Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Economy, Development, Environment

One Land, Two Rules (7): Delivering public services in insurgency-affected Andar district in Ghazni province

Fazl Rahman Muzhary 37 min

Andar district in southern Ghazni province, which has had a shadow Taleban administration since 2007, has been under virtually complete Taleban control since October 2018. The Afghan government continues to provide education and health services despite the fact that all of Andar’s government offices have relocated to Ghazni city, while the Taleban supervise their work. AAN researcher Fazal Muzhary offers an in-depth account of how the two parallel forms of government have operated over the years, how this has affected the lives of ordinary people and how, in the main, they are reasonably happy with the arrangement.

A volleyball in Mirai town during Eid in October 2012. Many people came to the district town that year after the 2012 uprising against the Taleban re-opened Andar district centre after three years. The peace was not to last: political interference and bloody violence were soon to follow. (Photo Fazal Muzhary)A volleyball in Mirai town during Eid in October 2012. Photo: Fazal Muzhary/AAN.

Service Delivery in Insurgent-Affected Areas is a joint research project by the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Previous publications in the series are: an introduction with literature review and methodology, “One Land, Two Rules (1): Service delivery in insurgent-affected areas, an introduction” by Jelena Bjelica and Kate Clark; four district case studies: on Obeh district of Herat province by Said Reza Kazemi; Dasht-e Archi district in Kunduz province by Obaid Ali; Achin district in Nangrahar province by Said Reza Kazemi and Rohullah Sorush and Nad Ali district by Ali Mohammad Sabawoon; and a case study on polio vaccinations by Jelena Bjelica.

Andar district: the context

  • The district centre, Mirai, lies about 28 kilometres to the south of Ghazni city, the provincial capital. It is linked to the city by three roads, including two asphalted highways. The first also connects Paktika province with Ghazni city through the eastern villages of the district and the second is the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, better known as Highway One, which passes through the western part of Andar district. The third, un-asphalted road leads through rural areas in the centre of the district.
  • According to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG)’s 2017 district profile, the population of Andar is around 580,000. The 2018 data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), however, estimates its population to be around 131,524 people (see the data here).
  • Andar district is almost entirely inhabited by Pashtuns, mainly belonging to the Andar tribe. There are also five villages inhabited by ethnic Tajiks: Nani, Tela Qala, Haji Qala, Mirai (the district centre), and Sarda. In the village of Sarda, there are about 200 Tajiks families, while the other villages have between ten and 15. In Nani and Tela Qala, some people speak Dari, but elsewhere residents only speak Pashto.
  • The Taleban began their guerrilla activities in the district against the Afghan government around 2003. Since then, Andar has experienced a great deal of fighting, resulting in the complete fall of the district to the Taleban in October 2018.
  • Presently, the Taleban control the entire district with the exception of six government security posts. Before and after October 2018, the district centre witnessed massive attacks both from the Taleban and Afghan government security forces. For example, the Taleban besieged the district centre for three days in October 2017. On the government side, the latest attack was carried out in December 2018 with both Afghan and US air forces bombing the district governor’s compound, completely demolishing it.

Andar district: service delivery

  • Education: Andar district has 42 schools. All are serviced by the government but controlled by the Taleban. One school was closed for a month between late March and late April 2019 after shelling from a nearby government military base killed pupils and a teacher. On paper, one girls’ school is operational. However, due to ongoing fighting, it has not been active for well over a decade, since around 2004. The Taleban have complete control over schools, teachers, pupils and all education-related activities. Both the Afghan government and the Taleban supervise education in Andar. The Taleban allow government supervisors to live in Andar and observe all schools.
  • Health: There are 11 healthcare centres in Andar district, all of which are serviced by NGOs, who implement the government’s health programme, and controlled by the Taleban. There is one 30-bed district hospital located in the district centre. The other facilities are located outside the centre and include four Basic Health Centres (BHC), three sub-centres and two community health centres (CHC). All services are provided (indirectly) by the government, implemented by NGOs and monitored by government, NGOs and the Taleban.
  • Electricity: Andar district is not connected to the state-owned electricity grid. People use solar panels and generators to light their houses.
  • Telephone coverage: The five main telephone companies (Salaam, AWCC, Etisalat, MTN and Roshan) operate in Andar district. However, their services are only available for two hours a day in more central parts of the district and in other areas, such as those that are either close to Ghazni city or to neighbouring Paktika province, during daylight hours.
  • Other services: There are no on-going development projects in Andar district and no other services are available. There were projects in the past, some of which were implemented; others were never completed due to insecurity. Locals used to be able to obtain national ID cards from the district centre until October 2017, but thereafter, all local government representatives have operated from Ghazni city.

Introducing Andar district

‘Andar’, the name for the district found in official documents is more commonly known by locals, including Taleban, as ‘Shelgar’. The name ‘Andar’ derives from the dominance of the Andar tribe who are indigenous to the district. It has three main subtribes: Bazidkhel, Jalalzai and Lakandkhel. Other tribes residing in the district include the Tarakai, Daftani, Niazai and Alizai. There are 472 villages in Andar according to an IDLG district profile. The district is mainly flatland, but with mountainous areas in the east, where the district borders Paktika.

To the north, Andar borders Ghazni city and is one of its gateways. To the south, are Qarabagh and Giro districts, to the west, Waghaz district and to the east, Deh Yak district and Paktika province. Andar has two rivers, locally known as jelgas. The first jelga has its source in Band-e Sultan in Jaghatu district in neighbouring Maidan Wardak province, to the north of Ghazni city. The second jelga, also known as Loya Jelga (Big Jelga), has its source in the Band-e Sarda dam, which straddles Andar and Paktika’s Mata Khan district. The confluence of these two jelgas lies near the villages of Manar and Rustam of Andar and Giro districts, after which the water flows first to Paktika and then into the Ab-e Estada (Stagnant Water) Lake in Ghazni’s Nawa district.

Andar district is connected to the rest of Ghazni by three main roads: the asphalted Kabul-Kandahar and Paktika-Ghazni highways, and a separate, unpaved road that passes through the rural parts of the centre of the district. Although the Afghan National Army (ANA) still has bases along the two highways, the Taleban can exert considerable control on them. For example, sources told AAN that the Taleban can divert traffic whenever and at whichever section of the highway they want. One source said that, while in the past, the government had control over parts of the Ghazni-Paktika highway, the Taleban have been blocking this road now since 2 May 2018, diverting all traffic to an unpaved road through the Sultanbagh area to villages northeast of Andar’s district centre, so that all trucks must now drive through these villages. At the same time, the Taleban have been trying to divert traffic from the main Kabul-Kandahar highway (for more details see AAN dispatches here and here). They collect taxes from both side roads and highways.

