Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 28th, 2021

Worries about the Future of Minority Groups in Afghanistan

Although the Afghan minority groups are peaceful and harmless in Afghanistan, they are more vulnerable against danger of extremism and so feel concerned about the future. After long historical pains and sufferings, now they relatively feel a bit equal and free to participate in all political, social, cultural, and economic areas in Afghanistan, but they seem defenseless if the Taliban come again with absolute power. If the emirate re-establish in the country, a large number of people will leave the country, especially the minority groups.  In last forty years, more than 99 percent of Hindu and Sikh minority of Afghanistan have left the country for ever. According to a local report in recent years, the Sikh and Hindu population number was 220,000 in the 1980s but it dropped to 15,000 during the 1990s and remained at that level during the Taliban regime. Now, it is estimated around 1,000 Hindus and Sikhs in the country.
Prior to the arrival of international forces and establishment of the current government, the Taliban government ruled over the fate of the people while neither they had national legitimacy nor international legitimacy. The group had enacted strict laws at the domestic level that threatened individual, civil and social freedoms above all else.  Despite the fact that the current situation is also not an ideal for Afghan citizens, at least everyone is symbolically equal on the basis of current constitution. In fact, the rights which were given in the constitution to minority groups are at stake if the Taliban take the power again. On one hand, minority groups have been suffering from insecurity, discrimination, and economic problems for decades expecting the Taliban to come down from their dogmatic position. On the other hand, they are disappointed because of hard position of Taliban and so they are increasingly concerned about losing their rights, freedoms, and also past achievements which were gained at a very high cost during the last two decades.
According to local experts, the Taliban have the same views and mentality as they had two decades ago. The people also see no notable changes in the political ideology of the Taliban. Despite public demand for peace and meaningful talks, they have been using peace talks as a deceitful tactic to reach power and topple the current system. Given the past several years of experience with Taliban, now people feel that the Taliban’s ultimate objective is to remove the current Islamic Republic and replace it with their Islamic Emirate. Therefore, Afghan people are righteous to be worried about the rights of marginalized minorities and women in the country. They are sure that the Taliban have no commitment to human rights and not believe in a pluralistic system in the country. That’s why they have no hopeful vision for the future of the country, unless the regional and internal allies guarantee the legitimate rights of minority groups. 
Although the Taliban movement denies their ethnic features, their actions reflect their ethnic character in recent history. The absolute majority of the members of the Taliban leadership council and all their military commanders were and are from a particular ethnic group. The Taliban movement has a heterogeneous and incoherent composition from the Jihadi leaders to the local thugs (the communists and secularists to the most fanatical), have gathered under a white flag to revive the absolute sovereignty of a certain racial group in the country. With a brief look at past changes and developments, it can be said that all the conflicts and civil wars in Afghanistan, during the Mujahideen regime and then during the Taliban era, were rooted in the issue of ignoring the rights of different ethnic and minority groups.
Undoubtedly, if the rights of all the tribes living in Afghanistan were taken into account in the past, the people of Afghanistan would not have tasted the bitter taste of all these painful calamities of civil war in the recent past. Thus, they would have reaped the fruits of their fights and struggles with pride and glory. Therefore, the rights of ethnic groups and women must be addressed in the peace deal with Taliban. The fundamental rights and freedoms of women, as well as the rights of social groups that have always lived on the margins of the country as deprived ethnic groups and have played little role in the past and present, are factors that must be considered in this strategic opportunity. Ethnic group rights and women’s rights are human rights and so no human should be deprived because of belonging to a certain race and gender. It should not be forgotten that the issue of the rights of ethnic groups and minorities were and are very important and sensitive issue in the country’s social context and structure; without realizing the rights of minority groups, no genuine national unity, peace, or state building is practicable in the country. Given the abovementioned worries and concerns about the future of minority groups, it is the moral and legal responsibility of the UN and also international community to play a key role in preserving minority rights and women’s rights with the Taliban. Afghan people also expect the US, EU, and other regional countries not to forget the rights of vulnerable groups in the country. The Afghan minority groups and women expect from the United States, EU, and UN and also from warring sides to consider women’s rights and minority groups rights as a fundamental principle. Otherwise, no long-lasting peace would be built on deprivation of minority groups and women that overall form the absolute majority of Afghan population in the land.