A bloody conflict ensued when two tribes in eastern Afghanistan claimed the same patch of land
30 JULY 2013 | KHOST, AFGHANISTAN
When a team of government surveyors arrived in Gurbuz, a district in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, it was more than a sign that a road would be built in the area. It was the first step in the process of resolving a bitter tribal dispute.
The Nasrudeen and Borikhail tribes lay claim to land in Gurbuz that was granted by the Afghan king in the 1930s in return for services defending the border with Pakistan.
Till 2010, it did not matter much that the land did not have clearly delineated borders. It was of little value. But when the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would build a border transit road through Gurbuz, both tribes claimed ownership. The dispute turned ugly. Houses were burned down and six people died in the clashes that ensued.
USAID’s Justice and Governance project supported mediation efforts. An Afghan NGO helped set up a conflict mediation shura or council, composed of tribal, religious and women’s leaders, to work alongside the provincial government. Khost governor Abdul Jabar Naeemi expressed support. Both tribes agreed to arbitration. At the council’s invitation, each presented its side of the story as well as any relevant documents.
The council finally decided that a government survey of the land would help determine if it belonged to one tribe, both or neither. Compensation would be paid if ownership were proved. Either way, Gurbuz would get its road and the community would reap the benefits of peace and prosperity.
Last updated: January 16, 2015