Andar district is home to the renowned and prestigious madrassa Nur ul-Madares al-Faruqi (read previous AAN dispatch for the background here). Several religious figures have either taught or studied Islam there. One of the most well-known teachers was Mawlawi Muhammad Nabi Muhammadi, the leader of the mujahedin faction popular with Sunni clerics (many of whose members went on to join the Taleban), Harakat-e Enqelab-e Islami-e Afghanistan, the Islamic Revolution Movement of Afghanistan, known as Harakat. (1) Another renowned figure who taught here was the Emirate-era deputy minister of Justice, Mawlawi Abdul Sattar Seddiqi. (2)

As recently as 14 May 2019, the madrassa was officially closed due to night raids by Afghan and foreign forces (read the announcement here). Afghan forces have occasionally made mass arrests of pupils and teachers from this madrassa. One of these major raids took place on 25 July 2018, when the 01 Unit of the NDS Special Forces raided the madrassa and arrested 45 pupils. They were released after a week.

Andar district has also been home to a number of historically prominent political leaders, including Mullah Mushk-e Alam and Ghulam Muhammad Niazai. Mushk-e Alam was one of the key figures who opposed the British during the second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-1880. He originated from Gandaher of Andar district. His great-grandsons still live in this village. Mullah Mushk-e Alam is buried in his village graveyard (read this AAN dispatch about Mullah Mushk-e Alam here). Ghulam Muhammad Niazai, born in 1932 in Rahimkhel village of Andar district, was one of the founders of Afghanistan’s Muslim Brotherhood branch, known as Jawanan-e Muslimin (Muslim Youth, see this AAN paper). He was killed in jail in 1979. (3)

Andar district is also where the mass abduction of 23 Korean missionaries by the Taleban took place in mid-July 2007, while they were travelling by bus from Kandahar to Kabul (see reports here and here) and was also made famous by the ‘Andar uprising’, when some fighters of Hezb-e Islami origin rebelled against their fellow Taleban in May 2012; the counter-insurgency was swiftly co-opted by local politicians and resulted in extreme violence between local men fighting on both sides (read previous AAN dispatches about the uprising and the troubles created by the uprising here, here, here and here).

Conflict and Security

Andar district has been a centre of fighting since the jihad against the communist regime started in the 1980s, and the Nur ul-Madares played an important role in contributing to the jihad. One of the main anti-government commanders at this time was Abdul Wakil, also known as ‘Qari Taj Muhammad’ and ‘Qari Baba’. (4) The latter name is mostly used, both in Andar as well as in academic literature and media reports. In the early years of the jihad, Qari Baba joined Harakat because he was inspired by its leader Muhammad Nabi. Qari Baba started his fight from Alizai village, but spent a lot of time in Tangi, where he used to hide from airstrikes in a shrine known as ‘Saheb Baba’. Qari Baba is remembered still in Andar for his brutality and has been responsible for killing and slaughtering many people on charges that they worked for the communist government, or that they were pro-government. As a member of Harakat, Baba had widespread support from local mullahs. Local people said he carried out executions based on fatwas approving the executions or assassinations of suspects. One of his victims was a local comedian known as Walu, whose relatives say that Baba’s fighters slaughtered him because he had made a pro-government poem. (5)

In Andar district, five jihadi parties were active during the war against the communist regime in the 1980s: Harakat, Hezb-e Islami, Mahaz-e Milli, Ettehad-e Islami and Jamiat-e Islami. The most active were Harakat and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami. Harakat controlled most of Andar district while Hezb influence was limited to a few villages. At that time, there was no fighting between Harakat, Mahaz, Ettehad or Jamiat, but Harakat and Hezb clashed in certain areas.

Harakat’s dominance in Andar gave Qari Baba the upper hand and he ruled most of the district. According to local sources, he paid special attention to the ulema and financially supported pupils of religious studies. One tribal elder told AAN: “Baba’s attention to the religious pupils was more than the modern [state] schools received. In schools, teachers only received salaries, but in the mosques, imams received salaries and pupils received food, as well as utensils.”

When the Taleban movement emerged in the mid-1990s, Muhammadi dissolved his party and urged all members to join the Taleban (see thisAAN dispatch). Most Harakat members, including Qari Baba’s commanders, such as former Ghazni MP Khyal Muhammad Hussaini, did so. This resulted in the peaceful handover of the whole of Ghazni province to the Taleban in 1995. Qari Baba, however, refused to join their movement. (6)

When the Taleban regime collapsed in 2001 due to military intervention by the US government, most local Taleban fighters in Andar district returned to common life; they continued their studies, decided to work as labourers or started their own businesses. In around 2003, some new Taleban fighters who had mostly been students during the Taleban regime started organising a resistance movement against the Afghan government. The Taleban slowly but steadily received growing local support because of the mistreatment of the population by Afghan security forces. For instance, Afghan security forces would arrest civilians after a roadside bomb went off and beat them without evidence that they had been linked to the bomb or to the Taleban. In late 2004, Taleban fighters started spreading night letters in which they told local residents to urge their relatives to stop working with the Afghan government; otherwise, the Taleban would target and kill them. The Taleban did indeed kill people who worked with the government; they included Mullah Basir from Begikhel who had worked as a driver for Andar district’s former governor, Allahdad. The Taleban, led by Qari Na’im from Begikhel, also killed Dr. Wafadar from Aman Chardiwal village, one of Qari Baba’s former close aides.

The Taleban carried out a number of roadside attacks during the 2004 presidential and 2005 parliamentary elections, though without causing major casualties. In 2006, they expanded their hit-and-run operations in the district, targeting significant figures, including Muhammad Ali Jalali (known as ‘Madali’), the governor of neighbouring Paktika province, a jihad-era Harakat commander, on the Ghazni-Paktika highway in May 2006. Qari Baba himself was killed along with his son-in-law and four security guards in Bata village in September 2006, while he was driving on the unpaved road connecting Andar district with Ghazni city.

Happier times: young men dance the attan (national dance) to celebrate Eid in Mirai town, Andar’s district centre, in October 2012. The town had been closed to most of the resident of the district since the 2009 presidential election. (Photo Fazal Muzhary)

Most Taleban fighters currently active in Andar are originally from the district, with very few outsiders, according to respondents. Though some Kandahari Taleban fighters in Andar were seen during the summer of 2018, locals said they were the special guards of then-Taleban shadow governor for Ghazni province, Muhammad Yusif Wafa, a Kandahari (who, according to locals, was appointed as supervisor of the governors of 18 provinces in the spring of 2019). According to local sources, the Taleban appointed a new governor for Ghazni province in the spring of 2019, also a Kandahari. They did not yet know his actual name, but locally he is known as Abu Muhammad.

