By Khalid Zerai
NANGARHAR -- More than 100 tribal elders from six districts of Nangarhar Province vowed at a recent gathering that they would not allow Taliban militants and members of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) terrorist group to find safe havens in their districts.
The tribal elders, who came from Ghani Khel, Dur Baba, Achin, Nazian, Spin Ghar and Haska Mina districts, agreed on November 25 that anyone who either allows these militants into their areas or provides them with any assistance would be asked to immediately cease their support.
Supporters refusing to stop will be forcibly evicted from their homes and villages by local residents, the elders vowed.
"We are deciding that anyone who has links with the Taliban or ISIS will be warned," said Malak Awliya Khan, a tribal elder from Spin Ghar District, to the gathering.
"We will first approach and ask them to stop this assistance and set themselves right," he said. "Otherwise, we will have to eject them from their homes for igniting unrest in our villages. This is our decision."
The tribal elders also said they would send offers of peace to the militants groups that are active in their areas, warning that they would crack down and expel their supporters if rejected.
The elders urged the Afghan government to help them in the effort and to provide local uprising groups with weapons.
"The local people have always helped us," Hamisha Gul Shinwari, the district governor of Dur Baba, told participants at the gathering.
The residents of the six districts, known collectively as the Districts of Shinwar, "have always supported the government, and we want this support to increase so that we can ensure security," he noted.
"We suffered greatly from the oppression that ISIS fighters inflicted upon us, but the tribes have now joined forces and are determined not to allow these fighters -- whether they are Taliban or ISIS -- who cause problems [in our area]," said Malak Sayed Hakim Shinwari, a tribal elder from Achin District.
"We will no longer allow these individuals, who bring trouble to our land and our villages," he said. "We will protect our villages and their surroundings with full strength and support the government."
Throughout the entire decades-long Afghan conflict, "we have protected our areas... and have been always stood ready for this sacrifice, because this is our country, and we will be guarding it," said Malak Kawtar Khan, a tribal elder from Dur Baba District.
"We, the young people, are ready to help the government in maintaining security in our areas, and we consider it an obligation," Naik Omar Shinwari, who leads the youth association in Ghani Khel District, said at the gathering.
"We will try to bring the youth together and strengthen their resolve against extremism and continue on with our struggle," he added.
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