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India’s bid to wriggle out of plebiscite commitment

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During a virtual informal meeting of the plenary on the annual report of the Security Council, the Indian representative stunned the world community by its remarks. It `called for permanently removing the issue of Jammu and Kashmir under the outdated agenda item of the India-Pakistan question’ from the Security Council’s agenda. He added `such “irrational exuberance” has no takers in a dignified world’. In a veiled attack on Pakistan, he accused it to be ` globally known for being the fountainhead of international terror and the hub for terror syndicates’.(India for permanently removing J-K issue under ‘outdated agenda item’ from UNSC, The Week September 1, 2020).UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti pointed out that even UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his statement last August, clearly referred to the 1972 bilateral Simla Agreement.

First attempt to delete plebiscite question: Till 1953, India was, at least verbally, committed to the plebiscite. But, in subsequent period, it had been making frantic efforts to warp the United Nation Organization and woo the United States of America in her favour. For instance, during temporary absence of Pakistan’s representative India tried to get the `India-Pakistan Question’ deleted from the UN agenda.

India based her plea on Security Council’s informal decision, dated July 30, 1996, about deleting dormant questions. The Question was deleted during the Pak rep’s absence, but was restored to agenda upon his arrival.

A rogue state: No UN resolution incorporates India’s view that maharajah had acceded to India. The main resolutions on Kashmir are: (a) United Nations’ Commission for India Pakistan (UNCIP) Resolution dated August 13, 1948. Para 75 (Serial110) in Part III of this resolution states ` The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the truce agreement, both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured. (b) The UNCIP Resolution dated January 5, 1949 Para 51 (Serial 1196) states ‘The question of accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite’.

On November 2, 1947, Nehru declared in a radio broadcast that the government of India was “prepared, when peace and order have been established in Kashmir, to have a referendum held under international auspices like the United Nations.” I am quoting from Chaudhri Mohammad Ali’s The Emergence of Pakistan.

By disowning the UN resolutions on disputed status of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir State, India qualified as a rogue state. A jus cogen of the International Law is pacta sunt servanda, treaties are to be observed and are binding on parties. Till about 1953, Indian leaders reiterated their commitment to hold a plebiscite to determine future status of the disputed state.  Even India’s view is that it is a dispute though a bilateral one. But, the Simla Accord also rers to the UN charter. India is not willing to talk to Pakistan eyeball-to-eyeball in the dispute. So bilateral negotiations become meaningless. The way out is to refer to the UN.

Invitation to war: By renouncing the UN resolutions, India has thrown in the gauntlet. `Take Kashmir by force if you can’.

RAW’s lexicon: It is unfortunate that even India’s international representatives have become RAW’s mouthpieces. India’s fake news agencies and channels abroad particularly those in European Union call Pakistan’s ISI a `criminal syndicate’.

How India employs disinformation against Pakistan

RAW sponsored news media: India’s anti-Pakistan vocabulary matches the RAW-sponsored dish-outs by Indian news channels, particularly those ostensibly based in the European Union.  These channels often rely on jejuna write-ups or broadcasts of journalists,  Arnaud de Borchgrave and Roland Jacquard who are obviously RAW hired. Borchgrave spat venom against Pakistan’s peaceful nuclear programme..

Jacquard incessantly writes for Global Watch Analysis with brazen anti-Pakistan and- China orientation. Recently, it alleged that China bribed Nepal against India. It did not tell that India bears pension bill, equivalent to Nepal’s annual budget, of Gorkha retirees. Nepalese can apply for military or civil jobs in India as Indian citizens. It called Chinese diplomats “wolf warriors”. So on.

Roland Jacquard: He `chairs the International Terrorism Observatory’. He ` is the only member, “without publications, without website, without postal address and without any legal existence” writes Le Monde . He ran a bookstore `In the Name of Osama bin Laden’, dedicated to the networks of Islamist terrorism. `According to journalists Didier Bigo, Laurent Bonelli and Thomas Deltombe, Roland Jacquard’s comments as a media expert would be questionable. In July 2010, Roland Jacquard appeared on France 5 in the show C in the Air and presented to the camera a 300-page Arabic manual, supposedly intended for Al Qaeda cadres to protect themselves from the secret services on the Internet. The manual would allow them to install protective systems. The authenticity of the document was questioned by other journalists, the cover of the document being that of a simple manual of C-C downloadable for free on the Internet. < https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Jacquard>[accessed September3, 2020].

