The New Normal
An Ever Increasing Insurgency
Afghanistan is witnessing an unprecedented stream of Taliban offensive in the last two years, very casual, fragmented insurgent activities confined in certain southern provinces, has spread drastically in relatively stable northern provinces. This along with other potential threats has become the new normal for the country’s citizens. It is a sad reality that people have become accustomed to witnessing and experiencing terror, losing loved ones, and hassling with endemic poverty over the years in Afghanistan. It is always expecting the worse in that part of the world, and the political leaderships have done little to none in changing this new normal to a better normal for its constituents.
Alarmingly as we speak, there are military operations underway in 23 of 34 provinces, which have had meager to none efficacy on the overall security spectrum. Afghanistan is again on the brink of losing a major province to insurgents, which will only add to the misery, mass destruction and internal displacement of the indigenous population. We clearly recall the devastating aftermath when Taliban captured the strategic northern province of Kunduz for 3 days. As dictated, they looted banks, indiscriminately killed civilians and burnt state and private infrastructures to the ground, causing millions of dollars in damages to private and public sectors equally.
No doubt insurgents enjoy both safe havens and potent financiers within and outside the country, they have cunningly modernized and enhanced their recruitment and procurement procedures, they are easily benefiting from illicit drug trafficking and the smuggling of the country’s precious metals to neighboring countries. On the other side, the Afghan army is experiencing serious flaws in its hierarchical management, resulting in a huge number of personnel fatalities on the battlefield. They lack a key component of a winning strategy in any guerilla war that demands institutional discipline, and efforts to dry up your opponents’ financial backbone at its core.
Evidently terrorists do not own banks or weapon factories, they are state sponsored and emanating from somewhere, to succeed curbing this menace, a clear regional approach besides raising the issue of their finances, safe havens, and recruitment mediums is required on the international podiums. Understandably, the NUG in Afghanistan given its current political and economic heterogenic setup and mishaps, is putting reasonable effort to prevent a possible footprints for IS and other insurgent elements and their ability to establish permanent training grounds in the country, but in a coalitional set up, the commander in chief, (the president) does not have the autonomy to proceed and speed up certain decisions unless consulted with his coalition partners. This lengthy process of decision making at prevailing circumstances has halted the effectiveness of acquiring tangible results on the battlefield and good governance.
Historically post any internal unrest, the Afghan leadership has been outrageous and vocal enough to quickly shift the blames on the neighboring Pakistan, and somehow alleviate the growing public outcry. Unfortunately, since the establishment of the interim authority in 2002, the preceding and the prevailing Afghan leaderships have failed to address, and find a credible solution to curb illegal movements along the long stretching border between the two countries, and gradually put an end to the growing anger and frustration resulting in worsening of the bilateral relations between the two nations with an even direr economic repercussions for both sides.
The question here is why do countries become hostile towards each other? Under any circumstances, a country is primarily tempted to disrupt peace and provide safe sanctuaries to that of its neighbors rogue elements, is either having a disputed borderline or a futile economic advantage in its neighbor’s internal turmoil. Bear in mind that insurgency at its core affects the national sovereignty and political stability in the region, no responsible state would write off a regional approach to preclude this growing menace reaching their respective borders. Afghanistan as a weak and economically dependent country direly requires an ever closer cooperation with its close and distant allies to plan, execute, and eventually neutralize any safe havens within its domain.
Sadly conflict ridden states are struggling with a large array of domestic problems and a growing public demand for better life and employment opportunities, which in turn adds to the already stockpiled dilemma of balancing focus on these given fronts. Initially the NUG particularly the president, put a tremendous effort to bring a regional harmony in tackling insurgency in the region, and effectively presented Afghanistan as a victim of terror that is unable to fight this costly war on its own, but in a coalitional set up, agreeing on issues far exceeds sensible time frames, resulting in a vacuum of military leadership and systematic military operations against the insurgents across the country.
Despite having experienced a devastating history of civil war based on prejudice and ethnic cleansing, Afghan leaders have always been infected with an endemic hatred phenomenon of prejudicial approaches. Nepotism and ethnic hegemony among all resident ethnicities in the country have paved the way for state enemies to exploit and further destabilize the country. Afghan statesmen knowingly have based their judgment in favoring their inner ethnic circles in lieu of merit based appointments, causing disengagement and lack of coordination in security apparatuses’ efforts in tackling insurgency. Unfortunately, incurring a loss of fifty young soldiers on average, fighting with empty stomachs, stolen allocated ammunitions, and other equipments do not ring any danger alarm to the leadership at all. We should not forget that governments are elected by people to serve their interests. In a democratic set up it is we the people that keeps the executive power in check, and through their representatives, they can depose and impeach their leaders if proven negligent and ineffective. Unfortunately, in mal functioning bureaucracies, democratic process are rigged, real representation is meager, and very often personal interests and suppression substitute the very legit aspirations of the country’s citizens.
Last but not least, the NUG in Afghanistan has a moral obligation to act upon fulfilling their campaign promises, and facilitate the platform for people centric; broad based, and mutually agreed reforms at its earliest. Unlike, foreign countries, the Afghans are quite forgiving and easy going when it comes to their elected officials’ deliverables and unhealthy actions, thus they have to respect their patience and appreciate their civil obedience. Perhaps less confrontation and accusation and more pragmatic approaches and prudency is required from the top leadership.
Naser Koshan / freelancer