Video of Nazar Mohammad, better known as Khasha Zwan, showing the insurgents beating him up in Kandahar province spread widely on social media. He was killed last week after being shot multiple times by the Taliban.

Nazar Mohammad, better known as Khasha Zwan, was captured, killed and shot multiple times by the Taliban in Kandahar province in Afghanistan in July 2021.
Nazar Mohammad, better known as Khasha Zwan, was captured, killed and shot multiple times by the Taliban in Kandahar province in Afghanistan in July 2021. (Twitter/IzharBhittani)

Afghanistan’s Taliban have executed a comic in the country's south, raising ghosts of the insurgent group doling out their own form of 'justice' and revenge killings in the past as the US and NATO put the final touches on their departure.

A video of two men slapping and abusing Nazar Mohammad, better known as Khasha Zwan, was shared widely on social media over the past few days, raising fear and outrage in equal parts. 

Afghan academics and artists have been tweeting in solidarity, some wondering if the future of Afghanistan would be devoid of the arts, with posthumous portraits of the man flooding social media.

Zwan was taken from his house in Kandahar, beaten up and then killed, shot multiple times, last week. His body was dumped in Dand district of the province.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid acknowledged that the two men were Taliban.

The insurgent group's spokesperson alleged that the comic, from the southern part of Kandahar province, was also a member of the Afghan National Police and had been implicated in the torture and killing of Taliban.

Mujahid said the Taliban should have arrested the comic and brought him before a Taliban court instead of killing him.

The Taliban has been fighting Afghan security forces on the outskirts of Kandahar city centre, the second-largest in the country. 

Thousands have been displaced, causing residents to question who the anti-West insurgents are fighting as foreign troops are all but gone from the country.

Return to Taliban past

Schools have been burned and reports have emerged of Taliban restrictions being imposed on women akin to those imposed when the insurgents last ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. 

Back then, they had denied girls access to schools and barred women from working – women had to wear the burqa or else face corporeal punishment. 

The Taliban prior to 2001 banned multiple forms of art, entertainment and publishing.

The brutality of the killing heightened fears of revenge attacks. 

It also undermined the Taliban's assurances that no harm would come to people who worked for the government, with the US military or with US organisations.

Hundreds of people are reportedly being held by Taliban in areas the group have overrun. 

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, another Taliban spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, said the group's commanders have orders not to interfere with civilians or impose restrictions in newly captured areas. He said that when complaints of wrongdoings arise they are investigated.

'All sides culpable'

However, Patricia Gossman of Human Rights Watch says that revenge killings have been committed by all sides during Afghanistan's decades of war.

“The war – all 43 years of it – has a revenge-driven dynamic,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. 

“Revenge for past wrongs, including terrible atrocities, committed by one side or the other has been a mobilising factor for all the various armed forces."

For example, in 2001 when the US-led coalition ousted the Taliban and many surrendered, hundreds were packed into containers by troops loyal to warlord Rashid Dostum, with dozens suffocating in the brutally hot sun. Others who returned home after the Taliban defeat were often singled out for extortion by government officials.

Verified reports have also since surfaced of US-allied warlords calling in American airstrikes on supposed Taliban, or al-Qaida targets that turned out to involve personal vendettas, not extremists.

“Each new horror – understandably – brings new outrage," Gossman said. "With no hope for any other kind of justice, this is likely to continue ... and every side is far too blind to the fact that this sense of outrage and horror at wrongs done is shared."

The fear of revenge has driven as many as 18,000 Afghans who worked for the US military to apply for Special Immigration Visas to the United States. In Washington and in NATO capitals there is a growing demand to evacuate Afghans who worked with the military.

The US has promised it will move quickly on thousands of special visa requests.

Gossman pressed for investigations into alleged atrocities.

“The UN should be much more engaged in investigating these atrocities, as Afghan and international human rights groups have called for, and has happened in other countries,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Unprecedented’ civilian deaths anticipated if Afghan violence not halted

Source: AP