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Monday, March 10, 2014
- Nematullah Wardak from Sayedabad in Maidan Wardak province works in Kabul. For two years he has not returned to his village, a bus journey from the Afghan capital, for fear of the Taliban.
“Brother! There is the government in the day and government of Taliban at night. When they know that somebody has come to the area they will take him whether he has come for a funeral or a marriage ceremony,” he says.
In a society where tribal bonds are centuries old, migrants from villages in areas controlled by the Taliban are scared to return.
The most vulnerable are those now living in cities like Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Maidan Shar, Ghazni and Herat.
The government insists there is an improvement in the security situation since Afghan security forces started taking over from the U.S.-led NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), which is scheduled to pull out by 2014. The first and second phases of the transition are complete.
Nematullah Wardak says he cannot return home, not just because of fear of the Taliban, but of government soldiers who harass civilians. “One of my relatives had gone to his village when suddenly a fight between Taliban and the government started. Government forces captured my brother along with other villagers. He was released after many problems.”
An official in the Directorate of Communications and Information Technology in Ghazni town to the east of Kabul, who did not want his name to be revealed, says he rents a small room even though his village is just outside the city. He says he would be killed if he goes home because he works for the government.
“I don’t know what to do,” he says. “I endured the loneliness of being away from my home to get educated. To have a job and serve my country I have to again live alone because the job is with the government of my own country.”
Mohamad Ali Ghaznawi, a resident of Muqor district of Ghazni province is in a similar situation. “You could travel easily to Qara Bagh district last year but this year it is impossible. If you do you are putting your life at risk.”
Mohammad Ali has been told he is on the hit list of the local Taliban for participating in the inauguration ceremony of a school in Qara Bagh. “I have been informed that a report has been sent to Taliban about those who had participated in the ceremony. Now all of us are under threat.”
Enayatullah Hamdard is originally from Khogiani district of Nangarhar province. He says he did not dare go to his village, Hashem Khali, for the funeral of a relative who was killed on Jul. 4.
“Going there is dangerous. It would be to play with your life. Our relative was killed next to the police post. There are Taliban everywhere. The government cannot do anything after early evening.”
Mohammad Saleem Wafa, 36, from Farah province who works with a non-governmental organisation, says he has not visited his relatives in the provincial capital for two years. “I cannot go to Farah by road. It’s too risky. The air trip costs a lot of money.”
A government official who is from Helmand accuses the government of not being able to provide security even in Afghan cities. “My family is in Helmand. My job is in the ministry. When I go after a year to my home the visit is kept hidden from relatives and neighbours in case someone tips off the anti-government groups.”
The worsening security climate is the result of a lack of coordination among the multiple agencies responsible for security, says Akhlaqi, a political analyst in Kabul.
“People voted for the government, hoping it would safeguard their lives. But the government is watching their assassination.”
The Ministry of Defence insists it is in control of the security situation. A new operation to secure the highways called Naweed (tidings) is in the pipeline. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman in the ministry, said the operation would cover all the conflict-riven areas in the country.
“We combat threats as much as is the ability of the Ministry of Defence with cooperation of police and national security forces and sometimes with the cooperation of ISAF forces.” The spokesman said he is hopeful of ushering in peace and stability everywhere.
Sidiq Sidiqi, Ministry of Interior spokesman, also denied a spike in conflict between the government forces and armed groups. “Insecurity has not increased,” he insisted. “The provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, Badakhshan and southern provinces are entirely secure. We do not have any special concerns regarding the security. The police are working day and night to combat our enemies and those who want to sabotage the security.”
Sidiqi asked whether it was fair to conclude security was poor in the country just because of the activities of a “few criminals and robbers.”
*Esmatullah Mayar writes for Killid, an independent media group in Afghanistan in partnership with IPS.