Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Fear of Sectarian Violence Looms Large

Sectarian violence has increased in recent years in Afghanistan. The militants kill people on the grounds of their caste, color and creed, which is highly outrageous. Sectarianism emerged in Afghanistan with the emergence of the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K), which spilled the blood of civilians on the basis of their race and religion. Sectarian violence is a disconcerting issue for the people of Afghanistan and for the world.
Discriminating people on the grounds of their racial and religious backgrounds and shedding their blood for the sake of their ethnicity and race is highly shocking and will have horrible consequences. Personally speaking, the recent systematic killings of Shiites, mainly Hazara ethnic group, is likely to be a project, being carried out by religious fundamentals, including the IS-K.
Since it emerged in 2014, affiliates to the IS-K declared war on Afghanistan’s Shiites and has claimed responsibility for many of the recent attacks on the Hazaras. But people are suspicious of the government for not protecting them. Some worry that government-linked warlords, who also demonize their community, are behind some of the attacks.
Last year, gunmen attacked a maternity hospital in the mainly Hazara district of west Kabul. When the shooting ended, 24 people were dead, including newborns and their mothers. Last month, a triple bombing at the Syed Al-Shohada School in the same area killed nearly 100 people, mostly Hazara schoolgirls. This week, when militants attacked a compound of de-mining workers, shooting at least 10 to death, witness said they tried to pick Hazaras out of the workers to kill.
However, Afghan first vice president Amrullah Saleh said that the Taliban group is behind the sectarian violence. He said in a tweet, “Talibs use mines of all sorts to kill humans. The de-mining agency HALO TRUST isn’t their favorite as it clears land mines. Scores of HT staff were wounded and ten killed by Talib stooges as they tried to steal money and unexploded devices from HT base. Denial isn’t innocence.” He added, “If Talibs aren’t involved and the assassins aren’t their stooges then they shouldn’t attack the ANDSF as they pursue their investigation in this particular area which is a flashpoint since months. Talibs are the reason and cause for such situations. HT says soft things to stay safe.” But the Taliban denied involvement in the attacks of HT staff.
The danger of sectarian violence is highly critical and threatens peaceful coexistence in Afghanistan. The militants, mainly the IS-K, intend to create divide between people on the grounds of their race and religion. If sectarian violence continues and the government does not be able to protect the citizens, the consequences will be much horrible.
There is concern about the continuing IS-K attacks and about the return of the Taliban to power after the withdrawal of US troops. Ethnic minority groups fear that the Taliban will discriminate them on the basis of their race and sect, as they did so during their regime.
Killing a certain ethnic group on the grounds of its ethnicity, race or religion is deemed genocide, which is strongly forbidden in international instruments, based on which the perpetrators have to be prosecuted. Since genocide is a major crime at international level and the government is not able to try the perpetrators, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has to engage in the issue and prosecute the perpetrators of such systematic killings and genocide.
Meanwhile, the government has to show zero tolerance to the recent systematic killings and war crime and should pursue the case with strong determination to bring the perpetrators to justice. Issuing statements of condemnation, be it with the strongest tone, will not alleviate the pain and sufferings of the victims. If the government knows the individuals behind such crimes, it has to prosecute them.
People, however, have lost their trust in the government, which is not able to ensure their security. According to general beliefs, one of the main reasons behind the government’s lack of interest in fighting the Taliban and other militant groups is corruption within the government machinery and the presence of corrupt individuals. Furthermore, people were filled with rage when the Taliban group did not declare ceasefire or reduce violence after more than 5,000 Taliban prisoners were released from the Afghan jails with the meddling of US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad. As of now, the released prisoners are leading their fellows at the battlefields despite their promise not to return to war. With this in mind, the United States has to pressure the Taliban to reduce violence and stop shedding the blood of civilians.