Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Ethnic and Political Cleavage

It is likely that the nation-state gap widens with the violation of human rights and escalated insurgency. People claim that their rights and freedoms are trampled upon not only as a result of militancy but also political syndrome. The peace agreement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a Pashtun jihadi leader, could not mitigate the nation’s sufferings despite being considered significant by the government. On the other hand, the mistrust among officials, which has leaked out, triggered public distrust.  
Social and political tension broke out in the past as a lack of pluralism, which is meant politics accepting cultural and ethnic varieties in national frame. In other words, pluralism is contrary to assimilation that denies racial and religious varieties and differences. Under the aegis of pluralism, ethnic groups will change into political groups competing positively for social interests and the government will protect cultural and structural differences – this will reduce the rift to a great extent. Power-sharing will take place based on the population of ethnic groups. The process of religious and linguistic plurality will be officially accepted in such a society and the examples are Switzerland and Belgium. Nevertheless, Afghan nation suffered severely in the wake of no pluralistic politics.
To view this fact historically, regardless of our backgrounds, the gap between state and nation emerged in 1747, when new Afghanistan was established by a Pashtun from Durani tribe Ahmad Khan Abdali. The power in government’s body was in the hand of a certain sect. There was a cleavage between the ruling party and other ethnic groups for being marginalized from the political arena for their ethnicity, color and creed. Tribal issues have been very hot.
A number of Afghan kings played highly destructive role in this regard. For instance, Abdul Rahman Khan discriminated people on the grounds of their race, color and creed. During his regime, the ethnic minority groups were supposed to pay tax per capita, whereas those from Mohammad Zai ethnicity were payed salary in return for nothing. Abdul Rahman also stoked sectarian violence through murdering people for their ethnicity and rewarding one group to fight against another. Similarly, Nadir Shah adopted ethnocentric policy and followed Abdul Rahman’s footstep, according to history.  
History shows that tribal rift led to tribal conflict with the emergence of a faint chance for the groups who were marginalized politically. After the collapse of communist regime, the civil unrest broke out as a result of vacuum in government’s power. That is to say, with the loose control or vacuum of power in government’s body, years of suppression will surface and result in violence and bloodshed. Afghanistan’s civil unrest is believed to stem from ethnic and tribal gap ruling for years. Indeed, a strong political control will suppress unrests. Afghan kings exerted violence to strengthen the continuation of their regimes – this method will last as long as violent power is strong. With the decline of power, ethnic and political tension will surge up.
To sum up, the political power originated from ethnic power throughout the Afghanistan’s history. To think almost two decades back, the Taliban regime sought to impose their warped minds on ethnic minority groups and spilled their blood on the basis of their race or beliefs. The Taliban’s tendency towards assimilation was easily noticeable from their ethnocentric practices. Hence, they widened the historical gap which was a strong blow to national unity.
No wonder, ethnocentric view will stem from lack of tolerance and pluralistic view. With ethnocentric mindset, a group will pursue its self-interests at the cost of others’ rights and freedoms. On the other hand, the marginalized groups will feel a strong sense of anger for having their rights ignored. Decades of war and violence were triggered by claiming racial and tribal superiority which was rife during different regimes, mainly the Taliban’s regime. 
The current violence and bloodshed are also rooted in racial superiority. Warring factions, especially the self-styled Islamic of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), claim to be superior and discriminate people for their social, religious and sexual orientation. For example, the ISIL raped Yazidi women and gunned down the children for belonging to a certain racial and religious group.  
History reveals this fact that ethnocentrism and tribalism played highly destructive role and Afghanistan was also beset by them. If this feeling continues among nation or officials, war and violence will never come to an end. To strengthen national unity and boost the spirit of brotherhood, the National Unity Government (NUG) must bridge the gap deeply embedded in society’s social and political structure. The state should extend tolerance within social and political fabric. The nation will have to think beyond ethnic, linguistic and racial restrictions so as to have a civil society void of violence. History must be an eye-opener for both state and nation.