Failures of US, Afghan forces

With no seriousness being shown in engaging the warring factions for a political dialogue, situation is fast worsening in Afghanistan with each passing day. In recent times, there have been an increased number of terror attacks and in the latest series of attacks and suicide bombings on Saturday, about 30 people mostly soldiers were killed and more than a dozen wounded. In the biggest attack, Taliban stormed an army base in the Western province of Farah killing at least 24 soldiers.
The attacks once again exposes structural weaknesses of the Afghan security forces also badly hit by desertions and corruption to handle the complex security situation. Afghan soldiers have taken what the UN describes as ‘shocking’ casualties since international forces ended their combat role at the end of 2014, though troop casualty figures are no longer released. Just over the past one month or so, a luxury hotel, military compound and a crowded street have been attacked in the Afghan capital, claiming the lives of more than 130 people with city remaining on high alert fearing further violence. Amidst this serious situation the Afghan government, probably under the US pressure, contacted the Qatar government to close Taliban’s office there. Though the office since its establishment seven years ago has not produced any positive results to take forward the peace process, yet shutting it down at this time reflects that the Afghan government lacks the will to sit across the Taliban — who according to latest BBC reports control about seventy percent of territory in Afghanistan. In addition, the IS (Daesh) has also made its inroads in the country despite presence of US contingents.
As was anticipated, Trump’s policy aimed at focusing more on military solution, is taking the matters towards worse much to the miseries and disappointment of Afghan people who over the last many decades only have seen intense bloodshed and violence. Indeed, there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict, something repeatedly stressed by Pakistan, and both the US Administration and the Afghan government will have to tread the path of peace process if they are really interested to give the Afghan people a healing touch. While Pakistan, China and Russia have always shown willingness to support and facilitate the peace process in the war torn country, it is also time for Washington to revisit its policy. Murree process had succeeded in bringing the Taliban to the table for serious negotiations but those inimical to peace sabotaged the process for their own vested interests. Nonetheless, we have no doubt in saying that the warring factions can again be wooed back to sustainable dialogue provided there is willingness and sincerity of purpose for peace. Blame game or making others a scapegoat for own failures will not help but further complicate the matters.
While it is important that Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US remove their mutual misunderstandings through consultations, it is time to revive the QCG with the spirit to take forward the reconciliation process without any expediency. The path will be long and tedious but undeniably there is no other option to restore peace in the lives of Afghan people and defeat terror monsters such as IS. By announcing confidence building measures and showing restraint on the military front, the vital peace process can move forward with success.

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