Instead of Blaming Neighbors, Afghans should Fix the Problems at Home

The ethnic and sectarian imbalance within the Afghan national military creates misunderstanding and mistrust among different ethnic and sectarian groups towards the army, making it look like a foreign force.

[Manish Rai | Oped Column Magazine]


Taliban is on constant march. The insurgent group last month made attempts to take over a provincial capital, Ghazni, which is a strategic city less than 100 miles from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. It was the group’s one of the boldest attempts since the group’s brief occupation of the city of Kunduz in 2016.

An estimated 1,000 Taliban fighters swarmed the city before they were eventually driven out. Moreover, series of Taliban attacks across several neighboring provinces compounded an already worse situation.

In the Ghormanch district of Faryab province, the insurgent group either killed or captured almost all the 106 personnel from the same Afghan army corps, along with fifteen (15) border policemen. The Taliban, thereafter, overran an Afghan army outpost and checkpoint in Baghlan-e-Markazi district in Baghlan province, killing at least 39 soldiers and policemen. The most devastating blow however, came when the Taliban attacked a commando unit guarding Ajristan district in Ghazni province, killing anywhere from 40 to 100 of the Afghan military’s most elite troops.

It clearly illustrates that insurgents have a capacity for carrying out ambitious and bold operations on multiple fronts, while the Afghan government has struggled to respond on a single front in Ghazni. According to the United States military, the Afghan government controls just over half of the country’s nearly 400 districts, about 56 per cent. Taliban insurgents’ control fourteen (14) percent, and the rest of the country is contested. The number speaks for themselves that Afghan unity government is in no control of situation.

For all these aforesaid mess, the Afghan government has its all-time favorite excuse — that it’s fighting a war which its neighbors or regional powers have imposed on the country. However, the Afghan government cannot always escape from its responsibility with the courtesy of this excuse. If the Afghans engage themselves into an honest introspection, they can – on their own – solve many issues that are flaring up this bloody insurgency.

There are some internal factors of the Afghan society and government which are contributing to the insurgency.

Week Intelligence

Afghan forces require a robust intelligence collection and targeting capabilities if they want to turn back the tide of a reinvigorated Taliban insurgency. Afghanistan intelligence agency – officially known as National Directorate of Security (NDS) – not only suffers from an inability to share and disseminate actionable intelligence, but also is plagued by controversy of favoritism and nepotism and its ethnic composition dominated by Panjshiris Tajiks from Panjshir, a group affiliated with the former Northern Alliance. The NDS ethnic composition poses challenges to the intelligence agency’s ability to infiltrate the Pashtun groups that are allegedly affiliated with the continued insurgency in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, there are some urgent needs too that need to be taken care of, including the necessity to increase the more-advanced voice-intercept capabilities and the need to strengthen the cross-communication and coordination between the NDS and the security forces in the field.

Widespread Corruption

Some of the analysts blame the impotence among the military apparatus, particularly their established corruption. The public opinion and observers recognize the Afghan national army as a deeply corrupt and inept institution, even lacking the power to provide security to its servicemen. Such ineptitude is said to be the main reason emboldening the Taliban to make advances against the Afghan government forces across the country and carry out the continued fatal assaults.

Sectarian structure of Armed Forces

The Tajiks occupy proportionally more top posts in comparison to their population against other ethnic groups. For example, the presence of the Hazaras and other ethnic groups is smaller in size compared to their population. Pashtuns are also included, but a large number of Pashtun personnel are from the eastern areas of the country. Since the Pashtuns from the southern areas of Afghanistan generally make up an ideological and ethnic base of Taliban, only small number of them are included in the armed forces.

The ethnic and sectarian imbalance within the Afghan national military creates misunderstanding and mistrust among different ethnic and sectarian groups towards the army, making it look like a foreign force.

Lack of clear military Strategy

Afghanistan’s security apparatus – as a complex – lacks the availability of the security and strategic analysts to lay the foundation of a combat-policy, which could be used by the defense ministry to press forward against the militants using a well-studied defense program. Instead of just focusing on responding to insurgent’s attack, the Afghan national military strategists should chalk-out a proactive strategy in order to engage the enemy in their stronghold.

Poor Governance

The Afghan people have become disconnected and alienated from the national government and the country’s other power-arrangements. They are profoundly dissatisfied with Kabul’s inability and unwillingness to provide basic public services and justice. Afghan citizens intensely resent the abuse of power, impunity and lack of justice that have become entrenched over the past decade. The inability of the Afghan government to respond to the plea of common Afghan people allows the Taliban to impose its own brutal forms of order and justice and to develop a foothold in the Afghan communities.

Therefore…

For fixing all the above issues that are fueling and strengthening the insurgency, the Afghans don’t need an outside help.

Instead of complaining, it’s high-time for the Afghans to take charge of their home, as it’s a bitter truth that no one would fix your home for you.

Moreover, the Afghan society should also take the initiative and should focus on realignments, readjustments and reconciliations of the opposing tendencies and conflicting ideologies. [The opposing groups] should reach at some compromise for national integration and social solidarity. The ethnic and sectarian groups should learn peaceful coexistence.


Manish Rai is a columnist for Middle East and Af-Pak region and Editor of geopolitical news agency Viewsaround.


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