What will be the Fate of the Missing Passengers?‎

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Nearly more than a week have passed by since 31 Hazara men were selectively abducted ‎allegedly by Islamic State militants in Kandahar-Kabul Highway, from Shah-Joy district of ‎southern Zabul on their way from Iran to Jaghury district of Ghazne-e- Province. It has been ‎learnt that the initial efforts that were being made through tribal mechanisms for the release of ‎the captives have ended fruitless. ‎
Since the abduction of these 31 Hazara men, the local community elders along with religious ‎leaders from Jaghury and Rasnah areas have been making concerted efforts for the secure release ‎of the captives through peaceful negotiation, but the efforts remained all fruitless since the ‎kidnapers offered no clear demands. ‎
Recent local reports add based on the returns of the tribal negotiators from the particular location ‎where the captives are taken, saying that they could hardly persuade the community elders for ‎the talk about the missing people. Some of the community elders did not even show interest for ‎the release of the captives and that is not sure whether it is due to unhealthy circumstances being ‎posed by the kidnapers or they are not willing to be involved in the matter, according to reports. ‎
In addition, the government authorities have also remained silent and unclear about the release of ‎the captives. Bitter than all, president Ghani who was believed to change the fate of his nation in ‎his leading has also not talked on this regard since the incident happened. Some of the local ‎outlets indicated that the motive behind the abduction of these 31 innocent men are only because ‎of their ethnic identity, therefore president Ghani seems calm and did not show a single reaction ‎against the incident for they belong to a particular tribe and that their lives and deaths will make ‎no difference for him. ‎
Since the kidnapping of these 31 Afghan citizens, the only point has been raised from the ‎presidential palace was from the second vice president, Sarwar Danish who have said that we ‎would seriously follow the incident happened with our fellow citizens. President Ghani has had ‎long speech on local television, addressing the nation but he did not say a single word about ‎these 31 Hazara hostages who have been victimized in their first return from Iran or give a hope ‎to the families of victims for their release. This is what causes disappointment among his ‎followers and raises serious concerns about his legacy. ‎
In a similar incident, on July 2014, the Taliban militants stopped two minibuses in the central ‎province of Ghor, and took off 14 Hazara passengers selectively from the busses and shot them ‎dead. Many reports have been written on the massacre with serious demands from the ‎government to bring the perpetrators in the court of justice, yet the government has taken no ‎responsive action in that regard. ‎
The abduction has been condemned by every and all- social and political parties throughout the ‎country, and the civil society groups in a gathering in Kabul and Mazar-e- Sharif, condemned the ‎incident, targeting a specific group or community. They raised serious concerns for the immediate ‎release of the abducted men while some other activist also criticized the government for what ‎they believed negligence of the matter. ‎
After a lot of voices raised on the matter, finally the government launched an operation for the ‎release of the captives. The operation has entered its second day after the security commanders ‎decided to launch an ‎operation against the abductors following the failure of negotiators to free ‎the passengers. About ‎‎30 passengers belonging to Hazara ethnic minority were kidnapped 10 ‎days ago by armed ‎masked men from Shah Joy district of Zabul.‎
There have been several reports from local media groups in Afghanistan about the presence of ‎ISIS militants in some parts of the country and the threats that they are posing towards security ‎situations, but the government authorities have persistently bypassed despite their fast growing ‎with their daily killing, burning and beheading in the Middle East, especially in Arabian states. ‎
The incident has fueled suspicions that ISIS militants are moving beyond the recruitment phase ‎in Afghanistan. The presence of alleged ISIS fighters has been reported across the country, ‎mostly in the volatile south and east. In January, officials in the southern province of Helmand ‎said that ISIS was operating in the area. In early February 2015, Kabul announced that the ISIS ‎head in southwest Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Rauf, was killed in a military operation. Other ‎officials in Logar Province also confirmed the presence of ISIS fighters who had burned several ‎homes and destroyed a shrine. ISIS’s black flags have also appeared in the eastern province. ‎According to reports, in western Kabul, located largely Hazara community residents have ‎received night letters bearing the ISIS logo in which Shiite Muslims are denounced as infidels. ‎
The arm-chaired analysts have played down the presence of ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, saying ‎that local officials might be exaggerating their presence in a bid to attract funding from the ‎central government. But U.S. General John Campbell, the commander of the remaining NATO ‎forces in Afghanistan accepted the fact that ISIS has a nascent presence in Afghanistan who has ‎a strongly anti-Shiite agenda. The U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has also said that the ‎risk posed by the group could force the White House to seriously consider slowing the pace of its ‎troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, but the domestic pressure over the withdrawal of its troops ‎from this unfinished war has pushed the U.S to reduce its presence in the battlefield with a claim ‎to have won the war on counterterrorism to avoid the stigma of defeat. The only gift has been ‎offered by the U.S and its alliance in Afghanistan was the elimination of Osama bin Laden, ‎otherwise, the terrorism, which the Americans came to eliminate, has increased to a great extent.‎
Despite various reports and claims for the abduction of Hazara passengers, the local government ‎official, Abdul Khaliq Ayubi, claim that these 31 Hazara passengers have been abducted by ISIS ‎‎(Daesh) who has a strong anti-Shiite agenda. He said that the gunmen were all in black clothes ‎and black masks in police uniforms. But the local media groups and eyewitnesses on the board ‎reportedly said that the gunmen spoke in a foreign language and that they were foreigners who ‎had close coordination with the local Taliban for kidnaping of these Hazara passengers who are ‎too active on highways and in remote provinces. ‎
Hazaras are often the target of sectarian violence at the hands of extremists in Afghanistan. An ‎exception was a large-scale sectarian attack in Afghanistan in 2011 in which dozens of Shiite ‎worshippers were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul. The Taliban denounced the attack, which ‎was claimed by the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e Jhangvi extremist group who are responsible for ‎mass killing of Hazara people in Pakistan. Hazaras were persecuted during the 1990s when the ‎Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan, and so does it now. ‎
As of now, no matter who have abducted these innocent men, whether Taliban or ISIS but the ‎point is to release them secure with no harm, and the government has the sole responsibility to ‎protect its citizens, excluding their colour and tribal background. President Ghani needs to make ‎a stand against the threat being posed by these so-called jihadists, operating freely against ‎innocent civilians and must make every possible effort for the immediate release of these 31 ‎innocent men. ‎

About samad1986

Abdul Samad Haidari is a poet, writer, teacher and a former freelance journalist, currently residing in Indonesia as a stateless refugee. He is the author of The Red Ribbon He fled his home country at the age of seven and grew up wandering in Pakistan and Iran as a child refugee, and was separated from his family for the majority of his childhood. For two years, at the age of eight and nine, he was forced into child labour in the construction industry in Iran. In contrast, Pakistan offered refugees like him the opportunity to study and work. This education and work experience culminated in Abdul teaching computer studies and English language courses at the Intel Computer Center and Pak Oxford Professionals. After the collapse of the Taliban government, Abdul returned to Afghanistan thinking that the security situation had improved, and that he could take part in the reconstruction of his war-torn country. With this in mind, Abdul served as a freelance journalist and humanitarian aid-worker in areas of the country that remained dangerous to civilians because of the influence of terrorist groups. Abdul served with the Norwegian refugee council (NRC), ActionAid Afghanistan, Daily Outlook Afghanistan group of newspapers, and The Daily Afghanistan Express. As a freelance journalist, Abdul wrote articles and editorials about on-the-ground realities, which were then circulated widely. These had a particular focus on women and children’s rights, corruption, transparency and accountability in government, warlords and terrorist groups’ actions and the systematic persecution of minority groups in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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