Civilian suffering continues in Afghanistan - GulfToday

Civilian suffering continues in Afghanistan

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The massive blast in a residential part of Kabul claimed several innocent lives.

Deadly violence has been taking a heavy toll on civilians in Afghanistan despite the ongoing peace negotiations and that’s not acceptable.

The massive blast in a residential part of Kabul on Monday night that claimed several innocent lives paradoxically has happened at a time when the insurgents and Washington are trying to finalise a withdrawal deal.

The bombing is the third major Taliban attack in as many days and there are no indications as yet that such senseless violence would end soon.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is in the Afghan capital to discuss a proposed deal, which would see the US withdraw troops in return for Taliban security guarantees. Afghanistan’s main TV station, Tolo News, was actually broadcasting an interview with Khalilzad when the Taliban claimed the attack.

The Afghan-born envoy, who has spent about a year negotiating with the Taliban, informed Tolo the US would pull troops from five bases across Afghanistan under a final deal if the Taliban honoured their end of the bargain.

Even as negotiations have entered what are widely considered to be the final stages, it is shocking that violence has actually surged across Afghanistan.

The Taliban now control or hold sway over roughly half of Afghanistan.

Attacks have surged in recent months, including Taliban assaults on two provincial capitals over the weekend, as the group seeks to strengthen its negotiating position not only with the US but with the Afghan government in the even more challenging intra-Afghan talks that are meant to follow a US-Taliban deal on Afghanistan’s future.

The Taliban have rejected talking with the government so far.

The number of US troops in Afghanistan is said to be around 14,000 and President Donald Trump last week said America would maintain a permanent presence of about 8,600 troops initially, even after a deal with the Taliban.

Meaningless violence has become a norm in the country. Afghanistan was the world’s deadliest conflict in 2018.

As per UN officials, at least 3,812 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of 2019 in the war against militant groups, including a big increase in the number of casualties caused by government and foreign forces.

The fighting has been forcing civilians to live under the constant threat of being targeted by militants or being caught up in ground fighting, or becoming inadvertent victims of air strikes by Afghan government and foreign forces.

More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, as per UN figures. More children were killed last year — 927 — than in any other over the past decade by all actors.

The pace of such atrocious attacks indicates that current measures in place to protect are not enough and need to be strengthened further. Those who organised such monstrous attacks need to be brought to justice and held to account.

All sides involved in the conflict should abide by international humanitarian law and take stern efforts to avoid civilian harm.

The Afghan people have suffered for too long for no mistake of their own and decreasing the suffering of the civilians should now be the immediate priority.

There is a strong desire among Afghan people for sustainable peace and that should be respected. The country has been bleeding for years and the situation has to change. Ordinary Afghans should not anymore be forced to live in constant insecurity and fear.

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