International Community’s Silence over Ethnic Games in Afghanistan
The world politics is full of memories concerning violent power transitions. It has never been easy for previous kings to leave their privileges and opportunities at once for another person. Fathers have killed their sons and brother have killed their entire fraternity to maintain his power. Some countries after adopting democratic values and accepting the rule of law transformed their mechanisms of power transition. Even in Islamic Caliphate, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad was killed with his entire family for attempting to challenge the Muslim ruler – Zaid’s authority. Some other states instead of adjusting themselves to the new changes and walking along the development, stepped back and kept suppressing their people. Afghanistan comes under the second category. From the beginning, Persian rulers forcefully persianized their control area and stifled other minority groups. Later the Turkic, Mongol, Uzbek and Pashtun sovereigns continued running absolute monarchism and massacred the opposition groups. For instance, Aladdin Ghurid put the whole city of Ghazni on fire ruining all the historical monuments of the Great Ghazni. The genocide series never ended in this land – the present day Afghanistan. Later, Ahmad Shah Durani – the first Pashtun ruler, acquired power in Khurasan never claimed of establishing another country and always referred to his control area as Khurasan Kingdom, and the official language of his government was Persian. This is only in 1880s when a successor of him – Abdurrahman Khan changed the name of Khurasan to Afghanistan by contracting the major parts of today’s Afghanistan to Czar Russia, British India and Iran. Those stood against the decision of Abdurrahman, were killed and their properties were seized and the killers were give the medals of “Sarkobgar Ashrar Shamali” the suppressor of the Northern Bandits and “Hazara Kosh” the killer of Hazara. Later during the King Amanullah Khan’s era – Mahmud Tarzi planned creating another language for Afghanistan other than Persian called “Awghani” or “Pashtu”. The idea was slowly being integrated during the King Zahir’s authority under Sardar Dawud’s Chancellery. Right at this time, Pashtu became the official language of the state and non-Pashtuns were asked to learn this language in order to get hired in the state organs and states boards were rewritten in Pashtu. The tolerance got lower among people during the Communist Regime as Parcham and Khalq parties separated their ways for ethnic differences they had. Since then, the ethnic politics turned to the axes of the state’s policies and practices. Mula Omar – the Emir of the Taliban fought for an Afghanistan free of non-Pashtuns and Karzai continued his legacy to a large extent. Unfortunately the International Community remained silent over ethnic disputes in post 9/11 era that led to bigger disputes and split up of people into many ethnic factions in Afghanistan.
The Taliban more than an Islamic group were an ethnic nationalist group. They believed that only Pashtuns are the indigenous people of Afghanistan and the rest are migrants from other Central Asian states and Iran contradicting to the history of this land. Simply put, they believed that other ethnic groups should be forced to leave Afghanistan or to obey the Pashtuns in order to stay in Afghanistan. In reality the majority of the Political Pashtuns share this believe with the Taliban. Afghan Milat Party under the leadership of Anwarulhaq Ahadi and Hizb e Islami under the leadership of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar defend this viewpoint explicitly or implicitly. For instance, Hekmatyar believed that presidency of an ethnic Tajik – Professor Rabbani is against the historical values of Afghanistan and Pashtuns’ culture. However, Afghan Milat Party claims that it is founded based on Social Democratic values, but in practice their agendas have had nothing to do with the social democracy but ethnic politics.
Karzai took over as a nationalist politician and ended up as a Pashtun tribal leader. It is more than clear to everyone that A. Satar Syrat had won major votes in Bonn Conference 2001, but by the support of the Northern Alliance leaders and the intervention of the US diplomats he became the Chairman of the Interim Government. He continued his friendly relation with the Northern Politicians till the Elections 2004. After being elected as a result of a fraudulent elections he slowly uncovered his ethnic face and took rigid steps to parry Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ministers and replace them with Pashtuns. Apparently he had good reasons for it to assure his international partners, but he kept only those non-Pashtuns fully loyal to him. Northern Alliance leaders frequently stated that they were deceived by Karzai and his team. Not only Karzai distanced himself from the Northern Alliance, but also took few risky divisive measures to secure his position for the elections 2009. This came as a shocking bombshell that Karzai with all the frauds of his appointed employees could not make 50 plus votes and the elections supposed to be held for the second round. This happened because many non-Pashtun voters found out that Karzai is not so different from the previous opportunist leaders who carried ethnic agendas behind the curtain. For instance, Karzai’s team made all the possible efforts not to let out a national census. His team believed that a true census might challenge the fact that Pashtuns composite the majority group. Instead the pro-Palace Asia Foundation’s Team under the leadership of Farooq Wardak invested on National Survey of Afghanistan where it showed that Pashtuns composite 40 percent of the population still running in the front row.
