India's Afghan dilemma as Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah take oath as presidents

Afghanistan's President-elect Ashraf Ghani and opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah decided to hold separate swearing-in ceremonies on Monday as the two failed to reach an agreement

A peace deal is in place for Afghanistan but peace still seems to elude the war torn nation

While external stakeholders have long been directing Afghanistan's policy and shaping its landscape, an internal crisis threatens to overshadow the faint glimmer of hope.

Afghanistan's President-elect Ashraf Ghani and opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah decided to hold separate swearing-in ceremonies on Monday as the two failed to reach an agreement.

Ghani took oath as president for the second time at the presidential palace in the presence of top NATO allies including US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.

Both Ghani and Abdullah had earlier postponed the swearing-in but later decided to go ahead.

Zalmay Khalilzad had failed to strike a deal with the two factions throwing the political process into turmoil.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah took oath at the Sapedar Palace.

(Photograph:AFP)

Two of the tallest leaders in Afghanistan are at loggerheads with each other

Ashraf Ghani was declared the winner of the elections held last September but his rival Abdullah Abdullah has outrightly rejected the results.

The drama intensified when both leaders decided to organise a swearing-in ceremony simultaneously.

The country desperately needs a stable and powerful government and strong leadership which can lead Afghanistan towards a new path.

It becomes even more important at a time when the Taliban has once again become emboldened.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Even though India is not involved directly in the so called peace deal, it has its own interests in Afghanistan

India wants peace. It does not want Afghan soil to be a breeding ground for anti-India terror.

The Ashraf Ghani led government has been a friend to India while Taliban has promised to not allow terror activities on Afghan soil that remains a promise in thin air.

India would do well to keep a close watch on these developments.

(Photograph:AFP)

In November 2018, Indian representatives were at the Afghan peace conference

The Indian government had sent two retired diplomats former envoy to Kabul, Amar Sinha and former High Commissioner to Pakistan, T.C.A. Raghavan.

They represented New Delhi at the Moscow talks.

India announced that they are there at a "non-official" level and that was a major departure from India's gameplan in the war-torn country.

(Photograph:AFP)

It was the first time India shared a table with the Taliban

India was also officially invited to the signing of the peace deal. India has always refused to engage or negotiate with the Taliban.

In the past, for strategic purposes, India sided with other forces.

(Photograph:AFP)

India's failed alliance with the Afghan communists alongside the Soviet Union

In the 1980s, India formed a failed alliance with the Afghan communists alongside the Soviet Union.

A similar futile effort was made in the 1990s. It was backed by the so-called northern alliance with support from Iran and Russia.

This alliance fought a defensive war against the Taliban government-backed by Pakistan which ended with the US invasion and its own dissolution.

(Photograph:AFP)

Game of Thrones

Polls were held in September in Afghanistan but incumbent Ashraf Ghani was only declared to have won a second term in February after repeated delays and accusations of voter fraud, sparking a furious response by former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who vowed to form his own parallel government.

Last-minute talks reportedly extended late into the night on Sunday as the two sides sought to broker an agreement.

Their Game of Thrones has left many Afghans despairing for their country's future.

(Photograph:WION Web Team)

Abdullah's supporters held violent demonstrations

The prolonged political crisis has brought back memories of the angrily contested 2014 election, which also saw Ghani declared the winner.

Abdullah's supporters held violent demonstrations at the time before the US finally intervened to broker an awkward deal, with Ghani as the president and Abdullah as the chief executive.

On Monday, Abdullah warned that he was in no mood to accede, tweeting: "Our track record of self-denial & compromise should not have given cause to anyone to take us for granted."

The renewed bickering has added to the frustrations of ordinary Afghans.

(Photograph:AFP)