PAN, July 19, 2010
Increasing violence in Nangarhar leaves locals worried
Tribal elders say locals are losing patience with officials and that the corruption and violence is turning them towards the Taliban
By Abdul Moeed Hashmi
JALALABAD: Residents of the eastern province of Nangarhar are worried about deteriorating security, blaming corrupt officials and "irresponsible" foreign forces for the surge in violence.
Over the past one-and-a-half months, there have been at least 28 incidents of violence in Nangarhar, including three rocket attacks on the provincial capital, 11 roadside bombs targeting NATO vehicles and at least three suicide attacks, according to a Pajhwok tally. (Photo: PAN)
Over the past one-and-a-half months, there have been at least 28 incidents of violence in Nangarhar, including three rocket attacks on the provincial capital, 11 roadside bombs targeting NATO vehicles and at least three suicide attacks, according to a Pajhwok tally.
Local residents and politicians say that if the central government does not take action, security in Nangarhar could become as bad as the troubled southern province of Helmand.
They say the attacks are also hurting the local economy. "Nangarhar is the key of the country, if security gets worse here, the security and economy of the whole country will get worse," Nasratullah Arsala, head of the provincial council, said.
He said much of the country's import-export trade passes through Nangarhar's Torkham border with Pakistan and already, two suicide attacks on a major bridge in Jalalabad have caused huge losses to trade.
Tribal elders say locals are losing patience with officials and that the corruption and violence is turning them towards the Taliban.
Up until recently, the Taliban had little presence in the area, but they have found political and military power, said Fazel Hadi Muslimyar, deputy of the Mehsrano Jirga (upper house of parliament), and a resident of the province.
He also accused officials of appropriating land illegally and not taking any steps to rein in corruption by officials.
A weak and corrupt government was allowing Pakistan's intelligence agency to call the shots, he said, pointing to the fact that Pakistanis were among Taliban fighters killed six weeks ago in Sherzad.
Abdul Zahir Qadeer, an elder and head of peace Karwan of Afghanistan, said the government does not care what happens to the people in Nangarhar .
He also blamed "irresponsible" operations by NATO-led forces for allowing the Taliban to gain greater influence in the region.
He pointed to a raid in Sorkh Road district on May 14 in which 10 civilians were killed; and on April 29th, when the house of a member of parliament, Safia Sediqi was raided and one of her relatives killed.
Sediqi said people were providing foreigners with false information to
Settle family feuds.
"In a village where NATO launches an operation, the residents are forced to leave and then the Taliban enter it," she said.
This gives the Taliban a chance to increase its sphere of influence, she said.
"People should not be dealt with in a way which upsets them," she said.
Every summer, those who are against peace try to destabilize Nangarhar, said the governor, Golagha Sherzai
He said there had been some fierce fighting between armed insurgents and security forces in Sherzad and Khogaini districts.
However, he said that the security forces made every effort to ensure civilians were hot harmed and accused militants of putting the lives of local people at risk by using their houses to hide in.
The governor also said that security would return to normal soon, but that he would need to discuss the issues with elders in the districts.
Despite repeated requests for comment, NATO did not respond.
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