One reason why the same sort of tragic incidents recur with no or little change in Afghanistan is the failure to investigate such incidents and systematic whitewash of facts. Many incidents have happened in recent years, which should have been inquired into transparently, and their findings shared with people, but there has been no single instance where the government has revealed the dark sides of the tragedies.
The fall of Kunduz, the mass-casualty attack on the 209th Shaheen Military Corps and explosion at Kandahar governor’s office, in which several Afghans and UAE diplomats were killed, were some of the complex incidents that required thorough investigations, but no satisfactory explanation has been provided to Afghan people. These incidents remained cloaked in secrecy, something that has contributed to their recurrence. The Thursday Kandahar shootout was just an episode of the sequence of high-profile attacks.
On October 19, the powerful police chief for southern Kandahar province, Gen. Abdul Raziq, who was credited with bringing a relative security to the province and perceived as the main bulwark against the Taliban in the country’s south, was shot dead along with the provincial intelligence chief and some other Afghan officials by one of the provincial governor’s bodyguards. The shooter was said to be a Taliban infiltrator. The incident occurred right after a meeting between Kandahar officials and Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, held at the Kandahar governor’s palace ended. While Miller escaped unharmed, the Resolute Support Mission has confirmed that two American soldiers had been wounded in the incident.
The Kandahar attack, especially the assassination of Gen. Raziq known as a formidable adversary to the Taliban in the group’s southern heartland, has raised many new questions and concerns among Afghan people. Although the Taliban have taken responsibility for the attack, it is not easy to buy into their claim taking into account the intricacy of the incident. There are a lot of discussions on social media as to how and what actually happened in Kandahar. There are claims that the incident occurred after a quarrel between Gen. Raziq and Gen. Miller over the issue of Durand Line. Miller had reportedly asked Gen. Raziq to stop opposing the fencing of Durand Line by Pakistan, but there was no way he would retreat from his stance, as it had become a matter of national dignity for him. Raziq had long been opposed to Pakistan’s unilateral construction of fence along the Durand Line in southern provinces, and occasionally fought fierce battles with Pakistani troops along the colonial-era frontier. There is no doubt Gen. Raziq, one of the most influential figures in Afghanistan’s south, was a key target for both the Taliban and Pakistan, because he had largely held the Taliban at bay not only in Kandahar considered as their key hotbed, but also partly in the entire southern region.
The killing of Gen. Raziq is shrouded in huge mystery. It is hard to form a judgment about the incident based on the information made public so far. As a charismatic figure with strong grossroots support, Gen. Raziq’s death was a major incident about which the government should provide clarification to his supporters and followers.
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