“The Infidels and Hazara Shiites”; Have the Taliban Changed?

Mullah Fazel, a Taliban member of their political office in Qatar, has recently traveled to Quetta city in Pakistan, where he has spoken in the presence of Taliban commanders when he commented on al-Qaeda that, “They rejoice and thank God for a Taliban member being killed and say a disbeliever is killed.  But they are not happy about killing an infidel or Hazara Shiite.”

Recently, Iran International has obtained an audiotape in which Mullah Fazel, a Taliban commander during the group’s Islamic Emirate and a current Taliban representative in the Qatari political office, was among the Taliban members in Quetta on March 25 this year and discussed a variety of issues, including Afghanistan’s political future.

Summary of Mullah Fazel’s speeches

Speaking to Taliban members in Quetta, Mullah Fazel spoke on issues such as concerns about the Taliban’s divisiveness after the peace deal with the United States and the start of intra-Afghan talks;  Possible peace with the Afghan government; the relationship between Mullah Baradar and Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzadeh, the current Taliban leader, the experience of Guantanamo Bay and the need for coordination among Taliban political office and the Quetta Shura. He also talked about the peace agreement with United States signed with confirmation of all Taliban groups.  Another issue he talks about is the Taliban’s emphasis on severing ties with al-Qaeda and its leaders, who are now opposed to the Taliban, underscores the group’s hope for victory after years of war;  Prisoners and Khalilzad’s current presence in Kabul have spoken out to facilitate and expedite the release of Taliban prisoners from Afghan government prisons.

Taliban representatives in Kabul

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has announced on his Twitter page that a three-member technical team of the Taliban had arrived in Kabul.

The three Taliban representatives will pursue the release of the detainees and will take the necessary technical measures.

The three Taliban representatives arrived in Kandahar and then in Kabul via Pakistan to discuss the release of Taliban prisoners from Afghan prisons and how they will be released.

Intra-Afghan talks

Meanwhile, the Afghan government has finalized a list of peace negotiators with the Taliban, and now everything depends on the release of Taliban prisoners. But the Afghan government also appears to be aware that the Taliban have no will or commitment to participate in the current Afghan government and political system.

However, Mullah Fazel’s remarks well illustrate the Taliban’s plan for Afghanistan’s future. Thus, intra-Afghan talks is more difficult than previously thought.

According to Mullah Fazel, the Taliban, after nearly 20 years of war and avoidance of civil, political and social relations, continue to insist on the exclusion of ethnic and religious minorities and, as in the past, emphasize enmity with Hazaras and Shiites. Therefore, the future of intera-Afghan talks is most worrying for the Shiite Hazaras, and the ethnic group must join the Taliban’s negotiating team, fully aware of the Taliban’s historic resentment, and negotiate with the group from this perspective; otherwise the Taliban seems to be the same as they were in twenty years ago.

Zackaria Noori contributed reporting.

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