This year has been the worst for Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban in terms of insecurity with insurgency in the country becoming “more resilient, multi-structured and deadly” despite U.S. President Barrack Obama's promise that deployment of additional troops would “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” Taliban insurgents and their Al-Qaeda allies in the region.

This is the finding of the Afghan Rights Monitor (ARM) in its mid-year report on conflict-related civilian casualties. As against 1,059 civilians killed in the first six months of 2009, 1,074 were killed till June-end this year; majority of them victims of Improvised Explosive Devices. Of this, 61 per cent has been attributed to the insurgents and 20 per cent to U.S./NATO forces.

While the reduction in aerial strikes has brought some relief, 210 civilian deaths are still alleged to be cause by U.S./NATO forces. “Indiscriminate and allegedly deliberate shooting by U.S./NATO soldiers on civilian people and cars — the so-called ‘escalation of force incidents' — resulted in 30 unwanted deaths and dozens of injuries,” said the report; adding that dozens of civilians were killed in “violent and barbaric intrusions, raids into houses and other counter-insurgency operations” by the U.S./NATO forces.

The ARM is also very critical of the United Nations which, according to the report, has been “effectively paralysed in almost 90 per cent of Afghan territory due to self-paranoia and extreme risk-prevention measures adopted by U.N. agencies”. And, while aid money is coming in, much of it gets wasted because of the “remote control” project modality adopted by the U.N.

Referring to the Taliban's boast that it is the future of Afghanistan, the ARM is of the view that if the insurgents continue to hold sway over the country it is because of the collective mistakes of the U.S./NATO forces and the government of President Hamid Karzai. “From reckless aerial bombardments on civilian areas to violent and disrespecting house searches by U.S./NATO forces to predatory and abusive governance by Hamid Karzai and his domestic corrupto-criminal allies, the list of wrongdoings and crimes which have alienated people and fuelled Taliban propaganda is very long.”

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