ISLAMABAD: Recent reports by the US military and United Nations painted a grim picture of the situation in Afghanistan as the under-siege Afghan government has been unable to prevent the Taliban taking control in more areas.

In a briefing to United Nations Security Council on June 21, the UN’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Nicholas Haysom expressed concerns about the impact the increasing level of violence is having on civilians.

According to General John William Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, the Taliban now hold more ground in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001.

“The Taliban continue to expand their influence, especially in rural areas of the country that lack effective Afghan government representation,” the US military report reads. It also noted continued violence during the winter of 2015-2016 was reflected in public perceptions of security as well.

“Perceptions of security remain near all-time lows – 20% of Afghans say security in their community is good. This is down from 39% during this time last year,” the report states. “[Meanwhile] 42% of Afghans say security is worse now than during the time of the Taliban. This historically high percentage is the continuation of a trend from last reporting period.”

The US military report titled ‘Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan’ was presented to the Congress last week.

However, the report has stirred debate in some circles. Some Afghans have questioned the role of the US and its Nato allies in view of the Taliban control over more areas. Afghans have genuine concerns over how the Taliban still pose serious threats when thousands of foreign troops are still stationed in Afghanistan.

A section of the media said the US military intends to prolong its stay in Afghanistan by saying that the situation in Afghanistan is currently much worse than it was under the Taliban.

“Their (US and Nato) troops arrived in Afghanistan, but instead of restoring security and stability, they pursued their own aims. This explains why the situation today is much worse than it was during the Taliban regime, and this is a fact,” stated an article published in Weesa, a private newspaper on June 20.

Sarnevesht, another independent daily says the US wants to “prolong the war by keeping the balance because they think with their presence here and only through war can they achieve their goals in the region. Therefore, they are keeping a balance of the forces of the two sides and this leads to the continuation of war. At the same time, the US strategy and plans behind the Afghan war are unfair and this is obviously shown in the recent report of the Pentagon.”

The UN envoy in Afghanistan in his latest report came up with similar observations about the increased violence even in Ramazan, but he also showed concern at the failure of the diplomatic efforts to push for the political dialogue.

“We believe, however, there are elements within the Taliban who are questioning whether they can win militarily, at least in the short term, and wonder whether a purely military goal is desirable,” Haysom said, stressing that peace is not a luxury, but a necessity, without which Afghanistan is not sustainable. “I am disappointed that there has not yet been any traction on peace efforts, but remain optimistic that such a process will eventually emerge.”