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By Ambassador Dr. Zia Nezam,-Former Afghan Ambassador to Vienne, Brussels, Rome and Vatican

The Dalai Lama has said, “there is no Muslim or Christian terrorist, because terrorists no longer religious once they embrace terrorism.” Terrorism is the use of violence against innocent people as a means of achieving political, religious, or ideological goals. Slaughtering innocents is forbidden by religions. The Tibetan spiritual leader is right in saying that terrorists are against religion, especially Islam. Killing innocents in mosques, schools, on the street, or at a market has no connection to Islam. These kinds of murderous acts, regardless of who commits them are crimes against humanity. Terrorism is always wrong, and any differentiating between good and bad terrorism is fallacious. Terrorist actors are our common enemy. They threaten world peace and stability, and specifically,various terrorist groups are still trying to return Afghanistan to the Dark Ages.

It is not important whether terrorist acts are committed by Isis, Al Qaeda, Taliban, or another group. All their acts result in the killing of noncombatants and/or destruction of property. The name of the destroyer does not matter.  Let me give several recent examples: July 24, 2017, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a car bombing in Kabul, which left 31 people dead. All victims were civilians. October 20, 2017, over 90 people died in a wave of attacks across Afghanistan. Most were civilians; many were praying in a Sunni mosque, others in a Shia mosque. November 2, 2017, six International Red Cross members were killed in Jowzjan province by Islamic State gunmen.

The Haqqani terrorist network, affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, coordinates its bloody work with Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda groups. Bin Laden began his terrorist enterprise as a volunteer in the latter group in Miranshah, Pakistan. The Haqqani group is infamous for the slaughter and kidnapping of civilians; it offers nothing positive to civilization. With foreign and Afghan fighters, insurgents killed with bombs 150 civilians in Kabul’s “Green Zone” on May 31, 2017.

The terrorist acts described show us that there is little difference among terrorist groups in their destructive outcomes. Every ruthless cell, group, or network will kill any innocent Afghan civilian in order to promote their perverted interpretation of Islam and bankrupt ideology. Haqqani and Taliban have more Afghan adherents than Isis-affiliated organizations and are more likely to kill Afghan countrymen in mosques, schools, and hospitals. Isis killers, mostly not Afghan, but foreigners, are more likely to target foreigners as well as Afghans and their material assets in Afghanistan.

Yet under either approach, innocent Afghan citizens die. Any terrorist – by any name – in Afghanistan should be stopped. Afghans who kill Afghans, in my view, bear a greater guilt than foreigner terrorists in Afghanistan; however, all terrorists should be punished equally. Like a physician who must amputate a limb to save a patient’s life, we Afghans must condemn and reject even family members who engage in terrorism in any degree.  In trying to distinguish different categories of terrorists in order to give preferential consideration to Afghans, we create confusion in the minds of our security forces, putting in danger their lives and the stability of our country, as we move toward greater democracy and a better economy.

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