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Tahir Zahir takes charge as Bamyan’s governor amid protests

By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The new governor of Bamyan province, Tahir Zahir, assumed his charge amid chaos and protests as hundreds of people set up protest camps and showed resistance against his entry to the governor’s office.

Safora Elkhani, an MP from Bamyan province, said that Zahir unexpectedly entered into his office at 11:00 PM on Tuesday. A heavy contingent of police equipped with light and heavy weapons escorted the governor to his office and surrounded the building.

She claimed that Zahir was subjected to serious resistance, as people outside his office were protesting and chanting slogans against him. “Police dispersed the protesters and removed their tents with help of vehicles. Police reacted seriously to those who tried to prevent the new governor from entering into his office,” Elkhani said.

She further said that it was late night and a small number of protesters were in the protest camps when they found out that police with heavy weapons accompanied Zahir to his office. The governor was pelted with eggs. The protestors burnt tires on the road.

Nearly a month ago, President Ashraf Ghani introduced Tahir Zahir as governor of Bamyan province, but later he was confronted with unceasing criticism of Bamyan’s legislators and a portion of local population.

After the president’s decision, members of the Wolesi Jirga from Bamyan and scores of local people protested in front of the parliament and set up protest camps near the governor’s office.

They alleged that Zahir was incompetent for the position and was promoting racial discrimination.

Elkhani, who is also protesting against appointment of Zahir as the governor, said that scores of people including member of the provincial and district councils on Wednesday morning gathered in front of the governor house and held a massive protest demonstration.

“We respected the guests who came from Kabul to introduce the new governor. The protesters are very emotional. When the guests will leave the province, the protesters will shut doors of the governor’s office,” she warned.

Afghanistan Times tried to reach the provincial police chief, Mobeen Ezatyaar, for comments on the security situation in Bamyan City. However, he did not respond despite repeated phone calls.

The governor’s spokesman, Abdur Rahman Ahmadi, said that Zahir was introduced by high-ranking government officials during an official ceremony held in the governor house. He said that several local elders and religious scholars announced their support for the new governor.

“However, some protesters opposed the new governor, yet it is worth satisfaction that he got support of many people,” the spokesman said.

Qurban Ali, 24, a resident of Bamyan, said that those officials and people who oppose the new governor are following their own personal interests and were not thinking about goodwill of the common people.

“They want such a person as governor who can hire them and follow their orders, not of the government,” he said, adding that when people support this government, then there is no excuse for these opportunists including MPs and officials.

The new governor campaigned for President Ashraf Ghani in the 2014 presidential elections. The legislators and those people who are protesting against the governor are from the rival electoral team—led by the current second deputy to Chief Executive Officer, Muhammad Muhaqiq, the residents say.

An official on the condition of anonymity told Afghanistan Times that the protestors were gathered outside of the governor’s office because a high-ranking government official who also took part in the last year’s presidential election said so.

Zahir urged the protesters including lawmakers to end their strikes, and assured them of transparency and reforms in the provincial governmental bodies.

Addressing the protesters, the governor said that he would try his best to improve good governance.

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