During a rare speech on 4th of July, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the government’s zero tolerance against local warlords and thugs who have been commanding illegal armed men in provinces across the country for years. Nizamuddin Qaisari, a notorious of local warlords in northern Faryab province was arrested by Afghan Special Forces and taken to Kabul for interrogations last week. Northern Faryab province- an already volatile province sake of striking presence of Taliban and ISIS militants- came on the headlines just after the Afghan forces detained Qaisari tied to Afghan First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is living in exile in Turkey. Dostum was forced to leave Afghanistan in May 2017 after facing accusations of sexually abusing his rival, the former governor of Jawzjan Province.
President Ghani seems decisive to curb the warlords as 25 more illegal armed men were detained by Afghan Security Forces in Faryab province on 5th of July. These irresponsible armed men “were planning an attack on government forces” a spokesman for the army said on July 6th.
Hundreds of Qaisari’s supporters poured to the streets in Faryab after his arrest, torched the provincial governor’s office chanting for his release.
Despite President Ghani’s remarks- lashing out on warlords and illegally armed commanders- has drawn grassroots support. However, President Ghani has to be ready to confront high profile warlords who have been enjoying enough power and government resources since the fall of the Taliban.
Taking a deeper look at northern Afghanistan concludes that prior to Taliban and ISIS fighters, local irresponsible armed groups tied to the local strongmen are another bigger threats for government’s writ. Ahmad Zia Masoud a known figure among the warlords and former Vice President of Afghanistan who is currently Deputy of Jamiate Islami Party, addressing a gathering couple of weeks ago, acknowledged that armed men loyal to Jamiat and Junbish parties have been fighting the Afghan national security forces in north. Junbish Party is belonging to General Dostum. Both Jamiat and Junbish were active parties in Afghan Civil War in the 1990s.
Apparently, this is why President Ghani, in his speech to Afghan forces in eastern Laghman Province, on July 4 quoted an Afghan soldier from the north who had complained to him about their losses to the illegal armed men. “I don’t know whether Taliban and ISIS terrorists are my enemies or the irresponsible armed men,” President Ghani said quoting a soldier from the northern Balkh Province.
Even though President Ghani – as a broad-minded and highly educated person has been seen unadaptable to the warlords, but since the beginning of his presidency in 2014 his plans for reforms and good governance have borne setbacks at relatively high extent sake of hurdles shaped by warlords.
It is noteworthy that President Ghani has proved that he is bold in making decisions, ordinary Afghan will further buy into him if he keeps up marginalizing the warlords. President. Ghani’s recent remarks on warlords have warmly been welcomed by ordinary Afghans and due to making the message stronger, Afghans should voice their support by staging peaceful gatherings and rallies.
The role of civil society is highly important in strengthening Ghani’s stance against thugs and warlords. By working with communities and civil activists, Afghans can spread awareness among locals about their rights and responsibilities to give up supporting those who only exploit them for their personal objectives.
Youth can play a critical role in terms of spreading awareness among the people and rally a massive support behind President Ghani’s purge of illegal armed men. By utilizing social media in a better way the young generation can raise their voice in favor of the nation’s will, which is the rule of law for all without making an exception.
Abdullah Abed is an independent Afghan journalist and writer based in Kabul, tweeting @abedabdullah7
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