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Civilians, victims of a perpetual war

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KABUL: Nearly two decades back, when the US and its alliance entered to Afghanistan in the pretext to eliminate the regime of the Taliban group, who provided safe haven for the al-Qaida Terrorist Network – the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, the Afghans inhaled a new hope for a peaceful life and end to carnages in their country.

However, nothing significantly happened, and all the expectation toward a peaceful country washed away and the Afghan once again triggered into a new wave of war. At the initial years of US and allied presence in Afghanistan, the country witnessed a calm situation but as the Taliban group kept showing its footprint, the insecurity was also rising up in parallel.

With the rise of violence, the number of civilian casualties was heading high. To suppress the Taliban, the US former president, Barak Obama increased the number of American soldiers to more than 100,000. The more likely the battlefields become severed, the more it was posing harms to the Afghans either directly or indirectly.

Before 2013, The US forces in Afghanistan engaged in night raids on residences that mostly resulted in civilian deaths or maiming. Finally, after the strong opposition of then President, Hamid Karzai, the night raids were banned. But, this didn’t put an end to the casualties, with the newly trained Afghan security forces engaged in fighting with the militants – and the increase of US airstrikes on the militants, the casualties remained unabated. A recent report published by a Rhode Island based human rights organization, Costs of War, said that compared to the last ten years, “there was a 95 percent increase in civilians killed by US and allied forces’ airstrikes between 2017 and 2019.”

The report also cited that the increase in civilian casualties concluded from a Pentagon decision to relax its rules of engagement for air strikes in Afghanistan.

But the US, allied and the Afghan government were not the only side of the conflict, the Taliban who is famous for its cruelty, has killed and wounded hundreds of civilians via suicide bombings, target killings, IEDs, roadside mine and etc…

The anti-government elements, including the Taliban and ISIS killed an average 1,964 civilians per year between 2007 and 2016. But the casualties increased between 2017 and 2019 with the killing of an average of 2,071 people each year, a slight but significant 5% increase.

Unfortunately, despite strong commitments of all parties involved in the Afghan war regarding prevention of civilian casualties, none of the sides has taken any practical step. At most of the time, the civilian casualties have remained uninvestigated and the perpetrators have been set free.

So, doesn’t matter who wants what in Afghanistan, the only Afghan people are paying the highest price for the ongoing conflicts – who died or maimed, while studying at school, University or somewhere else, or working as a vendor on the streets, or working on a form in the a village or even working at the office. There is nowhere safe in this country to live out of the waves of this violence.

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