The Taliban, which was ousted from power by U.S.-led coalition forces seven years ago, is stepping up its efforts to regain power in Afghanistan. Coupled with an increase in militant attacks in Pakistan and the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan symbolizes South Asia’s instability.

Suicide terrorist attacks and kidnappings in Afghanistan are on the rise. A suicide attack near the Indian embassy in Kabul in July killed 58 people and injured more than 100 others. In August, Mr. Kazuya Ito, a Japanese volunteer worker, was kidnapped and killed in eastern Afghanistan. In November, a suicide attack near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul killed four people and injured at least 15 others.

The United Nations reports that at least 4,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan this year, about a third of them civilians. In 2007, 232 coalition troops died. The corresponding figure through November 2008 stood at 250. Canada, which has contributed about 2,500 soldiers to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, lost its 100th soldier Dec. 5.

While the 70,000-strong coalition forces, including 33,000 U.S. soldiers, are experiencing tremendous difficulties battling the Taliban, the weak government of President Hamid Karzai shares responsibility for the fundamentalist Islamic movement’s resurgence. The Afghan military and police forces lack sufficient training and corruption among government officials is rampant.

Civilian casualties caused by the coalition forces’ operations, including aerial bombings, have angered many Afghans. They are also frustrated by the slow reconstruction of their country. The international community must step up efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan, before it is too late. With this goal in mind, Japan should strive to contribute where it can.

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