The tragic incident of firing on civilian bus in Kandahar killing four including a woman and a child, has intensified the anti-US perception of people in South. Why does it happen again and again? After each tragic incident of civilian casualties, the forces are thought to have learnt from their blunders and avoid such blind firing, but we see it happening again very soon after the previous incident. The forces seems to be very ill-trained regarding the confrontation with civilians. Recently the US and NATO military officials restructured their engagement approach to avoid civilian casualties, but we see each day with a worst of it happening repeatedly.
Such incidents will only cause to intensify the anti-NATO perception of people, whom the US is trying to win by hearts and minds. Talking of that specific tragic incident in Kandahar, it has been reported that the bus didn’t stop approaching the convoy of troops after warning signals. Traveling on Kandahar-Kabul highway is one the worst in Afghanistan. Taliban try to make an appearance on the highway almost daily, in order to keep their fear of presence in the minds of people. Almost everyday there is a firefight between NATO and Afghan troops patrolling on the highway and Taliban militants and many times civilians come under fire. NATO vehicles have sign of “stay away” which all the civilian vehicles follow to avoid being killed!. But in very rare cases, be it misunderstanding due illiteracy or newcomers, of driver or his attention not being to the military convoy, causes deadly consequences. Forces could simply avoid all those casualties by some warning shots on mirror of the bus, or around it, or on tyre of the vehicle, but opening up indiscriminate fire on the vehicle shows the same mentality recently shown in the Wikileaks video from Kandahar where civilians are being killed like a battle in a video game. The other video promised by Wikileaks about Afghanistan civilian killings, to be released soon might prove this mentality.
Why civilian casualties happen again and again? Don’t they really take it serious? Civilian deaths have been one of the major reasons behind driving out young suicide bombers from the family of victims who are thirsty of the blood of those who killed their loved ones.
On the other hand, Taliban are responsible for majority of civilian casualties. Taliban IED and suicide attacks killed three times more civilians than the victims of the US, NATO and Afghan National Security Forces operations last year. When protesting against civilian casualties, the people need to condemn Taliban militants also, besides chanting “Death to America”, wish there was someday a protest rally against any Taliban atrocity with slogans “Death to Taliban” “Stop bombing schools” “Stop beheading people” and so on.
If the foreign troops in Afghanistan will not be serious about avoiding civilian casualties and making all out efforts to avoid any innocent lives, they would never win the hearts and minds of people. Our Government and the people must be honest and realistic about their outlook. Taliban kill larger number of civilians, this should also be condemned by the President and people.