Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022

What Is The Way Ahead For Hazaras Under The Taliban Regime?

Now as the American and NATO forces are out of Afghanistan and the Taliban grip control over the country, who are to be held accountable for the deadly attacks against the Hazaras?

What Is The Way Ahead For Hazaras Under The Taliban Regime?
Afghan Hazaras attend the funeral of Mina Khiari, who was killed in a bombing in Kabul in 2021. AP

When three attacks including a suicide bombing killed reportedly 126 Hazara students in the western neighbourhood of Kabul on April 19, a group of Taliban gunmen speedily moved to the scenes, packed a number of bodies in a container and stopped local journalists from covering the events. A deep-seated Taliban rancour surfaced in the aftermath of deadly events: Taliban militants prevented individuals who rushed to hospitals to donate blood to the wounded students.

Two days later, another deadly attack killed at least 40 Hazara-Shia in a Shia mosque in the northern Balkh province, wounding a dozen others. In a retrospective account, the April attacks on the long-persecuted Hazara ethnicity in Afghanistan were the continuation of a series of complex attacks which dragged on to claim lives under the previous governments. The internationally-backed Afghan government under Ashraf Ghani failed to protect the Hazaras, holding the Taliban militants accountable for most of the suicide bombings carried out in mosques, schools, hospitals and sports complexes in Hazara-dominated neighbourhoods of Kabul and other cities.

Who to blame now? 

Now as the American and NATO forces are out of Afghanistan and the Taliban grip control over the country, who are to be held accountable for the deadly attacks against the Hazaras? The answer lies in a trickily deluding grey area where one can hardly distinguish between the forces, now in charge of security affairs, and the militant group that continues to target Shia mosques in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. In reality, the line between the Taliban and Daesh is as narrow as a line between religious extremism and extremist militants.

For the Hazara community facing both hostile Taliban behaviour and targeted attacks, the choice is limited: they have to either unite under a single political platform or let happen what may happen. The former requires tremendous effort and the latter carries fatal risk. The Taliban regime probably does everything in its capacity to neuter any idea of a united political platform that may bring the Hazaras and Shias together in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. A handful of Hazara politicians have already started to paint a moderate picture of the new Islamic emirate of Taliban while Taliban politics suggest otherwise. 

Under the Taliban, Afghanistan has become aggressively hostile to the Hazaras, women, and ethnic Tajiks who do not come from the Pashtun heartland. Though Taliban language has shifted from that of the 1990s, an unwritten Taliban policy, marked by suspicions of non-Pashtun ethnic groups, has shut all doors for a reconciliation program. Taliban statements to the media, adopting a relatively moderate tone, are released to delude reality. The Pashtun-led Islamic emirate has moved beyond a long-boasted Pashtunwali code of conduct to silence women's protest for the right to secondary education. Women have been excluded, local media are under censorship, and political classes, coming from Tajik and Hazara heartlands, have been marginalized. 

The Hazara genocide 

In a divided global community, it requires painstakingly tremendous efforts to campaign for recognition of the Hazara genocide. The politics of genocide recognition is complicated rhetoric, which does not consent to recognize the act of genocide, as easily as the Hazaras in the diaspora might expect. Superpowers and powerful states, often influencing the political climate in which genocide charges are recognized as acts of crime against humanity, see the matter from prisms of divergent political interests. Nonetheless, the path to seek international recognition of the Hazara genocide should be one of the main components of political agendas to the Hazaras in the diaspora need to dedicate their energies.

A horrific possible scenario such as being engulfed between a hostile regime and a growing targeted attack will be totally out of the depth for the Hazaras in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the cycle of violence against them is likely to grow in the future. To get ready for bad days, the Hazaras need to come under a single political platform. The Hazaras in the diaspora can potentially play a vital part in an emergency situations. If they establish a trust fund, the Hazaras will prove capable to deal with tough times in 2022.