Total Pageviews

Friday, August 15, 2008

Angel’ helping Afghanistan fight Taliban bombings
By Sardar Ahmad Kaka Nijat
is the ‘angel’ who is rallying youth against suicide bombers by teaching them how to detect and report suspicious looking men to police KAKA Nijat, or Uncle Rescue, does not have a telephone but he does have a number: 119, a hotline to the police that he shares with everyone as part of his mission in Afghanistan.Two young boys notice some men behaving suspiciously and they are unsure what to do: Kaka Nijat comes to the rescue. “Call the police - 119,” the silver-bearded “angel” says, appearing from a puff of sparkling lights. When it turns out the men are would-be Taliban suicide bombers, he praises the youngsters for turning to the authorities. “God bless you, my sons, you saved so many lives,” he says, from a cloud of fairy dust.The holy man has been deployed on television to fight a growing number of suicide bombings and other attacks that have already killed hundreds of civilians and security forces in Afghanistan this year. In a series of short TV slots aired on over a dozen channels, he also challenges Taliban propaganda that suicide bombers earn entry into Paradise for sacrificing their lives for the Islamic cause.“Stupid! By killing civilians, you will never go to Paradise,” the elderly man scolds a bomber about to blow himself up. The interior ministry says the adverts, paid for by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), are encouraging people to be more involved in thwarting attacks. “We have seen a 75 percent increase in calls to our hotline since the start of advertising the number through Kaka Nijat this year,” spokesman Zemarai Bashary told AFP.“People usually call to inform police about explosions and suicide bombings,” he added, although he was not able to say how many of the calls had actually prevented an attack. A holy character was chosen for the campaign to counter the insurgents’ use of religion in their own propaganda that claims they are good Muslims fighting a government corrupted by Western invaders.“We are trying to encourage the people to help the security forces in the fight against terrorists who are using Islam as a tool for their purposes,” Bashary said. More TV adverts are planned showing Afghan security forces praying and mosques inside police bases, he said. Kaka Nijat seems to have done his job well. “He teaches us how to call police when we see bad people,” said schoolboy Samiullah, 14, who quickly trots out the hotline number.“Since watching Kaka Nijat, now we know the police number, we know how the suicide bombers look, how they dress,” added shopkeeper Abdul Waheed. But bombers still get through: a suicide car bomb that killed more than 60 people near the Indian embassy in Kabul last month had passed undetected through heavy security outside the interior ministry in the city centre.Various Western military and civilian officials put the number of suicide attacks so far this year at between 75 and 100. There were 160 successful suicide attacks last year and 123 the year before, according to UN figures. This year there have been more than 800 other explosions, most often caused by home-made bombs, NATO spokesman Mark Laity said. The blasts had killed 360 civilians and injured 720 others, according to NATO figures.About 80 percent of the casualties suffered by international forces this year, including almost 160 deaths, were caused by bombs, as were most of the deaths of about 800 Afghan security forces, NATO and Afghan officials said. “It is the most effective weapon used by the insurgents in terms of inflicting casualties,” Laity said. The United Nations said in June that about 700 civilians had already been killed in rebel-linked violence this year. Most died in insurgent attacks but about 255 were killed in military action, largely air strikes. The international force rejects killing so many civilians, although it admits a number in the “double digits” had been killed in error.Afghans find it difficult to understand that the military, with all its sophisticated equipment, can still be mistaking civilians for insurgents almost seven years after a US-led coalition arrived to oust the Taliban government. “It’s not only the Taliban who are killing civilians,” said 25-year-old Kabul University student Ahmad Sameer. “NATO - who have come here to help us - also kill us,” he said. “Kaka Nijat advises Taliban to stop killing innocent civilians... but no one has heard him advising the American army to stop bombing innocent Afghans.” afp

No comments: