Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Afghanistan threats beyond the Taliban

I have always called for responsive governance and improved security as the necessary pre-conditions for the stability of Afghanistan, but it seems that the political agendas prevail above the needs of the common Afghan and the government chose to rather engage itself in political deals with the militants, who are not the only threats to Afghans. But this lack of strategic vision and planning in the government gives rise to parallel conflicts inside the country which goes unheard and ignored.

There is no doubt that Afghanistan continues to struggle with the legacies of the glorious holy war as the supplement of the 'Cold War' that was very hot for Afghans, and the war factions known as 'warlords' have gained more influence and ground as the government high position is mainly hijacked by them. They are still enjoying the luxurious impunity granted by the Bonn agreement of the new Afghanistan in 2001.

Another spark in the fire of insurgency and ongoing conflict is the rising revolt of Hazara's from Deh Mirdad , Behsood of Wardak province and the Kochi's (nomads) over access to the pastural lands. The fight has become lethal. The pasture land are the only means of livelihood for the villagers in Behsood who rely on livestock for living and it seems that they will fight for their survival at any cost.

The same conflict took place in 2007 and 2008 and reminds us that last year the representatives of these ethnic groups boycotted parliament for almost 45 days or so. The dispute is going on for more than a week and has taken lives at both sides. Villagers complain that their houses were set on fire, their shops were looted and gun firing has killed many people including women and children. A number of the households whose homes were set on fire are living in the open air with no support from the central government.

The head of Hezb-e-Wahdat Mardum ( People's Unity Party), who happens to to be the chairperson of the Religious, Cultural Affairs and higher education Commission of the Parliament convened a press conference on 16th May and warned the government that if this dispute is not resolved, the situation will turn into a disaster and impact the Peace Jirga and Parliamentary Elections.

Many have ignored the conflict as yet another instance of community dispute over land, which are common in Afghanistan, there are larger questions in the current circumstances. If this is mainly a fight between villagers and Kochis, where did the guns and ammunition came from? Why the representatives of both sides in the parliament condemn the opposite ethnicity for fuelling the fire and creating civil war among ethnicities in Afghanistan?

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