Afghan refugees hope for peace after Mullah Mansoor's death

By Ashfaq Yusufzai

An Afghan refugee moves his pushcart near Hayatabad in Peshawar June 6. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

An Afghan refugee moves his pushcart near Hayatabad in Peshawar June 6. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

PESHAWAR -- Afghan refugees are expressing hope for peace after the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor, arguing that he had blocked the international peace efforts in their country.

Mansoor was killed in May.

"Mullah Mansoor was averse to peace efforts in Afghanistan, but we want to end war for the betterment of the whole region," said Mirza Muhammad, an Afghan merchant in Board Bazaar, Peshawar.

More than 3m Afghan nationals have been living in Pakistan for the past three decades because of militancy back home.

As long as the Taliban militants remain alive, Afghanistan's crisis will not end, Muhammad said. "We want coalition forces to eliminate the Taliban once and for all before they leave Afghanistan," he told Central Asia Online.

"We have breathed a sigh of relief over the death of the Taliban leader, [and] this should happen to the whole bunch of Taliban leadership," he said.

Muhammad Mirza, 44, who runs an oven on Nasir Bagh Road, Peshawar, told Central Asia Online he was elated by the news of Mullah Mansoor's killing because the Taliban leader was against peace and wanted to prolong the violence.

"How can we respect the Taliban who happily claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks that killed their own countrymen? The Taliban deserve no mercy," he said.

No shift in Taliban policy

However, Peshawar-based security expert Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah cautioned against feeling too much optimism over Mullah Mansoor's death.

"There is no shift in the Taliban’s policy," he told Central Asia Online. "Mullah Haibatullah, the new Taliban chief, has immediately announced that he will fight the Afghan forces, which means the people will continue to suffer."

The Taliban militants have been the stumbling block to global peace efforts, Shah said. "The Taliban don't want peace and always use force against their opponents."

"The Afghan people have suffered at the hands of the Taliban for many years. They never feel any let-up in militancy whenever famous Taliban leaders are killed," he said.

Therefore, the Afghan people are fed up with the Taliban militants and they want a full-scale action to kill them all, he added.

The militants have reduced the population to beggars, turning women into widows and children into orphans, Kabul utensil shop owner Hashimzada said.

"In Kabul, thousands of women and children can be seen begging in the market because their husbands and fathers have died in the prolonged period of terrorism," he told Central Asia Online.

It is indeed great news that the Taliban's leader was killed, but it is not enough to establish peace in the war-battered country, Hashimzada said.

"Our people are condemning the Taliban day in and day out because of their ruthlessness," he said. "They attack public transport, schools and hospitals to make the lives of the people miserable."

The Afghan people are unanimous in condemning the Taliban for their endless woes and want their elimination for progress to occur, he said.

The Afghan people are justified in condemning Taliban militants, Pakistani columnist Khadim Hussain said.

"Not all Afghans are terrorists, as they are regarded by [some] people, but the Taliban’s wrongdoings have brought the entire nation into disrepute," he told Central Asia Online.

"Even in Pakistan they are looked down upon by the local people and regarded as terrorists," he said.

The death of Mullah Mansoor is a great step toward establishing peace in the whole region, Hussain said.

A shared responsibility for peace

Pakistanis are also happy over the Taliban leader's death and consider it a big achievement in the war against terrorism.

Peace in Afghanistan is essential for progress in South Asia, Haroon Khan, a schoolteacher in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), said.

"It the responsibility of both Pakistanis and Afghans to battle the Taliban militants for the sake of peace in their respective countries," he told Central Asia Online.

"We want the end of the Taliban to pave the way for the return of Afghan refugees to their country with respect," he said. "Once, they return, the economic situation in Pakistan will show improvement."

Like Afghans, FATA's population has suffered a great deal at the hands of the Taliban, he said, adding that children lack schools and health care because of the Taliban's campaign against education and immunisation.

"Therefore, the death of Mullah Mansoor is a good development as far as the success of peace efforts is concerned," he said.

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