RECENTLY the top UN representative in Kabul grimly remarked that in 2016, success for Afghanistan would be measured in binary terms: whether it survived or not. Afghan security forces are routinely approaching collapse. Annual fatalities of Afghan civilians and security forces have doubled in five years to roughly 10,000 in 2015. Since 2001, Afghanistan has suffered roughly 75,000 fatalities. For perspective, that death toll would be the equivalent of Pakistan — a country with six times the population — losing nearly half a million people.
Deteriorating security conditions pose political consequences for the Afghan government. With nearly 30pc of fatalities occurring in the past two years despite Afghan President Ghani’s failed outreach efforts, insecurity is driving Afghan disillusionment as the national government approaches collapse. Sixty-five per cent of parliament expressed dissatisfaction with President Ghani. His public disapproval ratings outstrip his approval ratings, which plummeted by more than half by August 2015 at such a precipitous rate they could be in the single digits today.
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