Surge in Afghan violence

All stakeholders must also realise that they must not squander a rare opportunity for peace

January 19, 2021

Violence continues in Afghanistan, to the detriment of the ongoing peace talks in Doha. It’s been more than a month and half that the Taliban and Afghan government representatives had reached an agreement in the Qatari capital on how to carve out a way forward in case of a deadlock in the talks. The December 1 agreement — which had actually come up with a framework of rules that ‘would guide’ deliberations on major issues — did offer some hope for moving forward on substantive issues and was seen as a significant step forward.

However, there has been an upsurge in the violence ever since — quite obviously because even a shred of hope for peace is no good news for spoilers. Kabul and other cities are witnessing a new trend of targeted killings aimed at high-profile figures, including politicians, journalists, activists, doctors and prosecutors. In recent weeks, at least 10 government officials and their aides have been killed, mostly in Kabul, by small, magnetic bombs that are slapped under vehicles. And last Sunday, two female judges of the Supreme Court were gunned down in an early morning ambush in the capital city. Many journalists and activists are reported to have left the country to avoid being the next targets.

President Ashraf Ghani has blamed the attack on the judges on the Taliban. This mistrust, together with Ghani’s last week meeting with the visiting Indian NSA, Ajit Doval, does not bode well for the future of the parleys in Doha. Taliban, on their part, would be working in the interest of peace if they at least denounce the recent attacks on civilians and high-profile figures, some of whom have been claimed by the Islamic State. All other stakeholders must also realise that they must not squander a rare opportunity for peace and must work towards ending the four decades long war and violence in their country.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2021.

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