Taliban’s Nest and Increased Insecurity on Kabul-Bamiyan highway

A number of drivers and residents of Bamiyan province have complained about the increase in insecurity on the Kabul-Bamiyan highway, on two routes from Jalrez District and Ghorband Valley. Ghorband Valley of Parwan Province and Jalrez Valley of Maidan Wardak Province are the routes connecting Daikundi, Ghor and Bamiyan provinces to the capital, Kabul. But the presence of Taliban fighters in these two valleys have turned these routes into the most insecure ones for travelers. Some passengers and drivers on the Kabul-Bamiyan highway report having been stranded in Bamiyan for several days due to increased insecurity and continue to hope for better security.

Khalifa Sultan, one of the drivers, said that he used to take passengers from Kabul to Bamiyan or vice versa at least once a day, but due to fighting between the security forces and the Taliban fighters in Ghorband district of Parwan province in the last three days, he has not dared to take that route. Muhammad, another driver on this route, said that while Jalrez Valley had been insecure for years, traveling on this route had been rendered completely impossible in recent weeks. According to Mohammad, Ghorband Valley has also witnessed the presence of Taliban fighters in the last few days, who “inspect” and harass passengers. The drivers, in criticizing the government, said that insecurity on the Kabul-Bamiyan highway, in addition to creating countless other obstacles, has affected their jobs. Khalifa Mohammad called on the government to provide greater security on the Bamiyan-Kabul highway.

Insecurity along the main routes to the central provinces through Kabul is one of the major obstacles the residents of these areas face. Although they have repeatedly called for a solution, not only have they failed to get any results, but the situation has also continued to worsen. Ali Sadiqi was forced to spend seven days in Bamiyan. He is a native of Kabul and had come to Bamiyan on work but insecurity over the last few days in Ghorband prevented him from returning to Kabul. He said, “I have been trying for three or four days to return to Kabul, but due to the heightened insecurity along the road and the placement of roadside mines by the Taliban, people are killed every day. I therefore could not return to Kabul.” According to the passenger, at the same time that insecurity has increased on the Bamiyan-Kabul route, car toll fees have also increased. For this reason, many drivers are not ready to transport passengers on this route.

Meanwhile, Mawlawi Atiqullah Atiq, the Deputy Governor of Bamiyan, in a conversation with 8 Subh, said that the local administration of Bamiyan had repeatedly raised this issue with the local government of Maidan Wardak, the central government and the President himself, but they had been unable to reach a desirable outcome so far. The deputy governor of Bamiyan added that in the last month, about three civilians were killed in a roadside bomb blast in Jalrez district of Maidan Wardak province. However, the exact number of passengers killed on the Kabul-Bamiyan highway by the Taliban is not known, as members of the army and police who have taken this route have also been killed by the Taliban.

On this note, Jawad Dadgar, Director of the Regional Office of the Independent Human Rights Commission in Bamiyan, said that insecurity was on the rise on the Bamiyan-Kabul highway and that civilians had been killed in the incidents that took place on the highway. He added that the killing of civilians was a “significant violation of international humanitarian law.” Mr. Dadgar explained that, as expected, the government had failed to take effective and practical measures to ensure security on the Kabul-Bamiyan highway and that the residents of the central regions had also objected to this problem. The head of the Regional Office of the Independent Human Rights Commission further added that due to the government’s lack of attention to providing security along the route, many heinous and horrific incidents had taken place resulting in civilian deaths at the hands of the Taliban. The Independent Human Rights Commission called on the central government and security agencies to take necessary measures to ensure the security and safety of the people in the central areas.

On the other hand, Majid, Commander of the National Army Battalion in Siah-Gard district of Parwan province, told 8 Subh that during a few days of clashes between security forces and Taliban fighters in Ghorband valley, 13 Taliban fighters were killed and several others were wounded and captured. Five Afghan National Army soldiers, one policeman and three members of the local police were injured in the clashes, and no casualties were reported by the security forces. Commander Majid added that the current situation in Ghorband Valley had returned to normal and passengers would now be able to resume travel on this route. Earlier, a number of residents of Bamiyan and a representative of the province in the National Assembly had said that insecurity had increased in the Ghorband Valley and that the Taliban were creating problems for travelers by increasing their check-posts.

A few years ago, Sarwar Danish, the second vice president, and Mohammad Mohaqiq, the former deputy head of the executive branch of the National Unity Government, submitted a plan to the government to establish a national army brigade at the central Bamiyan headquarters. One of the battalions of this brigade was to be stationed in Jalrez district of Maidan Wardak. Although President Ghani himself had promised to implement the security plan, residents of Central Regions say that, even many years later, there is no news of the implementation of this promise of the President. On similar lines, President Ghani, during his visit to Bamiyan two years ago, had instructed the Chief of Staff to finalize the creation of a regional battalion for Bamiyan; this is also yet to be implemented.