Khost governor, MP locked in serious war of words
KABUL (Pajhwok): Soon after the devastating suicide attack, the governor of southeastern Khost province and the Wolesi Jirga representative from the region traded serious allegations of keeping and smuggling illegal weapons.
Some two weeks back, two Wolesi Jirga members Kamal Nasir and Humayun Humayun alongwith provincial council members and residents staged protest, alleging Governor Abdul Jabbar Naeemi of administrative corruption.
The protesters established protest tents outside the governor’s residence and closed government offices to register strong protest against the incumbent governor.
At least 18 persons were killed and 64 others, most of them seriously, wounded in a suicide explosion in southeastern Khost province last Thursday, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said in a statement.
The blast jolted the locality near the tents established by the anti-governor protesters, an eyewitness said, adding that ambulances evacuated some injured to the hospital.
Later, a statement from the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the dreaded Haqqani Network was behind the devastating blast.
Naeemi, however, rejected all allegations including that of corruption saying both the lawmakers wanted to defame him for their own personal interests.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News the lawmakers along with their associates had started armed uprising. He said such acts would bring bad name to civil society organizations and diminish people's trust towards local governments.
Naeemi claimed during the protests, a lot of weapons and ammunition were rought to the city which was also shown on the media. He claimed that some of them even had heavy weaponry in their vehicles.
The Khost governor presented some photos to Pajhwok Afghan News showing MP Kamal Naser Asoli with some illegal armed men.
But Asoli said the photos were fake and had been produced by governor’s people. He accused the acting governor of misusing his authority. “Naeemi is an ISI person that has been deputed in Khost province,” he claimed, adding that ISI wanted to create trouble for the central government through Khost province.
Asoli said people’s demonstration in the city was peaceful and it was aimed at achieving their rights. He also rejected governor’s claims that they had gathered weapons, saying thousands of Khost residents had gathered under tents amid peaceful demonstrations.
He said after the suicide bombing, it was the governor’s bodyguards that started firing.
Regarding the heavy weaponry that were installed on some cars, Asoli, said it did not belong to them and they did not have any relations to the people. “I only have four bodyguards and their weapons are registered with the government.”
According to him during the protests, there were no weapons with them, or with anybody else.
In contrary, he claimed, it was the governor who had armed some people including a notorious criminal Taj Ali.
Naeemi, on the other hand said, Taj Ali was an uncle of Kamal Naser Asoli and they had personal and family problems.
Naeemi said before the demonstration took off, some of the protesters had given them guarantee that their rally would be peaceful. But later on it became visible that they were carrying weapons.
He also presented some photos on this regard to Pajhwok Afghan News.
“What kind of a civil and peaceful movement was this that they had blocked ways to 42 government departments and were sitting in their tents armed to teeth?” he questioned.
He was astonished how could some protesters were equipped with weapons despite security forces adopted strict measures.
“Only few of the men might had license for carrying weapons, but it is questionable how a large number of demonstrators were equipped with guns,” Naeemi added.
But he added that there was clear evidences showing some protesters were wielding weapons. The weapons were taken out soon after the rally ended.
Naeemi claimed that Kamal Nasar Ausoli imported hunting guns from Russia where Kalashnikovs were also secretly trafficked along with hunting guns.
“Hunting of birds is banned by the government then why people import hunting guns,” he questioned.
Naeemi demanded the central government to launch thorough investigation about guns imported from Russia and identify who were involved in the illegal business.
In the previous presidential elections, Asoli had threatened some people to vote for a specific presidential candidate and had tried to torch ballot boxes.
“Security situation in Khost and other provinces may worsen if the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) programme fails to collect illegal weapons,” he warned.
He also rejected Asoli’s claim accusing him for inviting foreign terrorists to create law and order situation.
It is impossible for foreign terrorists to enter Khost province where security forces and intelligence have strong presence, he said.
Khost provincial council head Amirullah Zra Swand said it was the responsibility of intelligence forces to investigate the imports of illegal weapons to Khost.
Afghanistan is a war-torn country and such incidents happen but security situation in general is good in Khost province, he said.
Khost police Chief Brig. Gen. Faizullah Ghairat denied imports of weapons to Khost and said the weapons were brought during protest staged by lawmakers but those had valid licenses.
No one could import illegal weapons to Khost in presence of Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan National Army (ANA), Ghairat added.
“I agree a machine gun was seen in a car, but it may be registered with the ministry of interior affairs or ministry of defense,” he said.
He said that his headquarter has security unit for urban discipline and protection of citizens and the roads to the city.
Some security personnel working in districts or remote areas carry one weapon only for their own protection, Ghairat added.
However, the governor’s house also showed a small book to Pajhwok in which Asoli had claimed that he has appointed Ghairat as police chief for Khost province and raised his rank to general
Dr. Kamal Sadaat a political expert and head of Badloon (Change) Social Foundation in Khost said security situation was good in the past but it was disrupted after the recent rally.
He also confirmed existence of illegal gunmen in the protest and said that some of armed men had worked with Special Forces.
Illegal armed men with traditional clothes were also seen in Khost city after the rally and people’s movement have reduced in the city, he said.
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