A funeral was held today for Wahid Muzhda, a writer and political analyst, who was shot and killed in Kabul on Wednesday while he was on his way to a mosque for prayers. The incident occurred around 5:00 pm when at least one unidentified gunman on a motorcycle attacked him in the PD7 area of Kabul, close to the Russian embassy, said Nasrat Rahimi, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry. No group has claimed responsibility for his death.
Muzhda served as foreign minister during the Taliban regime and he was a member of the Gulbuddin Hekmatyar Party. He had also reportedly been arrested by the National Directorate of Security.
This comes as four ex-members of the Taliban regime have been targeted by unidentified gunmen in the last month.
Hassan Haqyar, a political activist who formerly worked in the Taliban regime as a director of the mining department, was wounded in Kabul on October 31.
Then, three hours after the attack on Muzhda, unidentified gunmen unsuccessfully targeted Abdul Shakoor Mutmaen, who headed the Olympic committee during the Taliban regime.
Many are calling Muzhda a martyr for free speech because he often provided alternative or “contrarian” political views, particularly by offering insight into the Taliban perspective.
Nazari Paryani, a journalist, speaking on a panel discussion at TOLOnews on Wednesday night, said that Muzhda was victimized because of his free speech, and Paryani called on the international community and security organizations to investigate his assassination. “Obviously, the assassination of Muzhda will have an impact on media and freedom of speech,” said Paryani.
On Thursday, the German ambassador to Kabul, Peter Prugel, wrote on Twitter: “Strongly condemn targeted assassination of Afghan writer and political analyst Wahid Muzhda. Concerned about growing intolerance and threats to freedom of expression in Afghanistan. Dissenting voices and opinions must be heard and dealt with, not silenced!
Many consider it noteworthy that Muzhda had been increasingly focused on the imminent peace process.
Qazi Hafizurrahman Naqi, a political analyst and religious scholar, said the role of Wahid Muzhda was “critical” for bringing peace to the country, and the murder of Muzhda is a stab in the back of the peace process.
Omar Zakhilwal, a former Afghan envoy to Pakistan, speaking of Muzhda’s assassination, warned of “a trend of targeting individuals who work for peace and freedom of speech.”
According to Zakhilwal, political activism is an achievement of the past 18 years and now it is under threat.
Speaking at Muzhda’s funeral on Thursday, Abdul Shakoor Mutmaen, the former Taliban regime member mentioned above, said: “We want our security organization to provide security for the people of Afghanistan and especially for us, who are trying to bring peace to the country.
Also at the funeral, Abdul Karim Kuram, a former head of office at the Palace, said: “If this pattern continues, the funeral of the democracy will also be held, and the main responsibility for this will belong to the government.”
The Taliban condemned the assassination in a statement, saying:
“Wahid Muzhda was killed by enemies of the country; with his killing our country is deprived of a talented asset. He removed the mask from those who always give false slogans about freedom of expression. In recent days, analysts and activists have been targeted because they have national, Islamic and positive opinions.”
Other activists condemned Muzhda’s murder:
“If the government claims they implement justice, they should find the murderer of the martyred Muzhda,” said Musa Fariwar, a university lecturer.
Khairullah Shinwari, political activist said, “Afghanistan is not a good place for scholars, the freedom of speech is a slogan, the people who say facts, die.”
Mawlana Jalaludine Shinwari, the attorney general during the Taliban regime also condemned the killing and blamed the government: “The elected government should be a protective shadow for people, and should not commit murders.”
Other Kabul citizens reacted:
“Security in the country is getting bad,” said Khawaja Mir, Kabul resident.
“Our security forces must answer about why assassinations have increased in the country,” Said Nisar Ahmad, Kabul citizen.