The war against terrorism was never waged with the thought that it will further complicate the Afghanistan predicament. The Intricacy of the Afghanistan enigma is being thwarted day by day as the country’s traumatic experience of incessant civil friction, and a muddled socio-politico and economic situation surges into a straining liability. The political situation remains mostly apprehensive because of intrigues among ethno-political groups and individuals. Paradoxically, the country has witnessed many ups and downs because of the presence of foreign forces who have tried to run the state affairs in their own manner, thus resulting in more chaos. Afghanistan has remained the hub of Taliban and the country is witnessing burgeoning activities of Taliban groups again for the past few years, which is surely very challenging for the fragile government and security apparatus of Afghanistan. It was speculated that Taliban insurgent undertakings will spread in Afghanistan and they will extend their onslaughts to other parts of Northern provinces including Faryab, Takhar, Baghlan and Badakhshan in addition to the Southern and Eastern provinces of Afghanistan.

Recently, Taliban attacked a military base in the northern area of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing about 140 military personnel. According to earlier reports as many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, made their way into the base and opened fire on mostly unarmed soldiers eating and leaving a mosque after Friday prayers. They used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, and several detonated suicide vests packed with explosives to target personnel. The base is the headquarters of the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps, responsible for much of northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz, a province which has seen heavy fighting. This was a second attack where Taliban were disguised as military men. Earlier in March 2017, they appeared in the guise of medical personnel and stormed into a military hospital where they killed 50 people including patients and staff. Taliban spokesman, while accepting the responsibility of the attack claimed that the attack on the base was retribution for the recent killing of several senior Taliban leaders in northern Afghanistan.

Since the dismissal of Taliban regime in 2001, Afghanistan is constantly trying to have a stable political government which can hold comprehensive authority over the country. Lust for power among diverse political entities has left country into political marsh instead of amity. Hamid Karzai ruled Afghanistan for almost 13 years but his political landscape was painted with corruption, a troubled economy, plotting for realpolitik and as usual, bashing Pakistan. His aims to keep super and regional powers content and allowing a suitable place to India on the Afghan chessboard are true indicators of his Machiavellian moves. Following the presidential elections in April-June 2014, Afghanistan witnessed extreme political squabbling between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah as both indicted each other for fraud in the elections. The situation was resolved after USA’s jump with a deal for Ashraf Ghani becoming President and Abdullah Abdullah raised as CEO of the “National Unity Government”. Since then, the coalition government is struggling to deal with Afghanistan. It is pertinent to note that both individuals holding higher positions have to face the music differently because of personal and institutional divisions. The Afghan bureaucracy and politics is overloaded with personal preferences from both sides to run affairs of the state. Apart from the presence of Allied Forces, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) comprises of Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan Border Police (ABP), National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Afghan Local Police (ALP). ALP is a US funded local defence force to counter Taliban. It is now proven with facts that Afghan safety toolkit is corroding with corruption, ethnic divides, inability to run organisations and ghost employees. In one of quarterly reports of the US Government’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), it is pointed that audits of ANA and ANP data does not confirm the exact number of soldiers and policemen at their disposal. The report mentions that there is a huge number of ‘ghost soldiers’ and official figures (February 2015) for numbers of personnel including unknown number of ghost soldiers are 167,024 for ANA (not including civilian personnel) and 154,685 for ANP. Recently, the US military has wiped more than 30,000 names of suspected ghost Afghan soldiers from its payroll, as part of a widening corruption crackdown that will save the US millions of dollars each month. Earlier the watchdog SIGAR reported that Afghan soldiers are involved in selling weapons and vehicles to enemy which Afghan Defence Ministry denied that it was problem in past but not now. Similarly, transitory takeover of Kunduz by Taliban in Sep 2015, exposed the incapacity of NDS and Afghan forces in monitoring, analysing, forewarning and withstanding Taliban offensives. It even caused discomfiture for the Allied forces particularly the USA that has spent lavishly on capacity building of the Afghan security forces.

This fresh attack by Taliban indicates a major security breach in Balkh, but also the start of the insurgents’ spring offensive. In 2016, more than 6,700 Afghan forces were killed in battle. In January 2017, more than fifty people including four of UAE embassy staff were killed. Afghanistan, after this recent attack, must look at its strategies to tackle Taliban as one of the video recently released shows that this attack has facilitators within and after Kandahar blast in which UAE Ambassador was killed also exposed that blast was supported by inside elements. It is important for Afghanistan to understand that instead of the blame game, they have to change themselves else no aid will work for them. Afghan government needs to focus more on the internal dimensions of conflict and put their own house in order.

According to earlier reports as many as 10 Taliban fighters, dressed in Afghan army uniforms and driving military vehicles, made their way into the base and opened fire on mostly unarmed soldiers eating and leaving a mosque after Friday prayers.