Afghanistan’s Shia leaders meet former president Hamid Karzai demanding representation in government

Leaders of Afghanistan’s Shia community have demanded that their representatives be included in the country’s new government that has been formed by the Taliban to make the regime inclusive reflecting the pluralistic nature of Afghan society.

On Sunday, Shia representatives met Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai, who is a member of a coordinating council, for the peaceful transfer of power. It was Karzai’s second meeting with the Shias in recent days, ET has learnt.

On September 9, Karzai tweeted that he had held consultations with Afghanistan’s Shia Ulema Council to discuss ways of ensuring lasting peace and stability in the country. Representatives of the religious minority have asked Karzai to ensure their rights and participation in state governance.

Earlier, the former president said that every Afghan national, including women, enjoyed the right to have a say in the governance of the country and called on the Taliban to reckon with it in their government.

Shias account for more than 10% of the Afghan population and are mostly represented by the Hazaras, who live in the country’s central and northern provinces. Iran has been worried over the future of Hazaras and have called for inclusion of minorities in the government in Kabul.

But Hazaras are once again finding themselves a target of the Taliban. A recent Amnesty report found that Taliban was responsible for the murder of nine Hazaras, in the village of Mundarakht (Afghanistan). Six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death.

Attacks such as these have prompted a mass exodus of Hazaras across the border to Pakistan, and reports say that about 10,000 have arrived in the Pakistan city of Quetta, in Balochistan, where they are living in mosques and wedding halls, and rented accommodation.

Under the new constitution of Afghanistan adopted in 2003, after the US-led forces drove out the Taliban from power in 2001, the Hazaras were given equality with other communities. Earlier, several Hazaras were executed by the Taliban in Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998. They were also executed in Afghanistan’s central Bamian province in 2000 and 2001. The ISIS have also targeted Hazaras in recent years. A few days back, the Taliban blew up the statue of Hazara political leader Abdul Ali Mazari in Bamian.

If the Taliban continues with the persecution of Hazaras it might become a major point of contention with Iran and Kabul, according to experts who follow developments in Af-Pak region closely.

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