Date Written : Dec 01, 2001
Date Modified : Dec 01, 2001
The Pashtun Factor in Afghanistan
Gandhar ( now called Kandhar ) has been famous in the history of Indian sub-continent from the ancient times. This was the place from where Gandhari of the Mahabharat came from, who was married to King Dhrutarashtra who was blind. Shakuni was the Prince of Gandhar and Gandhari was his sister. Quiet Often Shakuni ill-advised King Dhrutarashtra which resulted in ups and downs in the Mahabharat war. Although she was not blind, Gandhari had voluntarily put a band on her eyes after her marriage so that she could not see, like her husband.
But, neither we are blind or we should turn a blind-eye to the news of "hand-over" ( to be ) done by one-eyed Mullah Omar to local warlords. It has been reported that the Taliban has ( or might have ) handed over some regions of Gandhar to local warlords like Mullah Naqeebullah and Haji Bashar, most of them being anti-Soviet guerrilla commanders during the war against Russia's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. These warlords had long battles with the Soviet army with the active support of Pakistan. The Taliban also came to power with the support of ISI of Pakistan. So the common factor is the ISI of Pakistan. But in the formation of new government this ISI factor needs to be nullified.
Gandhar will yet again be ruled by the Pakthuns either now or in near future. The ethnic Pakhtuns in the south are suspicious of the mainly ethnic Tajik and Uzbek Northern Alliance that entered Kabul on Nov 13. The leaders will be certainly happy when they are given a chance to rule the province of Gandhar. But this needs to happen without any influence of Pakistan.
The Pakthuns ( or Pashtuns ) are descendants of the Paktha tribe mentioned in Vedic literature. Till the year 980 C.E., this area was a Hindu majority area, till Sabuktagin from Ghazni invaded it and displaced the ruling Hindu king - Jay Pal Shahi. Lots of Hindus were either killed or forcibly converted to Islam for years to come after that. And since then the battles and wars have started, which have not ended till now.
Tribal rivalries in Afghanistan and the formation of Pakhtunistan.
Since lots of years Afghanistan is facing rivalries amongst various tribes. The name "Afghanistan" itself comes from "Upa-Gana-Stan" which means in Sanskrit "The place inhabited by allied tribes". To install a "multi-ethnic and broad-based" coalition to replace Afghanistan's Taliban regime will hence be very difficult.
Building a coherent government from tribal factions that have mistrusted, fought and killed each other for centuries is far easier in theory than in practice. Except for the religion, there is no common language or culture which the various tribals can share. To expect the unification of ethnic groups into a nation and build a national identity is impossible. Even a loose federal coalition may not work.
Afghan tribal and ethnic leaders began talks in Germany on the future of the country, but the tribal rivalries and enmity will always remain and hence a United Afghanistan after the war will again become a failed state irrespective of whether it is Islamic or not.
The borders of Afghanistan are arbitrary and drawn to meet the 19th century political needs. The British, who were ruling India and Czar government ruling Russia had sought to control Afghanistan. Both were worried about each others expansionist ambitions. During the 19th century, Britian fought two wars but were unsuccessful, after which they drew a border between undivided India and Afghanistan in 1893. Even Russia withdrew its troops from Afghanistan.
In the 1970s some Pashtun leaders were pushing to create a new state, Pashtunistan, by joining with Pashtuns in Pakistan. Although it seems unlikely that Pakistan will agree on this, but world needs to now realise the truth that multi-ethnic Afghanistan is impossible. The demand of Pashtunistan is an older one, but now needs to be revived, followed by other demands of Shia rebels in Herat and Sunni Uzbeks - Tajiks in the Northern Afghanistan. UN needs to think seriously on these lines.
If Yugoslavia can break-up on ethno-religious grounds and Slobedan Milosovic can face the tribunal in The Hague; why cannot Afghanistan break-up on the same grounds and Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden face the same treatment, if found alive!!!
Part I -- Pakistan wants to avoid a complete fall
Also read :NA Marching into Kabul without resistance from Taliban - A Pakistani ploy to protect Al-Qaida
More : Current News Analysis
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