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Rejection of Stanikzai amid deteriorating security situation

There have been reports of heavy casualties sustained by security forces battling the Taliban in Maidan Wardak province. This security deterioration is happening when President Ashraf Ghani’s third nomination for the Ministry of Defense was rejected by the parliament on Saturday. Ghani in May, nominated Masoom Stanikzai, a long term peace envoy, is the third nomination, who met outright rejection, though the President personally accompanied him to the Ministry of Defense and appointed him as an acting minister before his confirmation. The parliament has not rejected Masoom Stanikzai but Mr. Ghani’s choice. This is troublesome because the country doesn’t have a minister for defense. Since the formation of the fragile National Unity Government, this is the most violent year. There are three reasons behind the surge in violence. A weaker government. No defense minister. And the Afghan security forces are fighting independently without the combat support from the international coalition troops. However, the most important is the lack of an effective leadership at the ministry of defense. This crucial ministry has been without a minister for nine months and it is not sure how much longer it will take to have a minister of defense as the two leaders of the National Unity Government are locked in a silent war over key government postings. Senior members of the government slammed the response to the assault of the Taliban in Wardak as slow and ineffective. The Taliban are successfully exploiting the internal bickering of the leaders of the National Unity Government and repeated rejections of the nominees for the Defense Ministry by the Parliament.

This time the Taliban were horrendously horrific as they decapitated and burned some of the Afghan Local Police (ALP). President Ghani condemned the desecration of the bodies and called it a serious war crime. The searing anger of the Taliban to behead the bodies of security personnel and set their bodies on fire is the sheer act of revenge as the Taliban in many parts have received heavy casualties at the hands of security forces. This clearly shows the Taliban have lost their senses out of defeat. As many as 23 Taliban fighters have been killed in airstrike in Faryab province carried by Afghan Air Force the other day. The airstrike was carried out after a swarm of the Taliban stormed Kohistan district of the province. The Taliban, during the recent months, have captured some of the districts in Kunduz province, but they couldn’t hold their control over the captured districts for longer as they were reclaimed by security forces, which clearly shows they cannot stand the ground, but the problem is that there is no defense minister and the government looks divided over key government posts. The Taliban reportedly overran about 11 security checkpoints in Wardak province since the battle began, but hundreds of supporting forces, who reached the area on Friday and Saturday, had reclaimed at least seven of the checkpoints and secured the government buildings in central Jalrez. Moreover, looking at the growing insecurity in Afghanistan, the US Senator John McCain on Saturday asked the Obama administration to review the pullout strategy. The review is a must as there has been a sharp increase in the Taliban’s attacks, Iran’s support to the group and the appearance of Daesh in Afghanistan.

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