DisInfo Lab Expose: In a startling disclosure, EU-based non-governmental organisation EU DisinfoLab revealed an India-sponsored fake, dis-informational network of 265 fake media outlets in 65 countries, including US, Canada, Brussels, and Geneva. The network was being run by Srivastava Group of India. It listed  New Delhi Times as one of its assets, and also ran a think tank called International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies. The Institute paid forthe travel and accommodation of an unofficial far-right delegation of 23 European Union parliamentarians to Srinagar on October 30, 2013. The trip was arranged by Indian – intelligence surrogate Madi Sharma who posed as a self-

Styled “international business broker”. The delegation’s shikara (boat) ride in Kashmir Lake (dal) pictured Kashmir as a heaven in serene peace. Some members however smelt a rat and abandoned the free joy ride. After connecting the dots, the disinformation watchdog found that the Times of Geneva Online, EP (European parliament) Today and“4newsagency.com

” had shady links to a large network of think tanks, Non-Governmental Organisations, and fake news websites in over 65 countries. The network worked day in and day to create a `mirage’ of anti-Pakistan perceptions by influencing world’s political leaders, international institutions, as well as gullible ordinary folk alike.

The RAW-sponsored EP Today quickly apologised for aping Russia Today’s content and promised to desist from doing so in future. India used fake websites; together with India’s financial relations (Rafael and AS-400 deals, and trade) with world to isolate Pakistan. The fake website described themselves as “independent not -for-profit news cooperatives ‘headquartered in Switzerland”.

It appears India has meticulously implemented Hitler’s propaganda theorems: `The bigger the lie, the better the results. The success of any propaganda campaign ultimately depends on the propagandist’s down -to-earth understanding of the “primitive sentiments of the popular masses”. Mein Kampf (pp. 179-180). According to New YorkTimes dated April 29, 2019, the only antidote to fake information is public awareness like hand-washing techniques during health crisis.

A planned onslaught: India dovetailed its disinformation policy with structural reforms in army and intelligence set-up to achieve its objective of isolating Pakistan. Sanjiv Tripathi, the longest serving Research and Analysis chief said `the entire J&K, including PoK, is part of India’. He stressed, `R&AW should carry out psychological operations … through seminars, articles and discussions.” Tripathi believed `Pakistan’s step -motherly treatment of its minorities, particularly the Pashtuns, Sindhis, Baluchis and Baltis, offers excellent ground for hosting Indian agents. However, very little is being done , except in PoK’. Lo! India under prime minister Narendar Modi modified Indian maps to include Pakistani, Nepalese and Chinese. Territories into India

RAW was restructured to play a more effective role in curbing centrifugal movements (freedom movements in Kashmir, North East, and Naxalbari footholds). All security agencies and advisers now report to new security czar, India’s National Security Adviser

 Ajit Doval. He is aided by four deputies (earlier there was only one). The deputies include former spymasters, Rajinder Khanna, R.N. Ravi, and Pankaj Saran, besides amilitary adviser (Lt Gen V.G. Khan dare).

India’s Strategic Policy Group, idle since Manmohan Singh’s second term, has been revived (to create troubles in Sindh, Balochistan, and KPK). NSA’s head has replaced hitherto head, the cabinet secretary. He will also head the newly set up Defence Planning Committee and the four-member National Security Advisory Board (Lt GenS.L. Narasimhan, a China expert, former RAW hand, A.B. Mathur, and Bimal Patel, an academic). A new post of national cyber security coordinator was created under Computer Emergency Response Team head Gulshan Rai (who reports to the primeminister). K. Ilango, who manipulated Sri Lanka elections in 2015 has been reactivated.

Cyber- and psy-war slots: Bipen Rawat, then Indian army chief said, `A jawan costs the army Rs 6-8lakh a year, compared to an officer who earns Rs 20-22 lakh annually. Simply put, cutting down four or five officers will help save a crore’.  He indicated (October 2, 2018)`army could cut over one  lakh troops in the next few years and some of them could be assigned new roles’ (cyber and psy -war). Not only state – but also non-state actors are engaged in so-called fifth-generation warfare.

Influence of fake news in elections: In the lead-up to the elections, the Indian government summoned the top executives of Facebook and Twitter to discuss the crisis of coordinated misinformation, fake news and political bias on their platforms. In March, Joel Kaplan, Face book’s global vice president for public policy, was called to appear before a committee of 31 members of the Indian Parliament, who were mostly from the ruling  Bharatiya Janata Party, to discuss “safeguarding citizens’ rights on social/onlinenews media platforms.”

