Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Now, the Spring Offensive has Started!


Now, the Spring Offensive has Started!

After a large scale and daring attacks, Taliban seem to have started their "Spring Offensive". It has not been a long time since the NATO officials declared that Taliban's Spring Offensive is nowhere to be seen. Now, the offensive is quite evident and seems to be over-showing itself with its ugly manifestation. It would not be incorrect to say that the expectations of peace from Taliban have been shattered into thousand pieces after these incidents.

The magnitude of the incidents, their influence and the most importantly their objectives clearly show that Taliban are up to a very costly bargain. The invitations of reconciliation and peace-talks do not seem to be very galvanizing for them.

Even the appointment of Sallahuddin Rabbani, the son of Burhanuddin Rabbani – the previous chief of HPC, as the new head of High Peace Council (HPC) does not seem to be attractive for them. Or does it really matter for them that who is appointed the head of HPC if they are not in a mood to talk to government organized body? What they did to the previous head of HPC is not hidden from anyone.

Keeping in mind all these indications it is weird to note that the government and international community are showing extra-soft corner for Taliban and they are emphasizing that the transition and withdrawal processes must be made hastier.

The attacks were carried out in four different provinces - Kabul, Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia, wherein they were able to reach very close to the most secure buildings and offices with a heavy load of their weapons. The most mentionable of these assaults were carried out in the capital Kabul, which has been transitioned to Afghan forces recently.

Taliban were able to occupy and set their positions in different under-construction buildings in Sherpur, Darul Aman, Paktiakot and Pul-i-Charkhi from where they were able to target the most secure government and diplomatic mission buildings. According to Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, the U.S., German and British embassies and some coalition and Afghan government buildings took direct and indirect fire.

The unconfirmed reports also suggest that Embassy of Japan and Russia were hit with RPG's, meanwhile it is confirmed that tens of RPG's and innumerable rounds of bullets were fired by the Taliban attackers. The extensiveness of the attacks can be judged by the fact that they lasted from 10-19 hours. Though Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi, addressing a press conference mentioned that the attacks in Kabul lengthened because security forces were careful in repelling the insurgents to prevent civilian casualties, he could not satisfy the concerns regarding the capability of Afghan forces to deal with this kind of situations.

In Nangarhar province Taliban targeted Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and the airport in Jalalabad. The attacks were through detonation of explosive-laden vehicles and casted its horrendous impacts hours after the attacks.

The attacks in Logar were very extensive and long-lasting like that of Kabul. In the attacks in Logar, the Taliban attackers targeted the governor's office. As a result of these attacks, 47 people, including militants and 65 others were injured. The dead included 36 Taliban attackers, 8 security men and three civilians. However, Taliban who claimed responsibility for the attacks said that 220 Afghan and international soldiers were killed, which seems to be an exaggerated figure. However, the government figures, most of the times, seem to understate the numbers.

Bismillah Mohammadi has, talking about the objective of the attackers, said, "The terrorists tried to harm the process of transferring security to the Afghan forces, but they are not able to do it. They want to create fear among the people." Though these attacks may not reverse the process of transition of security but they were able to create fear among the people and that will last for many days to come.

Talking about the culprits behind the attack, Bismillah Mohammadi has claimed, "One terrorist who was arrested in Nangarhar province confessed, saying 'It was the Haqqani network that launched these attacks.'" Haqqani network has been held responsible for different high-profile attacks in the country.

The last years threatening attacks in the heart of Kabul were also claimed to be carried out by the same network. There may be Haqqani network behind the attacks but that will only be verified after the investigations are completed.

However, it should be noted that the network is closely linked with Taliban. Taliban on the other hands have claimed the responsibility and have mentioned that it is the start of their Spring Offensive which was thought to be out of sight. Though Taliban claim responsibility in almost all the attacks that are carried out against the government and international forces and offices, at this juncture their claim cannot be taken non-seriously.

An important factor to be noticed is that the government officials are very quick in declaring the responsible; however, it is very difficult to see them explaining the security lapse that resulted in successful execution of the ill-intentions of Taliban.

Who is responsible is, no doubt, important, but how the attacks were carried are more important. How can the attackers reach to their desired positions in the most secure areas of the country with a truck-load of weapons? How can they organize such a mammoth machination and the National Directorate of Security (NDS) does not get even the slightest of the clues? And, how often they have carried out their attacks through the same sort of tactics?

The Afghan government and the international community are earnest to bring Taliban to negotiation table while Taliban are earnest to show that they would prefer otherwise. The talks of peace and reconciliation process to them are a game that they are playing so as to have a good bargain.

It is difficult to believe that Taliban will ultimately settle for a political solution and will adhere to their promises of maintaining peace and tranquility in the country once they are given a share in the political authority sharing. And now as they see the withdrawal process to be completed soon, they prefer not to have peace talks at all and win a larger share through war.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at dilawar.sherzai@gmail.com.

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