Karzai in order to curb his rivals’ influences on public views tied up with the Afghan Milat and Hizb e Islami Parties. However, during the Presidential Elections 2004 his team blocked a presidential nominee – Latif Pedram for his federalization call. People in support of the supreme interests of the state agreed to prevent infiltration of such thoughts among the uneducated political generation. While, later Karzai himself violated this agreement by hiring Pashtun racists like Ismaiel Yun, Karim Khuram, Faroq Wardak and Argandiwal. The named individuals shape up President Karzai’s view in almost every issue of the country. Therefore, Karzai suddenly appeared to blaming Persian speaking channels for undermining national values of Afghanistan, criticizing his fellow Northern Alliance leaders, calling the Taliban unhappy brothers of him, releasing the terrorists, lobbying for the Taliban leaders to be removed from the UNSC’s black list, defending the Islamic Council of Afghanistan’s position on separating the women’s community from men in working and education environments, and lately his statement on calling the Durand Line an illegitimate border between Afghanistan and Pakistan proves this viewpoint. Moreover, the two sequel massacres of Hazara peopel by Kochis after 2001 faced with no fundamental critics of President Karzai from the perpetrators and instead the Kochis’ leader – Mula Tarakhail got closer to President Karzai.
Afghan Milat politicians and Hizb e Islami leaders fight a media war against the non-Pashtuns. Ismaiel Yun and Karim Khuram – the master minds of the Presidential Palace started a campaign that certain TV Channels like Shamshad and Zhuwandon should be directly supported to broadcast their favorite programs. For instance, Zhuwandon TV which is owned by Ismaiel Yun and his team has announced an ethnic war in media. In its website, facebook page, and TV programs people are invited to insult other ethnic groups and criticizes others only. For instance, one day they call Hazaras as slaves to the Shiite Regime of Iran, the other day they call the Tolonews a disloyal institute fighting the state with the usage of pure Persian words. Ismaiel Yun, frequently appeared saying to the media that Persian and Dari are two different languages later criticized by others to be nonsense. He believes that National Terminology means Pashtu Terminology and initiated a campaign for spreading the usage of Pashtu words like “Saranwali, Istara Mahkama, Pohanton, Pohanzai, Pohand, …,Seranpoh, …Qazawatpoh” in Dari dialect. Not only that but also he lobbied for removing the factor of ethnicity from the National Identification Cards. In this way, Pashtuns can easily be identified by their mother tongue and ethnic surnames integrated in the ID cards and the identity of others will be removed fully by the passage of years. In the Constitution of Afghanistan, ethnic identities have been recognized and respected; even in the present national anthem the names of ethnic groups are included. While, some other moderate democrat Pashtun Politicians like Yunis Fakur believes that it is extreme racism to not include ethnic groups’ names in the ID cards. Moreover, Hazara, Tajiks and Uzbeks recurrently screamed about the unfair budget allocations by the Karzai’s team in favor of the Southern and Eastern Provinces.
In conclusion, ethnic racism is in the bloods of many people of Afghanistan though exceptions exist and moderate factions who believe in national unity fight fairly. From one hand, Afghan Milat and Hizb e Islami converted Karzai to a Pashtun leader and decreased his popularity among Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks, on the other hand they tried to commit betrayal to the nation by removing the ethnic names from the national IDs and denigrating the non-Pashtun ethnic leaders who defend the rights of their fellow countrymen. In a clarification, Afghan Milat and Hizb e Islami do not represent all Pashtuns as there are many moderate peaceful Pashtun politicians who are supporting the usage of the word ‘Danishgah’ and inclusion of the ethnic factor in the national ID cards. At last, international community left Afghanistan into the hands of racists and tribal politicians without understanding the negative impacts of it in the long run. This problem will only be solved by recognizing it and adopting flexible policies by the government. This is only possible when the fascists in the Palace are replaced with national figures that has bigger outlook for Afghanistan’s future.
A.J. Ahwar is a freelance blogger; you can fallow him on his weblog http://true-pen.blogspot.com