Protecting civilians & building defenses against invisible enemy
By Mohammed Gul SAHIBBZADA-The terrorist attack on 30 April 2018 was aimed at journalists, and this shift in tactics by terrorist was unprecedented and has not been seen before since the war on terror began in 2001. Terrorists and insurgent groups are now specifically targeting civilians and civil society activists more openly than any time before. Afghan security and defense forces have been fletching fingers with terrorists and insurgent groups in the ongoing war against international terrorism in the fields. Perennial suicide attacks have increased in frequency in the face of new US strategy for Afghanistan and South-East Asia in the ongoing war against international terrorism. The military leaderships, diplomatic circles and policy makers might look at this increase in suicide attacks by terrorists as their response to increased bombings of insurgent and terrorist positions by Afghan and US air force in battlefields. US military has announced that its air force has pounded more bombs on Taliban and Daesh positions during the first quarter of 2018 than the combined bombing operations during last sixteen years. But in a broader, more inclusive perspective, casualties inflicted on civilians, journalists and civil society organizations increasingly questions government’s ability to provide protection to the people. This situation – if continued – can have devastating effect on peoples’ morale, which can in turn rock the very pillar of support for and legitimacy of the government, and possibly result in chaos. It has now become a trend to hear from media about hundreds civilians dead and hundreds more injured every month in suicide attacks. The main objectives of terrorists are to shake the very pillars of a stable society, instill fear in hearts and minds of civilians, to disrupt businesses and daily operations of markets of targeted country and to evaporate support for government among population. This is the main strategy of terrorists in their ongoing war with Afghan government.
Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior in close collaboration with other sensitive security agencies including National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghan defense and protection forces should develop a three pronged strategy to succeed in this war on terror and defeat ongoing, senseless insurgency and other international terrorist organizations in the country. This strategy should include three main pillars; 1) Increase pressure on insurgent and terror groups in the battlefields across the country by pounding them hard and consistently in order to deny them space to dismantle their operability and ability to regroup; 2) develop strong police and protection force inside large cities and big population centers, equipped with skills and techniques for effectively monitoring and observing movement of people by using advanced gadgets including large number of security cameras, putting in place a large network of spies in every locality, installing metal detectors, explosive detectors, sniffing dogs and rapid response units / teams at every site; 3) Unleash awareness and training programs among civilians, encourage and use all forms of media – including TV, Radio and print plus social networks – to take part in this campaign. If done well and consistently seek improvement in developing and expanding aforementioned three-pronged strategy, Afghan security and defense forces can face up to this bloody war against an entrenched insurgency and international terrorists in the country, and can bring down civilian casualties, weaken enemy in the battlefield and can easily garner support their campaign from the people. In addition, Afghan defense and security organizations should funnel funds to Baluch dissidents in Baluchistan province, support the ongoing Pashtoons Tahafuz Movement in Khaibar Pakhtoonkha province and respond to all and any destabilizing efforts of the Pakistani intelligence and military establishment inside Afghanistan in kind.
It is no secret that peace is a far cry and wide of the mark in the context of ongoing war on terror. The enemy is invisible, and do not have known leadership or central command. They are patchwork of different terrorist organizations supported by intelligent services of Pakistan. Our strategists and policy makers should by now have enough information and experiences by virtue of past governments’ efforts to effect peace and bring normality. Government of late Dr. Najeebullah begged for peace, but he got beheaded and the country was catapulted in chaos and destruction. Mujahedeen government wanted stability and peace, but they were already fragmented in many pieces, hence destined to collapse. Taliban government was patchwork of inexperienced religious students who were fed with strategies and policies by Pakistan to implement in Afghanistan, which was naturally doomed to failure. Karzai government during his thirteen years reign struggled to be at peace with Pakistan – Afghanistan’s main disrupter -, all he got was ‘lies and deceit’ as well. Dr. Ashraf Ghani’s government endeavored to be at peace with Pakistan in the beginning of his government, all he got was ‘lies and deceit’! Now, it is time for this government to prepare for a long war. Preparation for war includes buttressing security and defense forces of the country, seek state of the art military and surveillance tools and equipment, train security and defense personnel with the highest skills and tactics, seek and develop missile and smart weapons technology, improve economy by developing its potential economic arena including mining and harnessing Afghanistan’s huge water resources to develop hydro power and agricultural sector. This is the best timing for Afghan government to embark on such program. Money is not an issue because Afghanistan’s international partners support ongoing campaign in the war against terror. Afghan government needs to utilize and manage the fund available for security and defense forces in an innovative and effective ways to support development of the above mentioned programs.
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