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No end to the bloodshed

 MPost |  2016-04-20 22:12:20.0  |  New Delhi

The cycle of violence in Afghanistan claimed 30 lives on Tuesday when a Taliban truck bomb ripped through central Kabul. Subsequent to the blast, Taliban insurgents were involved in a fierce firefight with government forces.  The blast happened in a crowded area, near several government offices and a busy bus stop. This latest attack is part of the Taliban’s annual spring offensive against the government, which was announced last week. “Even as the Taliban stretch Afghan forces throughout the country, with fighting raging across multiple provinces, complex urban attacks remain crucial to their insurgency,” according to a report in the New York Times. “The urban attacks bring the insurgents what even major battlefield gains in remote areas of the country cannot: headlines and a disruption of daily life that increases pressure on the government.”  Fourteen years after the US invasion, Afghanistan continues to stand on one knee. The US-backed regime propped up in Kabul has been unable to establish its authority with the Taliban gaining ground. When the Taliban was toppled, the invading US-led forces sought to rebuild a nation torn by the war. Similar to the situation in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, pre-2001 Afghanistan had seen a Taliban regime that exerted total control over warring tribal factions. After the invasion, neither were the institutions required to rebuild the country established nor did the US-propped Kabul regime exerted the sort of control. Distracted by the Iraq invasion, the US-led forces quite clearly neglected Afghanistan and by 2006, the Taliban had made their way back as a formidable force. 

The Afghan army and police today, despite extensive logistical and military support, are not up to the task of defending the nation’s security. As a result, the US has sought Pakistan’s help to initiate a dialogue process between the Afghan Taliban and Kabul. The Afghan Taliban operates out of Pakistan, under the patronage of the Pakistan Army. It would be fair to suggest that the script has gone terribly wrong for both Kabul and the US. “Instead of compelling the Taliban leadership to talk, it’s (Pakistan) allowed their largest offensive in years to surge forward. In effect, it’s stringing Afghanistan along, until the Taliban bring the government to its knees. Islamabad’s compulsions are simple. Pakistan can’t risk the Afghan Taliban joining hands with the Pakistani Taliban networks and the Islamic State led by Khan Saeed, who want to overthrow the government. That could end in a war larger than the Pakistan army is prepared to fight. It is simply in no position, therefore, to restrain the Taliban,” an Indian expert on strategic affairs said. Suffice to say, the civil war in Afghanistan is unlikely to end anytime soon.  

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