Afghanistan’s Sports Administrations: An Uncertain Future
By: Spin Gul
Upon the re–establishment of the Taliban regime, and the division of offices and institutions among the mullahs, terrorists, and other Taliban affiliates, the National Olympic Committee and the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports were merged. Consequently, Nazar Mohammad Mutmaeen, a renowned Taliban press missionary, was appointed as the head of the new department.
Mutmaeen is a resident of Helmand province and was responsible for the ‘Voice of Shariat‘ radio during the initial period of Taliban rule. During this time, he also obtained a degree from the Faculty of Engineering at Kabul University. He was a part of Abdul Salam Zaeef‘s faction, the ambassador of the initial Taliban rule in Pakistan. Upon his reappearance in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban‘s first government, he acted as a significant contact person for this group.
In the early years of the Republic, when the Taliban resurged in the south of Afghanistan, institutions and organizations encountered difficulties in conducting their operations in these provinces. Most of these institutions resorted to Zaeef in Kabul to guarantee the safety of their activities. However, Zaeef left the task of protecting them to Mutmaeen. It is reported that Mutmaeen utilized his communication network in the southern provinces to facilitate the activity and cooperation of institutions and organizations in exchange for a predetermined percentage of the projects.
Mutmaeen had a major impact in sending individuals trained in suicide attacks to Darul Uloom, Afghan Madrasah, Mullah Zaeef’s religious school in the Bagrami district of Kabul. After 2010, when the Taliban appointed other people to the role, he was assigned to the press propaganda department of the Taliban. He was instrumental in setting up Taliban propaganda centers and in writing and publishing Zaeef’s book (for more information, read the article ‘Taliban Member Warns of Dangerous Outcomes of Islamic Emirate’ published in Hasht-e-Subh).
Mutmaeen, an engineering graduate, with the assistance of Ahmad Wahid Muzhda, Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, and other former Taliban press activists, was able to form the core and propaganda network of the Taliban in Kabul, frequently engaging in propaganda in the media for the benefit of the Taliban. He and his associates collaborated through circles from within the system and foreign intelligence. Among his colleagues were engineer Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai and several members of Gulbuddin’s Hezb–e Islami and Jamiat Eslah.
Engineer Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai established strong ties with Iran following the collapse of the first Taliban Emirate and the US and NATO forces‘ invasion. Consequently, in 2012, with Iran‘s financial backing, he initiated a movement against the establishment of foreign military bases in Afghanistan. This movement was supported by several former activists of Gulbuddin’s Hezb–e Islami, Jamiat Eslah, and other extremist groups.
With Iran‘s backing, the Taliban‘s propaganda organization in Kabul had a close association with the movement. Notable figures such as Haji Farid, Mohammad Zaman Mozamel from Gulbuddin’s Hezb–e Islami, Wahid Muzhda, and Mutmaeen were active in the movement. Now that the Taliban are in power, Mutmaeen has been given the responsibility of managing the National Olympic Committee and the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports. He has transformed this national administration into a meeting place for former activists of the movement who are close to Iran.
Mutmaeen has appointed individuals with a history of propagating extremist ideologies to various departments within the organization. In the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports, as with other Taliban departments, adherence to Taliban ideology and extremism is prioritized over expertise and work capacity.
For example, Mutmaeen has appointed Dad Mohammad Navok, a former Taliban propagandist, as the head of the National Olympic Committee. Martin, similarly, does not possess any working experience in the sports sector and may not have the necessary management skills or sports knowledge. Abdulsalam Wazirwal, another Taliban propagandist who was employed in Arab countries, brought Navok to Afghanistan and appointed him the head of the National Olympic Committee and the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports in Nangarhar. He has also taken Mohammad Zaman Mozamel, a member of the aforementioned movement, on provincial trips and visits to the local offices of the Olympic Directorate, despite the fact that Mozamel has not yet been assigned any responsibility in that department.
Under the rule of the Taliban, Afghanistan‘s sports administrations have not only been deprived of progress, but have also regressed and become a source of social ruin. Led by Mutmaeen, the Taliban have used these national facilities to mobilize the youth and spread extremism. Those with terrorist records and those who have dealt with suicide vests and explosive barrels have been appointed to the provincial directorates and other branches of the National Olympic Committee and the General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports, and they have been promoting sportsmen, particularly teenagers, to advocate against civility and modern life. They are destroying the minds of young people and turning our human capital into a tool for ruining the country. It is hoped that sports experts and leading figures who are aware of the current state of sports administrations will speak out and criticize the current situation.