Editor’s note: A least 161 children have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2016 in increased fighting between pro-government forces and the Taliban, according to the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. It’s a 29% increase compared to the first three months of 2015.

When Wasil Ahmad was ten years old, he wore an army police uniform instead of a school uniform, a police helmet and army bag instead of a satchel for school, and he held a gun with his little hands instead of a pencil.

On the first day of February this year, Wasil was on the way to buy vegetables in Tirin Kot (the capital of the southern Urozgan Province) when suddenly he fell to the ground, his eyes half-open, blood dripping from his little fingers onto the ground. His small body was too cold. His breath came out slowly, and he had a smile on his face and felt every one of his last breaths.

Two bullets to his head from the Taliban tore him down. Now he is far away, far from this hell where he lost his father and was forced to take part in a military operation against the wild Taliban. Maybe he is happy now and with his father. He can hug his father and smell his father’s sweet scent once again. Or maybe Wasil Ahmad is narrating how he died, how the Taliban attacked him from behind. Maybe he is narrating how the Taliban shouted to him so he faced them. Maybe they didn’t give him a chance to even close his eyes before they shot him.

Wasil wasn’t a member of the military. He wasn’t a hero. So why was he gunned down?  His fault was that he was forced to take part in a military sting operation against the Taliban. Because of his intelligence and talent, he helped the army police achieve their success.

Now he is dead, and his family mourns the loss of their son. But one question confuses me: who is really responsible for Wasil Ahmad’s murder? Who really killed him?

The Taliban?

The Taliban do not seem human; they appear in front of us as human without a heart. They don’t understand happiness. They seem to only be here to torture us and kill off the Afghan people one by one. Man, woman or a child, it doesn’t matter which, they just kill for their revenge.

Was it his family?

Was it the fault of his uncle, who allowed him to get involved in military operations even though he knew his nephew’s age?

His own self?

He couldn’t be responsible for his own death because he was a kid. He wasn’t old enough to make such a decision.

What about the army police?

Considering they allowed him to work with them, was it their responsibility to take his security into their hands? They knew that getting involved in a sting operation against the Taliban with a ten-year-old boy was illegal. So how could they allow his uncle to recruit him?

Or was it the fault of the government?

They couldn’t keep the peace and give our citizens a secure life. After thirty years of war in Afghanistan we had a period in which to bring changes and security to Afghanistan. Why couldn’t the government bring more peace and security to Afghanistan during the last fifteen years? Why did they create a situation in which a child had to be involved in the fight against the savage Taliban?

Yes, Wasil Ahmad serving as a member of the army’s police was illegal, but his goal, his goodwill, were not wrong. He fought for his father, for his family, and for all of us. His father’s murder, which was committed by the Taliban, led Wasil Ahmad to fight back against the Taliban. If his father were still alive, perhaps Wasil would have continued his education instead.

His dream was to be a strong and brave member of the army police and to serve his homeland. So, now he is our little hero. I don’t want to encourage other children to join the army police, but his purpose and goodness made him a hero. I have heard that martyrs never die. They are around us always. Wasil Ahmad also is a martyr. He is alive in our hearts and our minds, and the image of his innocent and virtuous self will never be removed from our memories.

By Freshta B.

Photo courtesy of the Ahmad family.