The public had a ball park estimate about the escalated militancy in Afghanistan. Insurgents continue inflicting casualties indiscriminately upon Afghan nation. The violation of human rights, mainly women and children’s rights, prevails across the country. Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada and the Taliban’s de facto leaders seem highly resolute to intensify their attacks and there is no gleam of hope for peace. The recent militancy in southern Afghanistan reveals the Taliban’s intension for war and violence.
Afghan police and army units took over from NATO the task of providing security for the country in 2015. Their first year coincided with the Taliban capturing the regional capital of Kunduz in the north. According to the US government’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), 6,785 Afghan soldiers and police were killed between January 1 and November 12. Another 11,777 were wounded. That was an increase of about 35 percent from all of 2015, when 5,000 members of the security forces were killed.
“In the first nine months of 2016, UNAMA documented 2,461 child casualties, a 15 percent increase on the same period in 2015. Ground engagements caused more than half of all child casualties in 2016,” said the report blaming Taliban-led anti-government forces for causing 61 percent of all civilian casualties. It further added that air strikes by pro-government forces caused 72 per cent increase in civilian fatalities; one third was caused by the international military forces.
The Taliban militants have ushered in heavy attacks in Helmand province. Reports say that fighting started on Monday and carried on for two days in Sangin district, an area where the armed group has made major gains over the past two years. Afghan Officials said the Taliban dug the tunnels to the checkpoints from nearby houses, “a new tactic” to attack government positions. Inasmuch as the militants intensified their attacks, the US soldiers, reportedly, carried out 15 air raids which killed at least 20 and wounded 40 Taliban insurgents.
Now that Barack Obama has left the White House after eight years of flip-flop on the longest war in America’s history, Afghanistan continues to be in turmoil. Despite paying a colossal cost in treasure and blood over the past decade and a half, Afghan nation still pays high sacrifice and suffer bitterly
from violence and carnage. Obama’s intentions have been good, but his policy was surrounded by perplexity all along the line – a drawdown of troops, jacking up deployment, arming the military with greater powers to hunt terrorists, ending the combat mission and then an abrupt return to the shifting battlefront. Granted, Al Qaeda suffered spectacular setbacks, notably the death of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Akhtar Mansour, during the Obama presidency. But the terrorist outfit is once again regrouping and returning to Afghanistan.
Pakistan also comes under terrorist attacks every now and then and I have constantly written that Afghanistan and Pakistan are in the same boat. On January 21, a terrorist attack in Parachinar caused 25 deaths and injured 87 people. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility, saying that it was exacting revenge for the killing of Asif Chotu, a leader of the sectarian militia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). He was killed in an encounter on January 18 in Sheikhupura, Punjab. It is intriguing that the TTP believes that killing civilian serves as retribution for the State’s action against the LeJ.
Now, Donald J Trump will have to deal with grim security challenges. In his inaugural ceremony, he said, “We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.” He further added, “The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action. Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done.” He also claimed that he would eradicate the “Islamic terrorists” from the surface of earth which is a highly surprising claim that has been ever made just before he came to the real ground. He has started with banning visas to the US to nationals from seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which are all Muslim-majority nations. His start came under severe criticism from different parts of the world, including the US.
Terrorism has turned into a global scourge, mainly with the establishment of self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq which is formed of radical militants carrying out terrorist attacks in many parts of the world and kill people on the grounds of their racial and religious backgrounds. Carrying out attacks in western countries, the Islamic State (IS) group has spread Islamophobia in the West. The IS group is also involved in militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its presence in the country will certainly deteriorate the security situation. As a result, a number of people have been murdered mysteriously on the basis of their race and color, for which the Taliban did not claim responsibility. The public believed that the murderers belonged to the IS group. Since the IS fighters are widely engaged in stoking sectarian violence, their presence behind the tragic incidents is a ball park estimate.
Eradicating terrorists, be it the Taliban, IS, or any other armed militants, from the surface of earth, as Trump claimed, is an excellent idea, but the question is that how? Trump should be cautious enough not to back the wrong horse in such a critical time.