Afghanistan — Life returns to Kajaki village thanks to ISAF and ANP forces

After almost half-a-decade of being aban­doned and des­o­late, life is begin­ning to return to a vil­lage at the foot of the Kaja­ki Dam in Hel­mand province thanks to the pres­ence of British, Amer­i­can and local Afghan Nation­al Police (ANP) forces.

The village of Tangye
Tangye bak­ers knead dough on a bro­ken wood­en door in the vil­lage bak­ery to meet fresh local demand
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The vil­lage of Tangye, at the foot of the strate­gi­cal­ly-impor­tant Kaja­ki Dam, has stood emp­ty for near­ly five years, its peo­ple dri­ven out by the Tal­iban.

Motor­cy­cle and car parts, per­son­al pos­ses­sions and house­hold goods are strewn in the streets in front of crum­bling shop fronts with bent and twist­ed shut­ters, imply­ing the peo­ple of Tangye left in a hur­ry.

But thanks to the pres­ence of British, and now Amer­i­can, boots on the ground, and a very strong Afghan Nation­al Police pres­ence, peo­ple are begin­ning to trick­le back to Tangye.

There is a bak­ery in town again. For the moment it only has two fam­i­lies as cus­tomers but it is sell­ing to the Afghan Nation­al Police and ISAF troops too:

“We’ve told our­selves we’ll give it a year. It’s fine for the moment. No one both­ers us,” said the bak­er, Mohammed Bilal, as he knead­ed dough on a bro­ken wood­en door.

The local police chief, Haji Faizul­lah, is the rea­son the bak­er can be so opti­mistic.

His force of 48 offi­cers is mak­ing hero­ic efforts to secure the town against an ever-present Tal­iban threat.

They are spread across five bases and check­points, not just pro­tect­ing Tangye but also a num­ber of out­ly­ing vil­lages:

“We patrol every night until morn­ing while ISAF troops keep watch from the hills,” said Police Chief Faizul­lah.

“This is to keep the ene­my away. It is very green around here, with lots of trees and under­growth, so if we don’t patrol they can creep clos­er.”

Tangye
Two young Tangye locals stop to talk with a Roy­al Marine
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

One man who has come back to join the fight to pro­tect Tangye is Khalid Wal. He had a tai­lor­ing shop in the bazaar until five years ago when he and his fam­i­ly were forced to flee:

“I have signed as a police­man for three years. If the bazaar reopens and the oth­er busi­ness peo­ple come back then I will reopen my shop,” he said.

Anoth­er local named Ish­mat­ul­lah has moved his fam­i­ly back to Tangye.

He said the Tal­iban came to his farm last year and burned all his crops with­out giv­ing him any expla­na­tion. After endur­ing years of intim­i­da­tion he and his wife returned to their for­mer home with 13 mem­bers of their fam­i­ly:

“We came qui­et­ly in the night,” said Ish­mat­ul­lah. “The Tal­iban did­n’t know we were leav­ing. We feel a lot safer here.”

He is now wait­ing to go to police train­ing col­lege in Lashkar Gah so he can offi­cial­ly be reg­is­tered as a mem­ber of the ANP.

In the last cou­ple of weeks Abdul Satar has also sought refuge in Tangye with his wife and three chil­dren. He too will go to train in Lashkar Gah, adding anoth­er name to the police chief’s roll:

“We put our­selves in dan­ger because of our coun­try, because of our fam­i­lies and because of our loca­tion,” said police­man Mira­jan.

His col­league, Abdel Rashid, added:

“The Tal­iban are very cru­el peo­ple and it is because of this that I put my life in dan­ger, to sup­port my fam­i­ly.”

Police Chief Faizul­lah, who was born and grew up in the town, and has spent all his career in Tangye, said:

“Before the Tal­iban came the bazaar was open and busi­ness was thriv­ing with 200 shops. There was a cat­tle mar­ket and peo­ple would come from all around.

“It is my ambi­tion that it will be like that again but we do need more gov­ern­ment resources if we are to be able to dri­ve the Tal­iban away for good.”

Sergeant Major John Brown, 1st Bat­tal­ion Scots Guards, is one of the rea­sons the ANP in Tangye is so strong.

He has been attached to 40 Com­man­do as one of the police men­tors since Feb­ru­ary, join­ing the police­men of Tangye on patrol and teach­ing them first aid skills and counter-IED meth­ods.

Tangye police chief, Haji Faizullah
Glad to be home: Afghan vil­lagers Abdul Satar and Ish­mat­ul­lah with Tangye police chief, Haji Faizul­lah
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

He is not look­ing for­ward to leav­ing the men he now counts as his friends to train oth­er police offi­cers else­where, but he does acknowl­edge that they need him less now:

“They’re very pro­fes­sion­al, very proac­tive,” he said. “A lot of the time they don’t ask for ISAF sup­port, they just go out them­selves in the ear­ly hours of the morn­ing, patrolling reg­u­lar­ly through the towns.

“They are not told to, they just do it. The Chief of Police is quite proac­tive in push­ing them out as far as he can get them safe­ly. They keep the locals that are here safe.”

See more pic­tures from Tangye in the Gallery at Relat­ed Links.

ISAF troops can walk the streets of Tangye safe­ly now. As well as the ANP on the ground, they have the whole area under sur­veil­lance for miles around from their patrol bases in the hills.

In recent weeks it has been British and Amer­i­can Marines, side by side, but the British are now prepar­ing to hand over respon­si­bil­i­ty for the area to allow them to rein­force troop num­bers in San­gin.

British forces have already hand­ed over respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty in the town of Kaja­ki to US forces — see Relat­ed News.

While secur­ing the dam is essen­tial giv­en it pro­vides a large pro­por­tion of the elec­tric­i­ty for Hel­mand and Kan­da­har provinces, secur­ing the slow­ly return­ing pop­u­la­tion of Tangye and all the vil­lages around it is the pri­or­i­ty now.

The Afghans are going to need aid and recon­struc­tion projects to pick up the pieces if they are going to pro­vide the next gen­er­a­tion with a viable future.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →