Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Trump’s Remarks Hurtful to Afghans

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Trump’s Remarks Hurtful to Afghans

Declaring his military plan about Afghanistan and South Asia in August 2017, US President Donald Trump, in addition to going on tirade against Pakistan, did not rule out the possibility of talks for political settlement as he said that “military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country. But strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace”. He also said, “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”
In his recent meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in White House, Trump said, “We have been there for nineteen years in Afghanistan…. We don’t want to stay as policeman.” It indicates that the US calls on Pakistan to facilitate its honorable exit from Afghanistan and put pressure on the Taliban to hold talks with the Kabul government to find a political settlement.
Meanwhile, Trump said that he could win the war in Afghanistan in a matter of days but he did not want to kill 10 million people. He added, “If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth, it would be gone, it would be over in, literally, in 10 days.”
Afghan officials have reacted to Trump’s abovementioned statements and asked for clarity. In a backlash to Trump’s remarks, former Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said that Genghis Khan and other invaders had same intentions.
Perhaps Trump’s reference to the death of 10 million people and Afghanistan’s destruction if he continued war, means that war could lead to heavy casualties and mammoth destruction in Afghanistan and he would have no option other than dropping bombs in the country.
The horrible consequences of war are clear to Afghan people. For example, New York Times reported that the United States had dropped more than 7,000 bombs, missiles and other munitions in Afghanistan – up from 2,365 in 2014. As a result, the UN reported that there had been 3,804 civilian deaths, including 927 children, in 2018. The report added that 32,000 civilians had been killed over the last decade.
But it should be considered that the Taliban militants are using civilians as “human shields”. They are the main cause of civilian casualties, in addition to being widely involved in their deaths in the wake of carrying out indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
The US forces also dropped the 21,600-pound GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) – nicknamed “mother of all bombs” – against IS-K in the Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province in April 2017.
Although I believe that Trump would have referred to the horrible consequences of war that would harm the country, he has to explain his words so that there will be no misunderstandings.
It should be noted that Afghanistan does not want the US to be the “policeman” but to end the conflict and support a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. Since the US has invested “blood and treasure” in the country, it should not be in vain. The US has to leave a stable Afghanistan behind or else the issue of 1990s will be repeated.
Meanwhile, Afghan people have made great sacrifices within almost the last two decades. A countless number of Afghan combatants and non-combatants have been killed and wounded by both sides – the Taliban militants and Afghan-US forces. To value their sacrifices, the US and NATO forces have to struggle for peace and stability.
Trump’s decision for seeking political settlement through negotiations is supported by the Afghan government and approved by regional states. Political pundits reiterated the failure of military deal saying that talks would be the best possible choice.
It is self-explanatory that civilian death toll is one of the highly sensitive issues for Afghan people and politicians. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in the last period of his presidency, criticizes the US strongly for the night-raid and civilian casualties. In turn, he refused to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US. Hence, the rule of war has to be observed in fighting against terrorism. That is, killing terrorists does not mean to simply drop as many bombs as possible – no matter where they hit. Killing 10 million people and destroying a country in 10 days would only mean that all NATO states were allowed to drop as many heavy bombs as they could without regard to the rule of war – such remarks are really hurtful to Afghan people who have suffered severely in the last 18 years.
Warring parties have to observe the humanitarian law and respect the rights and dignity of civilians. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court should be allowed to investigate war crime in Afghanistan and the war criminals have to be prosecuted and punished.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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