News Analysis |
A UN probe into the airstrike carried out by the United States Air Force in Helmand last week confirmed the death of 23 civilians along with 7 Taliban Insurgents. “Initial findings indicate that the vast majority of the victims were women and children,” the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a report, adding that at least three people were also injured in the attack.
The incident took place during an operation involving Afghan and international military forces when international military forces conducted an airstrike following engagements between the forces on the ground and Taliban, the statement added.
“We seek a peace agreement in which the Afghan Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society,” Ghani told an international conference on Afghanistan in Geneva.
The common people of Afghanistan are the direct and most affected section as they end up dead or wounded in both insurgency and counter-insurgency operations. Over 31,000 reported and confirmed civilian deaths are attributed to the prolonged war whose end is far from sight. Just from January to September this year, as many as 8,050 people are killed and wounded in the events of violence.
The number of civilian deaths in the Afghan war has reached a record high, continuing an almost unbroken trend of nearly a decade of rising casualties. The year 2017 was declared as the worst year for in terms of civilian collateral damage since the beginning of the war in 2001.
The number of deaths of women and children grew especially fast, primarily due to the Taliban’s use of homemade bombs, which caused 40% of civilian casualties in just the first six months of 2017, according to UN figures released. Child casualties increased by 9% to 436, compared with the same period last year, and 1,141 children were wounded.
Female deaths rose by 23%, with 174 women killed and 462 injured. The current year has comparatively been better but it also saw some of the worst bloodsheds in the civil war, including the 48 teenagers who were killed in a suicide attack on the tuition center in Kabul.
The United States is engaged in an alternate way, other than violence, to bring the 17-year long adventure to an end. The diplomatic efforts suggest that the US is desperate more than ever to move out of the black hole which is engulfing its resources without any particular gain or strategic win. Both Taliban and the US state department officials, Alice Wells before and now Zalmay Khalilzad, are having the rounds of negations to discuss the way forward.
The idea of national integration via an inclusive strategy seems worth trying but it is hard to say that the Taliban would go for it. They have rejected the credibility of the Afghan government altogether until now.
After the brief ceasefire agreement between the Taliban and Afghan government during the three days of Eid Ul Fitr, a hope emerged for a long-term prospect where peace could be negotiated without having to fight the war simultaneously. Following the three days truce which saw the jovial scenes of Taliban fighters and security officials embracing each other on the occasion of Eid, the proposal has been presented multiple times and rejected every time by the insurgent group.
Ghani’s Peace Plan
President Ashraf Ghani is hopeful to achieve the objective of sustainable peace in Afghanistan after he formed “12 strong teams” to negotiate with the different stakeholders. He presented what he called “The roadmap to peace” at the United Nations on Nov, 28 which focuses on the inclusion of the Taliban into the democratic setup.
“We seek a peace agreement in which the Afghan Taliban would be included in a democratic and inclusive society,” Ghani told an international conference on Afghanistan in Geneva. The government has formed “the required bodies and mechanisms to pursue a peace agreement,” Ghani said, adding: “We are now moving ahead into the next chapter of the peace process.”
The idea of national integration via an inclusive strategy seems worth trying but it is hard to say that the Taliban would go for it. They have rejected the credibility of the Afghan government altogether until now. It remains to be seen how the 12 strong negotiating teams could bring what has been the aspiration, but a virtual one so far, the peace in Afghanistan.