“Fewer attacks don’t mean that the Taliban left the areas and that’s why their attacks have decreased,” says Ali Akbar Qasimi, a former Afghan Army general and a member of parliament from Ghazni province. He says that the Taliban and other insurgent groups remain active in many areas. Though members of the group may not be carrying out attacks, they often intimidate locals and impose their ultra-traditional views on rural communities.
The report also warns that a continued upsurge in criminality and the growth of irregular militias may present new problems for Afghanistan even if the downward trend of insurgent violence continues.
The drop in attacks comes at a time when there appears to be widening fissures among the Taliban due to internal disagreements about whether to negotiate with the US.
Earlier this month, 25 prominent members of the Taliban were reportedly executed by the organization for talking to the US without authorization.
Additionally, a Taliban splinter group known as the Mullah Dadullah Front carried out the assassination of Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council, last Sunday allegedly outside the knowledge and control of the central Taliban organization.
“Maybe it’s because of the negotiation process that the Taliban is divided in parts,” says Naqeebullah, a former Afghan Army general who now serves as a member of parliament for Laghman Province. Like many Afghans he only uses one name. “This decrease in attacks might be because of the internal problems inside the Taliban. Whenever they have problems or disagreements inside, normally the attacks would get suspended for a short time or decrease.”
The distance between the Taliban foot soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and their leadership, believed to be mostly in Pakistan, has grown in recent years. Those fighting in Afghanistan sustain the vast majority of losses and have reportedly become embittered with the leadership hiding in Pakistan who is not exposed to the same level of danger.