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Editorial: House searches gone far beyond

Arbitrary house searches have gone far beyond what is necessary. It would also seem to run counter to internationally accepted counterinsurgency strategy, which calls for respecting people as well as their rights. US forces routinely used military force when carrying out house searches in Afghanistan, sometimes with insufficient regard to the requirements of applicable international humanitarian and human rights law.

The government in Kabul is under growing public pressure to improve security in the capital following a series of attacks claimed by Taliban and Islamic State militants. And concurrently it has approved a new security plan for the capital, as part of which suspicious houses will be searched and raided if necessary. Moreover, General Nicholson, an American top commander in Afghanistan, has said military operations targeting hideouts and probation centers of militants based in Kabul would be launched by US forces simultaneously with Afghan security forces—and probably house-to-house search also to be kicked off.

This possible involvement of American troops in house searches in Kabul has caused denigration as foreign troops don’t have a proud history in house raids. People are afraid that this could infringe people’s freedom. The much-touted security plan is purportedly intended to beef up security in the besieged capital and protect civilians from harm’s way. This ambitious plan needs a major overhaul before it transforms into an abomination. House searches need a cavernous intelligence gathering and processing and more importantly exclusion of foreign troops who are not privy to the rudiments of Afghan culture and sensitivities. And we should not forget the very fact that Afghan forces are capable more than before and have enough capacity to provide security of the capital city and there was no need for foreign troops.

US troops who had a full control of Afghan provinces in the early years of their presence had arbitrarily raided many houses and demolished many more in rural areas – where militants hide. The extent of their unnecessary force and violations of human values had prompted former president Hamid Karzai to ban night raids and house searches by the US forces after several complaints by the people over the misbehavior of American soldiers with them.

The reality unveils that the phenomenon of terrorism is being imported from vast terrorists a few hundred miles away from the porous borders of Afghanistan. The source of this infestation lies in radical madrassas inside Pakistan’s tribal belts which continue to be uncontained. Radical apprentices of these astray religious centers pass unrestrictedly from our grossly underprotected borders and infiltrate into everywhere they want inside Afghanistan. This is the root cause of the problem. The attention has been diverted from the very fountain of terrorism. The more the security basses orchestrate rigorous action plans to fend off militants from within Afghanistan, the more they falter as the problem stems from somewhere else.

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