Any Taleban governor appointed to Ghazni has to rely on two important Andar commanders, who each control different parts of this district. The first is Mullah Edris (who changes his name from time to time, so only people in his group know his current name) from Liwan village who controls most of western Andar. The other is Mullah Ismail from Sher Khan village who controls the eastern part. Edris is the more active of the two. For example, he has been involved in several major attacks on government institutions in different parts of Ghazni province, particularly in Andar. He planned and supervised two major attacks on the district centre, Mirai, in October 2017 and 2018. As a result of the last attack, the Taleban took complete control of the district in October 2018. Edris also led a jailbreak operation in September 2015, as a result of which 355 prisoners were set free (see this AAN report here).

Mullah Ismail is currently the Taleban shadow governor for Khost province but his group still controls eastern Andar. In 2012, the media wrongly reported that he had been killed by members of the Quetta Shura in the Kachlagh area of Balochistan (for wanting to take part in peace talks); the media also claimed he had been arrested for corruption (see media reports here, and here).

Andar district was a key location for the former mujahedin, as well as for the Taleban, as it was a command centre for attacks on different parts of the province. As recently as November 2018, as many as 30 fighters of the special unit known as Sra Qita (Red Unit) went from Andar to Jaghori district of Ghazni, where they were involved in a high-profile Taleban operation (AAN reporting), according to local sources. The Taleban also used Andar district as their operational headquarters during the five-day attack on Ghazni city in August 2018 (read previous AAN dispatch here). It was back to Andar, also, that they brought most of the weapons they had seized from government forces. They also moved their dead and wounded to Andar for burying or for medical treatment following this attack. Although the Taleban have their own medical facilities in Ghazni’s Nawa district, they still use government health posts for treating local Taleban fighters. A large number of Taleban from Andar district also played a significant role in the attack on Ghazni’s Khwaja Omari district in April 2018.

Following the capture of Andar by the Taleban in October 2018, the district has experienced a considerable increase in night raids, drone activity, airstrikes, search operations and ground fighting between militants and US special forces-backed Afghan forces. These have resulted in the killing of both civilians and Taleban fighters, as well as the destruction of the district governor’s compound. Civilians have also been detained and beaten again. (7)

Governance and security provisions

After the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001, Andar district was initially governed mainly by former jihadi commanders connected to Qari Baba. This was similar to other provinces such as Wardak, Paktia, Paktika, Logar and Khost (see here), where councils of former jihadi leaders took control of key administrative posts in districts and provinces. Sources told AAN that one of the jihadi commanders that governed Andar district early on was Lahur Khan from Harakat, who was later replaced by an officially-introduced governor, Muhebullah Samim in 2002. Since then, Andar has had seven governors.

As early as 2002, the government education and health departments, as well as the police and the prosecutor’s office, started operating. One source told AAN that the education and health departments started constructing new buildings for schools and health centres. In the health sector, the main facility in Andar in 2003 was the district hospital. According to local officials, both the education and health sectors have since had active supervisors.

When the former mujahedin commanders took control of the district, they initially appointed loyalists to the police force. These policemen had no uniforms but would start searching the houses of former Taleban fighters for weapons in various villages. Some Taleban responded with sporadic hit-and-run attacks. When the Taleban increased their attacks in 2003, these irregular policemen were replaced with police introduced by the Ghazni governor. The newly-deployed forces also included army troops, who were sent to Andar to fight the re-emerging Taleban. However, these new troops were largely comprised of former Tajik militias, who started creating trouble for locals, for instance, by sawing down their grapevines during military operations. (8)

The prosecutor’s office began its operations in Andar district in around 2002. The district had an active judge and people would use the prosecutor’s office to try to solve land disputes. However, this office could not carry out its work beyond 2007 due to the widespread presence of the Taleban. (9) As the Taleban expanded their area of control and increased their attacks, they also targeted government judges and prosecutors. One of these judges was Qazi Abdul Rahman from Saheb Khan village. Though some argue that Rahman was killed because of his Hezb-e Islami links, one former Hezb member told AAN that Rahman was killed because he had previously worked at the prosecutor’s office. The work of the prosecutor’s office was later taken over by the Taleban’s mobile courts.

In terms of presence and parallel structures, the Taleban gradually expanded their control and started governing Andar more actively from 2006 onwards. The first district governor, appointed in 2005, was Mullah Muhammad Hakim from Mechankhel village. Since then there have been four shadow district governors. The current Taleban district governor is Mullah Waliullah, also from Andar.

The Taleban established their education commission in Andar in 2006. The first director of education was Mullah Muhammad Alem from Begikhel. Before 2006, the Taleban had closed schools from time to time and abducted teachers, principals and pupils, for various reasons such as alleged spying for the government. From 2006 onwards, the Taleban started closely observing schools, banning civil education subjects and forcing government officials to hire pro-Taleban staff or former Taleban fighters as teachers. This helped the Taleban to more easily collect intelligence on teachers, new projects and the distribution of new books by the government. The Taleban would first censor the books and then allow education department officials to distribute them. The same happened in the health sector. When the Taleban established a health commission in 2007, they employed new guards for the health centres. They were pro-Taleban and passed on intelligence.

Beyond the education and health sectors, the Taleban have been active in providing judicial services in Andar since around 2004. In the early years, the Taleban identified influential religious figures to resolve local disputes. For example, if a person had a land dispute, he would first ask the Taleban for help. The Taleban would then tell him to take his case to one of the influential persons they had appointed. This religious figure would take a decision about the dispute and the Taleban would then implement the verdict. Earlier, when a dispute could not be resolved locally, the Taleban would refer the case to the leadership council in Quetta. From 2009 onwards, the Taleban developed a pool of active judges and mobile courts able to resolve most disputes at the local level. This also reduced the dependence of the Taleban on local religious figures in regards to the court system. Now only rare cases are referred to Quetta.

The Taleban have also expanded their structure of governance in Andar district. From 2013 onwards, the Taleban established a local finance commission, responsible for tax collection, a commission for civilian casualties, a commission for prisoners, a commission for inviting government forces to surrender, a commission for cultural affairs and a commission for dealing with international NGOs. This structure reflects the way the Taleban organises its administration nationally. It coexisted with the official local government structure until October 2018, when the Taleban took complete control of the district.

The Taleban in Andar actively collects taxes from almost all local businesses as well as any landowners who earn an income from their land. The demands are sometimes communicated in writing and sometimes face-to-face. There seem to be fixed rates for shops (1,000 Pakistani rupees, roughly 6.60 USD, per year) and land. Tax on land seems to increase when the owner installs irrigation pumps (diesel or solar powered (3,000 rupees). However, these amounts can be negotiated. The Taleban hand out receipts for paid taxes.

