Protesting against the beheading of the seven innocent Hazara civilians, including four women and a child, by the alleged Islamic State (IS) insurgents in southern Zabul province, tens of thousands of people staged a historic protest in the capital Kabul on Wednesday November 11,2015. There were people from other provinces and civil society members among the protestors and they rallied from Dasht-e-Barchi area of the capital to the Presidential Palace and were chanting slogans against Taliban, Daesh and the government. One of the protestors said, “We are here to raise our voice for justice. The government should respond to the killing of civilians by Daesh and Taliban militants.”
Some of the protestors got infuriated and tried to breach the gates of the Presidential Palace during late afternoon; however, they were forced back by the security forces as they opened fire to disperse the people. In the run up to the shooting incident, some of the protestors got injured. According to new sources about 8 people were injured during the incident. However, no ambulances were reportedly in the area to transport the injured to hospital. As tempers started to flare by mid-afternoon, angry protesters demanded government action over the beheading of the seven civilians. They had however, warned earlier that they would try to breach the gates of the Presidential Palace.
Currently insecurity has reached to an alarming stage and throughout the country and the civilians have been largely influenced as a result. Afghan government and security forces have not been able to tackle the situation properly and there are fears that the situation may debilitate further in the coming days. The promises of the government have remained promises alone and no practical measures are taken to face insurgency with iron fist.
If the situation remains as it is, there are possibilities that more people will pour onto the roads to protest against the government. People want justice and the continuous injustice would suffocate them. History has shown that persistent injustice has always led to mass dissatisfaction and protests. That is what happened in Egypt. The protests that started from the Tehrir Square turned into Egyptian Revolution and resulted in the resignation of Husni Mubarak. The protest in Kabul may also turn into a Tehrir Square episode unless there are steps taken for the restoration of justice in the country.
The protestors also issued a declaration where they called on government as well as the United Nations to ensure justice is served against those behind the beheading of the Zabul Seven and that they ensure the safety of every Afghan.
The declaration included the following demands:
1. Launching proper clearance operations in order to arrest the abductors and killers of the Zabul passengers and to ensure punishing is meted out in accordance with the law.
2. Establish an active and equipped unit within the Afghan National Army to ensure security in areas where Hazara people live and to establish four units in four zones including Bamiyan, Daikundi, Jaghori in Ghazni and in the greater Ghazni province.
3. The formation of an independent administrative office for Jaghori and Ghazni province.
4. Increase the number of police force members in all insecure areas where Taliban militants are active.
5. In order to respect the martyrs of Zabul, a hill should be named after them and the seven beheaded hostages should be laid to rest there.
The protestors said that they would continue their protest unless their demands are met.
Responding to the demands of the protestors, President Ashraf Ghani addressed the nation yesterday evening and called for calm and peace. He said that the government was committed to ensuring that justice is served and that those responsible for the beheading of the seven Zabul residents are brought to book. In his address, Ghani also said that he has issued a decree to provide security and safety on highways. He also said the enemy is not able to fight security forces face-to-face and a special investigation unit has been established to find those responsible for the kidnapping and beheading of the Zabul Seven. However, he said this latest incident was a bid on the part of the enemy to divide the nation and the government will show no mercy against the enemy and that it is committed to getting revenge for the latest atrocity.
It will be important to see what the government would do particularly in response to the Kabul protest and generally against the mounting insecurity and unrest in the country. It is now certain that the people would no more accept lethargy and indifference. They are tired of growing terrorism and cannot tolerate another series of wars. They want practical steps from the government and they want it immediately. Promises and lip service would do no good to the people and to the country. It is only through honest, unbiased and determined efforts that the government and security forces can control the insecurity and lead the country towards peace and tranquility; there is no other way out.