Saturday, January 23, 2010
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: Our former journalist colleague Abdul Haleem Fidai, now the Governor of Afghanistan’s Wardak province, survived the fifth attempt on his life on Friday.
One doesn’t know if he is now contemplating giving up this dangerous job. But having known Fidai, he is unlikely to quit at this stage. He could seek posting to a less dangerous province, but then he would have to serve in the comparatively peaceful northern Afghanistan. And getting a Governor’s job in the north would be difficult for a Pashtun like Fidai due to the fact that all northern provinces except Kunduz have a majority of non-Pashtun population.
Four soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) were killed and one more was injured in the Friday attack on Governor Fidai’s motorcade. He told the Afghan Islamic Press that the roadside bomb exploded near his motorcade in Chaghato district in Wardak province located west of Kabul. He said the military car driving ahead of his vehicle was hit. The Governor’s vehicle wasn’t damaged but it was definitely a close call.
Fidai knew he was courting danger when he gave up journalism last year and accepted an offer from President Hamid Karzai to become the Governor of Wardak. It was a challenging job because Taliban militants have become active in the province owing to its strategic importance.
Wardak is so close to Kabul that it is often described as the western gateway to the Afghan capital. It was a worrying development for the Afghan government and the US-led Nato forces that Taliban were in control of certain areas in Wardak and were able to attack military convoys, aid workers and others on the busy Kabul-Maidan Shahr-Ghazni-Kandahar highway.
Governor Fidai’s was expected to reverse the Taliban momentum and regain the initiative from the militants. The first Arbaki, or village militias, were also raised in Wardak with Western and Afghan government funding, to tackle the militants. A big development effort was also undertaken to create better living conditions for the people.
In fact, Fidai was on way to Chaghato district from the provincial headquarters, Maidan Shahr, on Friday to visit the Muhammad Khanjan High School when his motorcade was attacked by the bomb placed under a culvert in Sadatkhel area. The school wasn’t far when the explosion occurred and killed the four Afghan soldiers providing security to the Governor. The previous day also Governor Fidai had visited a number of development projects including schools in Chaghato district. Those behind the bomb attack knew that the Governor was scheduled to visit the area again and, therefore, the explosives were planted under a culvert to target his vehicle.
The earlier four attacks on Fidai were also planned in advance but inefficiently executed. The explosions caused casualties and every time he was lucky to survive. It is obvious that the attackers, who obviously are Taliban because they are the strongest militant group in Wardak, are determined to eliminate Fidai. Their failure to kill him must have frustrated them. It could provoke them to try harder to assassinate him.
Governor Fidai, however, didn’t name the Taliban for being involved in the latest attempt on his life. He simply blamed the enemies of Afghanistan, a standard reply by Afghan government functionaries in such situations, for the attack. However, Fidai did say that he failed to understand how a Muslim could attack someone like him who was on a visit to provide assistance to schools.
Fidai began his career as journalist in Peshawar. His Afghan refugee family had taken up residence in Pakistan and a number of young Afghans were groomed as journalists in Peshawar. He later shifted to Kabul, making strides in journalism after the fall of Taliban regime when the Afghan media began to flourish.
Around three years ago Fidai was chosen as the President of the Afghanistan chapter of the South Asia Free Media Association (Safma).
And then one heard that Fidai is no longer a journalist. Like so many others before him in journalism, he was tempted by the trappings of power and joined the Karzai government. One wasn’t pleased with his decision because a journalist should remain in the profession instead of using it for seeking a government job.
But Fidai must have weighed his options and made the decision. From a neutral observer of the situation as a journalist, he was now a party to the conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban and thus a legitimate target in a brutal war.
Click to view image: '22c23a350d8f-afghan_governors_in_2009.jpg'
In: Afghanistan, Other
Tags: Afghan, Governor, Survives, Taliban, attack
Location: Kabul, Kabol, Afghanistan (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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