Security

Badghis residents join Afghan forces in fight against Taliban

By Omar

Following an escalation of Taliban violence, more than 1,000 residents gathered June 19 in the provincial capital of Qala-e-Naw to declare they will no longer let the group attack civilians and security forces, and will join security forces in their fight. [Shameel Mashal/Salaam Times]

HERAT -- Following a recent escalation in Taliban violence, more than 1,000 residents of Badghis province on Saturday (June 19) took up arms against the insurgent group in the provincial capital of Qala-e-Naw.

They declared they will no longer let the Taliban attack civilians and security forces, with some saying they will join the security forces in their fight.

In these difficult times, young men have taken up arms and are fighting alongside the security forces, said Badghis resident Mohammad Yousuf Sazesh.

"We have taken up arms to defend the country, the people, territorial integrity, and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," he said. "We are ready to defend our soil in any part of Afghanistan and fight against the Taliban."

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Badghis residents gather June 19 in the provincial capital of Qala-e-Naw to declare support for the Afghan forces and take up arms against the Taliban. [Shameel Mashal/Salaam Times]

The people have risen against the Taliban because they were killing innocent people and security forces every day, said Badghis resident Mohammad Ashraf.

"We are defending our security forces, our homeland and our honour," he said, adding that the people stand with the security forces against the Taliban.

People should have full confidence in their young men and in the security forces, said another Badghis resident, Wahid Mohebzada.

"I am ready to defend the people of Badghis and other Afghans against the Taliban until the last drop of blood," he said, adding that people should not be deceived by the group's propaganda.

"I will stand by our security forces and support them as long as I am alive," he vowed.

Support for the state

Badghis residents have risen up against the Taliban spontaneously to support their state and security forces, said Amir Shah Nayebzada, a member of the Wolesi Jirga representing Badghis who spoke at the Saturday gathering.

"All of the young men who have taken up arms are waiting for the government’s marching order to start their operations against the Taliban in Badghis," he said.

"The current system in the country is the result of years of sacrifices and effort on the part of the Afghan people," Nayebzada said. "We will never let the Taliban threaten our state."

The Afghan people are ready to defend their government whenever it faces challenges, said Mohammad Naser Nazari of the Badghis provincial council.

"With increased Taliban attacks, the people were forced to take up arms and not allow this barbaric group to further spill the blood of innocent Afghans," he said.

Whenever and wherever the government and security forces need support, the people of Afghanistan are ready -- especially the youth -- to go to the battlefields and fight against the Taliban, Nazari said.

The public uprising against the Taliban shows people are tired of the tyranny and brutality of the Taliban and makes clear their support for the government and security forces, said Badghis governor Hesamuddin Shams.

"We welcome popular support, and I am confident that this public uprising against the Taliban will help improve the security situation," he added.

Defending the Afghan people

Residents other provinces, such as Takhar, Balkh and Baghlan in the north, and Parwan in central Afghanistan, also have taken up arms to fight the Taliban, TOLO News reported Monday.

In Badghis, security forces have repelled most of the recent Taliban attacks, and the militants have suffered heavy casualties, local security officials said.

The Taliban intended to capture some districts and even Qala-e-Naw, but security forces pushed back their attacks and inflicted heavy casualties against them, Badghis Chief of Police Col. Sher Aqa Alokozai said Sunday.

"The Taliban do not have the ability to fight the security forces directly, therefore, they use civilians and their houses as shields," he said.

"The Taliban have obtained advanced weapons and ammunition from their external backers and attacked districts and parts of Qala-e-Naw with false confidence, but all of their attacks failed," he added.

Security forces are defending the Afghan people and the country in difficult times, said Fahim Intezar, a civil society activist in Qala-e-Naw.

"The security forces of the country have proven they are stronger than the Taliban and can defend the country and their people," he added.

"The sacrifices and effort of our security forces in defending the motherland and people will be written in history, and future generations will be proud of these brave forces," Intezar said.

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The fourth concern is that these popular uprisings will be considered that Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras want to fight with Pashtuns, because most of Taliban’s members are Pashtuns. This will cause that more Pashtuns sympathize with Taliban. The north of the country is indigenously and historically home to Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, but in recent years, Pashtuns also reside in Balkh, Kunduz, Baghlan and other parts of the country. In mobilizing and uprising of the people, Pashtuns of the north have not joined the mobilization and uprisings of the people against Taliban. From this point of view, I can say that Pashtuns of the north are relatively sympathetic to Taliban. Therefore, Taliban might misuse the Pashtun people and the war of popular uprisings against Taliban will go on beyond the war of Taliban and popular uprisings, and turn into a war among people’s uprisings and the Pashtuns.

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In principle it would have been better if the government has continued the war against Taliban using the army, and did not engage the people under the name of popular uprisings and so on against Taliban, because there will be negative consequences if the war against Taliban continues beyond the confines of the army. Unfortunately, the Afghan government’s treatment and position against Taliban is not clear. The issue of war and peace between the government and Taliban has not been transparent for the past twenty years. This lack of transparency on the part of the government finally caused people to mobilize against Taliban. Therefore, it would be better if the position of the government be transparent and the way the government uses the people against Taliban must be considered and assessed accurately so that people are not harmed and these uprisings are not transformed into ethnic wars.

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There are serious concerns regarding people’s mobilization or uprisings with the people of Afghanistan. The first concern is that why the Afghan government does not want or cannot fight Taliban and suppress them by using the police and army. Why has the government been tolerant of Taliban in the past twenty years that they became so powerful? Why is the government, in spite of having police and army, engaging the people to fight against Taliban? Engaging of the people against Taliban will cause Taliban to take revenge from the local people for they are fighting against them. The second concern is that the mobilization and uprisings of the people will result in a multiple addresses of war against Taliban. That is to say, every group will engage in war or make peace with Taliban based on their self-interests. If such thing occurs, how can the government manage these popular uprisings? The third concern is that the groups which mobilize against Taliban will start fighting between themselves. Sectarian clashes have history in Afghanistan and can ignite and become widespread at any moment. Therefore, the existence of armed groups under the name of people's uprisings can lead to sectarian clashes.

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People’s mobilizations need expenses. They need military equipment and food, which the Afghan government cannot afford to supply. If the mobilizations of the people are not supplied, they will loot the properties of the people or refer to their foreign supporters in order to meet their expenses. If the government can mobilize them within the framework of armed forces, pay them salary and weapons, it will be good, but if they are let on their own way, they will extort the properties of the people, and will refer to seek the help of other countries.

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Before this, the people were equipped in the name of the so-called local police or popular uprising against Taliban, but human rights’ organizations have complained about the violation of human rights by these groups. In some cases, even the government confronted these local commanders. Popular uprising in the short term can have effectiveness against Taliban, because mobilization and uprising of the people could lead to the defeat of Taliban, especially in the north of Afghanistan, but in the future, they will turn to a serious threat for the Afghan government and it will be very difficult to disarm and control them. One of the reasons for the strengthening of Taliban in the north was these uprisings of the people. A decade ago, Taliban did not exist in the north of Afghanistan, but later on the local police and Arbakis oppressed the people, raped their women, and forced the people to take refuge to Taliban and take up arms against them beside Taliban.

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