Members of the NZPRT drink Choi with former Taliban and ex Mujahadeen commanders at a Jirga in Qardendeh, Bamyan Province (WN09-001-005)
19 February 2010
The New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT) has met with former Taliban and Mujahadeen Commanders at a Jirga (assembly of elders) in Qardendeh, Bamyan Province.
The Jirga, held early in February, was situated in the village mosque and was also attended by Azim Fared, the District Sub Governor of Shibar; Major Chargicol, the District Chief of Police from Shibar; Eric Mehler from the US Department of State (USDOS).
They had come to discuss security issues, after two recent murders in the Shikari valley, not far from the location of the attack on a NZPRT patrol on 1 November 2009.
Colonel Martin Dransfield, Senior National Officer of the NZPRT, said that in the meetings running up to the Jirga it became evident that the security issues are in part due to the combination of a lack of infrastructure in the area, and the feeling of being isolated.
“Mullah Shafiullah, who admits to being an ex-Taliban Commander and is now the elected Head of Shura (village council) for Tigiran, explained that the three Shuras attending the meeting – Gardindeh, Tirgiran and Reshqaw, represent 8,000 people. However, they have no health clinic, are connected by tracks, and only one of the villages has a tented school.
“These factors, in combination with a lack of work, has prompted some to resort to criminal activity, and on occasions insurgent activity.”
Azim Fared, the District Sub Governor for Shibar, also spoke at the Jirga. He noted that the lives of the locals have been traumatised by 30 years of war, and that they still face incredible hardships due to their geographical isolation and lack of infrastructure.
“Azim Fared said that the time for fighting is over, and with the help of the international community and the Afghan Government the future can be positive,” said Colonel Dransfield.
“These are the first steps in a long period of engagement between the Government and a number of communities that believed they had been forgotten. This Jirga is a movement forward in the process of turning some of the insurgents.”
There are currently 794 New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed on 14 peacekeeping operations, UN missions and defence exercises around the world.
Contact: Nicole Munro-Johnson, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 148