Seventeen days ago, masked armed men kidnapped 31 passengers in Zabul and took them to Khak Afghan district of Zabul province. The men were reportedly speaking an unidentifiable foreign language. It has been learnt that the hostages have been relocated to another part of the province, or even to another province all together with no confirmed reports on their livelihood. The government authorities have been too silent to offer any achievements over the secure release of the hostages or report about any efforts that they take for their release.
Since the failure of tribal mechanism through village elders and religious leaders for the secure release of the captives, the Zabul Security Officials have not shed light on the matter that whether they are doing something for the release of the captives or they have stopped it. Asaddullah Kakar, the provincial council secretary has also said that they are not aware of the operation. It has not been specified where the location of the hostages is and all the people of Zabul province are very concerned of the matter and raised serious questions for their release.
As a result, the relatives of 31 innocent people kidnapped nearly three weeks ago in Zabul province staged a protest on Thursday in Kabul. The family members of the missing people, who were ostensibly targeted for being ethnic Hazaras, criticized the Afghan government for not doing more to find a solution and get their loved ones home safely. In the mourn of this horrifying incident, the whole nation has been criticizing the government for its silence against this illegal armed groups who are trying to upset the unity among this war-weary people.
The protesters criticized the government for being so negligent towards its responsibilities to protect its citizens. The right to live safely and freely are the fundamental rights of every individual, said the protestors. With their helpless and peaceful protest, they demanded from the government authorities once again to make a move against these brutal groups of kidnapers who are violating not only the rights of a particular tribe but they are trying to create tribal tension between all citizens.
One of the families of the hostages, Nazar Muhammad said, “Our leaders in their presidential election campaigns made bold promises to provide best possible protection with equal rights and justice for their all citizens, but now it seems quit disappointing. The promise to provide equal protection for all their citizens, irrespective of their race, religion, and ethnic background have been all only fruitless talks. If they are accountable to their promises and fulfil their responsibilities in protecting their citizens, then why have they forgotten it now, and do not ask about our hostages?”
The families of the victims came on the streets after the government persistently neglected the issue. President Ashraf Ghani was not that interested in the matter at all because the missing passengers belong to a particular tribe. Since the abduction of these 31 Hazara passengers, he did not convey a single hopeful message to the families of the victims for their secure release or emphasize over the responsible departments to be responsive in their efforts for the safe release of these 31 missing Hazaras.
Political analysts added that the delay for the release of the captives will likely create gap between the Afghan people which has brought devastated backwardness in the history of Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani did not personally talk about this horrifying incident during the last more than 15 days. People still thrive to live on the true age of a democratic and a legitimate government, which is supposed to be dedicated, and committed for the rights of its citizens, irrespective of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, disability, location, and religion. This shows how the current Afghan leaders invite their people towards racisms.
Current government’s response to the missing people undermined Ghani’s legacy and prominence that he had among his followers. Amid contention over the formation of the remaining cabinet, implementation of electoral reform prior to the next parliamentary elections and getting the ball rolling on Taliban peace talks, many feel the Afghan government has short-shifted the Hazara hostage situation. It has been said that these 31 passengers are going to be sacrificed of this so-called peace talk with the Taliban, which has been in the process in the last couple of years but did not bear any fruits.
In addition, Muhammad Mohaqeq, one of the prominent leader of Hazara community in Afghanistan, and the second Vice President of Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at a gathering in Balkh province also expressed a feeling of dissatisfaction with the current government’s response in regard to 31 missing Hazara passengers. It happens when dissatisfaction has increased on Facebook and other social media sites, cursing the government and raising many questions about Ashraf Ghani’s accountability and neglect of the matter for the secure release of the 31 missing Hazara passengers. Ghani has completely bypassed the matter over more than 3 weeks.
The sentiment of the protest in Kabul and the gathering of Mohaqeq in Balkh has also boosted the spirit of civil society activists. On Thursday in a press conference, Sami Daraye an Afghan civil society activist said, “The government is giving the wrong information about these hostages to the people. While expressing their feeling of dissatisfaction added that, the officials come up with certain information about these missing people. Since the kidnapping of these people, the government offered certain excuses, blaming the weather and then talks about the community elders. Such excuses do not heal the painful wounds of the families of the victims. Instead, the government must offer further efforts for the safe release of the missing passengers in the earliest point of time, before it is too late.
It has been learnt that initial steps being taken for the secure release of the 31 missing passengers by the local communities through tribal peaceful negotiation has been hampered by government authorities for they promised to take any possible actions against the kidnapers for the release of captives. Yet, the nation is still waiting for government’s comprehensive approach to fulfill its promises and return the 31 missing passengers safely to their beloved ones.
These are all claims that the situation for Hazaras has improved in Afghanistan with the ousting of Taliban government from power in late 2001. Hundreds of Hazara have been victimized in recent years on highways from Hazara populated areas to Kabul, Kandahar, Bamyan and Harat provinces. In the years since, there have been many reported instances of attacks by Taliban on Hazaras in Afghanistan and Lashkari Jhanvi in Pakistan.
Based on several reports, Hazaras in Afghanistan remained under perpetual attacks in recent years. The insurgency has taken a new turn on Hazara people. They kill Hazaras everywhere possible on ethical conduct. The people say that it is worse than the Mujahedeen period of Afghanistan and the period of occupation.
Thus, the Hazara ethnic group has been giving devotion for decades without any reasons, yet they are still the worst victims of political rivals. The history teaches us of their peace-loving, hard-working attitudes with commitments and loyalty. Not only in elections, they are the power-balancing ethnic group, the Hazaras are also the leading ethnic group for building schools, for expanding education for girls and women and promoting literacy for all.
They have introduced the best private universities in Afghanistan and most of the talented students of Kabul University are from Hazara ethnic group. They are the silence force behind every development programs in Afghanistan but they are still as vulnerable as the threats of the Taliban or the armed groups such as Kuchis (Nomads) and the newly born brutal group of Daesh’s attacks with no reason. It is about time, the government makes a bold and responsive commitment in response to these 31 missing Hazara passengers, otherwise the people will not tolerate the excuses just like several other incidents happened with these people reportedly went by ineffective.