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Afghan government’s neglect of notorious mountain pass kills hundreds

Salang blizzard disaster
Fahim Khairy
Tuesday 16 February 2010

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A heavy snowstorm in Salang Pass has claimed the lives of at least 200 people; women and children died and many others were disabled. People have lost their lives heartbreakingly. Dozens of passenger buses were stuck and buried deep in the snow. The Afghan national army alongside International troops arrived on the scene, but too late to save many of the victims. The tunnel, opened in 1964, provides a continual connection from the North and the Soviet Union to Kabul. It is one of the highest road tunnels in the world. The Russian Red Army had established a very professional rescue army that was later destroyed in the war against the Taliban. The tunnel has been left with no rescue system notwithstanding the new Karzai regime. According to drivers the pass is now a "luck-way." If you get lucky you may be able to drive all the way down, if you are unlucky your body is buried there.

The Salang Pass is a key road to all northern cities. Since there is no Taliban or terrorism in the area, it has been ignored by local government. In almost nine years of democratic regime with massive investment of International money, no one has re-established the rescue army. No one has repaired the damage to the infrastructure caused by the war. Mr. President Karzai with his gangster cabinet is too busy winning the minds and hearts of the Pakistani people on the other side of the border. So should northerners adopt Talibanism to draw attention to the area and the lack of support or government public care? The Salang Pass does not belong to Karzai’s Kingdom territory and that is why the people have remained without the help they sorely need.

The deadly avalanche proved that Afghanistan is divided into parts. People in northern cities are victims of a tribal mentality. They do not speak Karzai’s language. They do not vote for Karzai, so the president does not worry about them. Poor innocent children froze to death while Karzai spoke of providing services for his countrymen.

A few days ago a Pakistani poet, who was related to the Karzai tribe, died in Peshawar city. Karzai sent an airplane full of self-serving technocrats from his cabinet to attend the funeral. The innocent women and children who died in the avalanche as a result of neglect did not however deserve to be mourned by the government. Neither did the tragedy as a consequence of lack government support receive a high profile through a governmental visit.

Mr. Karzai, you are the president; the one meant to be responsible for your country! How do you sleep at night in your fancy palace whilst your nation starves to death? I cite Ambassador Dan’s words to you, ‘nationalism is like cheap alcohol. First it makes you drunk, then it makes you blind, then it kills you.’ The Taliban already blinded your people, is it not time to give up on this killer mentality?

If there had been a rescue army those poor people would still be alive. Perhaps Western politicians are proud of you and support you, but we will remember the crimes you have committed while speaking of democracy and equal rights. While you buy the northern warlords to join your government to supposedly ‘represent’ our people you are playing with our blood and our dreams of freedom. If you are unable to do your job you should leave the office you hold. In a democracy being a President is no longer your tribal heritage.

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