In Baghlan, long-running enmity turns into friendship

Create: 07/09/2015 - 10:49

PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok): In addition to judicial organs, tribal elders claim having decided recently complicated cases in Banu, Deh Salah, Pul-i-Hesarak and Andarab districts of northern Baghlan province, as part of an ongoing campaign.
Increasing public awareness and people’s contribution are the main factors behind resolving local problems on an amicable note, government official and civil society representatives acknowledge. People councils have particularly been effective. 
Authorities in Baghlan confirm the councils have been active for a year now in different districts, deciding several murder cases. The efforts of tribal elders for strengthening security in Andarab have been fruitful, they say.
In the Qasan area of Deh Salah district, two families had been locked in a long-running murder-related enmity. But intervention from peace-loving and influential individuals led to resolving the complex issue that dragged on for years. The enmity turned into friendship between the families.
Root of the problem:
Qasan village resident Mohammad Qasim recalls: “When I was 20-year-old, construction work on a school was launched in our area. People had gathered in a huge ground, where my cousin and other residents clashed over the site for the project.”
He says: “My father, being a tribal chieftain, worked hard to keep a lid on the tension. But the rival party, instigated by a number of elements, killed my father in an ambush after a few days. They went on to murder my aunt’s husband several days later. Then my brother was gunned down on his way to our aunt’s house. Later, our entire family shifted from the village to Pul-i-Khumri. It was the beginning of the dispute.”
Public council’s intervention:
With regard to the dispute, former jihadi commander Mullah Abdur Rauf says: “The enmity between Qasan residents erupted in 2005 and lingered on for several years, when both parties were in a fit of rage and had stamina. I believe three people were killed on both sides. The number of fatalities would have soared if I had not mediated between them.”
Having resolved several other problems of the kind, he touts his experience in bringing about a patch-up between rivals. In 2013, he moved to address the instant issue in response to suggestions from colleagues. “When I realised my friends have positive views, I was encouraged to step up efforts for ending the enmity.”
Abdur Rauf was yet to get to the bottom of the problem when two more people from the families were mysteriously murdered. But he did not give up, continuing with his mediation mission.
Basis of dispute resolution:
As a first step, Abdur Rauf brought together elders from four villages and some relatives of Qasim Khan’s family. They visited Khinjan district to meet Khan’s elder brother Mustafa. “We stayed at Mustafa’s residence for several days, saying nothing about the issue on the first night. But the next night, I told him we have come here for mediation.”
He continues Mustafa did not come up with any reply immediately and the discussion went on for two more nights. Displaying a lot of mildness and courage, he said: “I no longer have enmity with anyone and leave everything to Allah.”
Abdur Rauf recollects: “That was an unforgettable night of satisfaction for us, as we managed to find a way of striking a patch-up between the two families.” The next morning the mediators travelled to Deh Salah, where they convinced the other party, which had initiated the feud, to visit Qasim’s residence and seek his pardon.
“After a month, more than 20 elders went to Qasim’s house along with the killer. The victim’s family responded with due respect to elders’ demand by forgiving the murderer,” explains the ex-jihadi commander, who says the rivals embraced one another and ended their animosity to resume friendly ties.
People’s joy:
A religious scholar from Andarab district, Maulvi Abdul Hadi, says many residents carry weapons because of hostilities. “I can say confidently that more than 500 people have been killed in the district over the past decade because of enmities.”
However, the scholar hastens to refer to a willingness among the people to resolve their issues amicably. While calling the enmity in Qasan village a huge concern, he says: “The residents are happy with successful efforts by Abdur Rauf and others. Hopefully, the two families will now forge friendly relation.”
For his part, Qasim blames the government for paying no heed to disarming gunmen in the area. Provincial authorities are least bothered about reconciling hostile individuals, he grumbles, voicing pleasure over an end to his family’s plight.