Economy

In favour of darkness: the Taliban's war on Afghan infrastructure

By Omar

The Taliban is continuing to wreak havoc on Afghan development projects and public infrastructure as part of its war against civilians. The militants have destroyed more than 110 public projects in 14 provinces of Afghanistan over the past six months, according to the Interior Ministry. [Omar/Afghan Defence Ministry]

HERAT -- More and more Afghans are speaking out against the Taliban's continuing campaign of destruction against Afghan development projects and public infrastructure, which undermines the country's economic potential and well-being of its citizens.

The militants have destroyed more than 110 public projects in 14 provinces of Afghanistan over the past six months, Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said in an interview on May 14.

Infrastructure and public properties that the Taliban has attacked include 41 schools, six hospitals and health centres, 40 bridges, 15 electricity pylons, five telecom towers and two mosques, he said.

One of the Taliban's recent attacks saw the destruction of a public bridge on the Herat-Ghor highway in the Kamanj area in Ghor Province, said Arian, adding it was among 25 bridges in Ghazni Province, six in Baghlan Province, six in Zabul Province and one in Ghor Province that have been destroyed in that period.

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The Taliban is accused of blowing up electricity pylons (left) and bridges (right) and destroying highways (centre) among other infrastructure. [File]

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Workers from Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) of Herat last August 29 repair an electricity pylon blown up by the Taliban militants in Ghorian District, Herat Province. [Herat DABS]

"Over the past six months, the Taliban has attacked two schools in Takhar Province, one in Qadis District of Ghor Province, one in Chamkani District of Paktia Province and five in Andar, Waez and Jaghatu districts and the provincial capital of Ghazni," Arian added.

"The Taliban blew up three pylons for imported electricity in District 17 of Kabul city and one pylon in Mir Bacha Kot District [in Kabul Province]," he said.

"The Taliban also destroyed three pylons for electricity imported from Tajikistan in Baghlan-e Markazi District, two pylons for electricity coming from Uzbekistan in the Dand-e-Shahabuddin and Khwaja Alwan neighbourhoods of Pul-i-Khumri, Baghlan Province," he added.

The Taliban launched 45 attacks on security checkpoints in Mes Aynak, Logar Province, 14 on oil wells of Sar-e-Pul Province and one on the Machalgho dam [and power plant] in Paktia Province, said Arian.

Enmity with development and growth

The Taliban has always been the enemy of Afghanistan's prosperity and development," said Anjila Omer, a resident of Herat city.

"The Taliban sets fire to schools to ensure that the new generation who can build the country don't have the opportunity to grow, it blows up bridges and roads so that the country can't achieve any prosperity and development, and it destroys hospitals to stop healthcare services," she said.

By destroying electricity pylons, it shows that it favours darkness and wants no light to shine in Afghanistan, she added.

"Attacking public installations and killing innocent civilians are not justifiable acts and can't be forgiven," said Mir Ahmad Atayee, a resident of Herat city. "The Taliban's claim that these attacks are for rescuing Afghanistan is just a lie, and the Afghan people will never forgive it."

Such infrastructure projects are not military targets, and the Taliban's attacks on infrastructures are crimes that represents the group's brutality, said Atayee.

"The infrastructure doesn't belong to the government; it belongs to the people, and no one has the right to destroy them," said Sayed Muhammad Sherzadi, director of the Herat Department of Hajj and Religious Affairs.

"Destroying public sites and everything that belongs to Muslims is a forbidden and wrong act according to Islam," he added. "Setting fire to schools and destroying bridges, roads, electricity pylons and other infrastructures are illegitimate acts."

"The Taliban justifies its destructive and brutal activities with Islam, but these [evil] acts of the Taliban don't have any association with Islam," said Sherzadi. "These claims of the Taliban are no longer acceptable to the public because it can differentiate between right and wrong."

"The Taliban tricks residents of areas under its control by misinterpreting Islam to justify its destructive activities," he added. "The Taliban knows nothing about Islam. It misuses Islam to achieve its evil goals."

Attacking infrastructure and public property is a terrorist activity that deserves harsh punishment, said Maulawi Muhammad Ahmadi, a religious scholar in Firoz Koh, Ghor Province.

"According to Islam, everyone is responsible for protecting public properties and infrastructure projects," he said. "The Taliban should not resort to destroying public sites as this is an illegitimate act."

"The Taliban should be held accountable for its destruction of schools, bridges and roads," added Ahmadi. "This act can't be justified in Islam, but if it links its acts to Islam, it shows its lack of Islamic knowledge."

Negative impact on Afghans' lives

The destruction of public properties and economic infrastructures has had a negative impact on the economic, political and social aspects of Afghans' lives, said Abdul Qader Kamel, a political observer in Herat city.

"Running production activities depends on infrastructure," he said. "When the country's infrastructure is destroyed, millions of workers lose their jobs and domestic production as well as markets become weaker."

"Currently, 4 million children of school age have been deprived of going to school because of [widespread] unrest in the country," added Kamel. "When children don't get an education [and they grow up], the Taliban and other terrorist groups recruit from among them."

The Taliban has stalled development and rebuilding in Afghanistan, said Sayed Ashraf Sadaat, a civil society activist in Herat city.

"The Taliban has prevented most of the opportunities that could have otherwise boosted development in villages and remote areas," added Sadaat.

"The Taliban's attacks on infrastructures have forced Afghanistan to go backward, leaving negative impacts on all aspects of Afghans' lives," Sadaat said.

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The main traitor is the very squire of the village. If he is really sympathetic to the people and this country, he must unite and mobilize people against anti-government forces. Thieves should not come and eat at the party of the squire and enjoy themselves. During Taliban regime, Mujahedeen or anti-Taliban forces were in the mountains, and sometimes they were coming to the villages. Based on the Taliban’s policy, they were inviting Mullahs and squires of the villages, and giving each squire one AK 47 with 2 or 5 bullets and asking them to defend and shoot Mujahedeen. The squire of the village would get surprised as how could he fight with 5 bullets against a regiment? Taliban would tell him that they didn’t care. It's not up to him; he knew how to defend himself. At the end, they told the squire of the village, "If one bullet is shot from your village against Taliban, and even only one of our members gets hurt, we will set fire to the entire village”. Brothers, this is a true story. God is witness that this is true, and they set fire to the same village that was burning day and night, and no one came to the help of the people of the village.

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Once upon a time, a merchant used to load salt on his donkey from a salt mine and come to the city to sell it. There was a water ditch on the way, and every day when the donkey wanted to cross the ditch, he was making itself fall into the water, and then rolled in the water. The salts would melt, and its burden would become light and then it would continue its way easily. Finally the merchant understood the trick of the donkey, and in the following days, he loaded cotton on the donkey, and when it was crossing the same ditch, the donkey suddenly repeated the same trick, but this time, hundred times pity for the donkey. The cotton absorbed water, and the donkey couldn’t play its trick to release itself from heavy burden. It became obliged to carry five times its own weight. What is the punishment of someone who turns over the paved road of his home, destroys the electricity pillar of his neighbor, cuts down the fruit trees and non-fruit trees which benefit both human and animal? What should be done against this extremism? This incompetent government can at least identify these people who give fatwa for destroying such places, and then it needs only one sniper shooter to target these germs quickly, and write on the chest of them, “This is the punishment of the ones who issue fatwa and give order for destroying public utility places.

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