Is Afghan Taliban Inclusion of Hazara Shia Leader a major policy shift?

Taliban Shia leader
flickr/photos/mediaops

In an unprecedented move, the Afghan Taliban have recently broadcasted an interview with its Shia leader from the Hazara community, raising questions about its changing policies, as it is the first time the Taliban have ever included a Shia leader in the group.

In the interview, the Shia commander, Mawlawi Mahdi Mujahid, has appealed to his Hazara community that he sides with the Taliban. “Like We were with our Sunni brethren against the Soviet Union in the past,” he said and urged his community to fight against the Jewish and Christian invaders jointly.

While appealing to his community, Mahdi further said, “Were you not on the frontlines with your Sunni brethren during the fight against the Soviet Union? Why don’t you support the Taliban now against these invaders of Afghanistan?”

About the deployment of Maulvi Mehdi, the Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that it’s not a new appointment. “Mehdi had joined us for the Jahad for long.”

Who is Mawlawi Mahdi Mujahid?

According to Afghan media, Maulvi Mehdi has been involved in several attacks against Afghan security forces. He had also spent years in jail.

In the past, Mehdi had been part of Hezb-e Wahdat. He was released in 2018, after which the Shia party’s Hezb-e Wahdat leader Muhammad Muhaqaq appointed Mehdi as his deputy.

Maulvi Mehdi acted as a warlord, but soon he left the area amidst the local opposition in 2019. According to sources, he was brought again to this area a while ago.

What Maulvi Mehdi said in the video?

The Taliban’s website broadcasted a 23-minute video depicting Mehdi explaining in Darri language, expressing his support for the Taliban.

He said, “The one objective to support the Taliban is to seek God’s will, and the other is to fight the external forces attacking Afghanistan.”

When asked how the Taliban view the Shia community, Mehdi said “Taliban view each community with the same lense of equality.”

Mehdi further said, “The invading countries did not come to Afghanistan for its betterment; their objective was to capture the natural resources of the country.” He said that it was reason enough for him to support the Taliban.

Taliban and Hazara Community

According to the agreement signed in Qatar between the US and Taliban, the intra-Afghan dialogue is to follow the Afghan prisoners’ release. After this, an international conference will witness the announcement of an Afghan national government.

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Currently, there is an apparent deadlock between the parties on the prisoners’ release issue. However, the reports suggest the efforts for the second phase, i.e., an international conference has already been underway.

According to sources, the Taliban has held fruitful talks with all the national stakeholders except the government.

It is unclear about the proportion of each stakeholder’s representation; however, the Hazara community has 15 percent representation in Afghanistan.

The experts suggest that the Taliban now seek the Hazara community’s favor to claim to the world broader support in the war-torn country.

While dispelling this claim, the Taliban’s Qatar office spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, has said that “It is not that Taliban have included people from the other communities, instead they were with us for long ago.”

Shaheen said that the Taliban are also represented by people from the Tajik and Hazara community. “We have got commanders and mujahideen from both communities.”

He said that of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, the Taliban are represented by a majority of communities scattered across each province.

About Staff Writer

My focus is on politics, history, religion, and philosophy of life. I present news analysis and opinion on current affairs and occasionally produce satire articles

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