Seeing as Sisko essentially died, would Starfleet even have any way to force him to return? If he were declared dead then any agreement he had would be null and void.
Well, he didn't die, he just went to live in the wormhole. His Starfleet commission was still active upon his return. The first thing Starfleet did after Sisko came back in Unity
was to offer to promote him to admiral. He declined and went on extended personal leave, until Starfleet reactivated his commission during the Borg invasion. So no, he was never declared dead and his Starfleet rank was never nullified.
And what has any of this got to do with the topic? This isn't about Starfleet's decisions, because Starfleet is imaginary. What we're debating here is about the writers
' decisions. The writers (and editor) decided
to have Sisko follow that path. The writers (and editor) chose
to keep Kira in the command position she'd been in at the end of "What You Leave Behind," and they continued to keep her there for another six books. They decided they wanted to keep "dealing with" a female captain.
With Kira we went from her being persona non grata with her faith to being a member of the clergy. It's like she's a ball in a pinball machine and just being bopped from one place to the other.
No, she's one of a number of characters whose journey in the interval between 2377 and 2381 has yet to be explored in detail. That passage of time brought changes for many characters, and it only seems abrupt because of the time jump. Was Spock a "ball in a pinball machine" because he went from being a science officer in TOS to a Kolinahr acolyte in TMP, and then was "suddenly" a captain in TWOK? Oh, the makers of the movies must've had a problem with male characters because of how this one single male character was treated!
The closest I could see a male character in a similar situation would be Worf. Named ambassador at the end of DS9 he was in a few books and then right back to Starfleet and the Enterprise. Ambassador Worf was an interesting take on the character and it would have been interesting to see where he would go but in the end his path took him right back to where he'd been a decade earlier.
Well, I could name another example, but apparently you haven't read Indistinguishable from Magic
yet. But isn't Sisko an example too? Last time we saw him in the post-finale DS9 novels he was happy in civilian life and content with his family, and then we jumped forward and he was back in Starfleet and estranged from his family and generally miserable. That's surely an even more drastic change than Kira's.