Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Sectarian Violence Outrages Public Coscience

With the emergence of the self-styled Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) in Afghanistan in 2014, unknown gunmen have ushered in fomenting sectarianism through murdering civilians – mainly ethnic minorities. The recent serials of systematic killings have filled the public air with fear and disappointment. The Taliban insurgents seek to widen their sphere of influence in restive parts of the country and muddy the waters more than ever before. 
The killings of the ethnic minority group is systematized by a particular group for two major reasons. First, the perpetrators intend to foment sectarian violence and fuel racial tensions among ethnic groups. Stoking sectarian violence among the nation will pave the way for further turbulence and enable the militants to gain their sinister aim.
Second, the militants seek to create political turmoil and undermine democratic principles, which are to be taking root in the country. Undeniably, elections and peaceful transition of power, the endorsement of constitution, and promotion of women’s rights and liberties are seeds of democracy sowed in Afghanistan to ensure freedom, peace and human rights in near future. Unsurprisingly, militant fighters and terrorist groups show no tolerance to see the seed of democracy growing into a robust tree and bear fruit, at least for our next generation. Their sinister aim is to impose the current war and bloodshed on our future generation too and fill their minds and hearts with a sense of revenge and cynicism. 
The Taliban insurgents have also extended their sphere of influence and make heavy inroads into the country. They are growing stronger in the north and east holding more territory than ever before and mounting ferocious attacks.
The intra-Afghan dialogue was stalled by the Taliban leadership, which has continued militancy and bloodshed. The group refused to declare ceasefire or reduce violence.
Afghanistan’s army is heroically struggling to contain the Taliban and hanging on to district capitals but is incapable of going on the offensive or regaining lost territory. Officers are struggling to contain sizeable desertions from the army and police by refusing home leave. The remaining US and NATO forces are expected to leave by September.
Afghans hoped that the peace talks, started between the Taliban and the Afghan administration in Qatari capital of Doha, would lead to peace and political stability, however, the Taliban have turned the constant calls of Afghan state and nation for peace.
The fragile political structure, insecurity and civilian casualties have frustrated the people. To their unmitigated chagrin, the persisting insurgencies and heavy attacks carried out by the Taliban militants lead to higher death toll. After all, sectarian violence, which is on the verge of taking root in the country, is a highly threatening issue to be combated. If this trend – i.e. targeting ethnic minorities – continues, this will have an adverse effect on national unity and change into a bone of contention.   
It is not clear which group is behind the killings of ethnic minority group. The government has to deal this issue militarily and provide peace and security for the citizens irrespective of their color, race, sect, gender etc. I emphasize that if Afghan officials do not curb sectarian violence, it will lead to greater challenges and trigger disunity among the people. Serious steps are to be taken in this regard and the perpetrators have to be prosecuted.
The government has to ensure the security of each individual irrespective of their caste, color, or creed. Political bragging and offensive words against the Taliban and other militant groups will not mitigate the challenges. Security personnel and government officials have to prove into practice their acts of bravery and power.
If the lives and freedoms of citizens are not ensured, the rift between state and nation will be widened. Even some high-ranking officials within the government are critics of the government’s policy and strategy. Ethnic minorities urge the government to prosecute the perpetrator of systematic killings and ensure their lives and liberties.
Constitutionally, the government is committed to “Establish an order based on the peoples’ will and democracy; form a civil society void of oppression, atrocity, discrimination as well as violence, based on rule of law, social justice, protecting integrity and human rights, and attaining peoples’ freedoms and fundamental rights; strengthen political, social, economic as well as defense institutions…” However, about two decades have passed, none of the dreams have come true so far.
Citizens in general and members of ethnic minority groups in particular are frustrated and disappointed. There seems no light at the end of the tunnel. Talks were deadlocked, violence increased, and sectarianism resumed. The government still lacks a clear policy. The international community reduces its support in holding conferences and meetings without a definite and tangible result. People continue falling victims to violence and bloodshed without serious concerns by the United States and its allies.