The Achilles’ Heel of Afghan Government

After fall of the Taliban government and limiting suffrage of Afghan society on one hand and the opportunity to balance the hold on power between different ethnic groups in Afghanistan through general elections, Hazara community members welcomed and supported extensively the relatively new socio-political order. This extensive support of the order through generous participation in general elections, civic and peaceful demonstrations at difficult times and increasing ration of women participation in different spheres of social life, has made the community a “Sweet Heart” of Afghan society.  This is well acknowledged at the moment by members of other communities, too. One most popular acknowledgement of this kind can be found in a famous poem of Najib Bawar that chants: “Justice is nicknamed Hazara”.

Hazara community’s extensive participation in practicing democracy through vote, their fat vote banks and their generous support of the new political order has, on the other hand, turned this community into Achilles ’ heel of this new political order and political stability in Afghanistan. Separated Taliban-the extremist faction-along with their internationally acknowledged foreign savages, appears to have come to this conclusion, as well. They, thus, have been continuously kidnapping members of this community, in order to use them as lobbying tools and as such pressurize the National Unity Government to accept their demands. In the most recent practice of this in-human tactic, they reportedly kidnapped 17 passengers-mostly Hazaras and have located them somewhere in Zabul province. This incident takes place only weeks after 7 members of this community were decapitated after being kidnapped months earlier. Beheading of those kidnapped passengers resulted in protest of thousands strong in Kabul that put the city on halt and caught the focus of international media.

Utilization of the Kidnapping tactic by this group appears to follow the objectives of widening black whole of mistrust and hatred between the government on one hand and Afghan nationals in common and Hazaras in particular on the other hand; Achieving psychological and ideological satisfaction of extremist Wahhabis/Sunnis; Achieving international publicity about their presence in Afghanistan and freeing their jailed fighters in return of the kidnapped passengers. Experiences of previous incidents so far have proven to be working. Even though the government showed reluctance, in initial stages, to negotiate with the kidnappers, they were ultimately forced by the public pressure to do so. As a result, the kidnappers were able to exchange more than 20 people associated with the ISIS in return to 19 kidnapped passengers, months ago, and were able to attract international focus and widespread protests through the last incident of beheading.
Hazaras’ dominant Shiite religious affiliation in addition to reported fighting of certain Hazara Refugees recruited by Iranian government from poor Afghan Immigrants in that country in Syria in support of Bashaar Assad regime are claimed to be the main motivations behind the series of target abduction and beheading. While the latter is a new factor behind target abduction of Hazaras within Afghanistan, the prior one has been a historic factor behind their targeting within Afghanistan and Pakistan-where they have been continuously targeted through suicide attacks and target shots.

Unlike the Pakistani government that had the privileges of possessing strong army and intelligence on one hand and Hazaras concentration in limited geographical areas on the other hand, the National Unity Government of Ashraf Ghani lacks such privileges-which limits its capability of preventing the targeted kidnapping spree and makes it very difficult if not impossible to manage kidnapping incidents. Given the government’s lack of control over Zabul’s districts and the districts’ remoteness and hard terrain, the government has not been able so far to undertake successful military operations. In light of such circumstances, the future for Hazara ethnicity remains ambiguous-so does future of the government that it pillars. Should the government continue its failure to prevent such incidents, the socio-political atmosphere may well turn violent and could end chaotic.

Farshad Bonyadih


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