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Civilian Casualties on the Rise

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A UN report said that civilian casualties in Afghanistan have considerably risen in third quarter of this year. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over the “unacceptable toll” of the civilians in Afghan conflict, saying that civilian casualties increased by 28 percent between August and end of October this year compared to the same period in 2011. According to the UN officials in Afghanistan, approximately one thousand civilians have been killed in third quarter of the year, with more than 80 percent of that attributed to the anti-government insurgents groups.

The news is heartbreaking. For so long, the Afghans have been desperately in search of peace and tranquility. Previously, there were hopes that the bloodshed particularly civilian casualties would decline, as the reports suggested civilian casualties was decreasing. But the recent report by the UN shows that challenges ahead are much harder to overcome in near future and many more price need to be paid for security. In the meantime, the report is indication of the fact that the insurgents pursue their goal by terrorizing the innocent civilians and noncombatants.

The reports on increase of civilian casualties come at a time when the NATO-US troops are heading to exit gates, leaving the Afghan mission, at least not fulfilled, if not a debacle. Ahead of withdrawal of US-Nato forces from the country, the report draws a grim prospect for the uncertain future of the ongoing war against insurgency. Every such report underscores the need for strong commitment from the US-led international coalition to the ongoing war before 2014 deadline and strong supportive presence of US forces after 2014. For the sake of the future stability of Afghanistan, the government must secure efficient security pacts with our allied countries based on national interests.

Moreover, the Afghan government has stepped up efforts for beginning negotiations on cutting a peace deal with the insurgent groups. Regarding the process, the negotiations with the insurgent groups should get more paces in line with efforts for garnering support among the political parties and the people. The peace efforts remain the last unchecked option for settling the conflict as the military efforts alone have proved unable to ending the long-lasting crisis. Of course, the military campaign against the insurgent groups should go ahead unabatedly, as it is the way to convince the Taliban that they are unable to win militarily and persuade them to come on negotiation table.

So far, the government and foreign forces have done a lot to decrease the deaths of innocents and minimize civilian casualties but absolutely there is space more to be done. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is the least responsible for deaths of the civilians and thus highly respected among the Afghans. The forces have the ability to lead a new mission of providing more security and particularly protecting the populations. Maybe it is time for the government of Afghanistan and the United Nations to spearhead a new campaign aimed at decreasing civilian casualties.

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