Skip to main content

Uncertain times: on the security situation in Afghanistan (hindu)

The major terror strike in Kabul underlines a rapidly deteriorating security situation

Afghanistan is no stranger to terror attacks. Even so, the repeated strikes in the most fortified areas with mounting casualties demonstrate a steadily deteriorating security situation. In April, the Taliban had targeted an army base in Mazar-e-Sharif, killing over 100 soldiers. Now, at least 90 people, mostly civilians, have been massacred in a suspected truck bomb blast in Kabul. The Wazir Akbar Khan area where the blast occurred is one of the most secured places in the city, given its proximity to the presidential palace and embassies, including India’s. Still, a terrorist managed to drive in with a vehicle full of explosives and detonate it. It is not immediately clear who is behind the attack. The Taliban have denied any role, saying they don’t kill civilians. Afghanistan’s jihadist landscape has been diversified. There are multiple Taliban splinter groups that do not accept the current leadership of the insurgency. And then there is the Islamic State, which operates from eastern Afghanistan and had targeted civilians in the recent past. Amid all this, the Afghan government is struggling to win a modicum of public confidence that it can turn things around. Since most American troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, terror attacks have been on the rise. Last year was particularly bloody, with over 11,500 people having been killed or injured even as the Afghan government’s writ shrunk to just over half of the country’s 407 districts.

The problem has political, diplomatic and security dimensions. Politically, the government is seen to be corrupt, incompetent, and unable to get its act together. Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who faces allegations of sexual abuse, has fled the country. President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are reportedly not on the same page on key issues. Corruption is pervasive across government departments, and Mr. Ghani is yet to begin delivering on his promise to streamline governance. The diplomatic challenge before Mr. Ghani is to cut off the Taliban’s supplies from abroad. It is an open secret that Pakistan is supporting the insurgency. There were reports recently that Iran and Russia may also be arming them for geopolitical reasons. Unless the Taliban are cut off from their external backers, Kabul’s writ will remain circumscribed. The security challenge, perhaps the most important one, is that the Afghan army, after years of relentless war, is demoralised. Though Afghanistan has a 170,000-strong army, the main combat operations are overseen by a small U.S.-trained contingent. They are stretched on the battlefield, given the challenges from different militant groups. The question is, what is Mr. Ghani’s government doing in the face of these challenges? Do its international backers, including the U.S., have any plan to stabilise Afghanistan, and if so, what priority do they accord it? As things stand, the country is at risk of sliding back to the chaos of the 1990s.


Popular posts from this blog

Cloud seeding

Demonstrating the function of the flare rack that carries silver iodide for cloud-seeding through an aircraft. 
Water is essential for life on the earth. Precipitation from the skies is the only source for it. India and the rest of Asia are dependent on the monsoons for rains. While the South West Monsoon is the main source for India as a whole, Tamil Nadu and coastal areas of South Andhra Pradesh get the benefit of the North East Monsoon, which is just a less dependable beat on the reversal of the South West Monsoon winds.

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…