It has been on record for the last three months that the border regions of Kunar province of Afghanistan are under missile attack. While it appears that these attacks are coming from the Pakistan side, this cannot be confirmed. Although the matter has become a huge issue for the government in Kabul, there has been no statement – either confirmation or denial of the attacks from Pakistan’s side.
The attacks have even taken the toll of the Defence and Interior Ministers in Kabul, dismissed by the Parliament but reappointed as acting ministers by the President. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the toll the attacks have exacted in terms of the local population.
These attacks have resulted in displacement of people in large numbers from the affected zone.
PACT Radio has talked to people from Kunar province on the recent attacks. A man named Ahmad from Daangam district of Kunar told PACT Radio that more than a thousand missiles have rained down on the province during the last three months, killing more than thirty civilians and wounding dozens more. “These attacks have also resulted in the displacement of hundreds of people,” he adds.
Another person named Abdul Basit hailing from Daangam district, says that they don’t blame anyone for these attacks. “It is clear from which direction these attacks are coming.” He suggests sending a jirga to try and sort things out and to find out how these attacks are happening – are they deliberate or the result of some mistake.
Toor Khan is also from the same Daangam district, but has been displaced from his home because of the attacks. He says he has managed to settle with his relatives for the time being. The same is the case with Abdul Khaliq, who explained that wealthier IDP’s were able to afford renting homes in As’ad Abad in Kunar, but poorer people like him had to live with their relatives.
Basher, a middle-aged man from Daangam district said that the missile attacks had crippled their economic situation – their crops had been destroyed, cattle was dead and their children’s studies had been affected. “Moreover, we are a burden here on our relatives.”
Gul Zaman from Naaray district said that not only had these attacks affected them but it had also affected the forest by setting it on fire. “It was local people who made efforts to kill the fire, otherwise the government was unable to do so because the government has no access to these remote areas, as their back-up is very weak here,” he added.
While talking about the efforts carried out to find a solution to the recent problems, a resident named Ahmad said that they had visited the posts from where the attacks were made but they didn’t pay any heed to us. “Our Afghan government is also silent in this regard. The issue has been raised in the parliament but it was only on the level of condemnation and no solid steps have been made to solve the issue.”
While some make political capital out of the attacks, and others act as if the attacks are not even happening, as usual it is the local population who suffer and who stand forgotten.