Millennium Post

Who cries when Afghan bleeds?

Who cries when Afghan bleeds?
Saturday is the first working day of the new week in Afghanistan and when an ambulance loaded with explosives blew up in a busy street close to the interior ministry office in Kabul around lunch time, it not only resulted in the death of 95 people and injuring hundreds of others, it also put a question mark on the efficacy of US President Donald Trump's policy of hot pursuit against the Taliban and its affiliates ISIS and Haqqani group. Taking a departure from his predecessor Barack Obama's policy of winding up its military operation and gradually exiting the country, Trump administration has not only reinforced its military presence in the country but also authorised aggressive air-strike against the Taliban and its bases in its bid to force them to come to the negotiating table. Apart from the Saturday's blast, the country has seen a siege of Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul by militants resulting in the death of at least 20 people and an attack on the office of Save the Children in Jalalabad, all in the very first month of the new year. Realising that neighbouring country Pakistan has indulged in doublespeak by supporting the Taliban on the one hand and promising the US to be its partner in its fight against the Taliban on the other, the Trump administration has castigated Pakistan in unequivocal terms in the past weeks and has also suspended nearly $2 billion of civil and military aids to the country. Along with the international community, India has condemned the attack and promised to provide all possible help to the war-ravaged country and its people. Enraged over the terror strike on the World Trade Centre twin towers in New York on 9/11 of 2001 and the threat that organised terrorism posed to international security, the George W Bush administration launched Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 with airstrikes against Al-Qaeda and its chief Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Bush Junior vowed to teach Al-Qaeda and everybody else in the terror business that there is serious price to pay if one hurts America or its interests. US troops in Afghanistan, which numbered 1,300 in November 2001, rose to 1 lakh by August 2010. A more peace-loving and diplomatic US President Obama brought the number down to 8,400 by March 2017, in pursuit of a policy that would see the American troops completely existing the country and leaving the local security forces to take care of the internal security threats. The 8000-odd US security personnel left in the country were assigned the task of providing training for this purpose. The American resolve to revenge the twin tower attack, however, does not seem to abet even after a decade with the Trump administration renewing offensive against Afghan Taliban and those supporting it. As per a CNN report, the US has borne a steep price for its war against terror in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Between 2001 and 2016, it has incurred a cost of $783 billion in Afghan war (against $805 billion in Iraq). During the period, 42,100 Taliban and other militants were killed. The civilian casualty stood at 31,419 and 30,470 Afghan military and policemen were killed. The US lost 2,371 and its allies 1,136 troops deployed in the country while the number of casualties of contractors, aid workers, and journalists stood at 3,946. The total war-related casualty stood at 111,442. Another estimate suggests that at least 360,000 additional people may have died in Afghanistan alone due to direct and indirect causes of the war. The American war in Afghanistan was preceded by at least two decades of Soviet occupation of the country that too cost massive loss of life and destruction of resources. One of the poorest and least developed countries in the world having a population of little over 3.5 crore, a majority of the people (as high as 85 per cent as per a survey) believe that poverty, corruption and bad governance are the main causes of the current turmoil; only 15 per cent believe that Taliban is responsible. Previous to the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban used to get money from Pakistan's ISI who in turn was getting the money from the US to fight against the Soviet occupation. Immediately before the US invasions, Afghanistan produced 11 per cent of the world's total opium output, today its share is 93 per cent, half of the country's GDP. The Afghanistan government's control is restricted to less than 65 per cent of the country whereas the Taliban controls both the opium cultivation and many of the provinces. Reacting to the Saturday's attack President Trump has said it "renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners."
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