Hazara elders pledge support for Taliban

More than 1,000 Afghan Shia Hazaras pledged their support on Thursday to the country’s new Taliban rulers, insisting that the “dark period” of previous Western-backed Governments had ended with the return of the Islamists.

Afghanistan’s Hazaras have been persecuted by Sunni Islamists for centuries, but on Thursday community elders gathered in Kabul alongside Taliban leaders in a show of support.

Senior Hazara leader and former lawmaker Jafar Mahdawi, who organised the gathering, said the previous Government of President Ashraf Ghani was the “darkest point” in the history of Afghanistan. “Afghanistan had no independence and (foreign) embassies ruled every aspect of the Government,” he said. “Thank God, we have now passed this dark period.”

Since the Taliban seized power in August, the new rulers have put an end to the war, stopped corruption and increased security, Mr. Mahdawi said.

But he called for a more inclusive Government from the Taliban and urged the new rulers to reopen schools for girls.

Taliban leader and spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the gathering that rebuilding the country was a priority. “Our jihad against the foreign invaders has ended and now we will start jihad for building the country,” he said.

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