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Editorial: Mysterious lull

The Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Syria’s main opposition party engaged in the war with the Bashar al-Assad regime for the past five years, has expressed serious concerns over involvement of nearly 20,000 Afghans in the Syrian civil war. The SNC has brought the issue into the Afghan government’s notice several times through different channels. However, the National Unity Government (NUG) of Afghanistan had not made the details public due the controversies involved. To bring attention of the Kabul leadership to this serious issue once again, the coalition has sent a letter to the Afghan officials urging the NUG leaders to take measures on war footing to stop “religiously-motivate exploitation” of the Afghan people. The Syrian coalition wants to keep Afghans way from the civil war in Syria.

The mysterious lull in the capital city is raising many eyebrows, not only at national but on international level as well. May be the involvement of Afghans in the Syrian civil war is a minor issue for the government, but is far more serious in scope and effects. Kabul should take up the issue with Tehran. No country has the right to use Afghans as a tool for its interests. Why Afghans shall pay the price for deeds and goals of other countries when they had already seen much bloodshed? Why Afghans are not allowed to build their own country?

If Iran denies halting recruitment process of Afghans to fight for Bashar al-Assad then Afghanistan had to approach the UN Security Council. It is also duty of the UNHCR to safeguard rights of the Afghan refugees living in Iran. The UN body should not allow Tehran to send Afghan refugees to Syria to fight for $500 a month while risking their lives and create challenges for their home country.

As far as role of the foreign ministry is concerned, it should direct the Afghan ambassador in Iran to educate the refugees there and tell them about the risks and bad reputation that their actions are earning for the country. If the refugees were allowed to enter Syria and fight for one or the other side, it will have consequences for the Afghan government.

First, it would deteriorate relations between Kabul and future Syrian leadership. Afghanistan shall not be a party in the Syrian civil war if it wants good ties with Syria. Those Afghans who are paid by Iran to fight for Assad are not known as Iranian but Afghans. Therefore, their activities are affecting relations between Kabul and Syrian people, deeply. Turning a blind eye to this grave issue would mean creation of more enemies than friends in the world.

Second, the trained mercenaries could pose serious threats to Afghanistan’s national security if they were radicalized as we have seen in the past.  In the past, thousands of Afghans were trained in Pakistan and were radicalized in Pakistani seminaries. They were sent back to Afghanistan to impose their own ideology on the nation. They have not only challenged writ of the government, but also tried to wage war on ethnic lines which damaged the national unity to great extent. Therefore, the Afghan government should take all possible steps to avoid repetition of the Pakistan’s episode.

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