Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Afghans turn to Taleban justice as insurgents set up shadow government


December 30, 2009

Afghans turn to Taleban justice as insurgents set up shadow government

Rahmatullah, 43, a carpenter from Lashkar Gah

Rahmatullah, 43, a carpenter from Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gah, shows his permission to travel

When Habiba's elderly husband was badly beaten in a village brawl there was only one place, she said, that she could turn to for help and justice.

Barefoot and weeping, the farmer's wife, 50, trekked for four hours through Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains to meet the local Taleban commander.

"My feet were bleeding and I cried the whole way but I didn't care about my safety,"
she said. "We are poor people. We know the Government doesn't help people like us."

Corruption and incompetence in President Karzai's Government — particularly at local level — have forced a growing number of people to seek the services of the Taleban.

The shadow government is not limited to justice. In Helmand, in August, Taleban commanders issued printed travel permits on headed notepaper from the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" to let people through checkpoints on the roads in and out of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

A senior Nato intelligence official admitted this week that the Taleban "has a government-in-waiting, with ministers chosen," ready to take over the moment the current administration failed. He warned, in a bleak assessment of the insurgents' strength: "Time is running out. Taleban influence is expanding."

The Taleban, which Nato says run shadow governments in 33 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, are only too willing to help settle local disputes. Their strict, if brutal, interpretation of Islamic law is often preferable to the lengthy and costly Government alternative.

"My husband had a broken leg so he sent me to find Mullah Zafar," Habiba said. "We don't know anyone in the Government and we know they won't solve our problems."

Mullah Zafar Akhund is the Taleban's shadow governor in Jaghatu district, Wardak province, a short drive south of Kabul.

Habiba's husband, Abdullah, who is 20 years her senior, fought with a neighbour called Qasim over water rights. Village customs prescribe which fields should be watered at which times. Habiba said that Qasim was stealing the water when it was not his time and turned violent when her husband challenged him.

"I waited two hours to see Mullah Zafar," she said. "He listened to my story and sent three of his soldiers to come back to my village. They spoke to the village elders who told them the same thing. The soldiers beat Qasim and ordered him to give us his water for seven nights."

Habiba, an ethnic Hazara, is not a natural ally of the Taleban. Most of them are Pashtuns, and thousands of Hazaras were massacred under the Taleban regime. The insurgents have exploited local disputes that the Government cannot solve to gain footholds in new areas, irrespective of the ethnic divides. For many years, locals said, Mullah Zafar provided an alternative to Government institutions.

Six months ago he felt sufficiently entrenched in Jaghatu to issue a decree that anyone found using Government services would face summary execution.

"Not everybody likes them but they were good to me," said Reza Yousef, one of Habiba's neighbours with a similar experience of Taleban justice. He spent four years petitioning government officials for help with a land dispute. "They didn't care," he said. "It took Mullah Zafar four days.

"Ten years ago we had a problem with our land," he said. "One of our neighbours was powerful because he had connections [to a warlord] and he took some of our land.

"When [Hamid Karzai's] Government came I complained many, many times but they didn't hear me."

Mr Yousef said that he could not afford the mandatory bribe to push his complaint through the system. He took his case to the village elders, or shura, and they ruled in his favour three times.

His neighbour, Younus, ignored their decisions, confident that he was protected through his links to Karim Khalili, the Hazara warlord recently appointed as one of Mr Karzai's vice-presidents.

"It was around three years ago I went to Mullah Zafar and showed him the papers which prove the land is mine," Mr Yousef said. "He sent four of his soldiers to my village to see for themselves and the next day he came to the village himself and held a shura with all the elders."

The meeting, overlooked by insurgents armed with Kalashnikovs and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, was, in effect, a Taleban court.

"Younus was hiding in the place where they keep cows but they found him and they beat him badly. His face was bleeding," Mr Yousef said.

Younus was exiled for two months and ordered to hand back the land. "If you complain to the Government it takes years; they ask you for bribes and you have to go to their offices every day," Mr Yousef said. "That's why people choose the Taleban."



Comment: Most Amerikans ~ those who think only White people inside the United States
are true Americans ~ have no clue or concern about the complexity of what Obama is getting
us involved in with the Escalation of U.S. involvement in the AfghanWar. The U.S.A. cannot possibly win any war worth winning in Afghan. The Taliban are not one unified force but its powers are scattered among various Taliban warlords. The world is not all black-and-white!
Umm... why does that Taliban look like my Tio Caesar with a hangover? ;->~~

Venceremos Unidos! Education for Liberation!

Peter S. López, Jr. aka~Peta

Email: peter.lopez51@yahoo.com 





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