Rogue element in Afghanistan

  • Recent talks didn’t take them into account

The Human Rights Watch (HRW), a USA-based advocacy group, has said in a report that CIA-backed paramilitaries commit extrajudicial killings, orchestrate forced disappearances and attack medical facilities, in short, commit war crimes. As the report notes, these militias nor their activities have been discussed during the USA-Taliban talks, presently stalled, raising the spectre of these elements, brutalised ad even dehumanised by their activities, remaining to serve the government of the day in their peculiar grisly way. This only adds to the many problems faced by an already war-ravaged country. Apart from the ravages of war going back to the 1979 Soviet invasion, there are also the endemic problems of corruption, poverty and lawlessness which have afflicted post-Taliban Afghanistan.

The HRW report also discloses that the USA has changed the rules for targeting air strikes, with the new rules leading to disproportionate harm being caused to civilians. The really shocking aspect of the report is to what extent the USA has been using paramilitaries, even though it has already raised the Afghanistan National Forces and to which it says it will transfer the role presently played by the US forces. The use of paramilitaries was also a marked feature of the Vietnam War, and the grave difficulties in resettling these forces that occurred later. It might be noted that members of these forces were treated as traitors by the North Vietnamese forces when they achieved a final victory, and there is no reason to believe that the Taliban would render condign justice if they ever came to power. That is a possibility that cannot be ruled out.

The talks, which had reached the stage of an agreement, had dealt with such human rights issues as the Taliban attitude towards the woman’s rights achieved under the post-Taliban regime, or constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights, had not dealt with the paramilitaries issue, even though it too was a rights issue. Those responsible for such an institutionalised means of violating fundamental rights need to be brought to book, even if it means the USA accepting the jurisdiction of international courts over its government personnel for war crimes, something it does not do at present. The Afghan people have enough problems as it is, and do no need another one.