Taleban strike again

The terror attack on the British Council in Kabul speaks volumes for the continued security situation in the conflict-ridden country.

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Published: Sun 21 Aug 2011, 8:42 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 6:48 PM

Though no British nationals were killed in the expertly executed attack, at least nine others including eight Afghan policemen and a New Zealand special services soldier were killed in the operation. While many such brazen attacks have been conducted in Kabul over the past few years, the question about the vulnerability of soft targets and the adequate security remain large.

The fact that US and British forces had to rush in to tackle the armed insurgents who managed to infiltrate the compound after a suicide bomber destroyed a wall indicates the unpreparedness of the Afghan security forces to tackle such operations. This was an attack in the heart of the capital that not only has been attacked time and again but also has the heaviest security. Apparently, the security arrangements in place are not enough. Not only have the Taleban honed their skills at organising and executing attacks on targets that typically should be on the radar for the government and Coalition, but have come up with increasingly sophisticated and ingenious methods of attack, involving not one but several layers of threats. Having claimed responsibility for the latest attack as a commemoration to mark Afghanistan’s independence from Britain in 1919, the Taleban have proved once again their ability to strike anywhere at anytime.

This is not a very pleasant prospect for either Kabul or Washington hoping to achieve greater progress with the first phase of transfer of security responsibility having been launched this July. As US and allied NATO states begin to withdraw forces increased efforts to boost the Afghan forces’ capability are being made. However, there is to date, not sufficient progress on this front as proven in the handling of security by the national police force or the Afghan soldiers.

Unfortunately, even if the national security forces’ achieve the desired strength and capability to fight on their own, Afghanistan’s instability is not going to end unless there is a political settlement. Care must also be taken to incorporate all sections of Afghanistan’s complex tribal and ethnic mix within its security forces in order not to allow the situation to deteriorate into another civil war once the foreign forces leave.

This will be highly detrimental for the country that has seen nothing but successive infighting and foreign occupation over the past so many decades in one form or another. It is time a viable political settlement with the insurgents is accorded the same priority as fighting the war.

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