Dreadful and outrageous figures of death toll and casualties recently tallied and released by BBC reveals the true face of the ongoing horrific war and the devastating impact it has on Afghans. In a data journalism report, the BBC confirmed that 611 security incidents happened in August alone, in which 2,307 people died. Civilians constituted a fifth of that number as 473 civilians were killed and 786 injured. Surprisingly, the Taliban fighters account for nearly half of all the deaths. The insurgent group has been on the offensive during the US-Taliban peace talks – which ended abruptly with no tangible results in early September – and the Afghan government and US-led forces have increased operations, airstrikes and night raids in response, killing many Taliban, as well as civilians. This grievous situation dictates a ceasefire more than ever.
Bringing into focus the status quo and the ground realities, one could conclude that nobody, except the Afghan masses, struggles for peace. The US uses the peace in Afghanistan as a fig leaf to withdraw and the regional countries pledge phony promises – which they never deliver upon – by announcing nominal support. The reins of peace dynamics are left to the Afghans themselves, who should ponder and pay heed to these numerous killings. Based on the majority of American elites’ viewpoints, the top priority for the US is extricating themselves from Afghanistan and withdrawing troops at best – which would never ever bring peace and stability to the war-ravaged country. For the foreigners, the talks are alive one moment and ‘dead’ the other. But these drastic shifts deadly affect Afghans. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), fatalities in August in Afghanistan are three times higher than either Syria or Yemen – which proves the current war in Afghanistan is the most lethal and deadliest conflict in the world. The BBC has been very heedful about their study and acknowledged that hundreds of reports were excluded and the true number of attacks and casualties could be much higher.
Currently, the most important issue for Afghans – especially the Taliban is to rekindle the hope of peace – and seek to make the process as Afghan-owned as possible. They shouldn’t turn a blind eye and a blatant disregard towards these figures of killings, which only make headlines and news for the international community but the victims and civilians who lose their loved ones and bear the brunt know what is it like to endure the hideous situation on the ground. On the Taliban part, the numbers show their fighters incurred the bulk of casualties, indicating their foolhardiness to continue fighting. Hundreds of Afghans are dying each week, ceasefire, however, was never on the table between the broken-down US-Taliban negotiations. The group might have realized by now that what their decision of not shunning violence cost them. The Afghan peace stakeholders – the US, international community, and the Afghan government – should ignite and restart the process by pressurizing the group to open up talks with the Afghans and make them understand that they can’t reach their nefarious goal by attacking or by means of violence. The rebels should empathize and make a genuine commitment by having a taste of truce once and then see how it is a win-win for all. This would win them people’s hearts – the very people they claim to support – and give them a chance to be reintegrated into the Afghan society.