Taliban gains

July 30, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

As an election crisis threatens the stability of the government in Kabul, the Taliban are making huge gains outside the capital.

Afghanistan is currently fighting two crises. The first one, as the world knows, was caused by an enemy, the Taliban, but the second one, unfortunately, is caused by the government itself after allegations of fraud in the presidential election. The crisis over the presidential election is sapping the vital energy and time required for fighting its formidable foe, the Taliban. The government ordered a vote recount after unofficial and disputed preliminary results of the June 14 runoff election showed former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well ahead of his rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah who was widely expected to win. A deal negotiated later by US provides that every one of the 8 million ballots will be audited under national and international supervision over three or four weeks. But the recount is expected to take longer, threatening to prolong the crisis.

As the government is busy trying to solve the election crisis, the Taliban are focusing on consolidating their gains. And reports emerging from outside Kabul in the past few days have been scary. Taliban fighters are said to be scoring early gains in several strategic areas across the country, inflicting heavy casualties and casting new doubt on the ability of Afghan forces to fight the insurgency as the United States moves fast to complete its withdrawal of troops.  The confidence of insurgents has surged, while reports of huge setbacks are sure to hit the morale of the troops. The Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar warned on Friday that a bilateral security pact allowing thousands of US troops to stay in the country beyond the end of this year will mean more fighting. Mullah also called on both Afghan presidential candidates not to sign the agreement. The Taliban have found made inroads beyond their traditional strongholds and are now controlling land near crucial highways and cities that surround the capital. The insurgents’ advance has gone largely unnoticed because most American forces have left the field and government officials are not talking about it. According to a New York Times report, “local officials and residents in several strategic areas around the country suggest that, given the success of their attacks, the Taliban are growing bolder just two months into the fighting season, at great cost to Afghan military and police forces.”

At a time when the government should be focusing all its energies on equipping itself for the post-US withdrawal days, it’s focused on the election crisis which is threatening the government’s stability. There are serious worries about the preparedness of Afghan forces to fight the Taliban and the latter’s gains in the past two months have only strengthened the fears•