ISAF hails OSI report on night raids
KABUL (PAN): A report released on Monday by a US think-tank suggests that increased nighttime raids by NATO-led foreign troops have engendered a sense of resentment that has led to undercutting battlefield gains.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) welcomed the New York-based Open Society Institute (OSI) findings about the use of operations. The force said it would assess the recommendations aimed at improving effectiveness of the night raids.
"Every night operation has an Afghan component integrated throughout the
process both in planning and approval and it is either partnered or, in most instances, they are conducted unilaterally by Afghans,” ISAF added.
In response to emailed queries from Pajhwok Afghan News, the NATO-led force insisted night operations were an effective method of keeping rebels under pressure. It said 85 percent of such offensives were conducted without a single shot being fired.
The OSI report acknowledged international troops had made important improvements in the way they conducted night raids, following complaints from the Afghan government that its citizens were being treated unfairly.
However, the raids breed discontentment and mistrust among both ordinary Afghans -- who feel less secure knowing that men in uniform may burst into their homes at any time -- and the government that has repeatedly called for a halt.
According to the report, such raids undermine efforts to reconcile with those who are open to leaving the insurgency.
President Hamid Karzai has also publicly denounced the raids in his speeches and interviews, accusing the troops of treating civilians as insurgents and violating citizens' privacy in a deeply conservative society.
Troops on night raids are also regularly accused of mistreating women or defiling copies of the Quran. Though the allegations often turn out to be specious, yet they still damage the reputation of NATO soldiers.
International troops conducted an average of 19 raids a night between December 2010 and February 2011, according to NATO figures cited in the report. One NATO official said in April as many as 40 raids might take place each night.
"The escalation in raids has taken the battlefield more directly into Afghan homes, sparking tremendous backlash among the Afghan population," the report said, adding: "Complaints over night raids have marred Afghan relations with international partners, particularly the United States, and have complicated long-term strategic partnership discussions.
"Afghan civilians are bearing the brunt of the surge in raids, without seeing security improvements," said Erica Gaston, the author of the report.
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