Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Peaceful Protestors Targeted by Suicide Bombers

A twin suicide attack targeted the gathering of a mass demonstration staged by Hazaras against the TUTA route change in capital Kabul. It was the second mass protest in Kabul by the protestors and it has taken the shape of movement, which is called as the Enlightening Movement and it aims to stop the TUTA implementation through Salang and change it through Bamyan, which the movement says is its actual route.
The suicide attacks were ferocious and around 61 people were killed while 231 sustained injuries. The incident took place in Deh Mazang area where the demonstrators had gathered for a sit-in protest. Some reports say that one explosion happened near the Barikot Cinema and the second occurred in Demazang Square.
It is really tragic to see the peaceful protestors face such heartbreaking fortune. The terrorists took full advantage of the situation and penetrated through the security arrangements and targeted the poor civilians who were not doing anything other than asking for their rights. It was the responsibility of the security agencies to ensure full security of the protestors. However, they were not able to do so and two to three suicide bombers could get in the rally. The security personnel were busy more with blocking the roads so that the protestors do not get near the Presidential Palace instead of providing pool-proof security to them. It is right of every citizen to raise their voice for their rights and protest peacefully in that regard and the democratic government must ensure that they are provided the opportunity to do so. 
The reports suggest that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Daesh claimed responsibility behind the horrific attack and said the group targeted a Shiite gathering in the city. This is the first time the terror group has claimed responsibility behind a large attack in capital Kabul as the loyalists of the terror group have been attempting to expand terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Saturday condemned the twin explosion in the rally in capital Kabul and ordered government institutions to use all resources for the rehabilitation of wounded persons. A statement from Presidential Palace said the president was shocked and was saddened after hearing about two huge explosions in a peaceful rally. The president said despite strict security measures the terrorist managed to enter to the rally and carry out the explosions which resulted in the killing and injuring of innocent people including security officials.
Meanwhile, World leaders strongly condemned attack as well. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said that the attack targeted those who protested for their humanitarian rights."I reiterate that international humanitarian law prohibits the deliberate targeting of civilians and international human rights law requires the government and non-state actors to respect and protect the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The perpetrators of today's attack must be held accountable," he added.
The top priority matter at the moment is to ensure that the wounded get proper treatment and health facilities. There should be efforts to find the true culprits behind the incident and they should be brought to justice. It has to be ensured that such peaceful and exemplary protests must be encouraged so that the democratic norms must be strengthened in the country and the protestors should be provided full-proof security every time they stage such protests.
Moreover, the government, particularly President Ashraf Ghani, needs to hear the voices of the protestors seriously. The concerned authorities must analyze the demands of the Enlightening Movement with justice. It requires opening German engineering consultancy – Fichtner’s report, that suggested in 2013, in an assessment for ADB that Bamiyan route would avoid the narrow space and difficulties along the Salang Pass, would allow connecting further generation by coal fired power plants along the route and would secure power supply of Kabul and south Afghanistan by using a separate route.
In May, after the first round of the historic protest in Kabul, President Ghani had promised that instead of TUTA another power project would be designed for central provinces that would provide around 300 kV of electricity; however, the promise was not accepted wholly by the movement. Therefore, the second round of protest was organized. 

It is important to note that the ambiguities and back-door decisions led to misunderstandings regarding the change in route. Government, in this regard, needs to remove all these ambiguities and it requires a solid reason to ignore the Fichtner report, which is based on technical suggestions not political inclinations. Throwing everything on the shoulders of the previous government would not solve the issue. The government needs to stop the work on the TUTA, resolve the issue completely by taking the people in confidence and make decision on the basis of justice and fair-play.