neighboring nations.