Editor’s note: In this essay our writer reports how the extremist violence has affected residents of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province located on the border with Pakistan. Suicide and bombing attacks increased as the presence of ISIS continues to grow in eastern Afghanistan. Authorities say ISIS gunmen are battling against the Taliban, with ISIS taking control of at least four districts on the border. A March 2nd suicide bomb attack outside the Indian consulate killed two and injured nineteen. A January attack outside the Pakistani consulate killed two. A January 17th explosion at a guesthouse killed thirteen. In December, Islamic State forces (also known as Daesh) beheaded five of its own members, and the militia retaliated by decapitating four ISIS prisoners and placing their heads along the road. The city is swamped with unemployed fleeing occupied districts and meanwhile a clandestine broadcast, calling itself Caliphate Radio, broadcasts its propaganda nightly in the streets.
People in Nangarhar province are facing so many difficulties this winter with both the economy and the insecurity—with the Daesh and Taliban nearby. The economic situation is very bad. I am not sure that I am safe in my home in B. District. My family and I can’t sleep at night for worry. This is the reality of our life in an insecure province like Nangarhar.
During the daytime, the children are working to help their families get enough food to eat, but the women’s voices are not heard by our police or government. I can see all of these painful things happening to women and children. It is depressing. As I write I am crying. But how can I help the people when I also am one of the victims?
There is not just one enemy: there is the Taliban, the government, and the Daesh, with their terrible customs. And there is no money. God please help us.
Nangarhar, the home of knowledge and culture, has burned in flames of fire for ten years, but it is getting worse day by day. The elders, local authorities, and the ones who claim to be the leaders of this province are guilty for all of this. Today’s situation is serious and is having a bad effect on the whole country. Over the last six months, armed groups acting in the name of the Caliphate Daesh and in the name of the Emirate of the Taliban have committed very violent acts in the eastern part of the country. Often the violence is a result of the fighting between these two groups—each of them trying to be the group in power, each trying to be the winner.
The local elders have been bombed and blown up. It shocks the human conscience. The lives and property of our residents are not safe because of Daesh and Taliban militants. Daesh kills people and burns their houses. Then the Taliban burns the houses of the poor villagers when they take over an area once occupied by Daesh. The Taliban accuses the poor people of supporting Daesh—when, in truth, they had no choice. The local government watches all this as if it is a game, this two-sided war, waiting to see who will win.
The people are very worried about this and face many difficulties. They have lost hope. The Taliban and Daesh are entrenched in eight districts of Nangarhar province and fighting against each other. Hundreds of schools have been locked and closed. Depriving the children of an education is unbearable for the residents of this area. The residents are compelled to leave their homes and move someplace to escape the warfare. They spend their nights in the hot deserts of Nangarhar.
This is the result of the loss of government. If it was in another province, the president and lower level authorities would have done everything they could for the residents and would have tried to solve the issues. It is the bad luck of Nangarhar that we have very little rule in the country’s politics. The region has always been neglected by the central government and remained on the edge. Those that put on the military uniform and take the gun to go to the frontline for combat don’t really care about the people.
I ask the president to take serious steps to secure Nangarhar and focus on helping the eastern part of the country. The sacrifices of our security forces are valuable, but they must occupy the remote areas of Nangarhar to keep the people safe and secure from the penetration of Daesh and Talib militants. We hope the people will help the security forces to create a safe environment.
By Leena G.
ISIL propaganda photo.