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The Post, November 3, 2007

Afghan criminals and warlords

War crimes during brutal fighting that killed or displaced hundreds of thousands of Afghans in the early 1990s and precipitated the rise of the Taliban

By Musa Khan Jalalzai

The killings of innocent people and human rights abuses in Afghanistan are being committed by war criminals and warlords since 20 years. After the Soviet withdrawal, these warlords and criminals killed thousands of people in Kabul and molested over 0.3 million women all over the country. These criminals have hijacked Afghanistan. According to a report on human rights, violence, political intimidation, and attacks on women are discouraging political participation and endangering gains made on women's rights in Afghanistan over the last year. The 101-page report, 'Killing you is a very easy thing for us', documents human rights abuses in southeast Afghanistan; the army and police troops kidnapping Afghans and holding them for ransom in private prisons; breaking into households and robbing families; raping women; and extorting shopkeepers and bus, truck and taxi drivers, the report revealed. The report also describes political organisers, journalists and editors being threatened with death, arrested and harassed by army, police and intelligence agents.

According to a RAWA report, 13-year-old Nahida Hassan became a symbol for Afghan women who were raped during the two decades of war. When a commander and his 20 troops broke into her Kabul apartment, killing her 12-year-old brother and gunning down her other male relatives, Nahida understood she was the next target. To avoid being sexually savaged, she leapt from the sixth floor window to her death.

Pro-Iran Wahdat Party fighters during the bloody years of 1992-96 in Kabul
RAWA: Gunmen of pro-Iran Hezb-e-Wahdat (Party of Unity) in Kabul in 1994.

A notorious war criminal of Mohammad Agha district Logar province Amaduddin Umary, according to Qazi Alwad have attacked innocent people and harassed women during the Mujahideen and the Taliban governments. Qazi Alwad said due to fear of persecution, Umary first went for asylum to Holland where he started a drug business. He escaped to the UK on a stolen passport to avoid being arrested. At present, Umary is a member of the Afghan Parliament. The Organisation against Afghan War Criminals in London has provided details about Umary's criminal record to newspapers in London and New York. Many main people, like Amaduddin Umary, in the Karzai government and its allies are warlords who have been trying to become comprador bourgeois by importing foreign products and directly or indirectly involved themselves in exporting opium and other goods to the world market.

Karzai, the US-made 'president' of Afghanistan, is often portrayed as a man opposed to warlords and trying to bring them under control. The illicit drug trade — largely ended under the Taliban — has flourished under the US occupation, with opium production now accounting for 60 percent of the economy. The Afghan government approved the Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice on December 12, 2005, but delayed implementing it in part because Kabul and its international backers feared that calling for justice would further weaken Afghanistan’s security situation.

Hard facts regarding the number of incidents are difficult to obtain. The north's Pashtun minority is concentrated around agricultural cities of Kondoz and Balkh, and the reported attacks take place in remote areas. Thousands of ethnic Pashtuns are fleeing persecution in northern Afghanistan, a New York-based human rights group said on August 24, 2007: "Armed political factions in northern Afghanistan are subjecting ethnic Pashtuns to murder, beating, sexual violence, abduction, looting, and extortion," the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. "The ongoing campaign of violence and intimidation is forcing thousands of Pashtuns to leave their villages." Since the fall of the mainly Pashtun Taliban, Pashtuns, who are a minority in northern Afghanistan, had been attacked by the ethnic Uzbek, Tajik, and Hazara factions in reprisal for real or imagined association with the ousted regime, HRW said. "The testimony of Pashtuns across this large area was consistent in its depiction of violence, looting, and intimidation," the group said. The Pashtuns are Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, but a minority here in the valleys and plains of the northwest.

The three political factions active in the north are the Junbish-i-Milli-yi Islami, Jamiat-e-Islami, and Hizb-i-Wahdat, drawn largely from the Uzbek, Tajik, and Hazara ethnic groups respectively. Since the fall of the Taliban, each group has targeted the Pashtun community in areas under its control, partly in reprisal for these communities’ real or perceived association with the predominantly Pashtun Taliban movement, and partly as a result of political competition in northern Afghanistan. The abuses have also occurred in a broader context of violence by armed groups, in which Pashtuns — lacking political and military power in the north — are acutely vulnerable.

Naheed a victims of the Jehadi Fundamentalists
On Feb.9, 1993 when a commander and twenty of his troops broke into the Kabul apartment of 13-year-old Nahida Hassan, killing her 12-year-old brother and gunning down her other male relatives, Nahida understood she was the target. To avoid being sexually savaged, she leapt from the sixth-floor window to her death.

Bombings in 2006 more than doubled as compared to 2005. The HRW counted almost 200 bomb attacks in 2006, killing nearly 500 civilians. Many were illegal under international humanitarian law. Insurgents intentionally targeted civilian objects that served no military purpose including schools, buses, or bazaars, carried out numerous bombings that killed combatants and civilians without distinction or caused excessive civilian casualties in relation to expected military advantages, and used attacks that appear to have been primarily intended to cause terror among the civilian population.

The HRW in its comprehensive report of 2005 revealed that several war criminals and warlords are still active and engaging in widespread human rights abuses. Many highly placed members of the present government and legislature were implicated in war crimes during brutal fighting that killed or displaced hundreds of thousands of Afghans in the early 1990s and precipitated the rise of the Taliban, the report added.

Dostum, one of Afghanistan's most formidable warlords, has had a hand in many regime changes that this war-torn country has seen over the last three decades. He was among the leaders who helped the US-led forces to overthrow the Taliban government in 2001. Until recently he was regarded as the strongman of the north but his role has been reduced to that of being a military adviser to Karzai.

According to the Afghanistan Justice Project (AJP) report, on July 18, 2005, to say that all armed forces that fought in Afghanistan committed war crimes is not to say that every single fighter has been guilty of such actions. What the Afghanistan Justice Project has documented are incidents in which senior officers and commanders ordered actions amounting to war crimes by their forces, or allowed such actions and did nothing to stop them. During the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, over 1.5 million people died and millions more wounded or left to fend for themselves without the benefit of food, water, medical care, or housing. A leading rights watchdog is urging that alleged war criminals holding top posts in Afghanistan's government be brought to justice, and that steps be taken to bar human rights abusers from official positions.

The writer is the author of 156 books on terrorism, extremism, human trafficking, Afghanistan, drug trafficking and foreign policy studies and is based in London, UK

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