Monday December 11, 2023

Horror in Kabul

By Editorial Board
October 02, 2022

It appears there is no end to the terror and violence that haunts the people of Afghanistan. In a particularly horrific attack on Friday morning – and one that has brought up terrifying memories of APS Peshawar – at least 30 persons were killed and more than 80 injured in an attack on a private educational center in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul. The area is mainly a Hazara Shia neighbourhood and those killed in the attack, which is being blamed on the IS-Khorasan, were mostly girls and young women. They were planning for an exam. The attack has left the community devastated and the Hazaras believe they may have been the main target and that the Taliban will do nothing to protect or save them. This is an awfully grim situation and one that the international community including Pakistan need to help the Afghans deal with.

This is the first track by the Islamic State. In April this year, bomb blasts in front of a school in the same neighbourhood killed 12 students. In May 2021, 85 people were killed in attacks on schools in the same neighbourhood. And in 2020, an attack on a maternity hospital killed 24 persons, including newborn babies. According to Human Rights Watch, the Islamic State has killed or injured 700 people since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. While the Taliban and the Islamic State are rivals, many belonging to minority communities such as the Shia Hazaras believe that they are linked in their ideology and that the Taliban will do nothing to protect the vulnerable people of Afghanistan. The attack on the educational centre seems to be an effort to prevent further progress in the country and hold back girls still further – preventing them from acquiring any kind of education. Distraught parents say that the attack means that they now know that their daughters are no longer safe even at private educational centers across the country. Given the choice of neighbourhood for the attack, one that has just been struck again and again, it seems sectarian violence too continues unabated in a country that just can't seem to see peace.

We have seen a pattern of violence in Afghanistan over the years, first under Nato/US control and now under the Taliban. But the rise of the Islamic State could spell trouble not just for the people of Afghanistan who continue to suffer through relentless terror but also for those claiming to be the rightful rulers of the land – the Afghan Taliban. The question for the world is how to keep the people of Afghanistan safe, particularly minorities and women who have for years fought to acquire some kind of equality and some kind of status as people with talent and skills in Afghanistan of today. This is a question that the Taliban setup must now think about. If they wish to be taken as bona-fide rulers of Afghanistan, they need to own and protect all Afghans – women, minorities included.