Rights activists and representatives of civil society institutions on Monday called on the Afghan government to accelerate its efforts to resolve a week-long dispute between villagers in Qarabagh district of Ghazni province.
Activists warned of severe consequences should government not take solid action to resolve the dispute between the two.
According to activists, relations are extremely tense between the two groups after a water dispute broke out.
Early last week, some residents from one village closed the Kabul-Kandahar Highway in protest over the killing of two people from their village, Sher Abad in Qarabagh district. The villagers claim the two people were killed by armed men from Nikhta village.
However, the ministry of interior (MoI) sent in a team to assess the situation. They held talks with tribal elders in Ghazni in the hope of getting the villagers to reopen the Kabul-Kandahar Highway to traffic.
But activists said the efforts have not been enough and that government needs to step in and help resolve the problem before it is too late.
Armed opponents could exploit the problem if it is not settled very soon, they warned.
“Unfortunately, people in Sher Abad village were selling their water shares to the neighboring villages,” said civil society activist Ali Fakoor.
“Self-interested people are further escalating this issue and they have turned it into an ethnic problem. There is the possibility that the scale of tensions are expanded, we call on government to settle these issues justly,” said civil activist Laila Jawad.
Activists also called on government to deploy security forces to the area.
“The incidents in Qarabagh have taken victims from the ordinary people,” said another activist Naeem Nazari.
According to civil society activists, the water which comes from nearby Nikhta village flows to Sher Abad village but they say the amount is not shared equally. They said equal share of water was not taken into account when the water agreement was signed during the previous government’s tenure.
Based on the decision by government, residents of Sher Abad village were given the right to use water for 12 consecutive days while Nikhta villagers were given the right to only five consecutive days. This has enraged Nikhta villagers who say they want the share of water to be equal.