Following the announcement of their spring offensive, the Taliban have managed to wrest control of Kunduz’s Qalayezal, Badakhshan’s Zebak and Eshkashm districts in addition to some key strategic areas in northern Faryab province from government forces. Fighting has reached the doorsteps of Kunduz city, which was overrun twice by the Taliban last year, and the Taliban even mostly shut the highway connecting capital Kabul with the country’s north in Baghlan province. The escalation has once again caused a humanitarian crisis, with some reports suggesting that fighting has forced many families on the outskirts of Kunduz city to flee their homes.
Kunduz has become a “bleeding wound” for the government in the country’s north. The Taliban captured the strategic city twice during the rule of the National Unity Government (NUG); however, the negligent officials and those who were the prime cause of the fall of the city were not held accountable because of the culture of impunity and clear government weakness. Despite the assignment of an investigation team, the government did not disclose details about the collapse of Kunduz, which was the first time the militants took control of a provincial capital after their regime was toppled. Furthermore, the capture of districts in Badakhshan by the Taliban seemed a dream until a few years ago because they were unable to do so even when they were in power, and control of nearly 95 percent of Afghanistan.
The security situation of northern provinces, especially Kunduz, is a black mark on the government’s credibility, for which no one from the president to the heads of security and defense institutions have any compelling reasons. Afghan forces and the Taliban cannot be compared in terms of number and equipment in the province, yet the Taliban managed to capture it from the government. If the tragedy of the fall of Kunduz is repeated for a third time, it will not only be a major failure for the government, but also a big shame.