NATO′s Afghan employees fear for their lives | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 18.09.2014
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NATO's Afghan employees fear for their lives

Palwasha Tokhi, a former employee of the German armed forces in northern Afghanistan, has been stabbed to death in her home. Many others who work for Western organizations in the country also face death threats.

The motive behind Palwasha Tokhi's mysterious murder remains unclear. Those close to her say she might have been killed because of her links with the German military, for which she had previously worked. The 27-year-old journalist was employed for six years by Bayan-e-Shamal media organization, which was set up by the German government in 2004. The organization has a website, a radio station, a print publication, and a television production company.

Tokhi had recently received her Master's degree at a university in Thailand. After she returned to Afghanistan, she started receiving death threats. She had told her former German employees about it and was trying to immigrate to Germany. Wahed Ansari, Tokhi's colleague for five years, told DW that she had already submitted an application for German residence a month ago.

(Photo: dpa)

Foreign troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year

"We were all shocked when we heard about the murder. I am afraid that someone might kill me too," Ansari told DW.

The Afghans who have worked or are working with the NATO-led international forces face threats every day. The most serious of these threats come from the Taliban militants who accuse locals working for foreign countries of spying.

"The insurgents tell people that those who work for the West are promoting Christianity in Afghanistan and are against Islam," Tokhi's former colleague told DW on condition of anonymity.

The Afghan employees of Western organizations are also frequently attacked by criminal gangs mostly looking for money.

A threat for all

A number of German army employees have recently lost their jobs as foreign troops prepare to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of this year. The German government has launched a program to facilitate the asylum for its current and former Afghan employees facing immediate danger in their home country. Under the scheme, some 1500 Afghans are eligible to apply for immigration. The applicants are interviewed in Afghanistan and their documents are processed in Germany for a final decision.

"The insurgents don't warn us now; they attack us," said Ansari, whose application for German asylum had been rejected. "The German officials say I do not face an immediate threat. I don't know what they mean by this. I cannot move freely, I cannot visit my relatives because they are afraid that they might be targeted too. What else can be a direct threat?" Ansari complained.

Tokhi is not the first German employee who has been killed in Afghanistan. Jawad Wafa, a former interpreter for the German troops, was found dead in the Konduz province in November, 2013. The 25-year old had received an approval to immigrate to Germany just before he was brutally killed by the militants.