Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Taliban Phenomenon - 12

Ahmed Quraishi wrote:

Confused About Taliban? Learn About The Good Taliban, The Bad And The Ugly By Sajjad Anwar Sunday, 28 September 2008.

The Good Taliban are those who are patriots, they understand the situation created by the enemies of Pakistan. They support the Army and its various agencies that are all busy protecting Pakistan. The Good Taliban also include the Afghan Taliban, who is the original Taliban. They are good not because we like or dislike their policy, but because they, too, have never attacked Pakistan or Pakistanis.

Dear Ahmed Quraishi,

Pakistani Muslims are one of the strangest in the Muslim World. They oppose any kind of Sectarian Fiasco and Sectarian War Mongering amongst Pakistani Muslims whereas on the other hand they defend and try to defend extremely deviant rampant Deobandi Calamity Afghan Talibans who ruthlessly did this with Hazara Shia [Zaid Hamid would have discarded this butchery terming it a Zionist Conspiracy]


In 1995 when Taliban appeared on the Afghan scene, they invited the leader of the sole Hazara party (Hizb-e-Wahdat) for negotiation. But, in the disguise of table talk, this Islamic resurgent group, in flagrant violation of all humanitarian laws, brutally murdered him along with his delegation members, treacherously. This malicious act is ample proof of their extreme animosity and bigotry towards the Hazaras. The Taliban continued their anti-Hazara policies, especially during the capture of northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where the Taliban forces butchered systematically thousands of non-combatant unarmed civilian Hazaras. The Human Rights Watch, reported that Mulla Abdul Manan Niazi, the then Governor of Mazar, in his public addresses, reiterated that the Hazaras had three options to either leave the country, convert into sunni sect or be prepared to die. In the subsequent years, the pogrom of Hazara unarmed civilian continued unabated, especially during the fall of Bameyan Province and the adjacent district of Yakaulang. In 2001, when the Taliban forces recaptured the town of Yakaulang, the Hazara people were exterminated and the reverberations of horrifying tales jolted the conscience of the civilized world that the Taliban forces skinned alive young boys. The bottom line is that the Taliban forces perpetuated the inhuman policies of Amir Abdur Rehman against the Hazaras.

Human Rights Watch Report "The Massacre in Mazar-e-Sharif, November, 1998, Vol: No.10, No.7©.

Taliban Atrocities (U.N. Report Oct; 12, 2001)



On August 8, 1998, Taliban militia forces captured the city of Mazar-i Sharif in northwest Afghanistan, the only major city controlled by the United Front, the coalition of forces opposed to the Taliban. The fall of Mazar was part of a successful offensive that gave the Taliban control of almost every major city and important significant territory in northern and central Afghanistan. Within the first few hours of seizing control of the city, Taliban troops killed scores of civilians in indiscriminate attacks, shooting noncombatants and suspected combatants alike in residential areas, city street sand markets. Witnesses described it as a "killing frenzy" as the advancing forces shot at "anything that moved." Retreating opposition forces may also have engaged in indiscriminate shooting as they fled the city. Human Rights Watch believes that at least hundreds of civilians were among those killed as the panicked population of Mazar-i Sharif tried to evade the gunfire or escape the city.

In the days that followed, Taliban forces carried out a systematic search for male members of the ethnic Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek communities in the city. The Hazaras, a Persian-speaking Shi’a ethnic group, were particularly targeted, in part because of their religious identity. During the house-to-house searches, scores and perhaps hundreds of Hazara men and boys were summarily executed, apparently to ensure that they would be unable to mount any resistance to the Taliban. Also killed were eight Iranian officials at the Iranian consulate in the city and an Iranian journalist. Thousands of men from various ethnic communities were detained first in the overcrowded city jail and then transported to other cities, including Shiberghan, Herat and Qandahar. Most of the prisoners were transported in large container trucks capable of holding one hundred to 150 people. In two known instances, when the trucks reached Shiberghan, some 130 kilometers west of Mazar, nearly all of the men inside had asphyxiated or died of heat stroke inside the closed metal containers. Some prisoners were also transported in smaller trucks. As of late October, some 4,500 men from Mazar remained in detention.

The few international relief groups operating in Mazar had evacuated their staff in the days before the attack on the city.1 On August 16, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), resumed its operations in the city. In late October, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) was permitted to resume its activities. Following the takeover, the Taliban allowed no journalists to travel anywhere in the area.