According to several sources recently interviewed by AAN, including tribal elders, teachers and doctors, the only interaction people still have with the government is related to obtaining national ID cards. Since all government offices for Andar district currently operate from Ghazni city, people have to travel there to get their IDs.

According to a district profile carried out by the IDLG in June 2017, Andar district was supposed to have 807 security personnel, although only 700 were then present. They included ANA soldiers, Afghan National Police (ANP), ALP and uprising forces. However, Muhammad Qasim Desiwal told AAN in October 2017 that only 60 security forces existed and were present when the Taleban attacked Andar district (see AAN reporting here). AAN observed at that time that there were only a few ALP members from Shinwari district in Nangrahar province controlling a few security posts on the Andar-Paktika highway (for details read AAN’s dispatch here).

What is left of Andar’s district centre compound. Constructed in 2004 with US money, Afghan and US forces bombarded it after a night raid on Mirai, the district centre, in December 2018. The Taleban had taken control of the district centre in October 2018. (Photo Fazal Muzhary)

What is left of Andar’s district centre compound. Constructed in 2004 with US money, Afghan and US forces bombarded it after a night raid on Mirai, the district centre, in December 2018. The Taleban had taken control of the district centre in October 2018. (Photo Fazal Muzhary)

Since October 2018, when the Taleban took over the district, the Afghan government forces’ presence has been limited to six ANA bases, where the soldiers do little other than protect themselves. These bases are in Chahardiwal, Mullah Nuh Baba, Nani, Sarda, Sinai and Sultanbagh villages. The ANA has trouble accessing Sinai and Chahardiwal bases by land, so most of the time they supply the bases by helicopter. The bases in Sultanbagh and Sarda receive supplies by road from neighbouring Paktika as access is easier. The other two bases are located on the Kabul-Kandahar highway and can also be supplied by road. Still, Taleban insurgents continue to harass the supply operations.

Beyond these ANA bases, there is no government presence in Andar. However, as will be explained below, the government still plays a fundamental role in ensuring citizens get health and education services in the district.

Service Delivery

AAN conducted ten in-depth interviews with key informants in Andar district, based on a semi-structured questionnaire developed following a review of the relevant literature. They included tribal elders, district and provincial officials, respected individuals in the district, teachers from Taleban-controlled areas, a school principal, a local doctor from a Taleban-controlled area and local journalists. They were asked a series of questions about their experiences and perceptions of education, health, telecommunications and electricity, and other services available in their district. For more details about our research methodology, see this dispatch here. A summary and analysis of their answers in triangulation with the background information is presented below.

The initial data for this research was collected in August 2018 and has since been checked and updated through additional research.

Education Services

Education in Andar district covers classes from first grade until grade 12, however, school attendance is low, under ten per cent officially. According to education department officials, out of about 300,000 eligible girls and boys, only 28,000 – all boys – actually attend school. The figure still includes pupils that have registered but do not actually attend; if the absentees were deducted, the official number of pupils would be even lower.

The 2017 IDLG district profile counted 49 schools in Andar: 32 primary schools, eight secondary and nine high schools. However, interviews with education department officials and other local sources in August 2018 indicated that there are actually 42 schools in Andar district: eight high schools and the rest primary and secondary schools. All 42 schools remained open after the Taleban took complete control of the district in October 2018, although one, Mullah Nuh Baba school, was later closed on 31 March 2019 and reopened in late April due to shelling by ANA soldiers. In addition to these schools, there is one madrassa, which is located in Mirai, the district capital, and which the Taleban have closed because they do not want it to be financially supported by the government.

Andar district does not have a history of designated girls’ schools. A report by the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC) for the period 1987-93 says there were then 16 schools in Andar district, all boys schools. The same report found that commander Qari Baba had tried to force residents to send their daughters to school, but very few people had listened to him; only very few girls were attending Zakuri, Mangur (not in Andar) and Kundi schools at that time (see the NAC report here). Education department officials told AAN that there had been one primary school for girls in Karezgi village, which was established around 2004, but that school is currently closed. According to local sources it was open for one or two years, but then closed due to the escalating conflict. Currently, a community health centre (CHC) is located in the building. Officials said they have tried to reopen the school, but in the current situation, they are unlikely to succeed. This leaves Andar’s girls completely excluded from schooling, except for private madrassas or if families provide homeschooling. The madrassas, however, only teach Islamic subjects for girls up to ten years of age.

The Taleban restrict pupils’ movements into government-controlled areas. To this end, the Taleban education department head does not allow pupils to take documents from their school so they could, for example, continue studying at other schools in Ghazni city or elsewhere, unless there is a good reason, such as when the student’s entire family is moving out of Andar. He only allows pupils to move from one school to another within Andar district. One reason is to prevent pupils from joining the Afghan security forces or the Afghan Local Police (ALP) while studying in government-controlled areas.

There do not seem to be any restrictions for high school graduates, on the other hand. Andar graduates are allowed to continue their higher education in universities in Ghazni or other provinces. However, most pupils who complete grade 12 do not take part in the university entry test, known as the kankur. Officials told AAN that poverty is the main reason for that. In fact, many high school graduates go to foreign countries such as Pakistan, Iran or the Gulf or to other provinces in order to find work (read a previous dispatch by this author about the economic problems facing the young here).

While the Afghan government provides teachers’ salaries, stationery and school buildings, schools, themselves, are monitored and controlled by both the government and the Taleban. In August 2018, before the fall of the entire district, government department of education head Amir Khan told AAN that the government had three active monitors who lived in Andar and who monitored the schools throughout the district, although he did say that monitoring had been hampered by persistent fighting between government forces and the Taleban, which also affected the learning level of pupils, and that three monitors were not enough to cover all the schools.

The government monitors check teacher and student attendance, teaching methods and what pupils are learning, for example, asking questions from textbooks to check they understand them. Monitors also observe the interaction between teachers and pupils, check the buildings and ask teachers if they have any problems or requests from the government.

The Taleban have their own monitor, the shadow education director for Andar, who began monitoring in Andar after the establishment of the Taleban’s education commission in 2006. Officials and local sources said that the Taleban’s monitoring was more active than that of government observers, partly because they enlist the help of teachers who accompany the director as he goes from school to school. There are therefore no teachers specifically appointed by the Taleban for supervision. Sources told AAN that if a teacher is continuously absent, the Taleban deny him his salary.

The fact that the Taleban check the attendance of teachers and pupils, schoolbooks and any problems in the school gives them the chance to interfere in the education sector, for instance in the hiring of teachers, the decisions of principals, the physical appearance of teachers and pupils, the implementation of reconstruction projects and the distribution of school textbooks.

