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The Afghan defense ministry said on Wednesday that at least 26 Afghan soldiers have been killed in a Taliban attack on a military base in southern Kandahar province. At least 13 soldiers were also wounded in the bloodbath.

The Afghan air force said it carried out strikes backing up soldiers on the ground during the hours-long attack on the base, which began late Tuesday and ended in the early hours of Wednesday.

The camp is located in the remote Karzaii area of Khakrez district, near the border with restive Helmand, where the Taliban hold vast swathes of territory. The militants stole guns and vehicles as they retreated and Afghan military officials called the attack ‘very heavy’.

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A high casualty rate in Afghan National Army

Afghan security forces marred by a high death toll, desertions, and non-existent “ghost soldiers” on the payroll have been struggling to fight the Taliban insurgency since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

Casualties among Afghan security forces soared by 35 per cent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to US watchdog SIGAR.

Taliban have become innovative and bold in their attacks on ANA and Afghan police and have been slowly encroaching on major urban centers in various Afghan provinces.

In April at least 135 soldiers are believed to have been killed on a base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, one of the deadliest ever Taliban attacks on a military installation. Some sources put the toll as high as 200.

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Gunmen disguised as doctors stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital, the country’s largest military hospital in Kabul, killing dozens.

Meanwhile in early March gunmen disguised as doctors stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital, the country’s largest military hospital in Kabul, killing dozens. The Taliban have a heavy presence in Kandahar province and have launched repeated attacks on security forces there, including multiple assaults on military bases in May which killed dozens of soldiers.

The Afghan Taliban launched their self-styled spring offensive in April, heralding fresh fighting the group said would include “conventional attacks, guerrilla warfare, complex martyrdom attacks and “insider attacks”.

A U.S think tank’s viewpoint

Global Village Space with an aim to comprehend the US perspective on the dire situation in Afghanistan conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Marvin Weinbaum, Director of the Center for Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the Middle East.

Read more: Exclusive Interview: Pakistan an integral part of the Afghan solution;

According to Dr. Marvin, the possibility of a grand bargain with the Taliban to end violence and bloodshed in the country, even keeping in mind that they may not speak for everyone is a ridiculous assumption since the Taliban don’t want to be a part of the current system rather they want to impose a Sharia system.

According to Dr. Marvin, the possibility of a grand bargain with the Taliban to end violence and bloodshed in the country, even keeping in mind that they may not speak for everyone is a ridiculous assumption since the Taliban don’t want to be a part of the current system rather they want to impose a Sharia system. This if materializes, will be dangerous for the regional countries and it will send a message to other Islamists groups that overthrowing governments and imposing their own styles of administration is possible.

Anybody who is looking for an easy way out by getting Pakistan on board, it’s not going to happen. Pakistan like many other countries has kept its lines open to the Taliban all these years because it believes that they are assets for that future possibility that if Afghanistan fails Pakistan needs friendly Pashtuns for support.

While commenting on Pakistan, Dr. Marvin said that it is incorrect to believe that Pakistan has a chokehold on the Taliban insurgents and if it wants to it can very easily deliver them to negotiate or destroy them. The problem with this hypothesis is that Pakistan can’t dictate to the Taliban. It has never been able to dictate to the Taliban. So, anybody who is looking for an easy way out by getting Pakistan on board, it’s not going to happen. Pakistan like many other countries has kept its lines open to the Taliban all these years because it believes that they are assets for that future possibility that if Afghanistan fails Pakistan needs friendly Pashtuns for support.

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He also stated that majority of Afghan people want international troops to stay at least until ANA is capable enough to fend off the Taliban. He iterated that total withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan and cutting the monetary aid to the country will leave it at the mercy of Taliban and extremist groups like Islamic State which neither Afghan people nor international community could afford.

Possible way out of bloodshed and violence

Moreover, the rise of Islamic State has exacerbated the problems for President Ashraf Ghani’s government. The rise in casualties both among civilians and military personnel gives rise to the need of devising of an effective policy to put the violence to an end.

While Taliban forces may make advances inside Afghanistan, it would be incorrect to suggest that they would be able to control the entire country. At least not until the international forces are stationed there. Moreover, the rise of Islamic State has exacerbated the problems for President Ashraf Ghani’s government. The rise in casualties both among civilians and military personnel gives rise to the need of devising of an effective policy to put the violence to an end.

Read more: An ever-weakening Afghan National Army

The International community must play a role in convincing all the warring parties in Afghanistan to come to the negotiating table. The prime responsibility is on the US to assuage the concerns of various stakeholders including Pakistan. A grand bargain with the Taliban may not be possible with a military-heavy strategy that is in the pipeline. The classical style of negotiation by fighting and talking in tandem may not work in Afghanistan.

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