As ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed huffs and puffs with the Taliban over government formation in Kabul , Iran has thrown a spanner in the works by calling for elections in Afghanistan .
This is a step further than demands for an inclusive, representative government that the West, India and Russia has been seeking in Afghanistan.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi surprise call for elections in Afghanistan to determine the future of the country is seen as expression of Teheran’s discomfiture with the ongoing government formation process in Kabul, in which Pakistan seems to be playing a major role .
Raisi said on Iranian state TV he hopes only elections can help the return of peace to the region, so he has wished the Afghan people can vote to determine their own government ‘as soon as possible’.
When it comes Afghanistan, Iran’s policy is complex.
Since the US was planning to leave Afghanistan, Iran started pitching for a more inclusive Afghanistan.While the US paid lip service to diversity, Iran wanted diversity in a future Afghanistan to protect the large Shia minorities , like the Hazaras, in the face of a possible resurgence of Taliban’s Sunni, Salafist of the 1990s .This is a complex problem for Iran, which has traditionally sought to protect and cultivate Shi’ites around the Middle East, sometimes to empower them and other times to export its “revolution.”But the Islamic Republic also has far-right religious friends from other groups, such as Hamas.
This is because the Iranian IRGC worldview isn’t just about Shi’ites; it’s also about working with anti-Western and anti-Israel groups, which is why President Raisi saw in the US military withdrawl from Afghanistan ” a chance for a lasting peace in the region.”
When it comes to Afghanistan, Iran had deep tensions with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the 1990s, when the Taliban was viciously suppressing Hazara Shi’ites in Afghanistan and hosting al-Qaeda elements that sought to target Iran.The sectarianism bubbling to the surface in those days pitted Sunni jihadists against minority Shi’ites, whom they viewed as subhuman infidels at the far end of the jihadist spectrum, similar to the Nazis’ view of Jews.
ISIS, for instance, committed genocide against Shi’ites, Yazidis and others.
Iran deeply worries Pakistan’s preponderant influence on the Taliban because its own anti-Shia Sunni extremism back home has led to the rise of armed groups like the Jundallah who have targetted Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Sistan, even killing 27 of them in an ambush two years ago.
Taliban’s many spokespersons have said their model for a future Islamic Emirate will be modelled on Iran.
City and Village Councils elections are also held every four years throughout the entire country. The president is elected for a four-year term by the citizens. The Parliament or Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis-e Shura-ye Eslami) currently has 290 members, also elected for a four-year term in multi- and single-seat constituencies.
Until January 2007, when it was raised to 18, the voting age was 15 years, the lowest globally at the time.
So implementing the Iranian model in Afghanistan would mean holding of elections, sooner than later.Tajikistan , Afghanistan’s neighbour and seen as a fallback country for Tajik fighters challenging the Taliban, has sent a strong signal to the present dispensation in Kabul by announcing the continuation of its beard and hijab-wearing bans .
This comes just when the Taliban is forcing all Afghans to stop shaving for a beard and all women to wear hijab and burqa.
Police has set up a roadblocks across Tajikstan to enforce the bans, which are also been enforced in schools and universities.
But it is not all bad signal for the Taliban in Afghanistan’s neighborhood. Uzbekistan has signalled it will send back the Afghan pilots and their aircrafts to Afghanistan, despite pleadings by the pilots who fear the return as a death sentence.
Courtesy-India News Stream