Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Security Concerns Keep on Multiplying

The concerns regarding security situation seem to be multiplying with each passing day in Afghanistan. The prospects of peace and tranquility do not seem very much clear as the terrorists are posing a serious threat to the Afghan government, security forces and the poor civilians. Different observations, studies and surveys show that there are very serious security challenges that Afghanistan has been facing recently and will have to face in the times to come.
Strengthening the same fact, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom on Tuesday, March 15, delivering his three-monthly report to the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan said that deteriorating security and an increasingly vocal political opposition has placed increased pressure on the government in the past three months.
Haysom, in his report, said, “The security situation was increasingly volatile as the conflict grew in intensity and scope, resulting in high casualties and displacement among Afghan civilians… Afghan National Defense and Security Forces continued to face significant challenges in effectively countering the threats of insurgent groups across the country… Moreover, tensions within the government continued to slow progress on key appointments, including with respect to positions essential to the delivery of the government’s reform agenda and to addressing challenges in such areas as security, the rule of law and governance.”
The report revealed that between 1 December 2015 and 15 February 2016, the United Nations recorded 4,014 security-related incidents across the country. This represents an 8.3 percent decrease compared with the same period in 2014 and 2015, although it is noted that in 2015, January and February recorded the highest totals for those months since 2001. Consistent with previous trends, armed clashes accounted for the majority of security incidents, at 57.4 per cent, followed by improvised explosive devices, at 19.2 per cent. Targeted killings continued at a high level. From 1 December 2015 to 15 February 2016, 154 assassinations, including failed attempts, were recorded, representing a 27 percent decrease compared with the same period in 2014 and 2015.
Though the figures for the quarterly report may show a small level of decline in certain aspects, serious threats still exist and they may increase with the start of spring season. Moreover, the overall report for 2015 shows a rise of about 3% in security incidents as compared to 2014. Another aspect of the deterioration in security is the rise of the insurgents in certain areas that have not been previously their stronghold. Their rise in Badakhshan, Takhar and Kunduz clearly showed that they have been strengthening their positions in the areas that were not their stronghold earlier. The situation in the capital Kabul also faced serious threats. Since the dawn of the new year, the security incidents seem to be on the rise.
Haysom also revealed that the Taliban expanded its territorial reach in 2015, temporarily capturing 24 district centers in the north (in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Jawzjan, Kunduz, Sari Pul and Takhar provinces), in the west (in Badghis and Farah provinces), in the east (in Nuristan Province) and in the south (in Helmand and Kandahar provinces), in addition to temporarily seizing the provincial capital of Kunduz.
With the rise in insecurity, unfortunately, the peace process with Taliban does not seem to be in a good shape, as well. Recently, Afghan government rebuilt its relations with Islamabad for a Pakistan supported peace talks with Taliban that involved other important countries like China and US. The Quadrilateral Group though had certain preparatory meetings and designed a road-map as well, Taliban rejected the offers for talks and issued a statement saying that they were not ready for talks.
It would be a great achievement for the Afghan government to make Taliban ready for a peace process and negotiate for a cease-fire. If Taliban get ready for a cease-fire it would mean that they are really ready for negotiations. No peace process can succeed unless the clashes stop and the parties in the war are ready to lay down their arms.
Another important factor for Afghanistan would be to convince Taliban to accept Afghan constitution, which seems a bit difficult as Taliban have always strived for a Shariah-based law in the country. It is really a Herculean task to make them ready to respect Afghan constitution and abandon their demand for a Shariah-based law as they are gaining strength on the battle-ground. They are even insisting on their own terms and conditions for the peace talks. However, for Afghan government, it would be a great loss if it compromises on its constitution which is result of years of struggle for a democratic system and for which the Afghan people and the soldiers have given large number of sacrifices.   
Afghanistan, as a top priority, needs to reach to a conclusive position regarding terrorism, if it wants to continue its journey towards a democratic and peaceful state. President Ashraf Ghani has clearly indicated that he is serious about the issue and has always called for a regional and global cooperation to eradicate terrorism. Nonetheless, it is more important that Afghanistan must have its own strategy bold and clear regarding the issue and must follow the same through actions, not words alone.