On Sunday, the world was once again shaken to see a series of attacks carried out by the Taliban forces on a number of strategic targets in Afghanistan like the Afghan Parliament, diplomatic residences, NATO’s headquarters, and many embassies. The Kabul Star Hotel, which is located near the Presidential Palace, was also attacked. Many embassies including the US, German and British Consulates were targeted. Kabul’s tony neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan that has the diplomatic quarters had bullets raining down. Outside of Kabul, the eastern capitals of Paktia, Logar and Nangarhar provinces were also under attack on Sunday as suicide bombers tried to storm a NATO base, an airport apart from police installations there.
In the 18-hour attacks, more than 36 militants have been killed. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the well-planned attacks that were carried out to make a show of their strength to be able to carry out audacious strikes in important locations at will. The fact that the NATO forces along with the Afghan Security Forces were caught unawares points to significant intelligence lapses. Even Presiden Karzai referred to it. Like it or not, the people of Afghanistan are once again filled with dread as they get the feeling of being sitting ducks despite the presence of a large number of security forces from across the globe. The Taliban had been planning the attacks since the past two months and claim to have painstakingly worked out all details. It is believed that the Pakistan-based Haqqani network could be behind the attacks as stated by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Yet, there is no concrete basis for these claims.
The attacks were carried out with the help of rocket-launched grenades, guns and suicide bombers. The intention was to do maximum damage and extend the operation for as long as possible. This attack once again shows how vulnerable Afghanistan situation is. It is anybody’s guess that the confidence level is really low that Afghanistan forces will be able to effectively thwart any such attacks in the future especially without the guidance and military prowess of the NATO forces.
The Afghan forces have been praised for their role in dealing with the attacks by the NATO commanders, but it is apparent that there is growing unease about the fact that the Taliban forces could so easily reach into maximum-security neighborhoods including those close to Afghan President’s palace and target them.
In a country that is slowly limping towards a semblance of normalcy, attacks of these kinds are a big blow both to the actual process and to the image. This is a major attack after last September’s attack on NATO headquarters and US Embassy.
The attack has once again shown that in the war-ravaged Afghanistan, peace is fragile. Despite, multiple claims by the NATO forces, the Afghan Forces will not be ready to handle the security of their country once the combat NATO forces have retreated. This will be a tough call to make for the NATO forces at the end of 2014 because it risks plunging the country into a crisis of being taken over once again by the regressive Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces who are waiting on the sidelines to hurtle Afghanistan once again on the path of bloodshed, war, and turmoil.
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