Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

The Anniversary of Sectarianism Victims

The martyrdom anniversary of Shokria Tabassom, a 13-year-old girl, was held on Friday in Kabul. Her death galvanized the nation and prompted a nationwide demonstration last year. The warring factions abducted seven members of the ethnic minority group, including Tabassom, in Zabul province and beheaded them without an iota of mercy. The untoward incident outraged the nation’s conscience and triggered an outpouring of grief.
The systematic killing of Tabassom and her travelling companions, which was intended to trigger sectarianism among the Shiite and Sunni Muslims, sparked off large demonstration in Kabul, last year, as the procession of demonstrators carried their corpses to the presidential palace and chanted slogans against sectarianism and injustice urging the government to prosecute the perpetrators. The peaceful and self-moving demonstration and national civil movement was called “the Movement of Tabassom”.
On the death anniversary, Members of Wolesi Jirga and political figures along with thousands of men and women, including the clergy and civil society activists, attended the ceremony. Some political figures gave strong rhetoric and urged the government to pay equal attention to all citizens irrespective of their race and color. Moreover, the “High People’s Council of Enlightenment Movement”, which urged the government to route a power line through Bamyan province, and staged two large demonstrations earlier, pronounced its declaration and asked the National Unity Government (NUG) to eradicate discriminations and pay equal heed to all provinces. Pointing out the civilian casualties and attack on a peaceful demonstration, held by the Movement, which killed and wounded tens of people, including women and children, the declaration accused the government of insufficiency and showing reluctance in supporting civil movements. The declaration added that the NUG has narrowed the opportunity for citizens in finding entry in governmental posts. Moreover, it is said that a number of citizens, who risked taking refuge to foreign countries to survive terrorism and poverty; the government signed an “inglorious contract” to make them return to the war-stricken country. Based on this declaration, people lose their hopes with each passing day and the air is filled with strong sense of disappointment since the government has no strategy to tackle the political and economic issues.
Warring parties, mainly the Taliban and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), seek to stoke sectarian tension and killed members of the ethnic minority groups on the grounds of their race, sex, color and creed, especially since last couple of years. It is believed that sowing the seeds of sectarianism in Afghanistan’s soil, by radical fighters, is a serious threat to the nation.
In the evening of October 11, at least two attackers wearing police uniforms and equipped with grenades and machine guns opened fire on Ashura mourners in Kabul’s Kart-e Sakhi shrine, the most popular gathering place in Kabul for mourners marking Muharram.
Few months ago, the US designated the ISIL group’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a terrorist organization. The US State Department said the order concerned the Islamic State group’s “Khorasan Province” - which US officials refer to as “ISIL-K.” It said, “The group is based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and is composed primarily of former members of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban.” Hence, some members of the Taliban group have changed their white flag into black one and operating under the caliphate of Al-Baghdadi. They stoke sectarianism to put pressure on the government.
Needless to say, if Afghans do not exercise religious tolerance and equality on the basis of law, the nascent democracy will not lead them to their utopian world. We will have to act upon our Constitution, which is based on religious tenets, international instruments and ethical code. It has recognized the “natural” and “inviolable” rights of men and women and their equality before the law. Therefore, no one is supposed to be discriminated on the basis of their accidental backgrounds. To put it in plain language, men and women are entitled with inherent rights and dignity – that their Creator bestowed upon them – on the basis of being human.
Analysts are of the view that if the government does not plan an effective strategy to counter insurgency and combat the ISKP, the rift between state and nation will widen and the graph of civilian casualties will go higher. In the Asia Foundation’s 2015 Survey of the Afghan People, citizens who believed the country was going in the right direction declined to 37 per cent from 55 percent in 2014. After insecurity, worsening economic conditions were cited as the main reason for such pessimism.
Therefore, the NUG must stop tackle the current issue so as to gain the trust of the public. Constitutionally, the government is supposed to respect and protect the rights and liberty of the nation and form a civil society on the basis of democracy where all citizens be able to exercise their rights equally without a sense of chagrin and anxiety. It is hoped that the NUG will address the challenges and prevent from civilian casualties in near future.