Government education department officials told AAN, “When the government approves a new teacher, the Taleban will give him a second test. If they believe he is not qualified, they will not allow him to take up his job.” One official told AAN the Taleban give these second tests because they insist that professional teachers must be hired and want to prevent teachers being hired because of their connections with certain officials, rather than because they wanted to introduce their own teachers. The official said this meant the Taleban were not interfering but were helping. However, other respondents told AAN that the fact that the Taleban had to approve all teachers meant they could refuse anyone they did not like. For example, a Kabul-based journalist from Andar district told AAN that someone from his village had applied for the position of the school principal, but although he had passed the test, the Taleban barred him from taking up his job without providing a reason. A teacher from Andar said the Taleban sometimes introduced pro-Taleban people as teachers (although this happened before a government’s new recruitment system was introduced in 2017, which involved a test in Kabul). He himself also had to be approved by the Taleban. “I passed the test in Kabul and I was recruited, but I could not take up my job until I received an approval letter from the Taleban director of education, Abdul Aziz,” he told AAN.

The Taleban have also changed the curriculum, adding more religious subjects, in addition to what is already in the curriculum, and banning civil subjects, such as the subject of social studies, which covers a variety of topics, such as the need for education, the significance of currency and so on. They instruct teachers to teach Quran recitation or other Islamic subjects in the hours that were previously allocated for civil studies.

Pupils are told to wear turbans, but are not punished if they wear a prayer cap, as they did when the Taleban were in government (1996-2001) and teachers are not allowed to shave. If they disobey this order, they are punished. For example, in 2017 the Taleban punished a teacher from Yaqub school who had shaved his beard, by banning him from teaching at Narmi school for several months. School principals also have to inform the Taleban of new projects and decisions. For instance, if a principal wants to ask the education department in Ghazni city for a laboratory or a new building, he should first discuss this with the Taleban. Once the Taleban approve it, the principal can go to Ghazni and share his demand with the education department.

At the same time, the Taleban have managed to combat corruption in the education sector. Respondents told AAN that the Taleban scrutinised all school documents and removed all ghost teachers from the lists. These included, for instance, teachers who lived (and sometimes studied) in Ghazni city, but still received their salary as a teacher in one of Andar’s schools. They were mostly people who had connections with government officials and provincial council members. Respondents could not give specific examples, but said there had been many such ghost teachers before the Taleban actively started checking. In the autumn of 2017, the Taleban also found out that some teachers at the Yaqub school had received salaries for overtime that they had not done. They were forced to give the money back.

The complete fall of Andar to the Taleban has brought few changes to the situation facing teachers and pupils. The three government monitors continue to monitor schools in consultation with the Taleban. Teachers continue to teach and receive their salaries via bank accounts in Ghazni city (there are no bank branches in Andar). Since the takeover, the Taleban have additionally allowed a construction company to implement a project by the education department to renovate school buildings that were identified by the government’s education observers. The schools, which had been (partially) destroyed by rain or fighting, were repainted or repaired and broken windows were replaced. In 2017, the Taleban had allowed the same company to renovate only five schools: Ibrahimkhel, Aklu Baba, Mullah Nuh Baba, Nazar Khan and Nanai schools.

Another visible development in the education sector has been the hiring of 180 new teachers, many of them either pro-Taleban or are former Taleban fighters, on temporary contracts. They were hired after they passed a general test at the education department in the district capital around 15 March 2019. This was an initiative by the government’s education department in Ghazni. Moreover, the test was given by government representatives and jointly observed by both Taleban and government representatives. The teachers, who will be paid by the government, will not receive their salaries through bank accounts. Instead, a cashier from the education department will distribute salaries in cash. One respondent told AAN that this method would enable former Taleban fighters as well as known Taleban supporters to avoid being arrested by the government, if they were going to get their salaries from the bank in Ghazni city. The last change in this sector was the closure of Mullah Nuh Baba high school by the Taleban due to security concerns after shelling from a nearby ANA base killed four pupils and a teacher and wounded 15 others, including a teacher, on 31 March 2019. The shelling happened after Taleban fighters fired a rocket at a base located on Highway One. Teachers told AAN that the Taleban fired rockets about two kilometres away from the school, but the ANA soldiers still “fired rockets at the school.”

Health Services

According to local sources and the health department head, Dr Zaher Shah, there are 11 health centres in Andar district: one district hospital, four Basic Health Centres (BHC), one emergency clinic, funded by the Italian NGO, Emergency, three sub-centres, which were inaugurated in 2018, and two community health centres (CHC). The district hospital in Mirai town has 30 beds. The emergency clinic is for war victims only. (10) There are ten midwives and seven female nurses in the district, but no female doctor. According to Zaher Shah, this problem is not unique to Andar district, as there are no female doctors in other districts either. He said there was no lack of midwives or female nurses.

The government provides health services in Andar district through the Agency for Assistance and Development of Afghanistan (AADA), an NGO responsible for the payment of salaries, procurement and supply of medicines and all other activities related to the health sector, including the monitoring of all health-related activities in the district. This means that AADA implements all health-related projects with the health department only remotely observing their implementation. The NGO also provides transport for female nurses and midwives who live in remote areas, according to Zaher Shah.

All respondents, including the government’s health department head, said the Taleban did not cause problems with the implementation of health-related projects. The NGO is able to work unhindered and there are no problems with the monitoring of health-related activities, whether the observers belong to an NGO or to the health department. A local doctor, however, did say that the Taleban allowed only low-level officials from the health department and NGOs to monitor healthcare centres. Senior officials from the health ministry were not able to go to Andar district.

The Taleban are said to actively monitor the health centres themselves. Officials say they are sometimes even helpful in resolving problems. If a doctor is consistently absent, for example, or nurses ask patients to pay illegal fees, the Taleban make enquiries and tell them to change their behaviour. Interviewees considered this a positive point. Similarly, health officials are unable to travel to some of the more remote areas for observation, whereas Taleban supervisors can.

The health department head said that the Taleban had not ordered doctors to close their clinics or to pay their salaries to the Taleban. Neither had he received reports of Taleban interference from his local staff in Taleban-controlled areas. He thought that if the Taleban were to create problems in the health sector, the people would probably oppose this, which could result in the Taleban’s loss of local support. Therefore, the Taleban got involved in positive ways, he said.

Local interviewees said that the Taleban visit the reconstruction site of a healthcare centre in Ibrahimkhel village every week to check on the process. They would tell the workers to use quality materials. Health department officials said that, in other cases, when NGOs were sending medicine to local healthcare centres, the Taleban were called on to help ensure that the medicine arrived safely and was distributed equally among the health centres. The Taleban also checked the presence of doctors and other staff at healthcare centres. Local sources said this has paved the way for a more equal provision of health services in Andar district.

