WEB DESK: Afghan Taliban are not only men of their word but also of action. As snow melts and landscape clears up for action they launch the spring offensive. That this spring their push for power is harder, possibly for the reason that under their new leader, Mullah Mansoor, is a fact that has found its best expression in their growing unity.
Even when their opening shot to capture Kunduz did not succeed their attack in Kabul on Tuesday was simply devastating. One of their suicide-bombers blew up an explosives-laden truck in the parking lot near the building housing National Directorate of Security (NDS), killing some 30 persons including women and children. Some 320 were wounded, some critically in this most deadly attack in the Afghan capital since 2011.
Codenamed ‘Operation Omri’, in the name of the first Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, the latest spring offensive is expected to “renew the Jihadi determination” and score “strategic victories and cleanse the country of remaining foreign invaders and their malignant and corrupt rebel servants”. The attack took place in busy, central Kabul, only a day after the Taliban fired rockets ‘to target John Kerry’.
Both the President Ashraf Ghani and Nato commander General Nicholson insist that being incapable of confronting the Afghan security forces on the battlefield the Taliban have resorted to terrorist attacks. How come the Taliban have powerfully resurged in Afghanistan where some 350,000 Afghan troops and nearly 9,500 foreign soldiers are in the field to ensure peace in Afghanistan? The Americans too have reacted, almost perfunctorily, by reiterating that the attack in Kabul ‘deepens’ their support for the government and people of Afghanistan – even when the fact is that this longest US foreign military engagement is almost missing from the addresses made by the presidential candidates.
As if the atmospherics for revival of Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group (QCG) were already not dismal there is this cryptic comment by who else but Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah who has postponed his upcoming visit to Pakistan after “initial evidence of today’s suicide attack”. Blaming Pakistan for the Afghan rulers’ failure to either defeat the Taliban in the battlefield or to coax them to come over to their side is not something new. But given the availability of QCG platform for constructive engagement now should have been their best option.
Afghan Taliban are a reality not only in ongoing civil war in Afghanistan but, more importantly, also in the context of constructive engagement. The Taliban are on the offensive, which is getting tougher by the day. But for the government in Kabul peace parleys should be the first preference. They are mistaken if they think, or being told by somebody, that the Afghan army can defeat Taliban.
The truth is that more than quarter of a million-strong Afghan army is still incapable of taking on the ragtag insurgent groups and militias. And as long as the spring offensive lingers resumption of Afghan peace talks is a distant possibility. But in the meanwhile the QCG members should try thinking out more options, one of which could be that the Ghani-Abdullah duo should set them apart from what their predecessor Hamid Karzai was.
Also, the QCG should convince itself that the Afghan Taliban are no more an affiliate of the al Qaeda and that they are essentially an Afghan nationalist movement and therefore not a threat to international peace and security.
Source: Business Recorder