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New govt grapples with revenge killings despite Taliban general amnesty?

Admit to tradition of revenge in Afghan society

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 25, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 weeks ago
Posted: Sep 25, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 weeks ago

Artwork: Obair Kham/SAMAA Digital

The concept of revenge is so strong and common in Pakhtun society that if one generation cannot exact revenge for some wrong, the responsibility is passed on to the next generation.

Revenge is considered part of Pakhtun DNA and perhaps this is why the question has been raised from the beginning as to whether the Taliban can really forgive those who worked with the forces that kept them in political exile for the past 20 years.

Ordinary Afghans are well aware of this phenomenon, so after the announcement of the US withdrawal, every Afghan citizen who had worked with US and coalition forces in any capacity tried to leave the country.

The Taliban had also released all prisoners from prisons across the country after the capture of Kabul, including a number of people who had been held for years by former government officials for having personal ties to the Taliban. And the same people are now looking for these officials of the previous governments.

On the other hand, young Taliban fighters whose parents or close relatives were brutally murdered by former Afghan National Army personnel and government leaders are now seeking revenge. Although the Taliban movement does not disobey the amir and the decisions of its leaders and there are no such examples of going against orders, the spirit of personal revenge is brewing among the young fighters at the grassroots level.

Such youngsters are expressing their views on social media, regardless of the amir’s orders or the official stance.

Such young men believe that notwithstanding the announcement of a general amnesty, the issue of faith remains and the Taliban as a State cannot forgive any crime in which an individual’s rights have been violated.

The latest campaign by pro-Taliban youths on social media began when pictures of Farhad Akbari, a key former government commander accused of war crimes, with Taliban leaders at the presidential palace went viral on social media.

Apparently a young man affiliated with the Taliban movement wrote on his Twitter account: “Today the same person is sitting with the Taliban leaders in the presidential palace laughing and there is nothing I can do.”

Habib-ur-Rehman Logari writes, “This savage spied on 15 of my relatives and friends and killed them in drone strikes and Dobdo fighting, of which we have regular evidence, so we will not allow anyone to waive their right.”

Obaid Agha writes that, “Welcoming those whose hands are stained with the blood of the Taliban into important government buildings is a betrayal of the blood of the martyrs.”

Rehmatullah Betab writes: “The fire of vengeance is burning in our hearts but we are silent because of the general amnesty given by the leadership.”

Afghan Defense Minister Mullah Yaqub’s message to Taliban fighters was shared on Twitter by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. Mullah Omar’s son and current defense minister Mullah Yaqub admitted that there had been some incidents in recent days in which two or three people were killed in retaliation.

The Afghan interim defense minister said that the Islamic Emirate has announced a general amnesty and once the amnesty is announced, then no one has the right to take revenge and if someone has an individual dispute with someone they should hand it over to the law. If he is right, the government will give him his right.

He said that killing someone in a personal capacity is not the policy of the Emirate and it is not permissible even from the point of view of the Shariah.

Mullah Yaqub said that such incidents are harming their main objectives, so the Mujahideen are specifically instructed not to say anything to anyone as an individual, even if that person is the killer of their father or son.

“The Islamic Emirate has announced a general amnesty for the soldiers of the previous government, commanders involved in war crimes and those who martyred and harassed our people, so no mujahid now has the right to oppose such people,” he said.

“If someone has been wronged in the previous government, he should turn to the scholars, and if he has the right to retaliate, then we will cooperate with him, but if someone has taken revenge himself, he should be punished,” he said.

It should be noted that in recent days, international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had also said that the Taliban had committed war crimes in Panjshir and other provinces in recent months, but such claims were rejected by the Taliban.

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