A savage terrorist attack marred the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan in Afghanistan the other day. More than 20 persons including children died when the Taliban carried out a suicide blast near a bus station. This incident went almost unnoticed by the international community, which is still mourning the victims of the Manchester concert blast. No world leader cared to condemn the incident or offer condolences to the families of the victims. Why? If such a blast had occurred in a developed country heads of state the world over would have lost no time in condemning it and offering condolences. The number of Afghans killed in the latest terror strike has, as usual, become a mere statistic.
US President Donald Trump has pledged to induct more American boots in Afghanistan. He has not been moved by the suffering of the hapless Afghans troubled by terrorism. If US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent statement on Afghanistan is anything to go by, what has caused concern to the US is the ability of the Taliban to carry out attacks in other parts of the world. In other words, if the Taliban had limited their terrorism to Afghanistan the developed world wouldn’t have bothered to fight them.
Trump seems to think that the strengthening of US military presence, bombing and drone attacks will help neutralise the Taliban once and for all. Terrorism, no doubt, must be fought with might and main and military action is a prerequisite for any anti-terror campaign. Terrorists don’t understand any other language. But, the fact remains that the success of the ongoing military campaign against the Taliban hinges on the ability of the US-led forces to prevent the terrorists from recruiting combatants. The ISIS, al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists have fertile recruiting grounds in trouble-torn countries like Afghanistan. Decades of neglect, deprivation and violence in such societies have enabled the elements like the Taliban to brainwash the frustrated youth and produce human bombs in large numbers. When children, denied access to education and fed on a diet of bigotry and hatred grow up in an environment where violence is a way of life it is only natural that they take up arms later in life and fight for various macabre causes.
The US may drop thousands of bombs on Afghanistan and induct hundreds of thousands of soldiers to conduct ground operations there but still fail to realise its goal of eliminating the Taliban. For, it has not concentrated on other fronts. The need for creating an environment where the Afghan children and youth will receive a decent education and learn to cherish the value of democratic freedoms and human rights cannot be overemphasised. It is hoped that President Trump will take action to redouble the efforts being made to educate Afghan children and improve the economic conditions in that war-ravaged nation. Unless the socio-economic swamp in Afghanistan is systematically drained, the Taliban will continue to thrive. This is, in fact, something the US should have done decades ago after achieving its goal of driving the Russians away with the help of Afghan guerrillas. Had it invested in education, rekindling democracy and economic development in Afghanistan the meteoric rise of the Taliban wouldn’t have been possible.