Monthly Archives: March 2009
What is the current situation of Hazaras who had actively opposed the Taliban regime?
What is the current level of political participation of various ethnic groups, including Hazaras?
Are the Taliban still present and active in Afghanistan today? If so, in what capacity?
Could an individual Hazara safely relocate within Afghanistan if this person faced persecution by the Taliban?
According to sources consulted by the Resource Information Center, conditions for Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazara minority have improved significantly since a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban regime in late 2001. Hazaras as a group no longer face overt persecution or discrimination, and they are fairly well represented in President Hamid Karzai’s transitional administration.
Relocation of Hazaras within Afghanistan could be hampered by the general lawlessness and factional fighting that plague parts of the country outside of Kabul. Moreover, Hazaras reportedly face unofficial discrimination in Pashtun-majority areas of southern Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry
From the end of 1888, the amir spent eighteen months in his northern provinces bordering upon the Oxus, where he was engaged in pacifying the country that had been disturbed by revolts, and in punishing with a heavy hand all who were known or suspected to have taken any part in rebellion.
Shortly afterwards (in 1892) he succeeded in finally beating down the resistance of the Hazara tribe, who vainly attempted to defend their independence, within their highlands, of the central authority at Kabul. In the late 1880s many of the Hazara tribes revolted against Abdur Rahman, the first ruler to bring the country of Afghanistan under a centralized Afghan government. Consequent on this unsuccessful revolt, numbers of Hazaras fled to Quetta in Balochistan and to the area around Mashhed in northeastern Iran. Most active in the revolt were the Uruzgani, the southernmost of the Hazara tribes. Following their defeat, a considerable number of Uruzgani left the country, as did many Jaghuri, their nearest neighbors to the northeast. The territory, which they abandoned, was occupied by Afghans of the Ghilzai tribe, supported by the Amir as plan for Pashtunization of Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry
Main article: Sectarian violence in Pakistan
Pakistan, the country with the second largest Muslim population in the world, has seen serious Shia-Sunni discord. Almost 80% of Pakistan’s population is Sunni, with 20% being Shia, but this Shia minority forms the second largest Shia population of any country, larger than the Shia majority in Iraq. Until recently Shia-Sunni relations have been cordial, and majority of people of both sects participated in the creation the state of Pakistan in 1940s. Despite the fact that Pakistan is a Sunni majority country, Shias have been elected to top offices and played an important part in the country’s history. The founder of Pakistan Muhammed Ali Jinnah and the Bhutto family are Shia Muslims, as is Asif Ali Zardari and several top Pakistani Generals such as General Yahya Khan and General Musa Khan. Read the rest of this entry
Shia-Sunni strife in Pakistan is strongly intertwined with that in Afghanistan. Though now deposed, the anti-Shia Afghan Taliban regime helped anti-Shia Pakistani groups and vice versa. Lashkar i Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, have sent thousands of volunteers to fight with the extreme Deobandi Taliban regime and “in return the Taliban gave sanctuary to their leaders in the Afghan capital of Kabul.”
“Over 80,000 Pakistani Islamic militants have trained and fought with Taliban since 1994. They form a hardcore of Islamic activists, ever ready to carry out a similar Taliban-style Islamic revolution in Pakistan.” According to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid Read the rest of this entry
In 637 A.D., only five years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Arab Muslims shattered the might of the Iranian Sassanians at the battle of Qadisiya, and the invaders began to reach into the lands east of Iran. The Muslim conquest was a prolonged struggle in the area that is now Afghanistan. Following the first Arab raid into Qandahar in about 700, local rulers, probably either Kushans or Western Turks, began to come under the control of Ummayid caliphs, who sent Arab military governors and tax collectors into the region. By the middle of the eighth century the rising Abbasid Dynasty was able to subdue the area. There was a period of peace under the rule of the caliph, Harun al Rashid (7&S-809), and his son, in which learning fluorished in such Central Asian cities as Samarkand, located in what is now the Soviet Union. Over the period of the seventh through the ninth centuries, most inhabitants of what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, the southern parts of the Soviet Union, and some of northern India were converted to Sunni Islam, which replaced the Zorastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and indigenous religions of previous empires. Read the rest of this entry
Restless nomadic tribes living in Central Asia had long been of concern to the rulers of Bactria and their relentless encroachments into the settled areas fill the pages of the area’s early history. Real nomadic political power in Afghanistan was, however, first established by the Yueh-chih who, forced from their grazing lands on the Chinese border, enter this story as a loose confederation of five clans. United under the banner of one, the Kushan, they wrote one of history’s most brilliant and exciting chapters in Afghanistan.
Kushan King Kanishka (c. 130 A.D.) was this dynasty’s most forceful and colorful personality. The heart of his empire centered around two capitals: the summer capital of Kapisa, north of Kabul near the modern towns of Begram and Charikar, and, Peshawar, the winter capital. Far beyond this, however, from the Ganges Valley to the Gobi Desert, satellite satrapies and independent states bowed to Kushan economic and political influence. Read the rest of this entry
Afghanistan has had a turbulent, interesting history and has withstood many invasions. In 328 B.C., Alexander the Great entered what is today Afghanistan – but was then part of the Persian Empire – and captured several cities, including Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Balkh. The 300-year rule of his Greek successors was followed by that of Turkic Kushanis and various Buddhist groups. A lively Greco-Buddhist culture flourished around Bamian. In AD 652, Afghanistan fell to the conquering Arabs who brought with them Islam.
The Hazara people, traditionally, have been among the most oppressed ethnic groups. They are Chinese Mongolian descent, so they look a little different than a lot of the different ethic groups in Afghanistan, and this created ethnic clashes.
When Bamian was at the hands of Wahdat, they built the only university in the country that was not established by former governments. The Hazara women and girls studied and taught there. The Hazara also had doctors in the hospital and clinics in Bamian and elsewhere. It may sound unbelievable but the Hazara had high school for girls. The Taleban tried to destroy all that. Read the rest of this entry
With the growth in higher education from the 1950s, a sizeable group of young intelligentsia emerged. As restrictions on political activity were lifted in the 1960s, they engaged in establishing a number of political parties. Here I will focus on the coming rulers, and on groups with substantial Hazara involvement. The parties can be divided into two categories. First were Islamist movements, in which the sheikh were dominant. Second were the secular radicals, nationalist or leftist in orientation. These new parties had much in common. Being largely elitist, they remained distant from the average person. They also shared the attempt to build modern organization, and the ambition to bring about radical social and political reform.
The Jawanan-e Musulman, Muslim Youth, became the major Islamist group in the country. Read the rest of this entry
The borders of the territory that now form Afghanistan were established towards the end of last century. With the British and the Russian empires competing for control in the region, Afghanistan became instrumental for détente. With the establishment of new borders, the Pashtun became divided into two, one share living in British India. The undisputed Pashtun majority in Afghanistan was reduced to around half of the total population.
The Afghan state traditionally had negligible influence in Hazarajat. Abdur Rahman Khan, who acceded to the throne in 1880, set out for a change. Progressively, the state penetrated the region and established local administrations, initiating a harsh taxation practice.
The radical measures of the government affected all classes of the Hazara population to the same extent. This made it possible for the secular and clerical power holders to mobilize the vertically organized loyalty groups in joint resistance against the central government. Read the rest of this entry