Thursday, March 3, 2011

Be the Insurgent to Fight Insurgency

Every time some of us Afghans become a bit hopeful about the plight of this country, a series of suicide attacks on civilian centers packed with people, change our hopes to despair. Around six suicide attacks in the past 5 weeks in Kabul, Khost, Jalalabad ,Kunduz and Faryab have taken around 200 lives of ordinary Afghans fighting for survival on daily basis. While these are the official numbers on the national television, the real death toll has risen much more.

A number of Afghan journalists and activists had gathered one evening last week to share the growing tensions of the country, but our focus reversed abruptly as TOLOnews aired the video of the would be suicide bomber in Kabul Bank who shot people with so much joy.

The conversation continued … “ As the Counter –Insurgency takes momentum, and the Taliban get weaker, we get more suicide attacks and that particularly on civilian targets …and its happening as the General in a hurry ( hinting towards Gen. Petraeus) is being applauded for shortening the long war”…said one of the Kabul-based news publishers.

Many of us in that circle came to one conclusion that was already clarified somehow by the President’s Spokesperson earlier this week. Whenever Afghanistan seems to be making progress in terms of its security responsibilities, we have more attacks in the relatively calm regions that destabilize the whole country. The terror and havoc created by the video of the suicide attacker from Kabul Bank in Jalalabad is palpable on the faces of every Afghan you meet on the streets of Kabul.

According to the NDS Spokesperson almost 90 percent of the recent suicide attacks were commissioned in tribal areas of Pakistan but that is not a news anymore. What is more important for Afghanistan to understand and prevent at this level is that latter part of the NDS report which says that all these suicide attacks have been carried out by young emotional kids who have been either brain washed by the insurgent propaganda machinery or those who are forced to blow themselves by warning attacks on their families, in case they refrain. Furthermore, NDS stated that young kids are being kidnapped and forced into suicide terrorism.

These suicide attacks don’t only kill civilians but have more influential messages. Recent attacks on big Shopping Malls in Kabul, Bank in Jalalabad, ID registration office in Kunduz and Buzkashi Friday game in Faryab are attacks on progress and modernization indicators in Afghanistan. The insurgents and their masters are very successful at penetrating into the hearts and minds of Afghans and creating further terror. Something that Afghan government and its allies have badly failed at achieving.

At the same time, Afghans are tired of the blame game. Every now and then a governor, an NDS official or the leadership condemn the neighbors and the story is over and the next day we wake up to another suicide attack or bombing. What is more absurd about these blame games is the failures of the overall structures responsible to protect civilians to prevent these attacks when they know the source of terror. McChrystal has a lesson to share with the decision makers of Afghanistan and that is:

“In bitter, bloody fights in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it became clear to me and to many others that to defeat a networked enemy we had to become a network ourselves. We had to figure out a way to retain our traditional capabilities of professionalism, technology, and, when needed, overwhelming force, while achieving levels of knowledge, speed, precision, and unity of effort that only a network could provide. We needed to orchestrate a nuanced, population-centric campaign that comprised the ability to almost instantaneously swing a devastating hammer blow against an infiltrating insurgent force or wield a deft scalpel to capture or kill an enemy leader…..”

Many of Afghans in the bubble of Afghanistan’s ‘middle class elites’ who have greater expertise, understanding and outreach inside the country are somehow forced into corners and they end up being political activists , analysts or commentators in the media. While the government should have been utilizing their grasp of Afghanistan issues in fighting the ongoing insurgency by providing them with the strategic leadership positions. Instead, the Afghan government is getting rid of reformists and technocrats struggling for progressive developments in Afghanistan, as a goodwill gesture to its ‘angry brothers’ who continue slaughtering Afghan nation.

Many of us in that conversation had one solution though coming from contradicting backgrounds. Be the insurgent to fight the insurgency in Afghanistan. Use the same propaganda machinery to weaken the momentum created by the insurgents. Show quick response through prosecution and punishment of the captured bombers in the public eye – condemn suicide terrorism as part of a national campaign declaring suicide terrorism as an act of sedition and anti –Afghan patriotism and invite Afghan nation to fight anti-Afghan patriot elements. That is how we can unite the Afghan nation against terror.

And the conversations were interrupted by our fifty year old cook who came to invite us all for dinner. He had a more interesting message: “We fought world powers, but can’t fight these rented killers? If the leaders today announce that Afghan nation should unite against their enemies to save their motherland, the next day all of us will be at the borders defending this nation…”

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