Editorial

Civilian lives matter

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has expressed serious concern at the record level of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.In a statement the other day, members of the powerful council urged all actors to respect international humanitarian laws and lauded the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
The members also voiced significant concern regarding the ongoing drought in Afghanistan and severely increased food insecurity. They called on the international community to increase its commitments to the humanitarian response plan.
Meanwhile, the Security Council members welcomed the adoption of the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework (GMAF), outlining measurable reform objectives and commitments for the Afghan government and the international community for 2019-2020.They underlined that the government’s delivery of the mutually agreed commitments would be key for sustainable international support.
The civilians in Afghanistan, including the children and women, are becoming victims of war in alarming numbers, leaving them more at tenterhook with realization of being caught in crossfire of the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan.
The civilian casualties should be considered as the simple statistics.The brave Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are fighting twenty different terrorist groups across the country as well as drug traffickers, and at the same time they are exercising extreme caution to prevent civilian casualties, but the terrorist groupings spare no effort to target civilians and usually hide themselves in civilian houses.
Among other terrorists, Taliban is alleging that the group’s formal policy is to protect civilians and show compassion towards civilians particularly for elders, women and children. However, it seems that this is all claims and the militants are not committed to their own principles and rules. The Taliban consider their struggle a legitimate fight for restoring Islamic Emirate. However, the Taliban and other new-emerging militant actors is increasing turning into a criminal group inspired by their interpretation of Islam. The militant groups launch attacks discriminately and inflict heavy casualties by roadside bombing and attacks on government offices and public places.
The militants’ recent war tactics clearly shows that they will continue to target civilians in different ways such as kidnaping and bombing populated areas. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are asked to effectively protect the public and minimize civilian casualties by the militants. One of the objectives of the Taliban is to show the government unable of providing security to the public. The Afghan Forces have largely been successful in gaining public trust on its capability to provide security for the public. They should redouble efforts for winning the hearts and minds of the people through protecting civilian houses.
Meanwhile the government should plan for a long-term strategy for protecting civilians. The UN has had unsuccessful efforts in the past to persuade the Taliban for protecting the civilians. Any such efforts are beneficial.
The United Nations still can influence the parties of the war to respect civilian safety and security. Afghans asking UN and parties to negotiate with the Taliban over the issue. The anti-insurgency campaign should be combined with direct or in-direct talks with the militant groups for protection of civilians by all sides of the war.

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