Shia-Sunni relations in Afghanistan
Shia-Sunni strife in Pakistan is strongly intertwined with that in Afghanistan. Though now deposed, the anti-Shia Afghan Taliban regime helped anti-Shia Pakistani groups and vice versa. Lashkar i Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, have sent thousands of volunteers to fight with the extreme Deobandi Taliban regime and “in return the Taliban gave sanctuary to their leaders in the Afghan capital of Kabul.”
“Over 80,000 Pakistani Islamic militants have trained and fought with Taliban since 1994. They form a hardcore of Islamic activists, ever ready to carry out a similar Taliban-style Islamic revolution in Pakistan.” According to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid
Shia-Sunni strife inside of Afghanistan has mainly been a function of the puritanical Sunni Taliban’s clashes with Shia Afghans, primarily the Hazara ethnic group.
In 1998 more than 8000 noncombatants were killed when the Taliban attacked Mazar-i-Sharif and Bamiyan where many Hazaras live. Some of the slaughter was indiscriminate, but many were Shia targeted by the Taliban. Taliban commander and governor Mullah Niazi banned prayer at Shia mosques and expressed takfir of the Shia in a declaration from Mazar’s central mosque:
Last year you rebelled against us and killed us. From all your homes you shot at us. Now we are here to deal with you. The Hazaras are not Muslims and now have to kill Hazaras. You either accept to be Muslims or leave Afghanistan. Wherever you go we will catch you. If you go up we will pull you down by your feet; if you hide below, we will pull you up by your hair.
Assisting the Taliban in the murder of Iranian diplomatic and intelligence officials at the Iranian Consulate in Mazar were “several Pakistani militants of the anti-Shia, Sipah-e-Sahaba party.”