Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

Mistrust Will Have a Huge Bearing on National Interests

Within the last few years, a growing mistrust between Afghan officials has emerged as political rhetoric makes the headline in national media. Afghan officials view one another with lack of trust, which generated insurmountable challenges.
The growing mistrust has triggered a controversy between high-ranking officials over the result of presidential elections. Hurling rhetoric at one another, officials claim that their opponents have been involved in electoral rigging, seek to manipulate the result or influence the electoral bodies.
Meanwhile, the issue of peace talks and formation of negotiation team have been also controversial. Afghan officials and political factions, mainly consist of heavyweight political leaders, did not make unanimous agreement over peace talks on several occasions. For instance, few months back, Russia hosted a meeting between the Taliban and Afghan heads of political parties, which was not approved by the Kabul government. In the meantime, the government prioritized presidential elections, whereas heads of political parties said that peace talks had carried more significance for them than presidential elections.
Similarly, within the government, the presidential place persisted on holding presidential elections so that the government could negotiate from a legitimate position. On the contrary, the CEO sided with political leaders and claimed that he would agree on forming a transitional government, even if he was elected as president, if it led to peace. To this end, presidential elections and peace talks were a bone of contention between officials within the government as well as between officials and heads of political parties, which suggested lack of trust.
With the growing mistrust between officials, the public lost their trust in the government. People believe that officials’ harsh rhetoric is based on their self-interests, which underestimate national interests. As a result they view officials as well as heads of political leaders from a negative prism.
Afghans fear that lack of trust and controversy over presidential elections will lead to a scenario similar to that of 2014 elections. Claiming electoral rigging has taken place, if presidential candidates hold out their stance and do not accept the result of the elections, the issue of 2014 presidential election is most likely to be repeated.
On the other hand, if the result of elections is changed into a controversial issue, the peace process will be prolonged and more complicated.
Although peace talks were called off by US President Donald Trump, his especial envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has already traveled to some countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the intention of resuming the talks. This suggests that the US is in a hurry to end the talks successfully before the Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign starts. Thus, the prolongation or postponement of peace talks will be to the detriment of Trump’s presidential campaign, who called himself “problem solver”. 
Worst of all, the prolongation of peace talks in the wake of controversy between officials will lead to the continuation of civilian and non-civilian casualties. In other words, if peace talks do not come to fruition in the near future, the Taliban fighters will continue their terrorist activities, which will result in more human casualties. To put it succinctly, the continuation of mistrust between officials will put national interests as well public rights and freedoms at stake and compound the ongoing challenges across the country.
In the current sensitive time, the rift between officials within the government as well as officials and political leaders needs to be repaired. Afghan officials and political leaders have to respect the law, regardless of their political status, and accept the result of elections as declared by the Independent Election Commission (IEC).
Moreover, the IEC should not be subdued by any political figures or organs and has to act independently on the basis of law. If any individual or organ seeks to dominate or engage in IEC’s activities without regard to law, they have to be prosecuted. 
To gain the public trust and push for wwa peaceful country, Afghan officials have to respect the decision of IEC and view one another with trust. In short, if officials intend to “strengthen national unity, safeguard independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country; establish an order based on the peoples’ will and democracy; form a civil society void of oppression, atrocity, discrimination as well as violence, based on rule of law, social justice, protecting integrity and human rights, and attaining peoples’ freedoms and fundamental rights,” which is stated in the preamble of Afghanistan’s Constitution, they have to practice upon law and treat one another with respect.