After the Balkh attack


Neighbouring countries need to come to Afghanistan’s rescue


Within 8 days of the MOAB attack on ISIS caves and tunnels in the Nangarhar mountains, the Afghan Taliban launched a most dastardly attack on an army base in Northern Afghanistan. At least 140 were killed in the attack which turned out to be the deadliest in terms of Afghan military casualties in the country’s 16-year war. The attack comes in less than six weeks of a deadly gun-and-grenade assault on Afghanistan’s largest military hospital in Kabul killing more than 100 people. In both attacks insiders were supposed to have played a role. Among other things the Balkh attack has led to a debate in Afghanistan on the role of insiders and the capacity of the security agencies to deal with such attacks.


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa have condemned the attack, expressed grief over the loss of lives and shown solidarity with Afghan army and government. The COAS said terrorists are our common enemy and we shall defeat them.  The FO has affirmed Pakistan’s commitment to working closely with the Afghan government as well as the international community in the fight against the scourge of terrorism. This is fine but of little practical use in the presence of a yawning credibility gap between Islamabad and Kabul. Both countries badly need to take meaningful measures to overcome the persisting doubts and suspicions.


Despite offers of talks by the Afghan government the Taliban continue on the warpath.  Unless the Taliban are made to see that they are bound to lose the war, which has not been done so far, there is little likelihood of their coming to the negotiating table. It is unlikely on the part of the Trump administration ordering another surge in Afghanistan because of the war weariness prevailing in the US. Under the circumstances there is a need for Afghanistan to seek the support of its neighbors like Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran who are equally wary of the terrorists. Perhaps Kabul will do this after getting frustrated with Trump.