Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Will Past Scenario Repeat in the New Year?

The solar year of 1394 was initiated with the Taliban’s spring offensive which took heavy toll of Afghan civilians and police. The protracted war and insurgency lingered up to now and the warring parties denied holding peace talk, mainly following the revelation of Mullah Omar’s death. The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), which held its fourth-round meeting in Kabul on February 23, yet to bring the Taliban to the table of negotiation. But disinclination towards talk goes on and Afghanistan will have a hard year ahead.
The Kunduz takeover on late September 2015, which led to tens of dead and wounded, disgrace of some women, release of the prisoners and financial loss, was the worst-case scenario that happened – it was the first time the extremists managed to capture a major city since 2001. The Taliban insurgents also captured Sangin district of Helmand province and killed not only the civilians but also more than hundred of Afghan soldiers.
Moreover, the emergence of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – which was pledged allegiance by some Taliban fighters – in Afghanistan has aggravated the political instability and put our nation at the mercy of greater casualty. The people’s rights to life, liberty and property were violated on a large scale. Similarly, a number of civilians fell victim to terror on the grounds of their race, sex, color and beliefs –the ISIL fighters were believed to be responsible regarding these deadly episodes.
In his recent statement, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom has said that Afghanistan will encounter a great political challenge which needs to be addressed.  According to him, “The insurgency is really active in all parts of the country – in Helmand in the south to Baghlan in the north. And although there are hopeful signs that the Afghan National Security Forces are going through a period of adaptation and lesson-learning, no one, either from the member states or from the UN, really assesses the challenges as anything other than daunting”. Regarding civilian casualties, he pointed out that “the ever-growing number of civilian casualties, which now tops 11,000, reflecting an intensification of the conflict. I like to point out that 11,000 civilian casualties doesn’t capture the full tragedy and the drama.” Unless the government overcame “five distinct hurdles” it would face “severe consequences”, Haysom said listing a contracting economy, intensifying insurgency, fractious political environment as well as desperately needed funding from the international community and the need to demonstrate progress toward a sustainable peace. “For 2016, survival will be an achievement,” he believed.
Similarly, NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that Afghanistan will have a tough year ahead and insurgents will continue their attacks. “We have seen different terrorist organizations trying to establish themselves in Afghanistan. We have seen the presence of al-Qaida, IS, the Taliban and all the groups, and they are still in Afghanistan. There is going to be continued fighting and we have to expect that there are going to be new attacks on the government forces,” he is cited as saying.
The U.N. mission in Afghanistan says more than 11,000 civilians, including women and children, were killed and wounded last year. Afghan people suffered painfully, mainly following the withdrawal of US-led NATO forces and the unsuccessful “war on terror”. The establishment of National Unity Government (NUG) was not a panacea for the wounded hearts of people and did not mitigate terror and militancy. Currently, since the Taliban elements deny resuming peace talks despite the pressures put on them, the security situation will not get better – political pundits predict the future based on the same fact. Not surprisingly, the splinter groups and ISIL’s emergence is the next reason behind insecurity and this trend will continue unless the government reinforces the soldiers or bring the warring parties to negotiating table – this second option has met repeated failure.
Moreover, violence against women does not seem to be abating either. In other words, the 27-year-old woman Farkhunda was killed by angry mob on the Eve of 1394, which was widely shared on social media. Likewise, some desert court was imposed on women in tribal belts by the Taliban elements without legal investigation – which is in direct conflict with the Constitution.
“Disregard and contempt for human rights” – which is the main reason behind violence and bloodshed – have been widely practiced not only last year but for many past years. It is believed that warring factions are highly responsible in this regard and major violators of human rights. Weary of war and insurgency, Afghans pray for having a peaceful and violence-free year ahead and expect the government to prevent from civilian casualties in one way or another and address the political crisis. The rights of men and women should be protected equally and without discriminations. The last year’s deficiencies and inappropriate approaches towards instability should be an eye-opener for the government.
Although there is a sense of fear and chagrin in the air, the public hope that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) will get the Taliban elements to resume peace talks.