Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

In Pursuit of Peace

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In Pursuit of Peace

Afghan nation bears the brunt of terrorism and civilian fatalities make the headlines in national and international media. The Taliban’s radical leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada remains adamantly opposed to peace talks and orchestrates deadly attacks against the National Unity Government (NUG) – which has asked the United Nations Security Council to include names of all terrorists, including Haibatullah, in its sanctions list. The graph of casualties has mounted dramatically within the two past years.  
Despite the NUG’s persistent urge for peace, “Afghanistan still remains a place for terrorism and extremism.” Following the futility of “war on terror”, the High Peace Council (HPC) was established to bring the Taliban to negotiating table; however the outcome was no more than signing a peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by a former Jihadi leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The peace agreement with HIA has not mitigated the militancy in the country and the Taliban continue their insurgency without hesitation.
Deaths from terrorism in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries increased by 650 per cent last year despite a marked fall globally as Islamic State (IS) and Boko Haram militants suffered military defeats at home but committed more attacks abroad – a report said last week.
The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) said worldwide there had been 29,376 deaths caused by terrorism in 2015, a drop of 10 per cent and the first fall in four years, as action against militants IS in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria cut the numbers killed there by a third. However, the report said the groups had spread their actions to neighboring states and regions, causing a huge increase in fatalities among OECD members, most of which are wealthy countries such as the United States and European nations.
It said 21 of the 34 OECD member countries had witnessed at least one attack with most deaths occurring in Turkey and France where coordinated attacks by IS gunmen and suicide bombers at the Bataclan music venue, a soccer stadium and several cafes in Paris last November killed 130 people.
Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and Turkey all suffered their worst death tolls from terrorism in a single year since 2000, according to the index which is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) think-tank.
In total, 23 countries registered their highest ever number of terrorism deaths. “While on the one hand the reduction in deaths is positive, the continued intensification of terrorism in some countries and its spread to new ones is a cause for serious concern and underscores the fluid nature of modern terrorist activity,” Steve Killelea, the IEP’s executive chairman, is cited as saying.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, which accounted for 72 per cent of all deaths, were the top five ranked countries in the GTI. The United States ranked 36th, with France 29th, Russia 30th and the United Kingdom 34th. The global economic impact of terrorism was assessed to be $89.6 billion with Iraq suffering the greatest impact, at 17 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
IS was the deadliest group in 2015, the report said, overtaking Boko Haram with attacks in 252 cities that led to 6,141 deaths. However, Boko Haram’s move into neighboring countries Niger, Cameroon and Chad saw the number of fatalities in these countries increase by 157 per cent.
The combatant and non-combatant casualties have increased to a great extent in Afghanistan and the fear and disappointed spread in the public air. In spite of the peace discourse, the Taliban pursue their sinister ideology through violence and bloodshed. To Afghans’ unmitigated chagrin, the political instability deteriorates and takes its toll on civilians, including women and children.  
Moreover, the protracted war has forced a large number of Afghan families out of their homes. About a million Afghans have been displaced internally in the past ten months due to the recent surge in violence. The majority of those displaced are from war-hit regions such as Kunduz, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces. In addition many are dealing with food shortages.
Political pundits believe that Russia and China and other central Asian countries can play a constructive role in fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, adding if these countries take robust action in this sphere, Afghanistan can be removed out of the ongoing crisis. “Central Asian countries, China and Russia in the structure of Shanghai Cooperation Organization can help Afghanistan to eliminate groups such as Daesh and Taliban.”
Contrary to the Taliban’s strong will for war and violence, a number of Afghan political leaders have, reportedly, moved to broker peace talks between government and the Taliban following secret talks between the two parties in Qatar recently. Officials confirmed that last month a meeting took place between the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Chief, Masoom Stanekzai, and Mullah Omer’s brother Abdul Manan in Qatar – the claim was refused by the Taliban, though.

Since the peace negotiation came to a stalemate repeatedly and the death of Omer’s successor Mullah Akhtar Mansour deteriorated the security situation and led to mistrust among the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), the public believe that it will never come to fruition anymore. The Taliban masterminds also seek to play this game in their own favor through setting hard preconditions, but there is still no certainty if they practice upon their words and fulfill their promise after having their preconditions met. Now, it is the readers to judge if the unmitigated insurgency comes to an end through unstable talks. 

Hujjattullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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