I remember it was 2006 when a former Kabul police chief, General Ali Shah Paktiawal, told local media that the police had detained a Hazara suicide bomber before he had a chance to detonate the bomb in front of Sarai Shahzada Exchange Market. The general appeared very pleased with himself as he posed in front of the international news cameras.
This was before an investigation and a search of the detainee. It turned out that the young Hazara man was carrying several bottles of drinking water under his clothes to deliver to his girlfriend. Security officers told me that Ali Shah Paktiawal didn’t question the fact that not a single Hazara had ever been accused of a terrorist act of any sort, much less a suicide bombing. The former chief never even met the young man, but wanted to take the opportunity to show how successful the police were.
Four years later, a senior Afghan officer in Helmand, General Ghulam Farook Parwani, alleges that the killer of three British soldiers used a rocket-propelled grenade. He described the attacker as a member of the Shia Hazara from Ghazni province.
Most international media outlets published this news without noting how unusual it was that an ethnic Hazara, who are generally reviled by fundamentalist Pashtuns, would be doing their bidding. The general’s claim reminded me of Ali Shah Paktiawal’s earlier speech that was so quick to defame the Hazara people, before any investigation into the event. Such declarations are mere ethnic propaganda that has been a common tactic of Afghan officialdom’s efforts to turn international forces against the Hazara people.
You cannot find any statement by the general or other Afghan officials that is so quick to identify a terrorist as Pashtun. All Afghanistan knows that 99% of the Taliban are Pashtun. But when it comes to terrorist ethnic labelling, it is the Hazara who are specifically named by government officials. How fair is that?
Full story: Guardian Unlimited