Taliban are failing to stop the juggernaut of killings in Afghanistan

Taliban are failing to stop the juggernaut of killings in Afghanistan

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A week ago, a tuition center in Kabul was attacked where students sat for a practice exam. The attacker, having shot the guards, blew himself up by exploding a huge device. 45 students, mostly girls, were killed while scores were wounded. The residents of the area are predominantly Hazara Shias.

Why have the Taliban not been able to stop the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians? Firstly, the law enforcement capability of the new government has many loopholes. A lack of trained manpower is at the heart of the unending spiral of violence perpetrated by militant or terrorist outfits. This is connected with the inability of the government to find resources to recruit, train and equip security forces in the country. In a country where salaries are not paid for months to employees, motivation alone cannot bring out the best in the security forces. Secondly, the government’s intelligence systems have simply broken down. Reliance is then placed on ‘volunteers’ collecting vital intelligence which is indispensable for dealing with terrorist groups. In other words, the government’s failure to establish basic institutions of a modern state have created an environment in which terrorists can plan and execute brutal attacks wherever they get a chance. Thirdly, there has been no emphasis on strengthening local government institutions because of the lack of financial resources.

In their private conversations, Taliban activists or leaders attribute the resurgence of Daesh violence to clandestine American support. Many Taliban representatives argue that the withholding of $7 billion of Afghan assets by the US is intended to weaken the Taliban government and create conditions for its total collapse. These claims remain unverified. But the fact is that withholding Afghan assets has caused a grave financial crisis for the new government. In a wider perspective, Washington is conscious of the fact that Chinese ingress into Afghanistan will increase and the West Asian country will get closer to the Chinese orbit. The refusal to release assets is considered to be a measure to prevent Afghanistan going into the Chinese sphere of influence. But this now seems to be backfiring.

A lack of trained manpower in the Taliban government is at the heart of the unending spiral of violence perpetrated by militant or terrorist outfits.

Rustam Shah Mohmand

The failure to prevent attacks by Daesh and other terror groups has created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity in the country from which nearly 100,000 trained doctors, teachers, technicians and investors have already fled, leaving a vacuum that will not be filled in the coming few years. And this has happened at a time when the services and expertise of people with skills and training were badly needed in Afghanistan.

It is time the Taliban wake up to ground realities and find ways to secure formal recognition of the international community. That is when the ball will be set rolling. Only then can pressure be brought to bear upon the US to release Afghan funds. One big reason for Washington’s refusal to release funds owned by Afghanistan is that no country in the world has raised the issue with the US.

For seeking formal recognition, all that Kabul is required to do is take a few simple steps like removing the ban on women’s higher education and acknowledging their rights to find jobs in the business and industry. As well as this, they have to give some representation to other ethnic minorities. This is no formidable task to accomplish and it does not go against their charter.

It is heartening to note that voices from among the senior leaders of Taliban are calling for a reversal of policy with regard to women’s education, and hopefully there will be a change on the issue soon.

Taliban must take advantage of the successes they have achieved. All warlords have fled the country. Nowhere is the writ of the government being challenged-- for the first time in more than four decades. The civil or factional fighting has ended. Only Daesh and a few other outfits need to be countered. For this to happen, credible institutions must be established, including of course an intelligence system to keep an eye on trouble.

- Rustam Shah Mohmand is a specialist of Afghanistan and Central Asian Affairs. He has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan and also held position of Chief Commissioner Refugees for a decade.

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