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Political tensions dampen preparations for Nawroz festival

Political tensions dampen preparations for Nawroz festival

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Mar 19, 2019 - 13:48

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Recent tensions over the appointment of the new police chief for northern Balkh province have impinged on preparations for Nawroz (Afghan New Year) festival, residents of say.

Inhabitants of Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, and the authorities concerned confirmed the number of people visiting the city for participation in the celebrations has drastically fallen this year.

Information and Culture Department officials say the annual festival marking the start of the Afghan solar yearinfo-icon would be traditionally marked in Mazar-i-Sharif by tens of thousands of people from different parts of the country.

Meanwhile, officials assured residents that much better security arrangements had been taken this year. Participants should not worry about their security, they said, asserting their readiness to deal with any eventuality

Last Thursday, tensions erupted between former governor Atta Mohammad Noor and Special Forces of the Interior Ministry over the appointment of the new police chief. The two sides clashed for four hours, causing financial losses.

Haji Mohammad Aslam, owner of a hotel near Roza Mubarak (Hazrat Ali’s shrine), told Pajhwok Afghan News he would have more guests in the past but the number of visitors had considerably declined.

Three days ahead of Jashn-i-Nawroz, he said, not a single huest had visited his hotel to celebrate the festival. He believed the friction over the police head’s appointment had negatively affected the celebrations.

In the past, the hotlier recalled, people would arrive in the city 10 days before the festival. But this time around, not a single guest has so far visited his 40-room guesthouse.

Jan Mohammad, a resident of the provincial capital and a taxi driver, confirmed the number of guests and visitors had dwindled. He said people were worried about the tensions and evinced little interest in celebrating the event.

He urged officials to beef up security for Nawroz.

But Adil Shah Adil, provincial police spokesman, insisted they had taken tight security measures for Nawroz festivities, beginning on Thursday. The situation was currently under control, he added.

Many other residents of Mazar-i-Sharif held similar views and urged the security officials to pay greater attention to their protection.

pk/mud

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