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Afghan politics vs infection

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EVEN Covid-19 has failed to take attention away from the ongoing political stand-off in Afghanistan. The intensity of the Afghan political crisis is so great that the power stakeholders in the conflict have been unable to prioritise the coronavirus health emergency and appear more concerned about their political future.

Since the US and the Afghan Taliban signed a peace deal on Feb 29, the political transition in Afghanistan has witnessed surprising developments. For instance, the Taliban have been showing flexibility in their position on the prisoners’ issue. Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the self-proclaimed ‘winner’ of the last election, has also changed his political strategy and sent clear signals of reconciliation to President Ashraf Ghani. However, President Ghani is in an aggressive mood and appears all set to start his second term by coming down hard on his political opponents. He was never happy with the deal and is now getting more assertive even with the US, which could result in further reduction of US financial aid to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is among the countries with the least testing facilities, but the virus appears to be spreading. As of April 16, the public health ministry confirmed 840 confirmed cases, with at least 30 associated deaths. A failure to control the spread of the virus can also expedite the withdrawal process of the US and Nato forces. Former US ambassador Richard Olson recently predicted that if the coronavirus hit Afghanistan hard, it could accelerate the exit of US troops. Such a situation will increase US dependence on the Taliban to........

© Dawn

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