A bloody week

Jun 5, 2017
Last week’s devastating attack inside Kabul’s diplomatic district — arguably the most secure territory in the war-ravaged country — led to loss of over 80 innocent lives. This was the second deadly attack in a week and that too during the holy month of Ramazan. In recent years, Taliban and other militant groups have been declaring ceasefires during Ramazan. This year, however, no ceasefire was announced. A Taliban spokesperson quickly denied involvement in the attack. It is also plausible that given the high causality toll, Taliban or the group that carried out the attack may be reluctant to accept responsibility because it could turn public opinion against them. The Afghan government blamed the Haqqani network and Pakistan for orchestrating this gruesome attack. Once again, the attack has renewed blame-game between Kabul and Islamabad.
Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership promptly condemned the ghastly act of terror and expressed solidarity with Afghan brethren. In fact, Pakistani diplomats were also injured in the attack.
After the attack, public anger against the Afghan government has spiked. Protests in Kabul were made worse by increased tensions between rival factions within the Afghan government. Local administration and security forces confronted protestors demanding better security for the Capital and the country. Four people lost their lives during Friday’s protests as police fired live rounds to disperse protestors.
The situation was made worse when on Saturday three explosions ripped through the funeral of a demonstrator, who died a day earlier. Twenty people were killed and at least 80 were injured, according to data released by authorities. This has been one of the bloodiest weeks in Kabul with more than 80 dead and 450 injured in four days.
Continued violence has shattered the country’s tense calm. The worsening security situation necessitates cooperation between Afghan political forces, regional stakeholders and the international community. It is also a reminder for US President Donald Trump to make a clear policy decision regarding future of US engagement in Afghanistan. Continued instability in Afghanistan is against Pakistan’s national interest. Therefore, our diplomatic and military channels need to be proactive. Pakistan’s Prime Minister and the Army Chief may consider a joint visit to Kabul to express condolences and offer enhanced cooperation and coordination between security agencies of the two countries. Our political leadership ought to maintain diplomatic communication to address mistrust in the bilateral relationship. The time has come that Afghanistan and Pakistan commenced a serious conversation for ending the conflict. Both nations have paid a heavy price during the past 15 years. This vicious cycle of violence needs to end. Endlessly blaming India for our strained relationship with the western neighbour cannot be a substitute for a clear policy backed by domestic consensus. 
Daily Times, June 5, 2017

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