Deadly attack

A suicide bomb attack followed by shooting in a restaurant in Kabul that killed 21 people appears to have been aimed at foreign nationals. The restaurant was frequented by foreigners. Of the 21 fatalities, 13 were from abroad. Among the dead were the IMF’s chief of mission in Kabul and several UN officials.

 The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which has been described as the deadliest on foreign civilians since 2001. While not naming Pakistan, Afghanistan’s National Security Council blamed “foreign intelligence services beyond the border” for the attack, arguing that the Taliban does not have the capability to carry out attacks of the sophistication and complexity of the one in Kabul on Friday. The NSC’s observation underscores again the Pakistan’s doublespeak. It claims to be supporting the Afghan peace process but its intelligence agency, the ISI, continues to mastermind deadly killings in Afghanistan. Underlying this duplicity is Islamabad’s willingness to target only anti-Pakistan terrorists such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), even as it nurtures terrorist groups unleashing violence in Afghanistan and in India, such as the Afghan Taliban, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, etc. This selective approach will not work as there are links between the TTP and Afghan Taliban as well as other terror groups in the region. Over the last couple of days, the TTP has carried out two deadly attacks; one near Pakistan’s main military headquarters at Rawalpindi, which killed 13 people, and another inside an army compound in Bannu in the country’s northwest that killed 20 soldiers. Pakistan must realize that it remains vulnerable to violence so long as it supports terror outfits.

The suicide bombing in Kabul has deepened the anxiety of its residents, who are already apprehensive over the implications of Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan. Analysts are predicting a surge in Taliban attacks in the capital. While Taliban hits Kabul, Nato’s military operations and air strikes in populated areas outside Kabul is taking a heavy toll of civilian lives. A recent NATO airstrike in Parwan province killed 14 civilians. The attack on the Kabul restaurant will impact the work of international NGOs in Afghanistan. Those based in the capital will be tempted to pullout their personnel and scale down operations. This would be unfortunate as some of these NGOs have brought positive change in the lives of ordinary Afghans. Scaling down humanitarian assistance and capacity building work will only deepen civilian suffering.

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