This is the second in a series of posts to help Americans get to know some of the most powerful figures in the Afghan government for whom our troops are killing and dying. Today we’ll meet a warlord’s warlord: the kind that engineers immunity for his and his fellow war criminals’ crimes against humanity.
Meet Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq.
Mohaqiq was one of the leaders of the notorious Hezb-e Wahdat, which in late 2001-early 2002 targeted Pashtun civilians for violence because of their ethnic ties to the Taliban. According to Human Rights Watch, Mezb-e Wahdat was "implicated in systematic and widespread looting and violence in almost every province under their…control, almost all of it directed at Pashtun villagers. In scores of villages, homes were destroyed, possessions were taken, and men and boys were beaten and in some cases killed.…[T]here were several reports of rapes of girls and women. In Chimtal district near Mazar-e Sharif, and in Balkh province generally, both Hizb-i Wahdat [alternative English rendering of Mezb-e Wahdat] and Jamiat forces were particularly violent: in one village, Bargah-e Afghani, Hizb-i Wahdat troops killed thirty-seven civilians," which, as of 2003, was the largest known intentional killing of civilians since the fall of the Taliban.
Following the overthrow of the Taliban, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq managed to get himself appointed as a vice chair of the interim government and as Minister of Planning. During the 2002 loya jirga that set the basic shape of the new government, Mezb-e Wahdat was named by Human Rights Watch as one of the groups that used threats and intimidation against other delegates. Through their use of these thuggish tactics, Mohaqiq’s militia helped corrupt a process which many hoped would lead to greater civilian control relative to the warlords, but which led instead to the warlords’ solidifying their power. Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, of course, retained his positions of power.
Mohaqiq’s militia also became widely feared and loathed for their practice of kidnapping young girls, "forcibly marrying" them (what a useless euphemism for rape), and ransoming them back to their parents. They seemed to especially enjoy snatching girls who were on their way to school, leading many parents to keep their girls home rather than risk their abduction and rape.
But here’s the real kicker: once legtimized, Mohaqiq was one of the masterminds of the widely condemned legislation that granted warlords amnesty for their war crimes during the civil war. The UN sharply condemned the amnesty law, declaring "No one has the right to forgive those responsible for human rights violations other than the victims themselves."
Here’s the kicker: Karzai just promised to carve out a new province for Mohaqiq in exchange for his support in the election.
So, to sum up, Mohaqiq was a commander of a militia known for using rape as a weapon of war and for human rights violations and war crimes. He deliberately targeted civilians. Then, once he obtained "legitimate" political power, he used it to block prosecution of himself and other warlords for war crimes. But hey–‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ when you subscribe to counterinsurgency doctrine, so our policymakers have tasked our troops with fighting to make sure thugs like this stay in power in Afghanistan.
Haji Mohammed Mohaqiq is just one more reason why American policymakers should stop sending our troops to prop up a warlord-ridden narco-state government in Afghanistan. Get our troops out of there.
(Derrick Crowe is the new Brave New Foundation/The Seminal Afghanistan blog fellow.)