"This is what we call life in Afghanistan," President Hamid Karzai commented last week, after his brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai was shot dead by his own bodyguard in his own home. On Wali Karzai's death, the comment by the President was not more than a few sentences and he seemed greatly distressed. Last year Karzai wept over the future of his son, Mirwais, in open public saying he wants his son attend school in his own country, not Europe or elsewhere and this year he had to mourn his brother's death. It's been more than two years that Karzai has called upon the Taliban fighters to stop practicing violence and join the reintegration and reconciliation program. He has even pronounced them "brothers".
But to Taliban, Karzai's invitation is 'fake' and his tears are nothing more than "crocodile's tear" and according to its perception; Karzai administration is the puppet of the America with which there are no possibilities of table talks, although there have been claims of Taliban's readiness to talk.
Hamid Karzai is right. Yes! Life is so in Afghanistan. It will remain so – for a layman and for the president – until sympathy remains for the insurgents. By signaling sympathy towards Taliban, the government of Afghanistan and the international community are making a big mistake or in other words they are hammering on their own feet. Over the last few years, undoubtedly, Al-Qaida has seen great damages and it may not be a great threat for the West and rest of the world anymore. However, in the same years, Taliban has mushroomed. It has turned life into a hell in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The time is not far when they will launch attacks beyond these two countries. A country where the President weeps, mourning and grief are the fate of every family.
Here I remember the humorous comment of my colleague who - on the escape of around 500 Taliban from the biggest jail in Kandahar in April – had said, "If Taliban is successful to dig several meter long underground tunnel and free their followers, it would, one day dig a tunnel to the presidential palace." Indeed Taliban fighter and its spies are everywhere and president's office is not an exception. Nobody is safe, even those who reside behind thick security walls.
More than 90 percent of districts of Afghanistan are under varying influence or control of the insurgents. This is what the government itself admits. With more international troops deployed in Afghanistan last year and multiplication of efforts to recruit more people to Afghan National Army and Police, the security condition has drastically deteriorated. Afghanistan is reversing towards bad security which threats the planned development and reconstruction activities and also, the newborn democracy. The government claims to be strong enough to protect Afghanistan against its enemies, albeit ground realities speak out something else.
Over 2,500 coalition troops have been killed in fight against insurgency since 2001. Apart from human losses, there have also been huge financial losses as the billions of dollars of international aid have sunk in Afghanistan. Taliban was ousted and new window opened for the Afghans but with the passage of years the future of Afghanistan got vague. It got vaguer with announcement of drawdown plan of international troops by US government at an important juncture where insurgency has intensified and Afghan forces lack capability and adequate equipment to stand against it. After ten years of men and money sacrifices it seems like we are moving towards further uncertainty and vulnerability.
According to a recent UN report civilian killings have increased by 15 percent in first half of 2011 as compared to the same period in last year. The reason that has been stated to be majorly the intensification of Taliban assaults. It is anticipated that security condition will further be deteriorated as foreign troops would be gradually withdrawing from Afghanistan as Taliban think their victory is not that far.
The drawdown plans of NATO countries at a time when insecurity is at its peak and Afghan National Army and Police are lacking capacity and equipment is being considered to have horrific outcomes for Afghanistan.
The Afghan forces have yet to nurture to become competent enough to defend Afghanistan one their own. With the international troops starting to leave Afghanistan, concerns over future security of this country have become manifold among common people too. If on one hand corruption, illiteracy, high dropout rates, and infiltration of Taliban into the ranks of Afghan forces are considered severe hurdles for their development on the other, lack of proper and latest equipments makes Afghan army and police to be less confident. In a majority of the provinces the role of army is confined to a few kilometers around their bases.
The role the international community has played in rebuilding and advancement of Afghanistan should be acclaimed by every Afghan, albeit our government could not make proper uses of its presence. Still much remains to be accomplished in Afghanistan and actually, the time is running out for Western countries. 2014 is not that far and the challenge is hard. It is now making drawdown possible, strengthening Afghan troops and meanwhile defeating the terrorists to make sure they won't return. There is need for maintaining the development so far achieved and making environment further feasible for the newborn Afghan democracy to nurture. The sacrifices of international community and Afghanistan should not be allowed to go futile and for that purpose, there is a need for optimal level efforts. The negative economic and political impact that will be possibly left behind by the pull out of international troops needs to be encountered. And the time for that is today, not tomorrow.