The world must not turn its back on Afghanistan

Published: Sat 27 Jan 2018, 10:14 PM

Last updated: Sun 28 Jan 2018, 12:16 AM

There's hardly been a period of relative calm in this war-blighted nation.
Since the Soviet invasion more than three decades ago, Afghanistan has been gripped by terror. It sprouted when the Russians arrived and the US supported the Mujahideen. They mutated to become deadly terror networks like the Taleban and Al Qaeda after the US invaded the country in 2003 and have heaped misery on people. On Saturday, Taleban terorists hit the heart of Afghanistan again, just days after they had struck the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul in a 15-hour siege, leaving 22 dead. Scores have been maimed and killed this time. It could have been worse had the security officials not stopped the ambulance at the second checkpoint.
With every attack, despair takes hold. The number of people killed is mind-numbing. It wrenches the heart. Almost three-quarters of Afghan refugees who return home are forced to flee again due to violence. Aid agencies are hanging on by their fingernails, and many are reconsidering their decisions on whether to stay in the country or extend help through international aid from the outside. The situation is shocking as millions are being poured into Afghanistan, yet peace is elusive. What can bring peace and stability?
Perhaps, no long-term solution can emerge until local realities are fully understood. The Trump administration is considering a mini-surge in troops, mainly advisors to train and support Afghan forces but that may not be enough when terror is part of daily life. It needs engagement and commitment at the socio-political level. Economic deprivation has pushed many people into radicalism and terror. The US administration should take the lead in engaging regional countries more and help Afghanistan find its feet through development. A global effort might work. For that to happen, Afghanistan might first need an international military solution, or more conflict. Any way you look at it, you lose. But doing nothing would be criminal when people are dying. The world has a moral responsibility towards Afghanistan.

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