An Afghan committee syas that up to 20 US soldiers have been involved in the Sunday killing of at least 16 Afghan civilians in Khandahar Province. The committee or fact-finding mission has been set up by the Afghan Parliament to investigate the killing of at least 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar`Panjwayi district.
On March 11 a
soldier of the US military in Kandahar came out of his camp at night
and began shooting people indiscriminately. Sixteen residents of the
area were killed and many more received injuries, some of them left in
entered homes, insulted women and went on a shooting spree. The dead
included nine children and three women. This is not the first time
American soldiers have targeted innocent civilians “for fun.” Earlier
they had shocked the people of the war-torn country by urinating on
three dead Afghans, allegedly militants, and passing obscene remarks
about the corpses. The desecration of the Holy Quran at Bagram airbase
came on the heels of that incident, causing a wave of violent protests
that caused more than 30 deaths, including six American troops.
is a background to such incidents of madness and cruelty. For quite
sometime now news had been coming of US soldiers becoming drug addicts
while on duty in Afghanistan. Some soldiers on their return to the US on
completion of their assignments have tried to commit suicide. Some
others divorced their wives. Perhaps the long duration of their stays
under inhospitable conditions and being away from families caused
The other factor leading to such gory
incidents is the mindset that the “coalition forces are in occupation”
of the country and as “occupiers” they have the right to carry out such
actions. Yet another reason for such incidents is the lack of
accountability of those who commit such atrocities.
incident will no doubt cause more complications for President Hamid
Karzai who is now preparing to sign a long-term security agreement with
the US. Public resentment will grow and calls for the withdrawal of
coalition forces will gather momentum. The president’s detractors will
have new reasons to attack him. In desperation more people will join the
swelling ranks of the resistance, which will spread farther and deeper
into western and northern Afghanistan.
Uzbeks, Turkmen and even Hazaras will become part of a growing
insurgency. There will inevitably be more attacks on US military
personnel by their Afghan colleagues in uniform.
an environment be conducive to the implementation of the long-term
security accord and will the agreement deliver anything positive to the
US? The most worrying thing for the Americans is that the US policy of
substantial economic assistance to a starving and hungry people has not
translated into any degree of support or sympathy for the US government
as far as the Afghan people are concerned. Indeed, the only real support
for the US presence comes from those who are beneficiaries of the US
intervention. They include contractors, governors, ministers, advisers
There is no likelihood of the cessation
of hostilities as long as foreign forces stay on the country’s soil. As
anger grows, frustration deepens and poverty spreads, the insurgency
wins more adherents. More and more people will begin to see an early end
to a system that is underpinned by external props. This will bring in
those on the sidelines. Such a situation will force more Afghan soldiers
to switch sides and join the resistance.
only be saved if the ground realities are acknowledged, the resistance
allowed to enter mainstream politics and attention is focused on saving
the country, rather than saving “systems,” “institutions” or, worse,
individuals. Afghanistan is larger than its decrepit institutions.
Sooner or later the US has to abandon hope of converting the country
into a huge forward operating base for Central Asia. It can still
salvage some goodwill if it allows the Afghan masses to assume control
of their destiny and not try to impose a system that it thinks is most
suitable for Afghanistan. The US should not impose its surrogates on a
helpless nation in the name of bringing democracy to the country.
attempts to bring “democracy” to Third World countries are tantamount
to bringing wholesale destruction to the countries concerned, as has
been seen in Iraq and Libya. The futility of a war which should not have
been started in the first place is becoming all too obvious.
declared objective for the Afghan war was the defeat of Al-Qaeda. But
Leon Panetta, then chief of the CIA, said two years ago that the number
of Al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan was less than 50. It is not clear
whether all those less-than-50 members of the organisation are taking
part in the ongoing insurgency. This does prove conclusively that the
insurgency in Afghanistan is completely indigenous.
incompatible with the status of a big power like the US to be chasing
the remnants of an organisation which no longer poses any threat to its
security and in the process it continues to wreak destruction on a poor
country devastated by more than three decades of conflict.
By Rustam Shah Mohmand
The writer is a former ambassador.
Sources: The News International