Posted by lex, on July 18th, 2011
A close adviser to President Hamid Karzai was killed on Sunday night after two gunmen stormed his walled home here. It was the second killing in less than a week of one of the president’s trusted but controversial political allies.
The aide who was killed on Sunday, Jan Mohammed Khan, served as governor of Oruzgan Province until 2006, when he was removed at insistence of Dutch officials over concerns that he was linked to drug rings. Since then, he had been a regular presence at the presidential palace.
He was killed alongside Mohammed Hasham Watanwal, a member of Parliament from Oruzgan.
The killing was another potentially heavy blow for Mr. Karzai, whose powerful half brother Ahmed Wali Karzai was assassinated on Tuesday by a close associate in southern Afghanistan. It also heightened concerns that militants were trying weaken the president’s standing and unravel the tenuous security gains in the still-violent south after months of intensified fighting by NATO and Afghan forces.
So Khan was linked to drugs, and Karzai’s half-brother was deemed to be irremediably corrupt. I don’t suppose we could hope for much better in that part of the world, we didn’t start with Virginia planters and Pennsylvania merchants. The Afghan farmer makes a tidy living off the heroin trade, and the contempt which the average Afghan citizens holds for public corruption seems to decline in direct proportion to his ability to get a piece of it.
Nevertheless, these make “good” assassination targets in the Taliban’s “hearts and minds” campaign. From an expenditure of resources point of view, gunmen who are willing to die are good investments. Much better than random IED attacks that tend to kill more Afghans than coalition security forces. And very much better than stand-up fights against the US Marine Corps.
But the Taliban’s real message in this campaign is brutally simple: Not merely are your politicians venal and corrupt, not only do they fail to deliver promised improvements, they are personally incompetent – they cannot even protect themselves. How on earth do you expect them to protect you?
A simple message, and an effective one, spoken in the common Afghan language of violence.