Zazai Maida dwellers say their sacrifices ignored
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): The people of Zazai Maidan district in southeastern Khost province say no development projects, except those executed under the National Solidarity Programme, have been implemented in the district during the past 14 years.
They say they have repeatedly visited government offices in Khost and Kabul, but they were only deceived by fake promises.
They claim losing thousands of youth to the conflict while serving in the armed forces and on government jobs.
Human losses in Zazai Maidan
Zazai Maidan is comparatively a mountainous district located 50-km northeast of Khost City. It is one of the peaceful districts of the country and its people live a peaceful life, but they are economically not sound.
Over the past 14 years, a few insecurity incidents have taken place in the district and it is the reason every family has one, two or three members performing government jobs.
Many youth of the district are serving in the armed forces and many have martyred during 14 years of the conflict in Afghanistan.
Zazai Maidan district chief Mirwais Zamani said more than 1,600 youth had lost their to the war against militants.
“Families who have no one in security forces, they are teachers at schools and seminaries. There is no family which has not lost members to the conflict. Some families have lost one or two members and others have been injured in clashes,” he said.
Some statistics show more than 2,200 people of Zazai Maidan district have been injured or lost limbs during the war.
Every week, several dead bodies of mostly youth serving in Afghan security forces are brought to the district centre, a member of the provincial council, Janmir Zazai, said.
Interest of youth in security forces
Despite all these human losses, children from the affected families keenly choose to serve in the military on reaching the required age.
According to Janmir Zazai, unity and tribal structure encourages people of the district to defend the country by joining security forces.
“Elders keep advising the youngsters it is your duty to defend the country and the soil because you are the sons of the soil, grown up here, so it is our religious duty to protect the homeland,” he said.
He said nearly 3,000 youth of the district have been currently working with government and most of them are busy in clashes with militants.
A policeman from the district, Ahmadullah Gharwal, said he lost his brother nearly two weeks ago to a bombing in Khost City.
It was his and his brother’s desire to protect the country because they considered it their religious duty, he said.
“I had worked for a long time overseas, but it was my desire to serve my own country. It is everybody’s religious duty to protect their country. I have been working in Khost police for the past eight years,” he said.
According to experts, the sacrifices of the people of Zazai Maidan district are a message for other people to realise their responsibility towards maintaining peace in the country.
Writer and journalists Ilyas Wahdat said people protecting the country, people’s properties and honour could ensure peace for themselves as well.
“The people of Zazai Maidan district have sacrificed their sons for the country and they have been maintaining security of their own areas and this way they have set an example for the people of other parts of the country,” he said.
Women of victims’ families
A mother, a resident of Algadi area of Zazai Maidan district, who wished not to be named, said her 22 years old son and a brother-in-law serving in Afghan security forces were killed during the conflict with militants.
She is living in an old house in a mountainous area with her husband, four children, a widowed daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
The elderly woman, while shedding tears, said they did not experience a happy day after losing two members of her family.
“Thanks God we are able to defend our country. More youth if needed would sacrifice their lives for the country and the people. But we lament the government has paid no attention to us. The two men we lost were the only breadwinners of our family,” she said.
She said she was not the only mother losing a son to the conflict, but there were many more having lost their sons, husbands and brothers to the conflict and most of them were now suffering from mental problems.
“I always think about my son, sometimes I fall unconscious, my husband then borrows money and take me to a doctor. I suffer from this situation after every second day,” the mother said.
She said they had long been awaiting government’s help and. “We have no one to earn and support us, we are faced with many problems and dangers,” the mother said, asking the government to hear their problems.
Development projects and requirements
Though a number of projects have been implemented in the district, local residents say the development could not be compared with sacrifices they had offered during the past 14 years.
Miraj Gul, a tribal elder, said long-term development projects should carried out in their area so people could benefit from them for many years.
He said they had shared their problems and demands with both the former and current presidents, but to no avail.
“The government has provided us nothing compared to our sacrifices, no one listens to our problems,” he said.
Making rope beds and government jobs are the main income sources for the people of Zazai Maidan district.
Haji Haidar Jan, a resident of the district, said: “The government did not help us, we are unsatisfied, we would satisfy when poverty in our community is eliminated.”
Khost provincial council head, Abdul Wali Wahidzai, said he and his colleagues had begun efforts at resolving problems of Zazai Maidan district people.
“It is clear these people have sacrificed a lot to protect the country, their sacrifices are unforgettable, we hope we would do something for them this year,” he said.
Governor Hukam Khan Habibi also confirmed that problems of Zazai Madian people remained unaddressed.
But he said main problems of the people had been identified and they would work to resolve them in the near future.
“An economic and development package has been approved for Zazai Maidan district, a number of projects have already been implemented and some others are in progress,” he said.
Zazai Maidan district has only a 10 percent of farmland and the rest is mountainous.
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