Kandahar attack

Published October 20, 2018
Slain police general Abdul Razek. — Photo/File
Slain police general Abdul Razek. — Photo/File

IT is an attack that will have significant repercussions and perhaps a lasting effect on a war that has entered its 18th year this month.

The assassination of a notorious police general, Abdul Razek, inside the governor’s compound in Kandahar in an attack that appears to have targeted the top US general in Afghanistan, Gen Scott Miller, is shocking.

The Afghan Taliban have demonstrated that they can reach inside the very heart of the Afghan and US military commands. And they have done so in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar, where Afghan forces had established a modicum of stability in recent years.

Gen Razek’s death could quickly result in further gains for the Taliban across southern Afghanistan — such was the stature and influence of the assassinated police general, whose brutal methods had brought stability to the region, but almost surely involved what would be considered war crimes. The parliamentary elections scheduled for today have already been overshadowed by his death.

Almost as stunning is that a Taliban attacker got close enough to the top American general in Afghanistan to have injured several Americans who appear to have been part of Gen Miller’s entourage on his trip to Kandahar.

The attack has bloodily underlined the need for an urgent political process to end the war in Afghanistan. The military strategy approved by US President Donald Trump is unsuccessful, and where three consecutive American presidents have now failed, it is unlikely that a miracle solution can suddenly be found.

The only solution is to end the war through a negotiated settlement with the Afghan Taliban at the earliest and allow the political dispensation that will emerge from that settlement to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.

What is considered a military stalemate in Afghanistan at the moment is, in reality, a terrible toll that is being inflicted on the people of Afghanistan. Gen Razek’s assassination will dominate the latest news cycle from Afghanistan, but there is mass violence and misery being inflicted in Afghanistan on a daily basis. That must end.

For Pakistan, the challenge remains to do what it can to nudge the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table both with the US and the Afghan state.

The US now appears willing to engage the Afghan Taliban in dialogue, but there is likely to be some resistance to that path — from hawkish military and national security circles in the US and from some elements within the Afghan states.

It is important, then, that all sides seeking an early end to the war in Afghanistan work in cooperation with each other and purposefully. Afghanistan could slip into chaos if stubbornness and bloody-mindedness are allowed to prevail at this stage. The Afghan Taliban must be coaxed and cajoled where necessary to negotiate peace.

It will not be easy, but the alternative may be too horrible to contemplate.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2018

Opinion

Editorial

Retracted offer
04 Dec, 2022

Retracted offer

WITH so many U-turns under his belt, it was hardly surprising when on Saturday, PTI chairman Imran Khan decided to...
Embassy attack
Updated 04 Dec, 2022

Embassy attack

The Taliban should have enhanced the existing security arrangements.
Smog season
04 Dec, 2022

Smog season

FOR the past week, major cities of Pakistan have been among the top most polluted cities in the world. Lahore ranked...
Fleeting good news
Updated 03 Dec, 2022

Fleeting good news

Indeed, there is no other option to get out of the economic mess we have created in the last few years.
Battle for spoils
03 Dec, 2022

Battle for spoils

THE spectacle playing out inside a London courtroom shines a light on the struggle for control of the assets of the...
CM Bizenjo’s complaint
03 Dec, 2022

CM Bizenjo’s complaint

BALOCHISTAN Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo’s claim that his province is facing a financial crunch due to ...