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U.N. Report Shows Taliban Tactics Claim Most Afghan Lives

The United Nations annual summary of the state of civilian casualties was published earlier today, Wednesday March 9th. The data are appalling: 2777 civilians were killed in 2010-that’s a 15% increase in civilian casualties relative to the year previous. Most of the civilian deaths have come on the heels of brutal and sustained fighting in the south of Afghanistan where NATO forces have tried to take ground that serves as home base to the Taliban.

Now, at once a more familiar and surprising fact is that Taliban insurgents are responsible for more than three-fourths, or 2080, of the civilian deaths reported. That number is a 28% increase over the data reported in the previous year.  The Taliban’s indiscriminating violence and assassination tactics have taken more lives than errant and unfortunate ISAF moves against the civilian population. Indeed, relative to the year past, the civilian deaths attributable to NATO air attacks have diminished at an impressive rate, though more work needs to be done.

Now, the U.S and NATO have taken their share of the responsibility for the senseless and tragic deaths of civilians and certainly going forward into 2012 and beyond, ISAF must do everything it can to pull down the number of individual civilian deaths for which it might be held responsible. But from a strategic perspective the U.N, the U.S. and NATO need to drive home the point that the Taliban, Afghans gone to seed in their moral standing, are responsibile for spilling Afghan blood.

This point must be driven home to the people of Afghanistan and especial attention must be paid to educating one Afghan in particular about the relevant facts of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. That one individual is President Hamid Karzai.  He has long railed, sometimes righteously,  against NATO’s role in an uptick in civilian deaths over the recent months.  Now, he is right to the extent that some of those events have been horrifically tragic and nearly all seem to have preventable.  Nevertheless, as the U.N. data show, the two largest causes of civilian deaths are makeshift bombs and the contagion of assassinations in the southern parts of Afghanistan.

President Karzai must bear up the fact that his own Pashtun people are seeing to their brother’s demise, bloodied and strewn about the streets and mountain roads of Kandahar and Helmand Provinces.  If the War in Afghanistan is to be drawn down to a successful finish and if the Afghan people take up their own politics in their own hands, they must understand that the major deterrent to their progress is the Taliban’s move to cut down their own kin.  The people of Afghanistan and their leaders, traditionally and comfortably tribal, must turn against these brutes, young men who might well live in the same villages where they feed and clothe their young children.  Perhaps these new data and a principled attempt to school Afghans on these data might help turn Afghans away from the Taliban, and toward their local and Kabul-based leaders. (Though what hope there is of that, given the run of corruption in Kabul is quite another question.)

Please find the full here.  At least give the executive summary a thorough read. It’s well worth your time.



Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

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