Escalating violence in Afghanistan reveals the anarchy of its weak government
On Saturday, Kabul witnessed yet another senseless massacre of innocent civilians in a wedding hall suicide bombing that resulted in carnage, and more death and destruction than seen in the city in recent years.
In a western neighbourhood of the capital, a suicide bomb ripped through the building, causing 63 people to die and left almost 200 seriously injured. Most of the guests belonged to the Hazara Shiite community — a community that has come under frequent attacks by Daesh in the last two years .
But even before the wedding hall tragedy, the city had experienced a frightening uptick in violence. Deadly attacks were launched in several areas, not only on security installations but also on purely civilian targets like shopping malls and mosques.
Civilian casualties in the unending conflict have soared in recent months. According to the UN, most civilian casualties are being caused by the indiscriminate aerial bombing of both the Afghan government bombers and US/NATO forces. In the first six months of this year alone, nearly 1400 civilians have been killed with about 2400 more wounded. From March 2018 to March 2019 a total of 11,212 civilians were either killed or wounded in Afghanistan, according to a UN report.
As news spreads of an imminent agreement reaching its conclusive stages between the Taliban and the US, the credibility of the government is rapidly evaporating.
A significant reason for the rise in attacks is the low morale and discipline of the Afghan national army. Within the ranks, desertions are common. Corruption has increased and the civilian government in Kabul is no longer in control while many within the regime believe it has gone past its mandated period. These are the people deliberately promoting chaos for their own vested interests.
Instead of strengthening the security umbrellas of the main cities, the government’s priority is now squarely on manipulating and winning the forthcoming election next month. It appears the country is drifting into anarchy as the writ of an incompetent government weakens by the day.
There is yet another dimension as to why people are losing hope in the administration’s ability to cope with rising incidents of crime and violence. As news spreads of an imminent agreement reaching its conclusive stages between the Taliban and the US, the credibility of the government is rapidly evaporating.
In anticipation of a deal with the Taliban and the emergence of an interim government, many are weighing in on the pros and cons of switching loyalties. This has further added to the huge uncertainty that prevails in the country’s political circles.
The deepening internal strife, rivalries and increasing opposition to Ashraf Ghani’s government, is now manifesting itself in acute maladministration at every level. More and more people are being displaced and impacted by poverty. There are 300,000 heroin addicts in the country and unemployment has surged to 50 percent. The Taliban control more than half the country in terms of collecting taxes and running a parallel system of delivering justice and resolving disputes.
This then, is an untenable situation. The sectarian hatred and acrimony generated by attacks like Saturday’s brutal suicide bombing in a wedding hall, further dampens hopes that the government might ever be able to extend its writ to the whole country.
No wonder many desperate Afghans are now waiting for a new leadership that can deliver peace and security to a country that is on edge. Many are keenly awaiting the outcome of US-Taliban talks in the hope that a new dispensation might emerge to end the conflict, and ease the suffering and pain inflicted upon innocent people for too many years.
Such is the level of fatigue and despondency in Afghanistan that it is probable the population would support any group or party that resolves to finally deliver peace that has evaded ordinary people for much too long.
To this end, all eyes are now on the US-Taliban peace talks in Doha, with the hope that they will conclude before September comes.