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Afghanistan: Still Searching for Inter-Ethnic Equilibrium

EurasiaNet Commentary

A killing in Bamyan Province highlights the difficulty that Afghanistan is having in trying to find a new societal balancing point.

Despite Afghanistan’s overall troubles, things had been going relatively well in Bamyan Province – until this year. Taliban-related violence had been minimal for much of the past decade, and the inter-ethnic tension seemed in check. Unfortunately, armed incidents started to increase in 2012, as US and NATO forces handed over responsibility for security to Afghan troops. And at the outset of the year, a nascent sense of inter-ethnic tolerance came under renewed threat.

The catalyst for a rise in inter-ethnic tension was the January 22 death of a 16-year-old Hazara girl names Shakila. She died under mysterious circumstances in the house of Sayed Wahidi Beheshti, a member of the local Provincial Council, in Bamyan Center. Some witnesses say they heard a gunshot coming from the house on the day Shakila died, and many in Bamyan believe she was raped and murdered, possibly by Beheshti. Others maintain that she committed suicide.

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Melissa Kerr Chiovenda is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Connecticut. She is currently conducting field research in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: Still Searching for Inter-Ethnic Equilibrium

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