Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Land Dispute in Southeast Afghan City

By Shakil Ahmad Sayed






Disputes over land are common in the Afghan countryside, where years of war have allowed strongmen to lay claim to large areas. But they occur even in urban centres like Jalalabad, located in the east of the country.

A school in the city is fighting to reclaim ownership of a piece of land on which relatives of a local politician are accused of building houses.

Sayed Ghulam Faruq, head of the Majbur Abad High School – which has 7,000 pupils – says half of the 20,000 square metres assigned to it by the city authorities has been occupied illegally. He says newly-built homes are creeping ever closer to the school premises,

Muhammad Asif Shinwari, spokesperson for the Nangarhar provincial education department, confirmed that Faruq was right, and added that complaints had been made to other local government departments but nothing had happened.

Faruq says the culprits are relatives of Amir Jan Dawlatzai, a member of Afghanistan’s parliament.

Dawlatzai and his son-in-law both acknowledge that the latter is occupying the land, but they insist he purchased it legally.

Prosecution service official Abdul Ahad Haidari says a team is now looking into the matter, and if they find that the land does belong to the school and hence the state, they will issue demolition orders for the houses on it.

Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the provincial governor said his office was unaware of the problem, but if a complaint was filed, it would take action.
Majboor Abad high school is not they only land which is usurped by officials and powerful people, but thousands of acres of land in different parts of the country has been usurped by these people since last decade, but the government has not taken any action against it.

Shakil Ahmad Sayed is an IWPR-trained radio reporter in Nangarhar.

This report was produced as part of the Afghan Critical Mass Media Reporting in Uruzgan and Nangarhar project.