Afghanistan: Delusion of peace and increasing civilian casualties

US President Donald Trump seems to be serious to end the longest war in history of America and withdraw its forces from Afghanistan as he had promised, and wants to use this in 2020 presidential polls

Photo Courtesy: Social Media
Photo Courtesy: Social Media

Nazir Ahmad Razzaqi

The ninth round of negotiations between the Taliban and the United States came to an end in Doha, the capital of Qatar with draft of agreement while the flames of war are engulfing every part of Afghanistan.

Pol-e-Khomri, the capital of Baghlan province in the northern part of Afghanistan has been besieged by the Taliban for six days and no one is allowed enter or exit the city. Even a father was unable to take his infant patient to Kabul for further treatment, he told TOLOnews.

In the west of Afghanistan, the Taliban initiated a full-fledged war on Farah province on September 6 and occupied many strategic parts of the city including Police Recruitment Office. Afghan forces forced them to withdraw but they are reportedly still damaging the city and destroying private properties of the citizens.

Since last year, the United States and the Taliban have held discussions over an agreement which focused on four major issues: Taliban will guarantee that they will not allow any other terrorist groups to use soil of Afghanistan to conduct attacks on the United States and its allies; withdrawal of the entire foreign forces; intra-Afghan dialogue; and permanent ceasefire.

But Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States’ Special Representative for Afghanistan, in his latest interview to TOLOnews said that they only reached an agreement on the first two issues; the withdrawal of the foreign troops and Taliban’s commitment to not let any armed group use Afghanistan for their terrorist activities.

US president, Donald Trump seems to be serious to wind up the longest war in the history of America and withdraw its forces as he promised in his presidential campaign in 2016 and he wants to use this ‘trump card’ in 2020 election claiming that he has fulfilled his promises. The war in Afghanistan is now considered the deadliest conflict in the world causing more casualties rather than Syria and Yemen.

In recent months, the conflict in Afghanistan has intensified and the pattern of violence has dramatically changed and the vast majority of those being killed are Afghan civilians and Afghan soldiers. After Khalizad’s approval of agreement with the Taliban “in principles” at the end of the ninth round of talks, two gruesome attacks in one week took place in Kabul.

As a result, 16 civilians were killed in Green Village attack on September 2 and on September 5 as many as 10 civilians were killed in Shash Darak. This shows a complete lack of commitment on part of the Taliban for peace.

One the other hand, Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shah Massoud who was the leader of North Frontier against the Taliban before the US and NATO troops came in the scene, took a pledge to follow his father’s path on September 5. He called all Jihadi leaders to unite and defend Afghanistan against any kind of terrorist group.

The government of Afghanistan considers itself as the only legitimate source that can negotiate with the Taliban, but the Taliban does not recognise the Afghanistan government and they call it “Kabul Administration”.

They believe that the US and NATO troops are responsible for uprooting their emirate and have installed a puppet regime in Kabul. They therefore, consider the US to be the main adversary and not the government of Afghanistan which will perish as soon as western financial and military supports terminate.

On September 5, Vice Presidential candidate and former chief of intelligence Service, Amrullah Saleh addressed a gathering in Kabul and said, “the peace process is a plot and those who run the process want to divide Afghanistan and we never surrender to a cruel masked bond. It does not mean that we are against peace.”

President Ashraf Ghani emphasises on presidential election because he believes that if the Taliban really wants to negotiate then ceasefire is the first step and intra-Afghan negotiations should start in Kabul or anywhere on the soil of Afghanistan.

“Peace with a group that is still killing innocent people is meaningless,” said the Afghan president. Hence, even if the Taliban and the United States reach an agreement, the Afghans themselves need to sort out a myriad of key internal issues including ceasefire, intra-Afghan dialogue, power sharing, and formation of a new pervasive political system - but it seems unlikely because from the Taliban side no step for establishing peace has been taken.

On the contrary, they have increased their deadly attacks on cities. If the Taliban and Afghan government are unable to reach an agreement, which is more likely to happen as per several experts, Afghanistan will remain a hub of war and instability and it will once again become a haven for terrorist groups which is not only a threat to the peace and security of Afghanistan, but also a threat to the regional and international security.

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