Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Afghanistan’s Ethnic Conflicts: as a Result of the Failures of a Weak State

To talk frankly, Afghanistan has an ethnicity problem. It is clear in high-profile cases of sometimes violent tensions. The tension on Electronic National ID Card is one of them that clearly explain the ethnic politics in the country.  However, perhaps most damagingly, it is also manifested in the low-profile everyday mistrust and discriminations with which many Afghans view fellow citizens of ethnicities other than their own. The pervasive ethnic stereotyping and myth-making that goes on between ethnic leaders, government high ranking officials, and ordinary civilians have the capacity to destroy the very fabric of Afghan society. fghanistan’s ethnicity problem is at least one of the reasons why it maintains its pro conflicts nature in any major developments including the presidential election in the country.
Inspired by the systematic ethnical settlement when the country just was established,—the governance system has rarely ever spurred the economic or political development of the incumbent’s region, let alone the entire regions of the country. Yet the system is maintained in a deface manner, because there would be either critical ethnic tensions or losing the ethnic superiority of a specific ethnic over the other ethnics which is not in the favor of relevant ethnic leaders.
Even ethnicity is far from being an exceptionally Afghan phenomenon; it poses a strong challenge to the stability of the country. If the Afghans are to believe Robert Putnam’s thesis on national cohesion, trust is at the core center of any dynamic and successfully functioning society. But this trust is an issue that government after government, has always had to build in Afghanistan. And in Afghanistan, an unwillingness to take nation-building seriously has enabled the persistence of the country’s ethnic divisions; a fundamental factor of fueling the ethnic tensions in the country rooted in the historic context of Afghanistan ethnic politics.  The main cause of ethnic divisions in countries like Afghanistan is not because of just the ‘culture of the dominant ethnic is predisposed to ethnic strife, but its main cause is a weak state in these countries. It is a weak state that has, up until now, been unable of capitalizing on policies that can strategically enhance and benefit a singular Afghanistan national identity.
Weak Central Government and Strong Local Players
In some academic understandings, the problem of the countries like Afghanistan with ethnicity is entirely accounted for by the fact that they simply have a weak central government and many strong local players that can challenge the authority and legitimacy of the central government in different parts and regions of the country. If we even have a look at past 18 years, we can recall the tensions between the central government with Ismail Khan in Herat province in the west of the country, General Dustom and Atta Mohammad Noor in the North of Afghanistan, Gen. Raziq and Gul Agha Shirzai in the South of Afghanistan and Haji Qadir in the east of Afghanistan; this trend is going on in the country and it will continue until up the time when the national government develops a broad based national cohesion policy and there is a strong and sincere political will to meet its ends. 
Countries like Afghanistan, which has about 20 ethnic groups and several spoken languages, are repetitively explained to simply be very “culturally mixed” but has the potential to be cohesive. It does not help that often ‘culture’ takes on any and whatever meaning the user wishes to imply but the government political will can be considered the main barrier to realize the social cohesion in such societies because most societies have always been, and continue to be, composed of multiple ethnic groupings. Those societies where the state has been successful at lessening the political and economic importance of ethnic attachment have been able to establish and implement their social cohesion and nation building polices successfully and has formed a singular national identity through the education system and the dissemination of standardized public goods.
Based on the process that the political scientist and anthropologist, James C. Scott, terms “internal colonization”. A strong state can reach all parts of its geographical domain in the form of formal taxation, the provision of public services, and the physical and legal protection of citizens equally, without needing to oppress or suppress challenges from civil society. In this context, the government is weak, in Afghanistan while there are strong local players at the local level. What it means is the state literally does not reach or touch large parts of the geographical population. It is the major characteristic of a weak state that we experience it here.
The failures of a weak state
States like Afghanistan are actually not very well equipped to realize the basic functions of a state. And despite the National Unity Government’s laudable goals to improve economy and eliminate the geographical restrictions, the state shall develop effective and efficient mechanisms of formal national public service delivery and economic inclusion to reach all parts and ethnics of the country in a practical manner.  Weak justice system is the cause of lack of the provision of justice in many parts of the country felt by a great many. Where it is made to operate, it is to the abridgement of the legal rights of all citizens of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a country with several ethnic groups and languages. The ethnic politics is a common phenomenon here and as a result an ethnic tension is one of the main political characteristics of the political system of the country. To overcome the ethnic tensions, the Afghan government shall devise and implement broad based national cohesion policy and distribute the opportunities equally among all the ethnics and citizens of Afghanistan to win their trust as the main social cohesion ingredients.