Civilian casualties giving rebels grounds to justify violent actions

Sunday, 11 February 2018 03:30 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 215 times

Civilian casualties are considered a major driver of Afghan war. Families of victims of airstrikes, ground operations and other security incidents often don’t find justice, leaving them with only one option, to avenge the death of their loved ones. However, it is unfortunately Afghans who find themselves on the receiving end of the revenge. 


Even if civilian casualties are caused by airstrikes or ground operations carried out by foreign troops, revenge is exacted on Afghans. If people are killed in terrorist attacks, still it is Afghans who are paying the price for the ensuring retaliatory actions. Beside other factors, it is the sense of retaliation that has fueled and protracted the conflict in Afghanistan. Sometimes, American troops target Afghan villages, giving militants a pretext to recruit more youth, and sometimes terrorist attacks in cities give foreign troops a ploy to conduct airstrikes which also mostly result in civilian casualties. 

Civilian casualties have increased once again recently. Civilians were targeted in Khost and Ghazni last week. Five brothers were killed by a local militia force formed and backed by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The force has long been accused of human rights violations and killing of civilians, but the government has never contained the force that continues to have a free hand in counterinsurgency operations. Similarly, helicopters have reportedly fired at children in the Dahyak district of Ghani province, killing four. No one else has been killed in the attack to make an excuse that there were militants. While the government and its western allies may try to justify such incidents under their counterinsurgency operations, such attempts will in fact backfire, and rather further strengthen the militants. These incidents present the Taliban an opportunity to justify their fight, and recruit more fighters. 

If government leaders really want peace, and the Taliban to weaken in the country, they should rather eliminate all pretexts the Taliban use to justify their actions. Killing a civilian in an operation makes more enemies by prompting locals to take up arms and turn against the government. As long as pro-government forces (Afghan and foreign) cause civilian casualties, the insurgents will not feel depletion in their ranks.




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