In the last ten years, targeted attacks on Hazaras have risen sharply, with most of these attacks killing and injuring civilians, children, women and innocent people. It can be said that suicide attacks on Ashura ceremonies in Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazar-e-Sharif in 1390 marked the beginning of the mass killings of Hazaras. In the previous government, where the targeted killing of Hazaras intensified, the government was criticized more than the Taliban or the ISKP. The government’s failure to provide security and even attempt to rescue ISKP fighters had created a deep rift between the people, especially the Hazaras, and the government, which benefited the Taliban and ISIS in the first place.
Now that a new regime has taken office in Afghanistan and many changes have been unveiled, the attacks on the Hazaras have not stopped. The general perception was that the war and suicide season was really over and no one was worried about dying in a suicide attack or an explosion. Unfortunately, the attack on a mosque in Kunduz province, in which all the victims were innocent and civilians, proved to be contrary to what was thought. In addition, it is known that the chain of targeted and specific killings that target a specific ethnic group continues.
I would like to mention a few points in this regard.
First, the attacks on the Hazaras have always been controversial. Simply put, if the ISKP wants to announce its presence in Afghanistan and pose challenges to the Taliban, it needs to do so using other alternatives. So far, although explosions have taken place in different parts of Afghanistan, the Taliban have not taken the attacks seriously, having continuously stated that the presence of the ISKP in Afghanistan is not something to worry about. The attack in Kunduz, however, at least refuted this view. Thus, the attack on a mosque challenged the Taliban’s notion that the war in Afghanistan was over.
Let us not forget that internal and external sensitivities are high towards the attack on the Hazaras.
Second, racial identity is an important issue in wars. Until now, there have been no Hazaras in any of these groups, and this makes them more vulnerable. Most groupings of the last twenty years were based on race. We have to admit that there are huge racial differences in Afghanistan and this is also effective in wars.
Hazaras Are Persecuted for Their Identities
Third, Hazaras have always been an easy and desirable target. An easy target in the sense that these people remain merely as a minority group in violent geography – without any support.
An ideal target in the sense that the ground for an attack is easily prepared. From Hazara mosques to schools and educational centers, terrorist groups are ready to carry out large-scale attacks. Other mosques or educational centers may also have these characteristics, but it is certainly not an easy-access target with better outcomes. The most important result that a group expects from a terrorist attack is propaganda and psychological warfare. The ISKP needs a propaganda war resulting in suicide and explosions to challenge the Taliban and increase the gaps between the people and the Taliban.
Fourth, Hazaras are also attacked because they are Shiites. Religious beliefs play a major role in the mechanisms of warfare and the orientation of war soldiers. We have heard many times that extremist groups such as the ISKP and other groups, in order to justify their attacks, raise the issue of “infidelity” and “Muslim”. For a religious leader of the ISKP is simple enough to tell soldiers that, for example, the Hazaras are infidels. This is not difficult for someone who has been preached for years and has no logical or scientific understanding of religion.
Fifth, we have to admit that Hazaras are weak. In the brutal game of war and peace in Afghanistan, the Hazaras are too vulnerable to be safe. Politics is violent and cruel. If Darwin’s law of “survival of the Fittest” works, it only works on the political table. This is where everyone who has the power plays the first letter, and whoever has the power changes the rules of the game. That is why the Hazaras are a target.
What Should Hazaras Do?
The Hazaras have always been pro-regime and have played an important role in Afghanistan’s prosperity and positive transformation. The central regions were handed over to the new government without a drop of blood. The Council of Shiite Ulema, the only official source for Shiites and Hazaras, has been in constant contact with the Taliban and has announced its readiness to participate in building a new Afghanistan.
Last but not least, the new government’s first and foremost responsibility is to ensure the safety of all Afghan citizens, including the Hazaras. The attack in Kunduz was a wake-up call for the Hazaras, and this should be taken seriously. Hazara leaders must clearly put pressure on the Taliban to secure mosques, schools and the Hazara community, and if it acts like the previous government, it will definitely be challenged. If the Taliban are unable to provide them with security, the Hazaras must be allowed to defend themselves. In this regard, the Hazaras have had a successful experience in securing mosques during Muharram in recent years.