The Taliban group has for the first time appointed a Shia (Shi’ite) Hazara as the shadow district chief of the group, a move which is seen as an attempt to attract the support of Hazara community in the country.

The appointment comes as a surprise as the group persecuted the minority Hazara people on large scale after gaining power in mid-90s, particularly after massacring the Hazara people in Mazar-e Sharif city, the capital of Balkh in 1998.

Meanwhile, the experts have said the group is now trying to win over and recruit from the Shiite Hazara community ahead of intra-Afghan peace talks.

“The Taliban has never been an inclusive force; their leadership in Quetta and Peshawar and their political office in Doha are run by Sunni Pashtuns. They have had token Tajik commanders in the field, particularly in the north, but now they are trying to include some token Shia Hazaras in the mix,” said Sabir Ibrahimi, an Afghan security analyst and research associate at New York University’s Centre on International Co-operation, was quoted as saying in a report published by UAE-based The National.

Ali Yawar Adili, a researcher with the Afghanistan Analysts Network told The National “In recent years, the Taliban have recruited from other communities like Tajiks and Uzbeks. They seemed to feel a gap in their effort to portray themselves as a nationwide movement due to the lack of any significant influence among ethnic Hazaras.”

The Taliban group last week released a video of Mawlavi Mahdi, the newly-appointed shadow district chief of the group for northern Sar-e Pul province.

Introduced as a Shi’ite brother by Taliban, Mahdi urges Hazaras, who have faced repeated attacks from the Taliban over the past two decades, to join the group in fighting against “Jewish and Christian invaders”, referring to the United States.

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