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Afghanistan Times

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Opinion: The unnamed heroes, the forgotten widows, orphans of Maruf, Arghasan districts 

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By Pashtana Durrani-Palwasha, the only daughter of Barani orphaned as a kid and married recently. Now she is a widow mother of two, who are now orphaned too.

A tank entered the fortress that was recently turned into check post. The Qala (fortress) was attacked by the tank’s main gun, few seconds later a suicide bomber came in, a huge blast took place and 30 ANDSF men were turned into ashes.30 men from one village were murdered, one of them was Palwasha’s husband. Palwasha who was born in war, rose in war and now widowed in a war, including her two kids who were born in war, raised in war and now orphaned in war.

Another family of Nadar Khan who had born in war, rose in war and now disabled by the by war. Nadar Khan is head of his family and tribe was target of attack. His right eye and face has been damaged by attack, was sent to India for recovery. On his return to Kandahar while still in bed, his two dear children sit by his bedside, still in trauma and shock the two are still not able to comprehend, what a single man did to their whole family and their dear father. While Nadar Khan is busy on calls because people continue calling him from Maruf about how there is an ongoing attack the whole family under great pressure and unable to understand how many more dead bodies and houses will be attacked until peace.

Khanzaman, born and raised in war and now murdered by war, was murdered in an attack in Spin Boldak on a borderline check post by Pakistani army. His parents who live in Maruf grieve the martyrdom of their son. Rahim Tarozai, born and raised in war who was sent to defuse a remote control mine, lost his both hands while defusing it (later on got new hands through surgery). Naqib Mahmmudzai whose car was attacked by Taliban, armed with a rifle killed 3 Taliban when ran out of bullets near Arghasan was murdered by the Taliban insurgents. He like others was born and raised in war died fighting the war. Najib Mahmmudzai was murdered, when Taliban attacked the check post in middle of night leaving behind 4 sisters 3 brothers and a mother. Allah Noor was targeted on his way home when Taliban captured and shot him. They were born and raised in war died fighting the war.

They all died or survived attacks in hopes of a peaceful Afghanistan. But the point is their families, who gave the sacrifice, are neglected and given no attention at all.

The ones dead and alive are in front of great danger known as terror; they are engulfed by dark terror. They are left with nothing what did their sacrifice bring to the district schools, hospitals, roads and the country’s stability? None, the Maruf district has 40 closed schools and Arghasan with few functioning schools, reasons range from instability to corruption. Parents grieve the loss of their sons. A young wife awaits her husband. Sisters await their brothers. The adolescent children wait for their father to be home. Every house or family that I visited in my 7 months time period they either have a widow or both widows and orphans. But all they are left to be the pawn in the war, so that they are targeted and murdered. All I get to hear is “The parents will die knowing Afghanistan is no more their peaceful Afghanistan. The wife of the martyr will grow old without him and looking after his children who are not even given the chance to attend school or live a normal life. The sisters will never see their brothers again and life will go on”.

None of them in past or now are given any relief (except the ones surviving and need immediate medical attention).Their sons in ANDSF means there are no other jobs and they have to feed their families and they chose the patriotic way. But question is even in safest countries, when you sign up in military or police you are dealing with death. But they are given relief what about our people what do they get in this war? That is being waged on our land, on our people, in our presence. What is it that Maruf and Arghasan have got?

Of course looking at Kabul we have a developed capital but what about the districts, bordering the so-called Durand Line? Why that after decades of war and after 17 years of democracy these districts are neglected their people is used as human shield?

Why their kids don’t deserve school? Why their parents don’t deserve a better health care? Why the widows are left to beg/suicide? Why it is the immediately affected by this cancer called terrorism are left off. Why is it that our martyrs barely make it to news? Why is it that their name is added to list of number “number of ANDSF dead stats”

Its either our blood is cheap or people who don’t make it to news outlets never matter? Despite everything there is a hope optimism that I see in their eyes about a peaceful Afghanistan optimism about opened schools, optimism about being able to live a normal life. What difference has the government brought? This will raise many eyebrows and I will be bashed for saying it. The question is before war the government never paid attention to these districts in particular, then there was a civil war, decades of utter darkness, then came the Taliban. With US led invasion, things changed in Maruf being the borderline district got check posts police stations and everything regarding security. Then comes question of schools, hospitals and roads what about them?

Roads are imaginary and only in maps or most of time paved but destroyed later on. Then comes schools, because there is no check and balance the schools are closed the teachers are ghost teachers and the salary paid, goes to the pockets of relatives of influential people, making sure the corruption continues. Hospitals there are none not even clinics the ANDSF when injured have to be rushed to Kandahar city or die while reaching there. My question as an individual is not that why government is not helping them question is just to hold power we will continue sacrificing our generations because there at the higher positions the people in power are corrupt? Or that would end this war?

A very important question that still remains unanswered. Is it worth it?

Is it worth sacrificing the future of Afghanistan because we could not clear/secure a district or that the secure areas were under the corrupt leadership? Irony is that the people who lead us our officials? Representatives are corrupt they don’t want development as much the Taliban just look at it this way,

The Taliban won’t let children go to school and the corrupt leadership won’t let the schools reopen so what is the difference between them? One is a militant in a mountain with arms and the other is government paid officer doing the same work as Taliban but lives in between people and holds no arm?

Pashtana Durrani is a Kandahar based youth ambassador, civil society activist and writer—working for the welfare of her country’s people.