The hearing was a hoax as B.J.P. was the chief beneficiary of divisive content that reaches millions because of the way social media algorithms, especially Facebook, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were too timid to tackle the problem head-on for fear of offending politicos. A large proportion of messages shared on social networks in India are not verifiable. Facebook India has a small 11- to 22-member fact-checking team for content related to Indian elections. India also has a vast publicly funded Press Information Bureau, and a television and radio network, to monitor, track and debunk fake news. They are good for nothing being under governmental control.

Disinformation or fifth-generation war in history: ‘Disinformation’ (Russian deziinformatzia) is a concept which finds mention in Sun Tzu’s Ping Fa (Principles of War). Even before Sun Tzu, Kautliya in Arthashastra supported disinformation as a civil and military warfare tool within his concept of  koota yuddha (unprincipled warfare as distinguished from dharma yuddha , righteous warfare).

Inference:  Tzu’s and Kautliya’s principles were used not only in the World War II but also in the Cold War period (to hoodwink own and foreign people). But, India’s disinformation is no propaganda. It is brazen lying.  Richard Deacon says, ‘Truth twisting…unless it is conducted with caution and great attention to detail, it will inevitably fail, if practiced too often… It is not the deliberate lie which we have to fear

(something propaganda), but the half-truth, the embellished truth and the truth dressed up to appear a something quite different’ (The

Truth Twisters, London, Macdonald &Company (Publishers) Limited, 1986/1987, p. 8). He gives several examples of disinformation including subliminal disinformation by which the truth can be twisted so that the distortion is unconsciously absorbed something which both television and radio commentators have subtly perfected’ (p. 9, ibid.). In the USA, Creel Committee, through false anti-German propaganda turned pacifist Americans against Germans.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.

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Panjshir – the last stronghold of democracy in Afghanistan

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The Taliban’s rapid advance in Afghanistan has briefly stalled only in the face of strong resistance mounted by the people of the country’s recalcitrant mountainous province of Panjshir. Whoever controls the region’s passes controls the routes leading to China and Tajikistan, but to seize this mountain valley and, most importantly, to keep it permanently under control has always been a problem for all invaders. Eager to let the international community see for the first time in 40 years a united Afghanistan as a sign of their final victory, the radical Islamists were prepared to make any sacrifices, including filling the approaches to the Panjshir Valley up with dead bodies. Moreover, the Taliban’s longtime ally Pakistan, which, regardless of its status of an ally of the United States, has provided them with direct military support. In fact, Islamabad admitted its less than successful role when it proposed signing a truce to find and take out the bodies of its special Ops forces who had died during the attack on the valley. However, drones flown by Pakistani operators, professional commandos (possibly once trained by the Americans), air support and other pleasant gifts from the allies eventually bore fruit letting the Taliban be photographed in front of the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Massoud Sr., the famous “Lion of Panjshir,” who controlled the valley from 1996 to 2001. The Islamists also took control of the province’s central city of Bazarak.

Having deprived the province much of its Internet access, the radicals, who control most of the Afghan territory, found it easier to wage an information war. Their claims of victories were now more difficult to contest, even though information about their retreat did reach the outside world. Reflective of the heavy losses suffered for the first time by the Taliban and their allies – the Haqqani Network and other remnants of al-Qaeda, as well as by the regular Pakistani army is the brief truce arranged by Islamabad. Looks like the mountain passes leading to Panjshir were literally filled up with corpses…

As for Massoud Jr., the young lion of Panjshir, and his supporters, they retreated to the mountains. In fact, they had nowhere to fall back to. The problem of Afghanistan is its ethnic diversity. Thus, the country is home to 23 percent of ethnic Tajiks, most of whom live in the Panjshir Valley. However, the Taliban rely mainly on the Pashtuns, who account for over 50 percent of the country’s population. As for the new masters of Afghanistan, they are ready to carry out ethnic cleansings and even commit outright genocide in order to bring the valley into submission. To make this happen they are going to resettle there their fellow Pashtun tribesmen. Local men aged between 12 and 50 are already being taken away and, according to the National Resistance Front, no one has seen them again. However, due to the information blockade, the Taliban will not hesitate to refute such facts. One thing is clear: Massoud’s Tajik fighters and the government troops that joined them are fighting for their lives, and there will be no honorable surrender!

