Taliban’s Unending Atrocities
In response to the tragic deaths of the terrorist attack at Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan’s media organizations announced a two-week boycott on the Taliban media coverage. The move came after the deadly attack in Kabul which led to the deaths of nine people including AFP reporter Ahmad Sardar along his two children and wife. The killing of the AFP along with his family has sparked widespread condemnations from Afghans particularly the media community and the young generation. On the other hand, President Karzai, who has come under extreme pressures recently to denounce Taliban’s atrocities, expressed optimisms over Taliban’s approach to peace, saying the militants wanted peace.
In his speech to an opening ceremony for the new educational year, President Karzai refrained to directly denounce the Taliban’s recent atrocities, only referring to the perpetrators of the violence as coming from beyond the borders. The President’s refusal to openly the Taliban as terrorists has angered most of Afghans who believe that the government’s leniency towards the militant groups does not help peace and security in Afghanistan. The Afghan media advocacy organization, NAI, criticized the government of its vague policies towards the Taliban, saying it has created confusions among the media over the government’s formal policy against the terrorists.
The move to boycott Taliban coverage and label the group as a terrorist group would further pressurize the government of Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai to shift stance over the Taliban. More importantly, it will pin the national focus on atrocities which the Taliban commit on daily basis. In recent months, there has been growing antipathy among the public over Taliban’s continued atrocities and Karzai’s insistence of calling the militants as ‘disgruntled brothers’. The move by the journalists would help building a more coherent stance from the mainstream against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
As the election date is approaching, the Taliban has intentionally waged a bitter campaign of violence in recent months and weeks targeting combatants and non-combatants alike. Determined to disrupt the upcoming presidential election, the militants are going to even further intensify the violence. The horrifying issue is that in contrast to any international laws, the Taliban seem to deliberately target the civilians, possibly with the aim to cower the people from going to polling stations. The intensification of violence by the Taliban needs a widespread and extensive response from the whole society and the religious figures. If this happens, it will build a public pressure against the insurgent groups.
Therefore, the media, civil society and activists need to take concerted efforts to pressurize the Taliban through public mobilization. As it has vowed in the past, the Taliban must commit to protecting civilians and avoid committing violence against non-combatants. However, though the chance is rare, a growing public pressure might force the Taliban and other insurgent groups to care more for the civilians.