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Editorial: Civilian massacre

While efforts for inking a peace agreement and observing a ceasefire with the Taliban by the US are on, the constant victimization of Afghan mere mortals is still raging on. A recent horrible incident that happened in northern Balkh province has resulted in the killing of seven people from a single family. Sadly, an airstrike carried out by two military choppers of government forces bombarded and demolished civilian houses while slaying innocent children and women in the Boki area of Balkh district. In reaction to the horrifying incident, dozens of enraged residents took to the streets and protested against the killing of the civilians. Furious protestors brought bodies of the killed civilians to the Balkh district center and the district police headquarters. These are the very faulty misdeeds that widen the gap between the government and the people.

This comes in the aftermath of an operation codenamed Shaheen that got underway in Balkh district last week. While the Ministry of Defense has reportedly tasked a delegation to investigate the incident, confirming that civilians are actually killed, the ministry would strictly follow the law. The ministry is turning a blind eye towards its faulty operations because there is no need for an investigation, everybody knows the security forces made a mess. MoD deflects mounting criticism and blame by announcing such probes because they never see the light of day. The government should find a once-and-for-all end to this because the situation is now snowballing out of control. The consistent blame put on human error is also questionable – how can there be an error on the pilots’ part every time? The establishment should arrest and punish individuals involved in the massacre and the government forces should refrain from activities that further widen the gap between the government and the people. As people are fed up with fighting and deaths, a recent survey further confirms Afghans’ call for an end to violence. Nine of every 10 Afghans support peace with the Taliban and 68 percent want a ceasefire ahead of open-ended intra-Afghan talks. Therefore, new hurdles in the way of peace should be overcome as the Taliban group called Americans’ new ‘gratuitous’ demands a ‘waste of time’, saying they could compound negotiations ahead of a long-awaited peace deal. At this juncture, only a peace agreement with the proviso of a comprehensive truce would put an end to the massacre of innocent people.

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