The main question now is whether the young lion of Panjshir will receive the same support as his father once did, or will find himself without ammunition and food. After all, the Taliban leaders have reached certain agreements with the United States. Suffice it to mention the numerous remarks made, among others, by President Biden himself about the Taliban now being different from what they were 20 years ago.

But no, the Taliban`s remain the same – they have only hired new PR people. Meanwhile, hating to admit their defeat, Brussels and Washington will have to engage in a dialogue with those who are responsible for the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and for the numerous terrorist attacks in Europe. The Taliban are pretending to make minor cosmetic concessions. Minor indeed, since they are still depriving women of the opportunity to work and study, destroying higher and secondary education and brutally clamping down on people who simply do not want to live according to religious norms.

The United States is actually helping the “new-look” Taliban. Their potential opponents, including the famous Marshal Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, left the country under various guarantees, and Washington is trying to keep them from any further participation in the conflict. Democratic politicians naively believe that by creating an Islamic state and ending the protracted civil war in Afghanistan the Taliban will ensure stability in the region and will not move any further. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan do not think so and are strengthening their borders and preparing to protect their Afghan compatriots, because they know full well that the Taliban`s are not a national political party; they are a radical Islamist ideology.

It knows no borders and spreads like a cancerous tumor, destroying all pockets of Western culture. It can only be stopped by force. However, the two decades of US military presence in Afghanistan showed that Washington, which quickly took control of the country in 2001, simply had no strategy to keep it. The Afghans were given nothing that would appear to them more attractive than the ideas of radical Islam. As a result, the few Afghans who embrace European values are fleeing the country, and those who, like Massoud Jr., decided to fight for their freedom, now risk being left to face their enemy all by themselves.

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Misjudgements in India’s Afghan policy

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India’s Afghan policy has always been obsessed with the desire to deny Pakistan the “strategic depth” that Pakistan, according to India’s perception, yearns. If India had a pragmatic policy, it would not have found itself whimpering and whining like a rueful baby over spilt milk.

India supported the invasion of Afghanistan by both the former Soviet Union and the USA, both losers. President Trump mocked Modi for having built a library for the Afghan people. Trump expected India to contribute foot soldiers, and by corollary, body packs to the Afghan crisis. India played all the tricks up its sleeves to convince the USA to make India a party to the US-Taliban talks. But the USA ditched not only Modi but also Ashraf Ghani to sign the Doha peace deal with the Taliban.

India’s external affairs minister still calls the Taliban government “a dispensation”. Interestingly, the USA has reluctantly accepted that the Taliban government is a de facto government.

Humanitarian crisis

The United Nations’ Development Programme has portrayed a bleak situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is faced with multifarious challenges. These include prolonged drought and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, upheaval caused by the current political transition: frozen foreign reserves, and rising poverty.

About 47 per cent of its people live below the dollar-a-day poverty line. If the poverty line is pushed to $2 a day, 90 per cent of Afghans would be poor. About 55 per cent of Afghans are illiterate.

Ninety seven percent of the population is at risk of sinking below the poverty line, As such, Afghanistan teeters on the brink of universal poverty. Half of the population is already in need of humanitarian support. The UNDP has proposed to access the most vulnerable nine million people by focusing on essential services, local livelihoods, basic income and small infrastructure.

Currently, the gross national product of Afghanistan is around $190 billion, just a little more than the $160 billion economy of Dhaka city. The country’s legal exports of goods and services every year account for $1 billion. It imports$6 billion worth of goods and services every year.

About 80 per cent of world production of opium comes from Afghanistan. Every year, Afghanistan produces nearly 10,000 tons of opium and the revenue generated from it amounts to $7 billion approximately. About 87 per cent of the income of opium producing farmers comes exclusively from this single product. The illicit opium export by Afghanistan is worth $2 billion every year. The role of opium is significant.

About 80 per cent of public expenditure in this country is funded by grants. Since 2002, the World Bank has provided Afghanistan with a total of $5.3 billion as development and emergency relief assistance. The IMF earmarked for Afghanistan $400 million in Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for combating the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The United States has frozen about $10 billion worth of Afghan assets held at various banks in Afghanistan. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has withdrawn the $400 million worth of SDRs allocated earlier to Afghanistan for addressing the Covid-19 crisis. The World Bank has not said anything as of yet, but it may also put restrictions on its funding to Afghanistan.