Ghazni health director, Zaher Shah, told AAN that the three new sub-centres inaugurated in 2018 in Sarda and Surki villages had increased women’s access to health facilities. He said that if a woman had to walk for two hours to reach a clinic, or if the clinic was ten kilometres from her residence, it would in practice mean the woman had no (or only emergency) access to health facilities. He said they had identified the gaps in Andar district based on this definition and had established the three new clinics to fill these gaps. Still, he said, there were cultural problems that prevented women from having better access. Some parents-in-law did not allow women to go to a health centre for treatment and would send a male member of the family to obtain medicine instead. He said they were working to resolve these kinds of problems. According to a local doctor, women in Andar clearly did not have equal access to health services and what was available was only basic health care because of the lack of qualified personnel and sufficient health facilities. If female patients suffered from complicated problems doctors at the hospital or other clinics would refer them to Ghazni. “This leads to deaths,” he told AAN, “if patients suffering severe problems cannot reach Ghazni city on time. Moreover, we’ve had some reports of patients with complicated problems who died on the way to Ghazni city due to the bad roads or fighting on the way.” So long as there is no education of girls in the district, it seems unlikely that the authorities could improve provision for female patients substantially.

The health department director told AAN that Andar district has a health support council that was established by the government, made up tribal elders, imams, teachers and influential figures, that supports the health sector in the area. He said the council members met once a month to discuss health-related issues, checked the attendance and behaviour of doctors (making sure they were not asking patients for bribes or mistreating them) and help doctors if they have security concerns. For example, if the Taleban attacked a government post near a clinic, the council members would intervene and ask the Taleban to stop. If there was a lack of medicine in a health centre, council members would go to Ghazni city to ask the health department for medicine.

One respondent said that when fighting between Taleban and government forces around the district centre intensified in September 2018, members of the council told doctors to move the district hospital to Zakuri, an area under Taleban control where there was no fighting. The council members moved the hospital back to Mirai when the Taleban took complete control of the district in October 2018. The health director said that, although council members were unable, on occasion, to hold meetings due to poor security, they could be called upon whenever they were needed for advice and consultation.

Health director Zaher Shah said that all health centres in Andar were monitored by health department officials, the implementing NGO and the Taleban. He said, the Taleban would supervise the activities of all the centres in remote areas under their control, where neither government nor NGO observers have access. When asked about a particular example, he referred to the renovation of the Ibrahimkhel clinic in 2018 that the Taleban regularly have monitored.

With regard to the Taleban’s monitoring of healthcare centres, one respondent explained that the head of the Taleban’s health commission, Haqqani, who was killed in a drone strike on 25 May 2019 in Andar district, would visit all clinics, where he checked the nurses and doctors, the medicine depot and laboratory, hygiene, patient complaints, staff attendance and medicine expiry dates – just like the government monitor would.

Some respondents said that the Taleban did interfere in the recruitment process of new doctors. One interviewee recalled the case of a university medicine graduate who had applied for a job at one of the healthcare centres in Andar, which he did not get as he did not have a relative among the Taleban. Instead, another person who had not studied but did have connections, was offered the job (and then, the interviewee claimed, started studying at the medical faculty of a private university in Ghazni city). A doctor told AAN that compared to the past, the Taleban’s interference was less than it had been previously. He said that, for example, in the past Taleban fighters forced doctors to burn contraceptives, but they had not done this recently. Now, doctors could prescribe or hand out contraceptives to couples that requested them.

The Taleban also get involved in the polio vaccination campaign. For example, they banned the campaign entirely for about two and a half months from 4 November 2018. The Taleban then told vaccinators they were not allowed to go house-to-house to vaccinate children, but could vaccinate children in the village mosque. The last polio campaign was implemented around mid-March 2019. In a Whatsapp interview with AAN, the Taleban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, said ‘the enemy’ (by which he meant the government) was misusing the polio drive in Helmand, Kandahar, Ghazni, Uruzgan and other places where fighting was intense and the Taleban had arrested several people who had entered Taleban-controlled areas as vaccinators. “Such people were appointed,” he claimed, “to identify the houses of Taleban commanders and leaders. They would leave chips in the houses, so that the enemy could identify that house and locate it as a target.” (See also this AAN dispatch on polio vaccination here). The last time Andar saw a full anti-polio drive was in July 2018.

Media, telephone coverage & electricity

In Andar, five main telephone companies are able to operate: Roshan, Mobile Telephone Network (MTN), Etisalat, Afghan Wireless Cooperation Company (AWCC) and Salaam. Among them, the most commonly used are Roshan and MTN, and in some areas, the Salaam network. In the past, their services worked between 7 am to 7 pm, but for the last nine months or so, they have been active for only two hours in the morning, between 9 and 11. When asked why this was, all respondents said the Taleban have forced telephone companies to stop operating beyond this limited time. If network operators did not heed the Taleban’s demands, they would destroy their telecom towers. Respondents said the Taleban took this decision because they believed the companies were being used by the US military to locate their fighters. When the Taleban stopped the companies from operating, people installed additional antennas on their rooftops to boost coverage. Salaam (a government network) is the only network that occasionally operates beyond the two-hour limitation.

Additionally, the Taleban have banned the people in Andar from using Salaam SIM cards, since it is a state-owned network. They warned people that if they were caught with a Salaam SIM card, they would break the card and beat the holder. People might be able to use Salaam SIM cards at home, but it is risky for them to carry them outside. Many residents, particularly the educated youth and those who have relatives abroad, use smartphones (which are not banned in Andar) to have online conversations, for instance with their relatives who are working in the Gulf or other countries. Most people get in touch with their relatives via Whatsapp or Facebook.

Andar district has no access to government-provided electricity, but almost everyone has access to basic power through the use of solar energy: people have installed solar panels on their rooftops with which they charge batteries. Some people use electricity to watch television at home, although many fear to do this. Respondents told AAN that although the Taleban had not banned watching TV (as they did so when in government and in some of the districts surveyed for this series on service delivery), people are still wary of them discovering their TV sets, so whoever watches television does so secretly. People watch with the help of dish antennas, which is the only possible option for Andar residents. One respondent said: “It is easy for us to hide the dish antenna from the sight of the Taleban. We take it outside when we are watching TV at night and hide it in a room during the day. If, by chance, Taleban come to our house, they cannot see that we are watching TV.” It is hard to say what percentage of residents might be watching television. Assessing one village of 80 houses, one respondent said that probably around 30 homeowners had a television at home.

