Thanks to elders’ efforts, families end hostilities

Create: 05/16/2015 - 11:31

Decades of misfortunes, besides spawning a string of problems in much of Afghanistan, have sent the people’s tolerance level plummeting. Residents have to encounter a variety of issues fuelling tensions in remote areas. People living in villages, even cities, have become so intolerant that literally clash over trivial questions.
But a silver lining is that the principle of non-violence is still in evidence, with religious scholars, tribal elders and other influential figures trying to deal with regional spats. Killid Group reporters recently travelled to different provinces, where they saw a possibility of non-violence and peace.
With inter-clan marriages, two families clashed over a petty irritant in the Kulcha area of Dand district in southern Kandahar province three years ago. After three years of strained relations between the household, including first cousins, the local shura (council) arranged a patch-up between the families of Khair Mohammad and Nazar Mohammad -- brothers-in-law.
I a hot summer afternoon of June 20012, when most of area people were asleep in their homes or under shady trees outside, noisy scenes erupted between the two men, each having married the other’s sister. They traded harsh words after Nazar Mohammad’s herd of sheep strayed into the orchard of Khair Mohammad.
Khair Mohammad’s father, the uncle and father-in-law of Nazar Mohammad, shouts at his son-in-law. ‘As the testy exchanges went on, other members of the two families also jumped into the fray. A physical fight ensued, wounding three people who were evacuated to hospital by villagers.
Nazar Mohammad, who was also seriously wounded in the head, bled a lot as a result of the brawl. He recalls: “I was alone and they were four people. They stabbed me and banged my head. The scar is still visible.”
His son-in-law Khair Mohammad regrets the ugly incident. “We are cousins; we fought over nothing. His sheep damaged our orchard and later my father vented his spleen against his nephew. Three people suffered injuries in the scuffle. After three years, we buried the hatchet.” 
He credited tribal elder Shirin Agha for mediation. Khair Mohammad took a jirga to his cousin’s residence and offered Nazar Mohammad Rs150,000 (75,000 afs) in compensation. But Nazar accepted Rs50, 000 in the name of medical treatment, returning the rest of the money.
Although they reconciled, each man still harbours a grudge against the other, as their families refuse to resume normal relations. Some 20 days after the fight, 15 sheep of another resident are stolen. One villager, following his footprints, tracks down the thief. The trail leads to Khair Mohammad’s house.
Subsequently, he is arrested by police. He is beaten and asked to confess to the theft pf sheep and identify his accomplices. After a while, Nazar Mohammad is also detained on the same charge. Khair Mohammad told the police commander. “You call me a thief without any proof. But the police officer said I have to Rs500,000. So I paid the police Rs50,000 for the commander, Rs40,000 for the sheep owner and Rs100,000 for the tracking expert.”
Asserting his innocence, Nazar Mohammad says: “The tracking expert also moved around my house, but he found no signs of my involvement. But during interrogations, my cousin called me his accomplice just because of the clash.”
Mediation endeavours
Efforts for a patch-up were stepped up when Khair Mohammad approached the Coordination Council of Kandahar Tribes. The council chief, Wali Shah Agha says they received undertakings from both sides that they will go by whatever decision the mediators take. The elders have their own rules of the game to resolves such disputes.
“We reach a conclusion after receiving power-of-attorney documents from rivals, collecting relevant details, calling witnesses and investigating issues independently,” explains Agha. Both tribes were informed their dispute was almost resolved. The council also contacted the tracking professional over the telephone. “His version also helped me a lot. Our investigation showed that Nazar Mohammad, despite being beaten up, also suffered a loss of Rs260,000.”
In early 2015, in compliance with elders’ verdict, Khair Mohammad paid his son-in-law Rs120,000, as Nazar Mohammad waved off the remaining amount. Despite paying the fine, Khair Mohammad is still worried about resurfacing of the problem. “I don’t want a repeat of the sordid episode. But I’m not sure about the other side.”
For his part, Nazar Mohammad promises compliance with the decision by him and his family. “In no way, do I want the issue to erupt again, not least in that I respect my sister a great deal.”
The tribal council chief, Agha, says: “We have put paid to many issues like this. If a party still rakes up the spat in defiance of our decision, we will be obliged to submit its undertaking, duly signed by it, to the authorities. We will also the name party at fault.”
Resumption of relations
After an end to their dispute, both families exchange visits and show hospitality to each other. They acknowledge lingering minor problems is not only a headache, they can also touch off enmities. Khair Mohammad says: “After the elders’ verdict, my wife regularly visits her brother’s home. Similarly, my sister can come to her parental home whenever we want.”
His brother-in-law Nazar Mohammad says: “Days after the dispute was resolved, I slaughtered a lamb for them as a goodwill gesture. They also hosted us and I brought home my sister and bought her a suit. In the near future, my son is going to wed. Again, I’ll invite her…”
In sum, if the issue had been allowed to drag on, the poor women would have been unable to meet their parents, brothers and sisters. Haji Agha agrees non-resolution of the dispute could have given birth to other complications. “They had stopped their women to exchange visits. Relatives of both families were concerned about the situation.”
By courtesy of Killid Group.