Amid preparations for the upcoming presidential elections in April, Afghanistan is being forced into a treacherous game of political roulette between the United States and Hamid Karzai.
The game is centered on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Afghanistan and the United States of America, which allows the US to maintain its military presence in Afghanistan and prevent the return of Taliban and affiliated terrorist groups to power in the country.
Except for Karzai, other key stakeholders including the US, participants of the Consultative Grand Assembly and the absolute majority of key civil society groups in Afghanistan back signing of the BSA.
Karzai's stance perplexed many as the Taliban has been the only beneficiary so far. Where the chips may fall at this stage is anyone's guess.
Preparation for the election is quickly descending into chaos and leaves little room for a fair and democratic process.
The election campaigns are encouraging rifts along ethnic and linguistic lines.
The recent tribal gathering in the presidential palace in Kabul to select a candidate under Karzai's patronage only further pushes Afghanistan's nascent democracy off track.
The pre- election chaos is due in part to failure to nurture a positive political discourse that could have led to the emergence of issue-based political trends.
Consequently, the present candidates lack a clear manifesto and practical solutions for stabilizing Afghanistan and promoting democracy and human rights.
Nearly a dozen ethnically structured teams of three will run for "power" on April 5, 2014. However, in general all candidates belong to one of two major camps: "ethnocentric non-Jihadis" and "Jihad-centered nationalists."
Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is the leading candidate in the former camp whose victory will lead to a continuation of the status quo and further deterioration of the security situation.
In light of tense inter-tribal competition in the south and east, the ethno-centrist technocrats such as Ahmadzai might inevitably seek to make deals with Taliban insurgents to avoid a total collapse of the state.
Reza Fazli assisted with editing.
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