Respondents said that every house in their village had a radio. They said most people listen to the news, sports and music. Andar district does not currently have a local radio station. One set up by a US forces base stopped working in 2015, a year after the forces left. It mainly broadcast music. Currently, most residents listen to Azadi or BBC Pashto, as well as Kilid, Talwasa, Ghaznavian, Sa’adat and others. People sometimes also listen to Shariat Ghazh (Voice of Shariat), the Taleban radio station, but since it broadcasts from a moving station, people cannot catch it on a regular basis. The last time the author managed to listen to the Taleban’s radio station, on 19 April 2019, it was playing Taleban anthems.

Other available services

There have been no major development projects in recent years in Andar, largely because the Taleban oppose projects implemented by the Afghan government, except in the health and education sectors. In 2005, when the government and US military started work to asphalt the Ghazni-Paktika highway, the Taleban stopped the work by carrying out numerous attacks on construction workers and security guards. The project was eventually completed when the government finally accepted the demand of a local Taleban commander, Mullah Faruq, that the government did not post security forces, in exchange for the Taleban not attacking civilian workers (10). The government also started construction work on the road connecting Andar to Ghazni city in 2005, which it was also unable to complete due to Taleban attacks. Such attacks also prevented the asphalting of a road connecting southern Giro district with Ghazni city, which passes through the eastern part of Andar district, connecting up with the Ghazni-Paktika highway.

However, when the government had control over some villages in 2014, it did manage to complete another road that goes through southern Andar that connects Giro district to Andar’s district capital. At the time, the government-controlled most of the southern villages through active Afghan Local Police (ALP) security posts. Therefore, the Taleban could not halt this project (see a photo of the project here). In addition, the government was also able to build some community halls in villages where ALP forces were deployed.

An old warehouse built to store wheat collected from landowners during the rule of Zahir Shah and Daud Khan in Mirai Bazaar destroyed by the Taleban in November 2018 after rumours that Afghan Special Forces were going to set up a military post there. (Photo Fazal Muzhary)

An old warehouse built to store wheat collected from landowners during the rule of Zahir Shah and Daud Khan in Mirai Bazaar destroyed by the Taleban in November 2018 after rumours that Afghan Special Forces were going to set up a military post there. (Photo Fazal Muzhary)

Meanwhile, the Taleban have also allowed the levelling off of a road which passes through villages in southern and western Andar, as well as the construction of a bridge across the river near Mirai. According to respondents in 2017, when the project was allocated to the district, the owners of the private construction company that received the contract had obtained consent from one group of Taleban fighters to start the work. However, another group did not allow the work. Various respondents said there were some differences between the Taleban groups, but they could not provide details. Ultimately, the second group attacked the company’s workers and one person was killed. As a result, the project remains incomplete.

Beyond this, the Taleban have prevented the government from implementing reconstruction and development projects, although they sometimes encourage local residents to pave small roads between the different villages or repair those destroyed by rain and snow over winter. They go from village to village and tell community elders to bring the villagers out for work. Residents who have a tractor will bring it. The author has seen and driven over many roads that have recently been levelled on the Taleban’s orders with the help of local villagers. The Taleban also call in local elders to discuss the expansion of routes or to help them resolve problems when, for example, local people construct compound walls encroaching on roads.


Andar is a district where the government forces’ presence is limited to military bases. Beyond a handful of bases, the government has no presence in the district beyond a few monitors. The civilian district administration gradually relocated to Ghazni city over time, with the last offices moving in late 2018 when the Taleban captured the district centre. The absence of the government in Andar district means that the Taleban have complete control over the district and its public services, although – apart from the justice sector – they do not provide any services of their own.

The only sectors in which they allow some government activity and presence (through government-chosen and paid staff and monitors) are education and health. Government health services are provided through NGOs. There has also one government-contracted road construction project, which was contracted out to a private company that first had to obtain the Taleban’s consent. Still, this project had not been successfully implemented.

The Taleban play a key role in the monitoring of schools and healthcare centres, much of which is perceived as positive by the local population. That monitoring, in turn, provides the Taleban with the opportunity to influence staffing and curricula and to insert supporters into jobs in those sectors. They also try to control the movement of pupils out of the area under their control, including to schools in government-controlled areas. The Taleban dominate the justice sector through their courts and enforce strict rules on telecommunication services, but have become less strict on people watching TV or listening to the radio.

Although the government can also monitor services, at least in the fields of health and education, it is limited in its reach and influence. Meanwhile, the Taleban’s shadow government system is currently perceived to be much stronger than the government’s, not least through its tax collection system. Without Taleban blessing, the delivery of public services would be severely hampered. Without government funding and administration, they would be much reduced or non-existent.

The local government in Ghazni is not capable of lobbying for construction or development projects to bring in income and generate work opportunities. For the local population, living in insecurity and largely ruled by the Taleban, and with the local government largely absent, there is a limit to how much NGOs, government or companies want to work in their area. Despite this, respondents intimated that the population largely seem happy with the Taleban.

All respondents said that the Taleban’s dominance and then, since October 2018, full control of Andar had provided good security. Crime was at low levels and, within the district, there was freedom of movement again. They said they preferred the justice services delivered by the Taleban, and appreciated that the Taleban take measures against corruption in the local administration. There were no objections to the hybrid character of service provision, with government funding and some government supervision, and stricter supervision by the Taleban. Rather, Taleban rule, including their dominant role in the delivery of ‘public services’ seems to have gained a large degree of acceptance in Andar district.

Edited by Jelena Bjelica, Martine van Bijlert and Thomas Ruttig.

(1) There is another Harakat party (Harakat-e Islami-ye Afghanistan, the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan), but in contrast to Muhammadi’s Harakat, which is predominantly Pashtun, it is dominated by Shia Sayyeds.

(2) Besides being a teacher, Seddiqi was also a writer and a poet. He worked as the editor in chief of Neda-e Haq magazine in 1978, as secretary of Khuddam ul-Furqan (see here for AAN background on this political movement), deputy of Harakat-e Enqelab-e Islami-e Afghanistan and respectively deputy of the Supreme Court and deputy minister of justice during the Taleban regime. Seddiqi died on 21 February 2017 at the age of 75 (read an announcement about his funeral ceremony here). Another graduate of the madrassa was Nasrullah Mansur, a deputy of Muhammad Nabi Muhammadi who later became the leader of a break-away faction of Harakat in the 1980s. He named his party Harakat-e Nawin-e Inqilab-e Islami (New Islamic Revolution Movement) (read more about the background and the party in these AAN dispatches here and here).

