Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Civilian Casualty and Restriction of Airstrike

Both Afghan and foreign officials maintain alike that civilian casualty is the evil product of the ongoing counter-insurgency struggle and severe measures should be taken to avoid it. Perhaps they also are in view not to support larger civilian casualties for the sake of lesser military death toll. After replacement of Top US and NATO commander General McChrystal with that of General David Patreaus, when the differences were becoming wider as today's on the same issue, efforts have been made to decrease the level of civilian casualty in the country, but, meanwhile, 2010 broke the record and was the deadliest year for both combatants and non-combatants.

Indubitably, non-combatant deaths are not only caused by US and NATO security forces, but Afghan Taliban, tribal warlords and Afghan security forces are all blamed for such evil incidents. According to international report released last year, Taliban were held responsible for over 60 percent of all civilian casualties. But the reflection of militant–caused casualties has been less as no spontaneous movement was held against them.

The case has been somehow similar to that of Afghan security forces. But the reaction against foreign forces has been frequently severe and violent. Last month when four people were killed in Takhar, people demonstrated which unfortunatel turned violent as many attacked several police stations and tried to attack German military headquarter. The situation turned ever grimmer after inaccurate airstrike in Helmand province which killed around 14 civilians, however, NATO apologized but Mr. President Karzia condemned and fiercely warned of repetition of such incidents.

Maybe, it is not only Afghans who react differently against similar mistakes committed by a foreigner or an Afghan, but this is not important. The key issue is here how to bring the soaring civilian casualties under control? President Karzai warned foreign forces and asked to decrease airstrikes and stop completely night time operations. But such stuffs only can relieve sensitive Afghans and cannot do any thing for the sake of Afghan civilians who lose their family members.

No body doubts, perhaps including President, that Taliban-led militants are more experienced in ground attacks, as compared to security forces under his command. Decreasing the level of air operations can only prove helpful to militants, who are responsible for over sixty percent of non-combatant deaths. Additionally, in ground operations the possibility is too high that civilians may get stuck in crossfire and lose their lives, without noticing who have shot them. If Mr. Karzia really wants to decrease civilian death toll, he has to talk with top US and NATO commanders to utilize higher military technology and assess ways leading to disposal of accurate information and determination of targets.