India’s lip service to Afghanistan

India provided around $3 billion in aid to fallen U.S.-backed Afghan government.  It trained the Afghan army and police. But now it is not willing to pay or pledge a penny to the Taliban government. Look at the following Times of India report:

“India did not pledge any money to the Taliban ruled Afghanistan probably for the first time in 20 years. That it has not done so as Jaishanker declared … (At UN, India offers support to Afghanistan but does not pledge money. The Times of India September 14, 2021).The Hindu, September 11, 2021

India’s tirade against Afghanistan

Indian policymakers and experts say they see no guarantees that Afghanistan won’t become a haven for militants. “Afghanistan may be poised to become a bottomless hole for all shades of radical, extremist and jihadi outfits somewhat similar to Iraq and Syria, only closer to India,” said Gautam Mukhopadhaya, who was India’s ambassador in Kabul between 2010 to 2013.  He added that the Taliban victory could have an “inspirational effect” not only for Kashmir’s rebels but wherever religiously-driven groups operate in the broader region… Lt. Gen Deependra Singh Hooda, former military commander for northern India between 2014-2016, said militant groups based across the border in Pakistan would “certainly try and push men” into Kashmir, following the Taliban victory in Afghanistan  (With Taliban’s rise, India sees renewed threat in Kashmir, Star Tribune September 14, 2021). “Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh conveyed to Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton that the rise of the Taliban raises serious security concerns for India and the region. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appealed for an injection of cash into Afghanistan to avoid an economic meltdown that would spark a “catastrophic” situation for the Afghan people and be a “gift for terrorist groups.”). Afghan economic meltdown would be ‘gift for terrorists,’ says U.N. chief” (The Hindu, September 11, 2021)

 India’s former envoy to Kabul, Ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhyay is skeptical of the conciliatory statements by the taliban government. He advises: “We should welcome recent statements by Stanekzai and Anas Haqqani that suggest some independence from the ISI. But we should also ask some hard questions and judge them by their actions and words, and not let down our guard, both with regard to our multiple security concerns such as whether they can protect us from the Ias and ISI, sever ties with other terror groups, especially those supported by the ISI against India, deny Pakistan strategic depth, and preserve and build on our historic P2P and trade ties; and a genuinely inclusive govt in Afghanistan that accommodates the majority of Afghans who want the rights and freedoms enshrined in the 2004 Afghan Constitution or at least acceptable to the Afghan people.” (Taliban move to form govt, Naya Afghanistan brings new challenge for India, September 2, 2021).

Concluding remarks

India wants a “central role’ to be given to the UN in Afghanistan. India’s mumbo jumbo implies that Afghanistan should be made a UN protectorate. Indian media is never tired of calling the Afghan government a bunch of terrorists. They have even launched video games about it.

India needs to rethink how it can mend fences with Afghanistan that it regards a hothouse of terrorists.

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Afghanistan: Hazaras in danger of extinction

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As reported on August 30, 2021, Taliban shot dead 14 people belonging to the Hazara community in Khadir District of Afghanistan’s Daykundi Province. Among those killed are 12 soldiers, who reportedly surrendered, and two civilians.

Earlier in between July 4-5, Taliban tortured and killed nine men of the Hazara community and looted their homes in Mundarakht village of Malistan District in Ghazni province. Reportedly, six Hazara men were shot while three of them were tortured to death. The entire episode was part of a ‘door-to-door’ killing operation as orchestrated by Taliban.

On May 8, 2021, explosions outside Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul, killed at least 68 people and wounded over 165. The majority of victims are girls attending school. The attack targeted Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras who live in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood.

The Taliban are yet to spell out finer details of how they will impose the Sharia law in Afghanistan. Interestingly, on August 17, Taliban ‘spokesman’ Zabihullah Mujahid said that Afghanistan’s new government would be “inclusive.” On the same day, Taliban officials visited a Hazara neighborhood and attended a Shiite mourning ceremony for the death of Hussein ibn Ali, the third imam of Shiites and the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. But, on August 18, 2021, sadly, after ‘coming to power’, the Taliban forces destroyed the statue of prominent Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari in Bamiyan. Mazari was tortured and killed by the previous Taliban regime in 1995.

