Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 18th, 2019

Afghan Civilians Defenseless Against Insecurity

The series of tragedies and misfortunes does not seem to end for Afghanistan. Insecurity, which has been the main culprit in invigorating the miseries, has not even decreased in winter. It has influenced different parts of the country in different ways and every now and then it targets the capital Kabul. It did so on Tuesday, February 7, as well when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the car park of the Supreme Court building in Kabul, killing 20 people and wounding at least 41 others. The incident occurred in the car park of the Court at about 3:45 pm, while staff were on their way home. In June 2013 an explosion occurred in the same place, killing 17 people and injuring 39 others.

It is important to note that the casualties were mostly the civilians. Civilians in Afghanistan have been influenced to a large extent by insecurity. In fact, it has been decades since Afghan people have suffered the brutal consequences of insecurity and instability. Many Afghans have lost their lives and many have left their houses and fled to other areas and even migrated to other countries. Their entire existence has been shaken, and their entire way of living has been altered for the worst. And, it is unfortunate to see that they have not been able to experience improvement even after having a golden opportunity for betterment.

In fact, Afghan leadership and authorities were not able to make use of the circumstances in their favor. After the downfall of Taliban, the country had a golden opportunity to move towards betterment. It had the support of the international community, in particular, the support of the US. However, it could not make use of that support in a positive manner and the leadership struggled because of internal rifts and differences, which is evident even in the present.

And who have paid the price for all the mismanagement and ill handling of the situation? Definitely, the poor civilians. Afghan people, mostly poor among them, have seen the worst type of poverty, illness, under-development and misery. In fact, they have been left defenseless both against the rising social evils and the persistent insecurity. The facts regarding the lives of the poor people in remote areas of the country show the true picture. There has hardly been any development in those areas. Development could only be seen in some cities of the country in the lives of a particular stratum of the society, while most of the people remain distant from it.

How the lives of the civilians in Afghanistan have been influenced by insecurity can be best depicted by the recent report by United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). UNAMA report issued on Monday recorded the highest ever number of civilian casualties in a single year, including record figures for children killed and injured in 2016. It revealed that there were 11,418 conflict-related civilian casualties, including 3,498 killed and 7,920 injured. Of these, 3,512 were children - 923 dead and 2,589 injured, up 24 per cent on the previous highest recorded figure, which is the highest since the UN began systematically documenting civilian casualty figures in 2009.

The report also revealed that Anti-Government forces, mainly the Taliban, were responsible for almost two thirds of the casualties while pro-Government forces were responsible for almost one quarter. The report noted that as in 2015, ground engagements between Anti-Government Elements and Pro-Government Forces, particularly in areas populated or frequented by civilians, remained the leading cause of civilian casualties, followed by improvised explosive devices (IED), suicide and complex attacks, as well as targeted and deliberate killings.

The ongoing situation in Afghanistan can be well depicted by the statement of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein – “The casualty figures painted a picture of the most vulnerable sectors of society paying the highest price… Children have been killed, blinded, crippled – or inadvertently caused the death of their friends – while playing with unexploded ordnance that is negligently left behind by parties to the conflict. Women continue to be brutally punished in parallel so-called ‘justice’ processes while religious minorities are targeted as they pray in their mosques… And the consequences of each act of violence ripple through families and entire communities that are left broken, unable to sustain themselves and largely failing to obtain any semblance of justice or reparation. After nearly 40 years of constantly evolving armed conflict in Afghanistan, a Daesh franchise has now surfaced as an additional, deadly component. It is about time the various parties to the conflict ceased the relentless commission of war crimes and thought about the harm they are doing to their mothers, fathers, children and future generations by continuing to fuel this senseless, never-ending conflict.”

The need of the time is to realize the sufferings that the poor civilians are going through and carryout necessary measures to eradicate these sufferings. Without realizing the pain and the misery of the people, it is impossible to soothe them and take initiatives to end these miseries and pain.