KABUL (Tolo News): In a letter to President Ashraf Ghani, a number of former officials and political figures have accused a circle within the government–including the offices of the first vice president and the National Directorate of Security (NDS)– of trying to threaten dissenting voices and they warned that if anything happens to them, they will hold President Ashraf Ghani accountable.
“As stated repeatedly in your public remarks, democracy and freedom of speech are the two most important achievements of the last two decades with the people are not ready to lose even for peace. In fact, article 34 of Afghanistan’s current Constitution stipulates that “Freedom of expression shall be inviolable”. Scrutiny of the performance and policies of the government, critical analysis, political opposition, the right to have different positions than that of the government on any or all issues of national importance and expression of political views are the most valuable and absolutely necessary core of both democracy and freedom of speech,” the letter reads.
In the letter, the politicians have also said that in the view of the recent spate of targeted killings, they feel imminent threats. “Unfortunately, it seems like under your leadership, some very high ranking senior officials close to you have formed a cell that includes up to your vice president and deputy of NDS for the purpose of subjugating criticism and political opposition through incentives and threats; thereby suffocating the above core of democracy and freedom of speech in a secretive way at a time when it should be defended by protectors of the State as we aim to move towards peace talks. the Cell, too, attempt to spread an environment of fear and terror among government critics and political oppositions,” the letter wrote.
However, Ghani’s spokesman has rejected the allegations, saying the context of the letter is a meaningless political attack and an effort to terrorize the status of the government.
Rahmatullah Nabil, Hazrat Omar Zakhelwal, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Sayed Akbar Agha, Abdul Karim Khurram, Asif Ashna, Danish Karokhel and Faiz Mohammad Zaland have signed the letter. “A letter came out under the name of the Taliban, but the Taliban rejected it and said that they did not write it,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
The mentioned individuals have asked the president to respect freedom of speech and ensure a legal investigation against those government officials who have threatened the critics through fake letters. “Threats have criminal nature, if these are proved, it will be subjected to punishment,” said Arash Shahirpour, a legal expert.
The letter states that if the threats are not tackled seriously by the government, president Ghani will be taken accountable for potential threats. “However, we the authors of this letter are those individuals who were threatened to death in fake letter purportedly by the Taliban but actually manufactured and circulated by the above circle based on credible information on August 20, 2020. we take this threat seriously, because in last several months there have been a chain of mysterious assassinations through target killing and means of terror against a number of prominent peace activists and political critics of governments policies, particularly on peace. Unfortunately, subsequently announced government investigations of all these cases have quietly and perhaps deliberately been pushed under the rug with no outcome,” the letter said.