Days before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, violence had already escalated in March, taking the lives and limbs of hundreds of innocent civilians across Afghanistan. But Afghans were hoping that there would be a pause, if the Taliban honored their own words on the essence of the month of Ramadan as a period when Muslims must carry out deeds of compassion, charity, forgiveness, reconciliation, piety, and struggle against worldly greed and selfishness as a “Greater Jihad.” Unfortunately, that hope was soon dashed, as the Taliban continued escalating violence, targeting innocent civilians — including women, children, and infants — throughout Ramadan.
Category: Afghan Peace Process
India and Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as full member-states in the 8-9 June 2017 SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. Before the addition of the two South Asian nations, the SCO consisted of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The now eight-member SCO also has four observer-states, including Afghanistan, and six dialogue-partners, including Sri Lanka. In total and together, they constitute much of the Asian geography with a population of over three billion people.
Present and past peace negotiations between Pakistan and the Taliban in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas have coincided with increased cross-border terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. For example, terrorist attacks have risen by more than 40 percent in eastern Afghanistan within the first five months of 2008 compared to the same period last year. At the same time, the number of civilian deaths caused by cross-border terrorism rose to 638 this year, 62 percent more than the same period last year. Additionally, this past June saw the highest number of foreign military casualties with 46 coalition troops having died in clashes against the Taliban. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, however. During similar Pakistan-Taliban peace negotiations in 2005 and 2006, Afghanistan saw a 300 percent increase in cross-border terrorist incidents. At the August 2007 Afghanistan-Pakistan Regional Peace Jirga Conference in Kabul, President Pervez Musharraf admitted that the problem existed.
We often hear about Afghanistan’s domestic, regional, and transnational challenges each posed by the country’s abject poverty, the Taliban’s cross-border insurgency, and terrorism and drug trafficking that collectively destabilize Afghanistan. But we seldom pay attention to the greatest challenge posed to Afghanistan’s nation-building process by a lack of aid resources coupled with weak strategic coordination of aid implementation by the international community. Some of these challenges deserve special mention both to help overcome them and to avoid collective failure in a country where the international community continues to have the highest chance of success in view of Afghans’ optimism for a better future and their unlimited support for the international peace-building efforts in Afghanistan.
Do Afghans abroad ever think about their debt of service to Afghanistan and doing something about it? They may rarely do so. But let us begin with the basic fact that the land Afghans call home is diversely populated, geographically landlocked, politically and economically least developed, and unfortunately located in a predatory neighborhood where at least one of their neighbors sees her raison d’être partly dependent on instability in Afghanistan.
When the Afghan government hosted the first meeting of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation on June 6, 2017, terrorists carried out a suicide attack on the ancient Great Mosque of Herat, killing ten fasting worshipers and wounding over twenty others. This followed back-to-back terrorist attacks that killed and injured more than seven hundred innocent civilians in Kabul in less than a week. In flagrant violation of the core tenets of Islam, a religion of peace and tolerance, and the key principles of international humanitarian law, this and many other terrorist attacks on Muslims and non-Muslims around the world have been carried out during the holy month of Ramadan.
Afghanistan is a facing a complex humanitarian crisis, stemming from the many challenges that have confronted Afghanistan over the past four decades.
In the next couple of days, Afghanistan is hosting the sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA VI) in Kabul, where RECCA was first held in 2005. This regional initiative followed the signing by Afghanistan’s neighbors of the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighborly Relations in December 2002, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States to be commemorated soon.