Comprising roughly 10-20 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million population, Hazaras speak a dialect of Dari (Farsi dialect) called Hazaragi and the vast majority follow the Shia sect (Twelver Imami) of Islam. A significant number are also followers of the Ismaili sect. Hazaras have long been persecuted for their largely Shia faith in a country racked by deep ethnic divisions. Their distinct features make them easy prey for Sunni hardliners, both Taliban and the Islamic State, (IS) that consider them “infidels”. The Hazaras are also accused of being too closely allied to Shia Iran, and tens of thousands have moved over the years as economic migrants to work mostly menial jobs.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: UNAMA’s “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Midyear Update: 1 January to 30 June 2021”, suggests that in total, 20 incidents targeting Shia/Hazara, resulted in 500 civilian casualties (143 killed and 357 injured). The report also states:

…a resurgence of deliberate sectarian motivated attacks against the Shi’a Muslim religious minority, most of whom also belong to the Hazara ethnic minority, nearly all claimed by ISIL-KP. These included a string of non-suicide IED attacks and shootings, including at least eight IEDs in May-June alone that targeted buses or similar vehicles carrying members of the Hazara community…

Reportedly, a large number of Hazaras live in Hazarajat (or Hazarestan),’ land of the Hazara’, which is situated in the rugged central mountainous core of Afghanistan, in the Bamiyan province and in cities such as Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif. With others living in the Badakhshan province. Many Hazaras settled in western Turkestan, in Jowzjan and Badghis provinces. Ismaili Hazaras, a smaller religiously differentiated group of Hazaras, live in the Hindu Kush Mountain region.

Hazaras in Afghanistan have faced decades of abuse and state-sponsored discrimination, most recently under the Taliban regime between 1996-2001. Hazaras have been singled out for killings, beheadings, suicide bomb attacks, and kidnappings. They have been targeted at weddings, schools, mosques, sports clubs, and even at births.

As reported on September 1, the killing of Hazaras, are a tiny fraction of the total death toll inflicted by the Taliban to date, as the group had cut mobile phone service in many of the recently captured areas, efficiently controlling which photographs and videos are then shared from these regions. Habiba Sarabi, a Hazara political leader, told she had proof of more atrocities but could not share the details, as it might endanger surviving eyewitnesses. Sarabi was the first female Governor of Afghanistan (in Bamiyan Province) and one of four women representing Afghanistan in the negotiations with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. Unfortunately, soon after the interview, Sarabi sent a link to a short, grainy video, which showed two Taliban militants. Speaking into the camera, one of them said they are waiting for permission from their leaders to “eliminate” all Hazaras living in Afghanistan.

More worryingly, over a period of time, out of the dire necessity of self defence and mistrust over government and administration, many Hazaras have either formed or joined armed militias to counter radical forces operating within Afghanistan. One of the examples is that of Zulfiqar Omid, a former lawmaker turned resistance leader. He has reportedly established an armed Hazara resistance in Central Afghanistan, comprising some 800 regular fighters and 5,000 volunteers. Abdul Khani Alipur, is another such militia leader from Maidan Wardak province. As reported on July 13, 2021, his militia boasted of patrolling roads and launching brazen raids on Taliban areas to abduct the relatives of militants, later used as bargaining chips to release Hazara hostages. Such developments would only bring more bloodshed in Afghanistan.

Further, the Hazaras have also taken refuge in Pakistan since many decades, due to violence meted against them. As reported on September 1, 2021, up to 6,000 refugees, among them many Hazaras, have already made their way to Quetta, Balochistan in Pakistan, a city with a sizeable Hazara community. But unfortunately, Pakistan also has a history of frequent attacks on the minority Hazara community, due to the exact same reasons of their different religious and ethnic identities, as in the case of Afghanistan. According to the 2019 report of Pakistan’s National Commission for Human Rights, about 509 Hazaras were killed since the year 2013. Moreover, according to partial data collated by South Asia Terrorism Portal, since 2001, 386 Hazaras have been killed, 480 injured in 80 incidents in Pakistan. Therefore, the danger of death and persecution doesn’t end when these people take refuge in Pakistan.

The Hazaras are victim of a double-edged sword of religious and ethnic differences, causing their death in Afghanistan. The Taliban ‘takeover’ of the political structure of the country can only ensure one thing vis-à-vis the Hazara population- their absolute annihilation. They will either die or flee the country in whatsoever means. The practice of ‘othering’, as preached by the militant Islamist groups, be it a religious minority, or a woman, or non-Pashtun person, would cause harm to the Hazara community. Along with the Taliban, other terror groups of IS, Al Qaeda and their various affiliates are definitely going to have their own game plan for Afghanistan, of which ‘persecution of Hazaras’ be an important constituent.

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