Ehsan Azari Stanizai
Almost two decades passed since the US-led Western invasion of Afghanistan, but the unlucky country is still facing war on several fronts. One of the nightmares of the ongoing conflict is the evil of target killings that have taken the lives of hundreds of intellectuals, tribal leaders, clerics, and foreign humanitarian workers. The 73-year-old Dr. Testu Nakamura, the head of Peace Japan Medical Services in Afghanistan, is the latest who was mercilessly murdered on Wednesday, 4 December, along with five members of his organization.
The news of his murder was spread like wildfire in Afghanistan, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans mourned the tragedy of the loss of the physician. Amidst so many heart-wrenching tales of griefs, one belongs to an Afghan woman who lamented: “Today, I feel as if my eight children were all shot dead in front of me.”
The physician and self-trained agriculture engineer was so admired by all and seen as a legendary servant of humanity. Out of extreme respect, Afghans called him Uncle Murad for his epic work in rebuilding Afghanistan. He has turned more than 40,000 hectares of wasteland in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar into fruit orchards and grain farmlands by using the Japanese irrigation system and canalization. He also built many schools, clinics, and even a mosque and a religious school in Eastern Afghanistan. Nearly one million Afghans have been directly benefited from his projects. Nakamura also treated local patients, dug wells, and made blueprints for irrigation waterways and dames. He toiled in the field, ate and played local sport, and sung with harvesters.
The act of evil usually remains incomprehensible, and “the less sense it makes, the more evil it is.” However, Uncle Murad’s tragic murder exposed the basest of all evils that destroy a noble man’s power for doing acts of good and nobility. Uncle Murad always said in fluent Pashto, “topak makarai, zhwand wo-karai, (Don’t plant guns, plant life). In his poem, a local Afghan peasant laments for the Uncle:
Uncle hope! You put drops of water to quench the deadly thirst in our mouths,
Who told you to come and become an Afghan,
And turn to the enemy of dark Satan?
Nakamura’s’ murder wasn’t a new story. In August 2008, another Japanese aid worker, Kazuya Ito, was kidnapped and murdered in similar circumstances in the same province. He was also working on agricultural projects and building a hydropower dam on the Kunar River in Nangarhar. Quoting an Afghan security source, the Afghan-German Online wrote in a report, “the man that was arrested confessed that his gang was given US$13200 by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) to carry the crime.
Two men were arrested linked to Uncle Murad’s murder, and the security official of Nangarhar province said that the killing of Uncle Murad was also plotted abroad, a coded message used in Afghanistan for Pakistan’s military and intelligence.
Decades of patronage and providing a haven for the Taliban and scores of Islamist extremists, Pakistan’s ruling army has hindered the success against terrorism in Afghanistan. It plays the role of the primary enabler of violent extremists.
Afghan experts suspect That the murder was motivated by the Pakistani army’s intention to block building agriculture projects and dams along the Kunar River that flows to Pakistan. Sadly, Pakistan’s policy record on the Taliban and religious militants over the past two decades remains unblemished despite the pressures from the West.
Dr. Ehsan Azari Stanizai is a lecturer in literary studies at National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Australia.