World Bulletin / News Desk
The Taliban and the Kabul government may be at war in neighboring Afghanistan, but in the Pakistani capital Islamabad their families live side by side in peace.
"Islamabad is our second home," Ghairat Baheer, son-in-law of Hizb-e-Islami chief and former Afghani premier Gulbadin Hikmatyar, told Anadolu Agency.
"There's an unwritten agreement between all rival sides that they won't touch each other's families living in Islamabad," he added.
Interviews with Afghan leaders, intelligence officials and Taliban sources revealed that Islamabad's lush Margallah Hills is home to the families of Haji Zaman Khan, who helped lead the war against the Soviet army in the 1980s, and a former corps commander of the northeastern Jalalabad province who was killed in a suicide blast in 2010.
Relatives of Jabbar Naeemi, governor of the northwestern Khost province, reside in the F/11 sector, a posh locality in Islamabad.
Afghan Education Minister Farooq Wardak, too, prefers to keep his family in relatively-tranquil Islamabad.
The family of Mir Wais Yasini, an Afghan MP from Tora Bora and ardent critic of Pakistan, also resides in Islamabad.
Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, who served as finance minister during President Hamid Karzai's first term, also has family in Islamabad, while Pir Syed Ahmed Gilani, former Mujahid leader and head of the Islamic National Front of Afghanistan, owns homes in both Islamabad and Peshawar.
The family of another former parliamentarian, Haji Inayat Khan Manjay, also resides in Islamabad.
Many Taliban fighters, too, consider Islamabad a safe haven for their loved ones.
The family of senior Taliban leader Abdul Kabir, a former governor of the Nangarhar province, has lived in the Pakistani capital for the last several years.
Relatives of Maulvi Najeebullah, former Taliban counsel-general in Peshawar, also reside in Islamabad.
Peshawar and Quetta, the capitals of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and the southwestern Baluchistan provinces respectively, likewise play home to the families of several Taliban leaders, Afghan lawmakers and officials.
The family of Kandahar Governor Gul Agha has lived in the satellite town of Quetta for the last three decades.
Afghan President Karzai and his late brother Ahmed Wali (assassinated in 2011) had both lived in Quetta for many years.
Although the president's family moved to Kabul some five years ago, the house where they had stayed in Quetta is still registered in their name.
Baheer, whose father-in-law is one of America's most wanted men, described this mutual coexistence as part of the Afghan code of conduct.
"Here we follow the policy of coexistence and don't interfere in each other's matters," he said.
"I've been living here for the past 34 years and feel at home," added Baheer, who has a PhD in political science.
"If you don't interfere in their affairs, Afghans are the best people to coexist with," he noted.
"And the example is here [in Islamabad], where we coexist with all the communities."
According to Interior Ministry figures, there are 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees currently residing in Pakistan.
Under a tripartite agreement with Pakistan and Afghanistan, the UNHRC has sent over 200,000 refugees back home from Pakistan over the last ten years.
Many repatriated refugees, Pakistani Interior Ministry officials confirm, returned to Pakistan because of the lack of law and order in war-torn Afghanistan.
"Every Afghan is grateful to Pakistanis for their hospitality and patience," Baheer said.
"Government policies… change from time to time. But the people of Afghanistan are really grateful to Pakistan," he maintained, referring to the oft-strained ties between the two governments.
Rival Afghan families, by and large, avoid settling tribal or ideological scores in Islamabad.
"As soon as we cross the Torkhum border, all personal or tribal enmities are left behind," Abdul Qadir Imami, a candidate in Afghanistan's 2009 presidential elections, told AA.
"Islamabad is a no war-zone for us," said Imami, who had been a participant in the Bonne Conference, which named Karzai the head of Afghanistan's transitional government following the Taliban's ouster.
"I have been living here for the last 17 years and consider this land my second home and shelter," he added.
Imami had once been a close associate of Hikmatyar but parted ways with him amid internal feuding between various Mujahiddin groups following the ouster of the Soviet army.
He asserted that rival Afghan families – whether associated with the Taliban, the Northern Alliance or former Mujahiddin leaders – generally complied with the law of the land.
"We strictly follow the local law," stressed Imami, who is currently undergoing treatment in Peshawar for a lung problem. "Therefore, there will be no fight here."
Imami had served as a deputy minister in Burhanuddin Rabbani's cabinet.
"Islamabad is a land of peace for us," agreed Arsalan Wardak, nephew of the Afghan education minister who has lived in Islamabad for the last decade.
"Fighting between different rival factions continues and will continue – God knows for how long – in Afghanistan," he told AA. "But here in Islamabad, we live side by side and in peace."
Umer Hameed, an Interior Ministry spokesman, declined to comment when asked what kind of security has been provided to the families of rival Afghan groups in Pakistan.
"I do not have much to say on this issue. They have the same security which other citizens have," he said.
However, a senior official of Islamabad police told AA, on condition of anonymity, that the families of Afghan rival groups prefer to take low profile and do not indulge in any local activity.
"They are very much cautious," he asserted.
"A small mistake or involvement in any fight is enough for their deportation," suggested the official.
"Their common interest (to live in Pakistan) compels them to stay in peace."
Last Mod: 30 Kasım 2013, 17:45