11 April, 2021

Hand In Hand On A Steep Hillside

Rivals join in coalition in the fraught politics of Afghanistan

Hand In Hand On A Steep Hillside

There is rarely a glut of good news coming out of Afghanistan, but of late optimism has been in particularly short supply. On Monday, Hamid Karzai handed over the reins of power. The good news is that the transition has been relatively peaceful, indeed the first peaceful handover of power in Afghanistan for many decades. The bad news is that what replaces Karzai is a deeply unstable coalition, led by two men who do not like each other, and whose interests are in many cases directly opposed. Few in Kabul give the new arrangement any staying power, for almost as much divides the coalition partners as brings them together.

The new president, Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, is a remarkable man: a PhD from Columbia, an ex-World Bank official, a John Hopkins professor and former chancellor of Kabul University as well as minister of finance. He has a quick wit and a penetrating and formidable brain. When I was researching my book on the First Afghan War, Return of a King: An Indian Army in Afghanistan, Ashraf was one of the first men I visited in Kabul and the hours I spent...

More from William Dalrymple

Latest Magazine

April 19, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section