The Promising Report on Decreasing Civilian Deaths
The number of civilian casualties in the country has dropped for the first time in six years. According to a United Nations report on civilian casualties, during the year 2012, the deaths of civilians dropped 12 percent as the report by UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that 2,754 civilians had been killed and nearly 5,000 people injured in the last year. In the midst of war and violence, indeed, this a promising decrease in civilian casualties.
This is while a previous UN report indicated that civilian casualties in Afghanistan had been considerably rising during the third quarter of 2012. At the time, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over the “unacceptable toll” of the civilians in Afghan conflict. According to the UN officials in Afghanistan, about 81 percent of the casualties are attributed to the anti-government insurgents groups.
All news about the deaths of innocent people is heartbreaking. For past twelve years, the Afghans have been desperately in search of peace and tranquility. Increasingly, there are signs of hopes that the bloodshed particularly the casualties of civilians would decline, as the UN report suggests that the civilian casualties are decreasing.
According to the UNAMA, the main reasons behind the recent decrease in civilian fatalities are the decrease in suicide bombings, ground warfare and air strikes. But still the challenges ahead are much harder to overcome in near future and much more price needs to be paid for peace and security. Still the insurgents have not denounced violence as they pursue their goal of terrorizing the innocent civilians and noncombatants.
The promising report comes at a time when the NATO-US troops are heading to exit gates, leaving the Afghan forces on their own to provide security. But the mission, at least in near future, is not fulfilled. Ahead of withdrawal of US-NATO forces from the country, the possible intensification of warfare in next spring would be signaling an uncertain future for the ongoing war against insurgency.
All the events underscore 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 needs to 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 untested 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 much more to be done. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is responsible for minimum share of the civilian deaths 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 to stress on the role of Afghan government and the United Nations to resolutely continue the efforts aimed at decreasing civilian casualties.