NANGARHAR, AFGHANISTAN / WASHINGTON - An Afghan man who was imprisoned by the government for allegedly collaborating with the Taliban is now mourning the death of his son who had joined the Afghan army and was killed by the Taliban insurgents.
Abdul Wares, 42, a taxi driver in the Ghani Khil district of eastern Nangarhar province, spent nearly three years in prison after the Afghan armed forces found him using his vehicle to transport Taliban members. When he was released by the government earlier this month, he found that his son Tawhid had been killed while fighting the Taliban on behalf of the Afghan government.
Abdul Wares told VOA he was forced and threatened by the Taliban to help move fighters through government checkpoints in Ghani Khil district. He was wounded in mid-2017 during a firefight between the army and the Taliban fighters when the latter attempted to escape a security checkpoint.
'I am a civilian'
"I told the army that I am a civilian and I did this because they [Taliban] forced me to," he said. "When the Taliban tried to escape, the army fired shots and I got wounded."
Abdul Wares was transported by the army to a local clinic for treatment and was later transported to a detention center on suspicion of cooperation with the Taliban. During his time in prison, Ware's son decided to join the Afghan army's fight against the Taliban.
"He was telling his mother that he joined the Afghan forces to save money to buy a car so he can bring me home from jail whenever I was released," Abdul Wares said of Tawhid.
Abdul Wares' younger son, Walid Khan, told VOA the death of his brother and the arrest of his father affected the physical and psychological well-being of his family.
"When they brought his [Tawhid's] corpse in a coffin, my mother and sister were screaming, crying, and fainted," Walid Khan said, recalling the day when the family retrieved Tawhid's body.
Relied on charity
Having been left with no financial support, the family had to depend on charity to survive. The desperate financial situation prompted them to reach out to the Taliban for help, Abdul Wares said.
"Few of my family members went to the Taliban to ask for help, saying that I was wounded, arrested, put in jail and lost my taxi, and now my kids are suffering due to a bad economic situation," Abdul Wares said, describing his family's plea. He said he was still in jail when his family sought the assistance.
"But they [Taliban] responded, ‘No, we lost a few of our members and also some of our weapons were taken, all because of him,' " Abdul Wares said.
Abdul Wares was exonerated in two court trials and was awaiting a final verdict when he was set free through a decree by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the observance of the Islamic holiday Eid al Fitr earlier this month.
WATCH: Afghan Government Releases More than 800 Taliban Prisoners
Abdul Wares was among hundreds of Taliban fighters released by the government as part of a goodwill gesture to try to persuade the group to come to the negotiation table with the Afghan government, something the insurgent group has rejected despite repeated U.S and Afghan calls.