(3) After completing primary education in Andar, Niazai (in English-language sources often ‘Niazi’) went to Kabul, where he graduated from Abu Hanifa religious madrassa, according to his biography, written by former Afghan President Borhanuddin Rabbani (see here). After graduating from the madrassa, he went to Egypt where he studied at Al-Azhar university, from where he graduated with a Master’s degree. While there, he was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Upon returning to Afghanistan he taught sharia at Kabul university and began preaching clandestinely to recruit pupils for what the Islamists after him called the ‘Islamic awakening’. When the government under President Muhammad Daud Khan learned about Niazai’s clandestine political activities, he was arrested on 4 May 1974. According to Rabbani, Niazai was killed in the spring of 1979 at Pul-e Charkhi jail, along with 135 or 180 people (read the full biography in Dari here and another biography here).

(4) The son of Mawlawi Abdul Wakil, Qari Baba is originally from Sarda village but lived most of his life in Aman Chardiwal and later moved to Mirai. According to Qari Baba’s villagers, he is a Hazara from the Qurbankhel tribe. However, respondents told AAN that Qari Baba was a Hazara, but not a Shiite. Baba studied religious subjects at Nur ul-Madares. According to Norwegian scholar Kristian Berg Harpvikin (2010, p12), Baba was good at handwriting and prose and therefore worked as a scribe in Andar district in the 1970s. There he would write petitions and letters to the governor on behalf of the common people.

(5) The author found part of a poem that Walu recited in a celebratory gathering in Mirai, the district town:

Ze yem de fulani zi pe asal de tangi

Pe Sarda ki watan ghwarem

Hukm wu-kawa auchat raghelai jamhuriat

I am from a certain place, originally from Tangi

I want land in Sarda

Please make a high order because it is a republic (government)

Harpviken (p13) wrote that “reportedly it would suffice to be a teacher, to wear pants or to carry a moustache but no beard [the khalqi style]” for Qari Baba to kill someone during the fight against the communist government. There is also a locally famous poem-like aphorism, which people would recite and that locals considered a “warrant of death” by Baba’s men who would take the victim to an old citadel (Zara Qala).

I’m a mujahed from Tangi

I’ve been sent by Qari (Baba)

Bend your hands to your back (surrender yourself)

Let’s go to Zara Qala

Give me your watch (before you are beheaded).

The poem is taken from this AAN dispatch here.

(6) According to a local source who knew Baba well and was from his original village of Sarda, and who participated in a meeting before the Taleban arrived in Ghazni, Qari Baba disagreed with Hussaini over the handover of Ghazni to the Taleban. The source told AAN: “Baba told Hussaini that we should fight against the Taleban because they want to kill the jihadi commanders and disarm them. Ultimately, Hussaini handed over the military installations to the Taleban in Ghazni without Baba’s permission. Qari Baba later went to the Hazarajat with the help of his military commander Adam Khan. From there, he went to Jabul us-Saraj, where he joined Ahmad Shah Massud.”

(7) On another recent night raid in Sarda village on 14 May 2019, local sources told AAN that two groups of Taleban had come together to a house. When the NDS 01 Unit, supported by US special forces, raided the house, one group of Taleban survived because it had left the area as soon as the raid started. The second group was caught in the raid and resisted the attack. As a result, local residents said, four Taleban fighters under the command of Qari Khaled, a sub-commander of Mullah Ismail, were killed. Khaled survived the raid. However, the government forces claim the Afghan forces killed 42 Taleban fighters, who included 33 Pakistani nationals (see the government claim here and here). One local source said the Afghan forces had also killed two civilians, a man and his nephew, who were irrigating their wheat fields during the raid.

In another night raid, joint forces killed eight civilians in Niaz Qala village on 3 May 2019. Witnesses claimed when talking to AAN that no Taleban fighters had been killed in that raid. One witness said: “The soldiers took people out of his room and killed him on the spot.” During the raid, the Afghan forces also beat women. For example, the Afghan forces “severely beat” women in the house of Syed Karim, when they struggled to rescue him from the Afghan forces. The Afghan forces killed Syed Karim, after they separated him from the women, in a different room, where his body was hidden under a pile of Karim’s home belongingness. After the raid, the joint forces took three civilians, a private Toyota car and, said locals, “160,000 Pakistani rupees from the house of Matiullah Akhundzada, a local mullah.” On the second day after the raid, elders from the village brought the bodies of the victims to Ghazni city in protest, to show the government that civilians had indeed been killed. Deputy Ghazni governor, Muhammad Amin Mubalegh, in a meeting with the elders, promised an investigation, but no reports have yet been published (see the report about the meeting here). These two cases have not been the only recent night raids in the district.

AAN has not been able to collect a full list of recent air strikes. There are, however, reports from local sources that a few of them have resulted in the killing of civilians and Taleban fighters. One (see here) killed six civilians who were ordinary labourers in Dalil village just as they were finishing zuhur, the pre-dawn meal in Ramadan. Local residents said the workers included three brothers, Abdul Matin, Abdul Haq and Muhammad Daud, the sons of Abdul Manan from Shamsi village. Another drone strike took place in Lewan village of Andar on 12 March 2019, where a civilian minivan was targeted. In this attack, 14 civilians en route to Ghazni city were killed and another four were wounded, according to survivor Abdul Qadir, who spoke to AAN on 17 March 2019 in Kabul (see Pajhwok report here). When government officials said that the attack had killed Taleban fighters and their commander Sarhadi, local residents brought the victims’ bodies to Ghazni city in protest. The second day, on 13 March 2019, governor Wahidullah Kalimzai met with the protestors and promised an investigation into the incident, but no findings have yet been published (see a report about the meeting here). In another drone strike on 6 May, only Taleban fighters were killed when the US forces targeted a madrassa (see a government report here). Local residents also confirmed this attack and said that three Taleban fighters had been killed but no civilians.

(8) Antonio Giustozzi (2012), Decoding the new Taliban: insights from the Afghan field, London, Hurst, p.106.

(9) The 2017 IDLG profile found that there were no prosecutors or judges present in the district at the time due to the lack of offices for them there. Instead, they were operating from within Ghazni city. However, AAN’s findings show that Andar’s prosecution sector had been active earlier, but became inactive from 2007 onwards due to the widespread Taleban presence.

(10) According to the 2017 IDLG district profile, Andar district supposedly has two hospitals and 10 other health facilities (six clinics and four health posts), with nine doctors (six men, three women) working in the two hospitals and six doctors (four men, two women) working in the other health facilities. In addition to the government hospitals, the IDLG report found that there were two private hospitals and two private clinics, with respectively nine (six men, three women) and six doctors (four men, two women). This was not corroborated by the interviews.

(11) Antonio Giustozzi (2012), Decoding the new Taliban: insights from the Afghan field. London, Hurst, page 106-7.

(12) Kristian Berg Harpviken (2010), Understanding Warlordism: three biographies from Afghanistan’s Southeastern Areas. Oslo, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), pp12-3.


Education Governance Healthcare public service service-delivery in the Taleban controlled area Taleban


Fazl Rahman Muzhary

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