A week ago, a friend of mine posted on his facebook his experience while going from Kabul to Ghazni province. He wrote: “I along with three other friends were driving from Kabul to Ghazni province. In Maidan Wardak, just few miles away from a police checkpoint, all vehicles moving on the Kabul-Ghazni highway were stopped and Taliban militants were threateningly eyeing all passengers.
I was in traditional Afghani dress—skirt and pajamas—but my friend was wearing neat trousers with white shirt which triggered suspicion of militants. One of them approached us and asked with aggressive tone told: “Kata Sa!”(which means get down in Pashtu).
With feeble voice, we replied, “Is there something wrong Mujaheed Sahab (Respected Mujaheed)? Brandishing his Kalashnikov and pointing it to our heads, he said, “Get down”. When we got out of the car, one of them searched the vehicle but thanks God there was nothing suspicious. In spite of finding nothing suspicious, we were forced to drive on unpaved road towards a village.
After driving around 10 kilometers, once again two escorting militants checked our bodies and then the vehicle and then separated us. Each of us was interviewed about who we were, where we were heading, what we were involved with, and various other questions. But thanks God, our answers generally matched and we all told that we were mechanics and going to Ghazni in order to clear account with our partners. Finally after keeping us for three hours, we were released without torture and payment of ransom”.
Similarly, few days ago, some Hazara guys were going towards Bamyan province, but unfortunately, they were kidnapped by Taliban militants in the same province, Maidan wardak. They were beheaded brutally and their corpses were thrown on the highway and they also devised explosives around them. Just yesterday, July 25, four men from Jaghori district of Ghazni province were also arrested by Taliban militants on their way to Kabul. They paid around 160 thousand US dollar to get free. These are parts of routine incidents on highways between Afghan cities, particularly which end to central provinces.
However, it should be noticed that passengers are risking their lives while travelling in western and eastern partsof the country as they might get torn into pieces by road side bombings devised to explode the vehicles of foreign and Afghan security forces; they may stuck in cross firings or the Taliban militants may kill them if found anything suspicious like government or NGO documents, but the Problem for Hazaras are double. In the other words, insecurity and instability have a coefficient for Hazara community. When a Talib sees a Hazara in the vehicle, it would be singled out.
Those who are shaven and wearing something other than Afghani traditional cloth, it is impossible that militants let them go without a thorough check up. Any documents showing that he has anything with the government, NGO’s or private companies, they will be beheaded or detained indefinitely in order to get ransom from their families.
t is not the new approach of Taliban militants toward Hazara community. Since its very emergence from Kandahar in early 90’s till its collapse in 2001 by Us-led military intervention, Taliban held hostile approach against the community. Many Hazara analysts maintain that if 9/11 had not taken place which pulled the international community to Afghanistan, then perhaps, the Hazara community might have been eliminated entirely.
There were murmurings that Taliban regime wanted to allocate Hazara regions to nomads and intended to expatriate them entirely by force. It is said that Taliban wanted to implement a new policy regarding this community. It wanted the Hazaras and Jews to wear yellow color dress in order to be differentiated from the rest of Afghan citizens.
However, all communities did not remain out Taliban cruelty and suffered during its rule, but cruelty and brutality applied on Hazara community has never been observed anywhere. Hazaras were massacred in Mazar and Bamyan. After capturing Balkh Province, Mullah Omar the leader of Taliban regime gave full authority for a complete month to each single Taliban element to wipe out the entire Hazara community in the province.
Right after 2001, this community played a major role in democratization and national building process in hope of an end to centuries-long discrimination against the community. They handed over their arms to government and supported it with devotion and utmost sincerity. But for all those sincere cooperation, the government has not held least step to heal their chronic wounds.
From billions of dollars poured into the country, residents of central provinces have remained heart-wrenchingly poor. Even their roads have remained unpaved. During harsh winter, people die due to hunger because the snow fall closes ways, and when the weather gets warm, the Taliban militants behead them on their way to Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar, Herat and other provinces.
A person from any community in Afghanistan or any one from foreign countries can travel to entire Hazara regions without any security problem, but why the government cannot ensure their safety in few kilometers in Maidan Wardak province?
Noteworthy to mention, with the least opportunity provided due to presence of international community, this community has played a major role in drawing democratic models for expressing their criticisms. In Bamyan province, people thatched the road with mud and straw in order to attract the attention of officials to terrible situation of roads in the province.
They also gave awards to donkeys for carrying water to residents from far away. And several other distinguished moves, which are unique in terms of culture.
Hope the government values such moves and at least protects them just in few kilometers that people cross from among other than their own community.
Masood Korosh is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Daily Outllok, 26 July 2012