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Editorial: Back to the battlefield

Contrary to the expectations tied to the US-Taliban peace pact signed in last February in terms of reduction in violence, the security situation has remained unaffected – if anything, it has deteriorated. According to a recent report by UNAMA, at least 533 civilians were killed and another 760 injured in fighting in the first quarter of 2020. Despite the figures show a 30% decrease from the same period last year, the violence is said to have been intensified by the insurgent group since the peace agreement. The rebel group which has so far refused truce calls made on accounts of the coronavirus pandemic and the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan by the Afghan government and the international community is deemed responsible for 40% of all the casualties during the quarter while the government and foreign forces are said to have caused one-third of the casualties. The growing violence and the spike in attacks in March following the peace deal are counter-intuitive. One would think that the signing of the peace deal will have definitely reduced violence but that’s not the case here. The more challenging and problematic phase than signing a deal in the peace process is unwinding the conflict ideology and properly implementing the agreed-upon promises – something that hasn’t been delivered by any of the sides. The warring parties – the Taliban most of all – continue to believe that intensifying attacks on one another would impact the execution of the deal’s clauses but they fail to appreciate that this act only compounds the issue. Besides, the promises are made based on a consensual agreement; employing force to achieve aims isn’t feasible. The growing violence and the consistent refusal of appeals for a ceasefire during the pandemic are utterly against what a peace deal stands for. Given the circumstances, the peace pact has proven to mean nothing for innocent Afghans and the situation heralds that the deal is doomed for failure as the gains achieved so far are gradually being reversed by the intensified violence. At this juncture, in light of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, there is an urgent need to cease victimizing Afghans, who are losing lives both to the virus and conflict. Therefore, the issues arising from the deal such as accusing one another of violating the pact should be resolved at the earliest. Meanwhile, the warring parties should realize that violation of the pact isn’t a justifiable reason for them to respond with violence and that this strategy will take them back to the battlefield – something that neither of the sides wants considering the milestones achieved so far.

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