Pasaband residents say in dire economic straits
FIROZKOH (Pajhwok): Residents of Pasaband district of western Ghor province have complained they are in dire financial straits due to a road blockade by Taliban militants, asking the government to reopen the route and put to an end their plight.
The 170 kilometers road that connects Pasaband district with Firozkoh, the provincial capital, has been blocked by Taliban militants over the past one month.
Residents said the rates of daily-use commodities have unprecedentedly increased and they were worried about possible food crisis. They feared a humanitarian tragedy if the road was not cleared of militants.
Abdul Ahmad, a resident of the center of Pasaband district, said Taliban militants did not allow fuel and food items to be transported to the district bazaar. He said the Taliban had warned local people against supporting the government.
He said goods were currently transported from Herat province and Dolina district of neighboring Ghor province. But the goods brought through the lengthy route were sold at double rates, he said.
A kilogram of liquefied gas, previously sold for 50 afghanis, was now available for 90 afghanis, Ahmad said, adding, “Taliban should open the Pasaband-Firozkoh road. It is government responsibility to help people and clear the road.”
A provincial council member Mohammad Hasham Faizi said Taliban militants wanted to put pressure on local residents to stop supporting the government.
“The government delivers supplies the district administration by helicopters, but local people are facing economic blockade,” he said, adding that the government must reopen the road; otherwise the people would be left with no option but distance themselves from the government and join the militants.
Faizi expressed concern over the situation in Pasaband and said besides economic crisis, the residents were also unable to shift their patients to Firozkoh hospitals.
Local influential figures also said people in Pasaband were suffering from various problems after the road was blocked to Firozkoh City.
One of them, Nawshad Khan, said militants had threatened bakers and butchers to close their shops. Some bakeries which were still open sold one bread for 20 afghanis compared to its previous price of 10 afghanis.
He said militants had threatened some butchers and bakers with death if they sold beef and breads to Afghan security forces and government officials.
“Taliban militants have blocked the road using a chain and they search cars and threaten those traveling to Firozkoh and warn them to break ties with the government,” Khan said.
He also accused the rebels of planting bombs on the road, saying a young man was killed and another wounded last week when one such bomb exploded.
Ghor governor’s spokesman Abdul Hai Khatibi said security forces were currently engaged in operations against militants in other parts of the province. He said the Pasaband road would be reopened before the advent of winter.
He said the center of the district was under government control and Taliban controlled some rural areas where they harassed residents.
“Taliban are doing this just to mount pressure on the government while the government has been delivering supplies to officials by air. The roadblock is only affecting civilians,” Khatibi added.
However, the Taliban said the Pasaband road had been blocked against those working for the government.
According to an email from the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, government officials could use the Pasaband-Firozkoh road if they stopped working at government departments.
He said the Taliban did not force people into supporting them, but advised them not to work for the government and protect their lives.
Mujahid said there was also a possibility of clashes in the area and people should use subways for their safety.
“This road is not blocked for everyone, but only for government officials, the road would be reopened soon,” he said.
The road from Chaharsada district of Ghor has also been blocked by militants for the last four months.
Local officials say militants have planted bombs in some parts of the district and so far 10 civilians have suffered casualties.
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