Afghan govt’s control over territories reaches record low

Published November 5, 2018
Report identifies trend of increase in ungoverned areas having disastrous consequences for Afghanistan and and Pakistan. — Photo/File
Report identifies trend of increase in ungoverned areas having disastrous consequences for Afghanistan and and Pakistan. — Photo/File

WASHINGTON: The Afghan government has lost control over a record number of districts this year, although Taliban too have lost some areas, says an official US report sent to Congress this week.

The report — that covers the period between July 1 and Sept 30, 2018, — identifies a dangerous trend which could have disastrous consequences for Afghanistan and its neighbours, particularly Pakistan: a gradual increase in ungoverned areas.

It is these ungoverned areas that militant groups like TTP and militant Islamic group (IS) use for conducting raids into Pakistan as well as in major Afghan cities.

Report identifies a dangerous trend of increase in ungoverned areas having disastrous consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which prepares these quarterly reports for the US Congress, notes that Afghanistan’s thinly stretched security forces have been unable to retain their control over vast areas inside the country. The official Afghan forces have also sustained record casualties during this period, the report adds.

“Unclassified data shows the Afghan National Defence Security Forces (ANDSF) made minimal or no progress in pressuring the Taliban over the quarter,” says the report, quoting the data provided by the Pentagon.

The data shows that “the ANDSF failed to gain greater control or influence over districts, population and territory this quarter. While the districts, territory, and population under insurgent control or influence also decreased slightly, the districts, territory, and population contested … increased”.

The report describes the “uncontested” areas as under neither Afghan government nor insurgent control or influence.

The report points out that Afghan government control or influence of its districts reached the lowest level (55.5 per cent) since SIGAR began tracking district control in November 2015. The Afghan government controls or influences districts in which about 65 per cent of the population lives, unchanged since October 2017.

About two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population live in the areas still under Kabul’s control. The Afghan government’s goal is to expand its control or influence over areas where 80 per cent of the country’s 33 million people live by the end of 2019.

About 3.5 million people live in areas controlled or influenced by insurgents — a slight decrease since last quarter — while the number of people living in contested areas slightly increased to 8.1 million.

The report says that since late 2015, nearly a year after the Nato transition from a combat mission to one focused on training and advising Afghans, Afghan insurgent have continued to expand their gains.

Unofficial data, however, claim that the government losses are larger than the Pentagon acknowledges. The Long War Journal, published by the nonpartisan group Foundation for Defence of Democracies, reports that a little over half of Afghanistan’s people live in districts outside of government control.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2018

Opinion

Is it child abuse?
24 Sep 2021

Is it child abuse?

The SNC’s language mix doesn’t address our children’s emotional needs.
The gathering storm
Updated 24 Sep 2021

The gathering storm

The growing US-China rivalry has transformed the geopolitical scene, in particular the Asian strategic landscape.
New realities and challenges
Updated 23 Sep 2021

New realities and challenges

Will the Afghan Taliban entrust to the UN the responsibility of receiving and disbursing all aid?

Editorial

24 Sep 2021

Costs of growth

IS Pakistan’s growth party over? Not yet. But both the State Bank and government are now cutting down on the items...
Smear campaign
Updated 24 Sep 2021

Smear campaign

It is commendable that the government has taken the matter as seriously as it has, and delved deep into cyber investigations.
24 Sep 2021

Rising dengue cases

THE dengue monster is once again rearing its head in different cities of Punjab. More than 820 cases have surfaced ...
Dialogue, at last
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Dialogue, at last

The govt has attempted to make the ECP controversial at a time when its input is critical for the poll reforms
AUKUS controversy
Updated 23 Sep 2021

AUKUS controversy

Instead of flexing its military muscle, the Western bloc needs to engage China at the negotiating table.
Provocative act
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Provocative act

Afghan Taliban flags have been found hoisted at Jamia Hafsa seminary three times since Aug 21.