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Editorial: Protecting civilians

Afghanistan is becoming a dangerous country for civilians with each passing day. The situation will become worse if regional countries were not prevented from forging alliances to use the country as a ground for proxy war. There are little chances of it because Kabul is standing at a very weak position. Afghan government is heavily dependent on foreign assistance. Afghanistan is a consumer country. Imports are higher than exports. Natural resources are untapped. The past four decades had destroyed important infrastructure. Adding to the problem, talented brain went to Europe, the United States and other developed countries. Lack of infrastructure and skilled workers forced the democratic governments, after fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, to land in the troubled waters.

To rebuild the infrastructure necessary for tapping natural resources would take at least two decades. However, there are some conditions that should be met first. Reliance on foreign assistance will hamper this process. To deal address the challenge, the current and coming Afghan governments should pave ground for economic development. Sans basic facilities to investors and addressing grievances of business community, it is not possible. Investors are facing several and severe challenges. Abductions, political instability, lack of energy, insecurity and corruptions are just a few of these problems. However, most of the problems could be resolved within five years if the government had will.

But, improving security is imperative to resolving most of these problems. Without improved law and order situation, Kabul will not be able to utilize human resources and speed up the process of economic growth. It cannot happen without peace and stability. Peace has become a distant dream. Involvement of different nation-states in the Afghan conflict is main obstacle to the reconciliation process. Different countries are driving the so-called Afghan peace drive in different directions. The chances of direct talks with the militants are very slim due to the influence of regional players on the Taliban and its affiliates. Without cooperation of regional countries, Afghan leaders could not lead the reconciliation drive towards success.

Foreign interference and lack of a clear roadmap for peace is costing lives of Afghan people. According to a recent report of the Human Rights Watch, the unity government has failed to improve human rights last year. In 2016, around 8,000 civilians were killed and injured. Insurgents killed more civilians than other warring parties. Twelve journalists were killed in the line of duty in 2016, thus, making last year deadliest for journalists.

It is duty of the leaders to protect civilians by improving law and order situation. Afghan government should take the issue of foreign interference to the UN Security Council because the neighbors would not stop meddling in Afghan affairs. Failure of the government to deal with insecurity would further erode public trust over democratic institutes.

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