In the absence of a full-scale investigation, there is no way to know precisely how many were killed in the weeks following the fall of Mazar to the Taliban. Based on interviews with survivors and other informed sources, Human Rights Watch believes that at least 2,000 may have been killed in the city and possibly many more. Manycivilians were also killed in aerial bombardments and rocket attacks as they fled south of the city toward the Alborz mountains. Human Rights Watch is also concerned by persistent reports that women and girls, particularly in certain Hazara neighborhoods of Mazar-i Sharif, were raped and abducted during the Taliban takeover of the city.

The killings of Hazara men and boys appear to have been carried out largely in reprisal for the killing of several thousand Taliban soldiers after a failed attempt by the Taliban to take the city from May to July 1997. Of these, some 2,000 were reportedly summarily executed after capture in Shiberghan and other areas, including areas to which prisoners from Mazar were deported. A number of neighborhoods targeted for searches in Mazar had been among those where resistance by Hizb-i Wahdat troops against the Taliban had begun at that time. Witnesses stated that Taliban conducting the house-to-house searches accused Hazaras in general of killing Taliban troops in 1997 and did not distinguish between combatants and noncombatants. In speeches given at mosques throughout Mazar, the Taliban governor, Mulla Manon Niazi, also blamed Hazaras for the 1997 killings.

The Hazaras were also singled out because they are Shi'a. The Taliban are Sunni Muslims and followers of a strict conservative sect that considers the Shi'a to be infidels. During their search operations in Mazar, the Taliban ordered some residents to prove that they were not Shi'a by reciting Sunni prayers. Over a period of several weeks, Governor Niazi made inflammatory speeches against Hazaras in which he ordered them to become Sunnis, leave Afghanistan, or risk being killed.

The Taliban forces that captured Mazar-i Sharif included Pashtuns from Balkh, the province of which Mazar is the capital and the name of a town northwest of Mazar. These Balkh Pashtuns had been members of a militia aligned with the Hizb-i Islami, a largely Pashtun faction that was part of the United Front. Some weeks before the offensive on Mazar, Hizb-i Wahdat forces launched an operation in Balkh to drive Pashtuns from the area so that they would not be able to provide support to the advancing Taliban troops. The Hizb-i Wahdat forces reportedly engaged in widespread rape and looting. The rapes in particular reportedly drove several key commanders among the Balkh Pashtuns to switch sides and help the Taliban. Some were reportedly also unhappy with Hizb-i Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's courting of Shi’a religious leaders. Other commanders were simply bought off. Balkh Pashtuns were among the first troops entering the city and have been identified among the Taliban troops who engaged in indiscriminate shooting on the first day. Balkh Pashtuns also took part in the house-to-house searches and may have acted as informers identifying Hazara neighborhoods and houses. However, witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch stated that the search parties also included Taliban officers who were not from local areas and that the Taliban officers separating prisoners at the jail were not Balkh Pashtuns but non-local "mainstream" Taliban — those from Qandahar or other predominantly Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan where many of the senior Taliban leaders are based. The speeches by Governor Niazi also demonstrate an intent at senior levels to target Hazaras. Other witnesses stated that senior Taliban leaders were not only aware of the extent of the killing in Mazar but had decided to allow it to continue for several days before stopping it.

Human Rights Watch also interviewed a number of witnesses who described the abductions of girls and women from neighborhoods in Mazar, including Saidabad, Karte Ariana and Ali Chopan. There are consistent reports as well of a number of incidents of rape; Balkh Pashtuns were identified in some cases. In the weeks after the takeover the Taliban announced the execution of some soldiers who had been responsible for crimes, including rape, during the offensive.


Human Rights Watch conducted the interviews for this report in Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta, Pakistan. The eyewitnesses we spoke to included residents of Mazar-i Sharif who were Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara. The witnesses had lived in different neighborhoods of the city. Some had stayed in the city for several weeks after the Taliban takeover; others had left within a few days. Most had arrived in Pakistan after several weeks of travel inside Afghanistan.

Their testimonies about the events in Mazar-i Sharif from August 8 through early September are consistent in the depiction of the patterns of attack by the advancing Taliban troops, the systematic nature of the search operations, the sorting of prisoners at the jail, and the transport of prisoners. All of those who remained in the city after the first day separately witnessed summary executions of men and boys as they were being taken from their homes or while being transported to the jail. All of them also heard one or more of Governor Niazi's speeches that, while they varied somewhat in content, reflected consistent themes of anti-Shi'ism and revenge for the 1997 killings.

Human Rights Watch also interviewed sources in nongovernmental organizations and in the diplomatic community who have monitored and documented the events in Mazar. Information provided by these sources is consistent with the patterns described by eyewitnesses.

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