April 26, 2016
President Ashraf Ghani
Afghan President Ghani’s efforts at securing Pakistan’s cooperation to kick-start peace talks with the Taliban have been a failure. His national unity government is looking increasingly fragile.
The massive bomb blast in the heart of Kabul last week, which claimed about 70 lives and left nearly 350 people injured, marked the beginning of the 2016 fighting season — not that there had been much of a let-up in violence during the winter months. Since the Taliban had announced the launch of ‘Operation Omari’ a week earlier, a major attack was expected; yet the Kabul attack for which the Taliban claimed responsibility has shaken the weak National Unity Government (NUG) of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
Even before the Kabul blast on April 19, Kunduz city had been subjected to a planned attack involving nearly a thousand well-equipped Taliban fighters who had managed to get hold of two old T-63 tanks as well. Unlike last September when the Afghan troops had retreated from the city under attack, this time with the help of air power (including the Mi-25 attack helicopters provided by India last December), the Afghan security forces were able to hold their ground. However, the two most effective elements in Kunduz — Afghan Special Forces and air power — are in short supply.