A breakdown of the Pashtun
An important subject. The Pashtun population straddles across both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Amrullah Saleh is now Afghanistan’s VP and is also a former intel chief. He works under President Ashraaf Ghani but, in fact, towers over Ghani in stature, experience and accomplishments. Jezail.org posts this here because there is a real dearth of understanding the warring parties as they exist on the ground in Afghasnistan. We are constantly encountering comments from officials, who should know better, which conflate the Mujahedin of the 1980’s and the Taliban which didn’t even exist until the 1990’s. This goes deeper into the ethno-demographics of the Pashtun tribes which straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan and are almost 100% of the cadres that make up the Taliban. If you want to understand the region, this is a short, concise article that will prove very helpful.
But it also points toward possibilities. Saleh knows what he is talking about and is never heard in the West.
We and the Pashtun cause in Pakistan.
A response to skeptics.
The deep state also known as the establishment in Pakistan has managed to keep the Pashtun people deeply divided in compartmentalized groups, at least until now. The sponsored dividing of Pashtuns is aimed to mitigate a set of fears that loom in the psych of the state over potential disintegration of Pakistan along ethnic lines. The Punjab dominated State system sees Pashtuns as potential secessionists from the body of Pakistan. The ghost of losing Bangladesh in 1971 and the surrender of over one hundred thousand Pakistani troops to Indian army still haunts their national psyche and irritates their pride.
Secondly, no other ethnic group, aside from Pashtuns, has the historic claim, legitimacy and vital geography to pose a real challenge to the Punjab dominated state of Pakistan. No other ethnic group has ever had total control over Punjab and the whole of what is today called Pakistan as the Pashtuns once had and it was not too long ago. The Shadows of history can haunt or heal societies. It depends how societies made history or how history shaped the societies. In Pakistan both are surfacing at the same time.
A part of the Pashtun tribes largely of Khattaks, partly other sub tribes were integrated and assimilated into the idea of Pakistan.Their incorporation into the state system was a colonial strategy which entitled them as one of the martial races in the sub-continent. Pakistan’s military culture, structure and civil service are all left overs of the colonial era which gradually came into practice after the failed Sepoy mutiny of 1857. Divide and rule is another inherited part of this culture.
The integrated Pashtuns did indeed remain loyal to the idea of Pakistan and ascended to highest military and civilian positions. Most Afghans remember late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and General Hamid Gul as two prominent examples.
The second segment of the Pashtun society are the religio-fanatic groups. These groups have seldom operated out of an independent platform or thought and have been used by intelligence agencies for suppression of Pashtun nationalism.They have all along advocated for supremacy of faith as a transcendent ideology & a super structure to keep the country glued, destabilize Afghanistan and serve as extension of intelligence agencies for projection of Pakistan’s foreign policy in the region.
The third segment are the ethno nationalists historically assembled into Awami National Party (ANP), its affiliates and other like-minded mini groups. This segment is unfortunately facing decadence and irrelevance due to various factors chief amongst them loss of external support after the collapse of Soviet union, creepy domination of Afghanistan by the ISI in the name of Jihad and later on promotion of the Taliban.With or without external support they failed to fulfill their mission which was restoration of the Pashtun dominance in culture, politics and state structures if not everywhere but at least in the whole of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where Pashtuns are the unquestionable majority.The ANP became dynastic affair of one family which exacerbated its decadence.They lost the narrative they once championed for and today stand for no defined cause. By this virtue any party which moulds itself inseparable with a family or becomes dynastic losses appeal and charm sooner or later. ANP couldn’t be an exception.
The fourth and the last segment of the Pashtun society is the so called Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). People in these areas numbering millions, walled in seven agencies, never had full citizen rights and were under political restriction in the name of tribal autonomy. In reality these areas were and still are forbidden territories contained by the army and the intelligence agencies for the purpose of de-stabilizing Afghanistan, blackmailing India, demanding ransom from Western countries by exploiting their security fears and keeping Pashtuns divided at home. Although this fallacy is exposed but the establishment hasn’t given up trying the old ways. Portraying these areas as no go zones, dangerous, triable and out of control the army and the intelligence agencies have been effectively covering their not so covert operations. The tribes have been victimized, shielded from mainstream politics, modernity, democratic values, even pseudo civil life and labelled as anti-modern, radical, fanatic, pro terrorism and so on.
End part 1
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.