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India-built Salma dam attacked by Taliban again becomes symbol of two clashing worldviews

The Salma Dam, also called the Afghan-India Friendship Dam (Photo credit: @FawadAman2)

The Salma dam—an icon of India’s friendship with the Afghan people has become the  symbol of a clash of two competing ideologies–of modernising the war-torn nation along scientific lines  and returning the country to the  medieval age, marshalled  by the Taliban and puppeteered by Pakistan.   

On Pakistan’s behest, the Taliban attacked the Salma dam yet again on Saturday. Expectedly a feisty Afghan national army repulsed the assault, killing two Taliban militants including one of their commanders, and wounding five others. Four mines were recovered which were intended to blow up the dam, reports local media of Herat. 

Jilani Farhad, provincial spokesman of Herat, told The Afghanistan Times that security forces stationed in the area were aware of the Taliban's attempt and killed two of the attackers and wounded five more in an ambush. Farhad said that security forces also seized “several large mines” carried by Taliban attackers. This was the third attack on the Afghan-India Friendship Salma dam in the last three weeks.

This attack comes after input that Pakistan has ordered the Taliban to carry out attacks against Indian infrastructures in Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defence shared the pictures of the spot on twitter.

Fawad Aman, the spokesperson of the Afghan Defence Ministry said 

“The Taliban attack on Salma Dam failed. Last night, the Taliban attacked Salma Dam; But security forces repulsed the attack, killing two TB, including one of their commanders, and wounding five others. Four mines were recovered from the TB, which were intended to blow up the dam.”

The Salma dam, located on the Hari River in the Chishti Sharif District of Herat Province in western Afghanistan, is one of India’s most expensive infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. 

The dam, which is 20 km in length and three kilometres in width, has the capacity to irrigate 200,000 acres of farmland from the Chishti Sharif District of Herat to the Zulfiqar area on the Iran Border.

Despite the claim made by the Taliban that it had no “intentions” to destroy the dam which is the life line for the thousands of farmers, there have been several attempts made to attack on the dam. In the  last one month the Taliban have made several attempts to target the dam but were repulsed by the Afghan security forces. 

Last week, the Taliban fired dozens of mortars on the Salma Dam but luckily all were off target. 

The Afghan National Water Authority warned of catastrophic fallouts of the continued Taliban attacks.

"Salma Dam will be destroyed if the militants continue to fire rockets," it said, adding that some of the rockets had landed near the dam. In a statement, the Authority said that a large number of Afghan citizens would suffer losses if the Salma Dam is damaged as the lives and livelihoods of many in eight districts of Herat province depend on the water reservoir of Salma Dam.

Also Read: Taliban attacks India built Salma dam again, fires mortar shells–Afghan government

According to Afghan sources, the Pakistan based Taliban’s Shura has issued fresh “orders” to its militants to target the Indian built dam. According to reports there are many soldiers of Pakistani army, ISI recruits and militants of Pakistani terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad fighting along with it in the Kandahar and Herat provinces.

According to the Afghan intelligence, more than 10,000 Pakistanis have entered the war zone in Afghanistan to openly support the Taliban's all-out offensive against the elected government led by Ashraf Ghani. All these Pakistani insurgents have been asked to target the Indian-built assets in the war-torn country, over the last many years.

Meanwhile, Ahmed El-Tayeb, the grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt, in a decree banned a funeral prayer for the bodies of Taliban militants. "The Taliban made peace with non-Muslims but they are killing Muslims in Afghanistan.”

Also Read: Taliban attacks check post near Salma dam–a symbol of India-Afghanistan friendship