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

A Triangle of Challenges Engulfs Government

Tragic incidents of murder make frequent headlines in Afghan newspapers. The Taliban fighters seek to intensify their attacks, especially in spring season. Afghan soldiers and civilians’ suffering and anguish continue unabated despite government’s repeated calls for peace. The protracted war filled the nation with a strong sense of disappointment. The heart-wrenching stories of riddled bodies of men, women and children hardly provoke the world’s sympathy for their endless continuation.
Taliban’s deadly attacks have outraged Afghans’ conscience. It is likely that there is no room for truce or reconciliation with the Taliban outfit. Warring factions are still of the opinion to either impose their warped minds on individuals with the barrel of gun or simply kill them via suicide bombings and fatal attacks. The militants’ fundamental ideology – which has been engendered by violence, parochial mindset and intolerance – knows no human and moral boundaries. In other words, the militant fighters are radicalized in the strongest possible way and know nothing except for shooting and killing. The National Unity Government (NUG) is hoped to show zero tolerance towards the Taliban’s heavy offensives and put an end to the High Peace Council (HPC) – which was established in 2010 to bring the Taliban elements to the negotiating table – for no tangible result.
The NUG encounters with three major challenges. First, the Taliban outfit puts pressure on the state through continuing its guerilla-style fighting. Even though the government has intensified its attacks against the Taliban, the door for negotiation is left open for them. Moscow Conference was held on April 14, to underline the reconciliation process and Russia offered to host peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul. However, the Taliban carried out one of the deadliest attacks a week after the conference, on April 21, to signal their refusal to hold talks with the government. The Friday’s assault on an army base in the northern Balkh province has reportedly killed 140 and wounded 160 people, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.
The last major attack against a military site in Afghanistan was in early March when fighters disguised as doctors stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital – Kabul’s largest military hospital – killing dozens.
Afghan security forces, beset by killings, desertions and non-existent “ghost soldiers” on the payroll, have been struggling to beat back the Taliban since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission on December 2014. The US watchdog SIGAR says that casualties among Afghan security forces rose by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed.
Second, the ISIL group has gained firm foothold in the country. ISIL attempts to stoke sectarian violence through targeting ethnic minority groups on the grounds of their race, color and creed. It also radicalizes and coerces people into joining its group. To react against the ISIL’s destructive role, the US military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on its hideouts, on the eve of Moscow Conference, in eastern Afghanistan, killing nearly a hundred militants.
Third, there is mistrust among Afghan officials within the government’s apparatus. Following the removal of Ahmad Zia Massoud, who held the position of the Special Representative of the President of Afghanistan in Reform and Good Governance, officials’ exchanges of rhetoric widened a gap among authorities. Massoud, however, strongly rejected the dismissal saying his appointment had come as part of deal and that Ghani had no right or power to sack him. He is said to have launched consultations with different political blocs on setting up a transitional government. “President Ghani should quit and the transitional administration will be tasked to pave way for holding presidential and parliamentary elections,” he is cited as saying.
In addition to this, a tension broke out between Ghani and his first deputy Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum earlier which went viral in national and international media. Dostum repeatedly complained that he had been sidelined and had no authority as First Vice President. He is believed to be totally incapacitated after the tension.
Now the NUG will have to deal with the aforementioned challenges. The Taliban have intensified their attacks, whereas the ISIL group is undermined following the said bomb. It is self-explanatory that with the intensification of Afghanistan’s military attack against the Taliban that inflicted heavy casualties on them – their high-profile leaders were also among the dead – they took revenge. It is a principal all around the world that a nation will not gain victory without devoting its life. However, the government is expected to give no chance for the guerilla fighters to carry out such massive attacks, especially in the heart of an army base. The state must reinforce the country’s intelligence besides intensifying the military deal so as to foil similar assaults.

Moreover, the mistrust within government’s machinery will not only pave the ground for warring parties to fish in the troubled waters but also widen the rift between state and nation. To put it succinctly, disagreement among the officials will push the country into further violence. They have to put an end to their disagreements. Considering all the aforementioned challenges, the government is supposed to tackle them forthwith or else the nation’s sufferings will never come to an end.