The enemy of my enemy

How does the government see them?

Editorial May 14, 2020

A gristly attack at a maternity hospital in Kabul on Tuesday left 16 people dead, including two newborn babies. Gunmen wearing police uniforms attacked Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital, where the Nobel Prize-winning international charity Doctors Without Borders runs a maternity clinic. The savages responsible murdered babies, pregnant women, and children, while injuring at least a dozen other people. While no group has taken responsibility, the evidence would suggest that the attack came from Daesh, the only group that has not treated hospitals as off-limits for attacks. After a bombing outside a hospital last year, the Taliban were apologetic, trying to explain that their target was actually the intelligence building next door. Daesh, meanwhile, showed no remorse while taking credit for the 2017 attack on a Kabul hospital which killed at least 49 people. Further evidence is provided by the fact that the night before the attack, Afghan intelligence claimed to have arrested a local Daesh leader.

Worryingly, the attack in Kabul was not even the deadliest attack of the day. A suicide bomber also attacked the funeral of a police commander in Nangahar, killing at least 24 people. Daesh is also known to be active in Nangahar. But even though the Taliban have denied responsibility, the Afghan government wasted no time in blaming them by name. Afghan national security adviser blamed the Taliban and “their proxies”, while President Ashraf Ghani said the government would go on the offensive against the Taliban and others. The Taliban actually made a much stronger argument, noting that the “heinous assaults” came when the Taliban are trying to negotiate for peace in the country, and that the biggest beneficiary of the continuing war in Afghanistan is in Kabul. They also accused the government of sheltering Daesh to use them as a tool against them. This points at a harsh reality. The Taliban see Daesh as the last legitimate enemy in their quest to retake the country. How does the government see them? 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2020.

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