Afghan media round on Karzai

NATO soldiers run during a gun battle in Kabul
Image caption NATO soldiers and Afghan security forces took on militants in Kabul

Afghan media and pundits are blaming President Hamid Karzai's peace programme and a massive intelligence failure for the Taliban's co-ordinated attacks on high-profile diplomatic and government areas of Kabul and the provinces.

The attacks claimed by Taliban insurgents received massive coverage on Afghan media over two days as TV channels attempted to show parts of Kabul under attack.

'Hostage Afghanistan'

Former Afghan Vice-President Ahmad Zia Masud on the independent Tolo News channel called on President Karzai to resign over the attacks after a relative lull in violence in the capital.

"If this government has any feeling, it must resign as soon as possible and pave the way for an elected government and a transparent political process. This government has taken the people of Afghanistan hostage," he said.

The chief editor of secular Hasht-e Sobh newspaper Ajmal Sohail blamed a huge intelligence failure.

"This shows our massive intelligence failure. Unfortunately, the intelligence forces are not able to identify and prevent such attacks despite the extensive and costly experience they now have," he told the Tolo programme.

Faizollah Jalal, a university lecturer and a staunch critic of Karzai, said the Taliban had used the attacks to discredit the Karzai government.

"These attacks had a very clear message. The Taliban have again shown their strength to reflect the weakness of Karzai's corrupt government to its allies such as the USA, Europe and the international community," Mr Jalal told Tolo's Farakhabar programme.

Many commentators said that the attacks gave the Taliban coveted media coverage.

Sanjar Sohail, an opposition politician, told Afghan News TV that the Taliban want to attract the attention of the world's media through such spectacular attacks: "The Taliban in this way can make headlines and be the focus of the international and local media."

On private Noor TV's "End of the Line" talk show, ex-MP and analyst Fazlollah Mojadeddi said: "They want in this way to raise their voice to the entire international community and demonstrate their continuing presence and strength," Mojadeddi said.

Peace process doubts

Afghan opposition papers also said the co-ordinated Taliban attacks were a sign of the failure of President Karzai's ambitious peace process and efforts to bring the insurgents to the negotiating table.

"The Taliban's targeting of locations in Kabul city and the provinces at a time when the debate on peace talks has increased is a sign of the failure of the efforts and slogans of the peace process," a leader in the Mandegar daily said.

The Arman-e Melli daily said the Taliban were trying to send a message to the government and the rival Hezb-e Eslami group that the Taliban should be the only side in the peace talks.

"The Taliban attacks in Kabul city could be a warning to Hezb-e Eslami and the government that the only the Taliban can say the first word," it said

Private Daily Afghanistan also criticized the government for pursuing a "failed" peace process and wasting resources.

"After years of wasting time, the government and international forces must review their strategy on the Taliban and prevent a repeat of past mistakes."

However, pro-government Weesa newspaper was stunned by the major attacks in Kabul's diplomatic enclave and in the provinces, speculating that the Taliban was trying to show its power ahead of a Nato summit in May.

Another pro-government newspaper, Pashto-language Sarnawesht, gave a similar assessment, saying the Taliban were trying to undermine the progress achieved between Kabul and Washington on a strategic pact and in the peace process.

"Maybe the Afghan side's success in the strategic pact, the visit by a Hezb-e Eslami delegation to Kabul, and in general the opening of a new page in the peace process, are the issues behind the attacks," the paper said.

Meanwhile, state-run Anis newspaper reiterated the government's resolve to talk to the Taliban and other armed opponents despite the attacks and praised Afghan security forces.

"The head of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan has described the will for peace as a religious principle and said that the only way to ensure stability in the country is peace and efforts for the peace process can pave the way for the reduction and withdrawal of the foreign forces".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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