President Ashraf Ghani, in meeting with representatives of the Kochis, approved Kochis’ proposal, saying that his government would give farming lands to the Kochi community in the areas adjoining Afghanistan’s dams.
Haidar Jan Naeemzoi, an MP who represents the Kochis, says that they handed over the proposal to President Ghani on March 29, asking the President for farming lands.
A statement issued by the Office of the President said a 10-percent land adjoining Afghanistan’s dams will be given to Kochis and the plan will be implemented with the distribution of land surrounding Kamal Khan dam in Nimroz province.
49 new dams will be built across the country and the Kochis will be given a 10-percent share of farming land in areas surrounding the to-be-built dams, according to the statement.
The President has tasked the acting minister of Urban Development and Land, the acting minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock, and the head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance to form a committee for land distribution to the Kochi community.
The decision by the President followed by a mixed reaction.
Locals who think their lands will be grabbed by the Kochis have objected to the plan. Attia Mehraban, a human rights defender who originally comes from Badakhshan, in a tweet posted today, questioned the plan, saying that when there is no census on the exact number of Kochi population how could the President allocate a 10-percent share of farming land to the Kochi community.
The Kochi phenomenon is a highly sensitive political issue in Afghanistan. Over the past years, the Kochi community demanded separate shares in Afghanistan. Under Karzai, the Afghan government apportioned ten parliamentary seats to the Kochi community, justifying that as the community was on the constant move from one region to another, they could not participate in parliamentary elections to choose their representatives. Under Ghani, the government gave a concession to Kochi applicants of the national Kankor exam.
Yaqub Yasna, a lecturer who is local of Baghlan province, in a Facebook post, said under the new plan the government is trying to settle Pashtuns in lands historically owned by Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun ethnic groups.
There is no census in Afghanistan. Successive Afghan governments have failed to conduct a census.