Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Ethnic Politics: the Root Cause of Ethnic Conflicts

Ethnic politics is one of the political issues of Afghanistan. This type of governance approach has been one of the main causes of week governance system in Afghanistan in the past and even it continues to pose a security threat to Afghanistan now. It has had adverse effects on different prospects of promoting good governance and democracy in the country. Unfortunately, even today, there are some ethnic leaders in Afghanistan who continue to use ethnicity as a resource for political manipulation, to ensure the dominance of their ethnic groups by excluding other ethnic groups within national policies that reflect the interests and activities of a specific ethnic group.
Ethnic politics has been a dominant governance approach during most of the history of Afghanistan. As a result, minority groups in Afghanistan have been denied their democratic rights of equal access to socio-economic, political and cultural resources. Such governance approach has been the root cause of security dilemma and week governments in Afghanistan. The concept of security dilemma is mostly used in realist theory of International Relations to refer to a situation where competition to control state power and scarce resources leads to a zero-sum conflict (win-lose) of identities based on tribalism or ethnicity in a specific society. Based on this, ethnic groups have differences in educational attainment, occupational level and land holdings in the given society that leads to a security dilemma which causes separatist or ethnic conflict. Ethnic politics leads to dissatisfaction with the political processes and creates an environment of uncertainty that makes it relatively easy to mobilize people for the use of violence.
Similarly, the control over the justice system by a particular political, social or ethnic elite is linked to inequalities and violence in different countries. Both ethnic politics and the control over the justice system  lead to the concentration of wealth and political power in a specific geographical area and ethic group that lay the foundations for economic and political exclusion that can fuel creation of armed conflicts in the the given society.
Furthermore, empowering political elites from a certain tribe or ethnic group and exclusion of other tribes or ethnic groups, can give rise to dangerous forms of narrow nationalism and increases inequalities which may result in conflict.
What counts here is that what the Afghan government can do now to prevent further ethnic conflicts, is learning from the historical context of governance system of Afghanistan. Because the main issue that we are concerned here is that, addressing ethnic inequalities is vital to poverty reduction between group inequalities that make up a large component of overall inequality within our society. A focus on only individual inequality would obscure important differences among groups or regions in the country.  Group inequalities are important because, in some situations, it is not possible to improve the position of individuals without tackling the position of the groups to achieve such goals.
Successful Ethnic Equality Lessons
Equal Access to Public Services: The government shall ensure all ethnic groups have equally access to the scarce resources. To this end, the obligation of increasing ethnic equality shall run across every part of the government and every part of the society.
Devolving power to all ethnic groups: Supporting everyone to participate in the government structures, to access the services they need and shape their own lives.  The Afghan government, instead of top down targets should practically devolve power, public services, and citizens to develop solutions and take decisions.
Transparency: All ethnic groups shall have tools and information to challenge organizations that are not offering fair opportunities and public services for all the people they serve.
Support Social Action: Creating conducive environment to work the public and private sector together to innovate and drive effective measures which build an inclusive and cohesive society based on tolerance and respect for all.
Creating opportunities for all: Developing frameworks that help create fairness and opportunities for all Afghan citizens. Everyone shall have fair access to job, education and health opportunities.
Embedding equality: Leading by example and embedding equality in everything the government does as an integral part of its policies and programs.
In conclusion, social researchers and policy makers need to find out more about the types of inequalities so as to mitigate the divisions that can lead to conflict and underdevelopment in the society. Top down inequalities can be addressed by ensuring equal access to public services, devolving power to all ethnic groups, transparency, and support social action, creating opportunities for all and embedding equality. Such measures would lead to inclusion, fairness, responsiveness and accountability to all social groups that enhance good governance and democracy, harmony in the country.