5 May 2021
by Mirwais Shalizi
This video was taken from the second floor of a house in Qalai Shalez, from the south, facing Arezo. This shows just 30 seconds of the destruction that Arezo has seen in the past few weeks. The children in the background talking are expressing their concerns and worry for their school, located nearby the blast.
The security is getting worse day by day, we were actually hopeful that the "peace" talks between the government and the Taliban would bring some kind of peace or at least a ceasefire for a while- we are so tired of all this! but that has been a disaster. The delegates from both sides are having the time of their lives staying at fancy hotels in Qatar while the people of this country are getting slaughtered like sheep. Bad news is coming from every corner of Afghanistan, news of blasts, skirmishes, police brutality... that has killed our people.
Here, it is actually better to not listen to the news. Whatever is happening in your own area is enough news to deal with. Like in our area, Shalez/ شالیز, there has been conflicts and fights almost every day. Shalez is about 20 minutes south of Ghazni city, to the west side of the Paktika - Ghazni highway. This highway has become a living nightmare for us all: there are police checkpoints alongside the paved road for “security”, they say, but actually it’s for taxing the cargo trucks and fighting with the Taliban. Neither of which benefits us every day folk nor our “security”.
Our locals are farmers and animal herders (kochi), so these fights are disrupting anyone trying to work to provide for their families. At the end of the season, these miserable locals have to come under the toil of the Taliban's taxes and tariffs, AND feed all of their "soldiers" when they come to the mosques. All by force, of course.
In these past two weeks, things have gotten worse more than ever before. The Taliban has blocked the highway in Arezo/Oorzo village, and all the residents have fled. The highway passes from the middle of this village, to the west of it being our Shalez. There are a couple of government outposts in Arezo and on its outskirts. The surrounding villages of Arezo are packed with Taliban.
No government help can reach these outposts due to the road being filled with landmines and God knows what else. Only hawan-ha, rockets and bullets come from the north. Two small urdu-e-milli choppers come several times a day and fires rockets that hit nowhere near their targets. It’s mostly people's homes and farms that are being ruined! The people of Afghanistan suffer worst because our army has no aim. For shame!
No one is allowed outside when the sun sits (that is the Taliban-imposed decree because fighting happens at night), and these days, we are locked inside during daylight too (which is new- because the fighting has gotten so bad it’s also carrying on during the day). Random bullets and hawan-ha come whistling down all around us. Out of the five security outposts, two of them has fallen into the hands of the Talibs (who proceeded to burn them). The other three outposts are badly surrounded, and I think they will fall as well.
A week has gone by and these surrounded outposts have no food and their injured soldiers are just there, dying. Planes come, empty their magazines and leave. The army, with all their tanks and bullet proof vehicles, don't come near-they just shoot from far away.
Arezo village, which means wish, is mostly ruins now. The village named after Sultan Mahmud e Ghaznawi’s daughter is nothing now. It's simply gone. We are devastated.
It is so very difficult for me to see all of this. It breaks my heart that our fate has fallen into the hands of such people! Goddamn!
The usually-15-minute commute to my university has now become hours for me. I take dusty roads and the everyday journey has become so long, so tiring and so dangerous. I am uncertain at the end of the day if I will make it home to my family or not…
This morning, when I left home for university, first to Shalez, as cars leave for the city from there. As I was walking through the large homesteads and orchards, my shoes all wet with dew, I stopped and thought to myself- on a normal spring morning such as this, everyone would be on the fields with their animals and tractors/shovels, but today no one was around. The air smelled like gun powder and there was an eerie silence…
As I got to Shalez, the village was crowded with Taliban. All congratulating one another because they had successfully taken the outposts. They had brought a couple of wounded Afghan soldiers and some of their weaponry to the mosque. I don’t know what will happen to these taken men…
I sit in the trunk of an old car and head to uni to learn something and to help my war-torn country, with my thoughts back home... What could happen to my family and friends today?
The fight still continues, the soldiers of the remaining outpost have left their posts and are now taking shelter in people's homes.
Just last night, I thought I was about to be killed. Khairo, my brother, and I, went together to have a cigarette after dinner, and as I was coming outside, a hawan came whistling…It dropped on the ground about 60 meters away from me. Thank God Khairo wasn’t out yet. I just went running back into the house. This is our reality.
kochi: Afghan nomads
hawan-ha: large mortar rockets- singular is hawan
urdu-e-milli: Afghan Army