Afghanistan’s fragile government picks a dangerous fight

Mar 01, 2018

President Ghani does not have much to smile about

FROM behind the counter of his optician’s shop on the north bank of the Kabul river, Noorullah looks anxiously at his ten-year-old son. He fears for the boy’s education under the current government and—worse—for his life. In the past month terrorists from Islamic State and the Taliban have run amok in the city, killing 150 civilians. Police recently found a suicide vest at a nearby checkpoint. “These attacks are good for the government,” he says bitterly. “They are the only reason it is still surviving. People are afraid to go on the streets and protest.”

Pressure is building on the government of President Ashraf Ghani nonetheless. He has labelled a recent suicide bombing, which killed 105 civilians, as his “9/11”. But the government does not seem capable of stopping the attacks. Its haplessness is emboldening critics. Mr Ghani remains in a stand-off with the governor of the northern province of Balkh, Atta Muhammad...

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