Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, November 17th, 2018

Marginalized Groups: Political Inclusion as A National Priority

There is growing awareness that the inclusion of marginalized groups in post-conflict political settlements is important to ensure a sustainable exit from conflict.  Increasing political inclusion is a cross cutting objective for the GoIRA. Democracy is more likely to develop and sustain when all segments of a society are free to participate and influence political outcomes without suffering bias or reprisal. However, in many new and emerging democracies, large portions of the population are excluded from politics based on their ethnicity, religion, age, disability, gender or sexual orientation. Afghanistan is not an expectation in this respect and requires increasing the participation of marginalized groups so they can have a voice in the political process and achieve a greater level of equality, as understanding political participation is considered a fundamental means of addressing the social and economic inequities associated with marginalization.
Sikhs and Hindus as the most marginalized religious groups
Afghan Sikhs and Hindus religious groups have been politically and socially marginalized during the different periods of the history of Afghanistan. After the 1990s civil war in Afghanistan majority of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs left the country. Due to intense historical marginalization they never had a representative in the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower house, of the National Parliament of Afghanistan and only they had one representative in the upper House of the National Parliament.
The Only Candidate
Avtar Singh Khalsa, who was killed along with at least 18 other people, mostly Hindus and Sikhs, on July 01, 2018 in a blast by a suicide bomber in the eastern city of Jalalabad, was the only Sikhs and Hindus candidate for Afghanistan Parliamentary elections. Now Awtar Singh’s son Narinder Singh is the sole candidate for the forthcoming Afghan Parliamentary elections. He is the only candidate from the seat reserved for a Sikh or Hindu in the Afghan legislature. His candidacy has become the center of attention across Afghanistan. His efforts are celebrated as a sign of the minority group’s resilience and dedication to the country despite the harsh times. 
Afghans including the Afghan government shall recognize that various segments of the population experience marginalization differently, and shall ensure democracy empowers all Afghan citizens. Understanding the nature and depth of marginalization is the first step toward combatting it in any society.
However, it is unlikely that any meaningful reforms in state-ethnic minority relations will take place without concerted agitation, mobilization and associational pressures by ethnic minority leaders and communities. The key lesson is the critical role which ethnic minority activists and associations can play in pressing the claims of their vulnerable communities before the court of domestic and international opinion. By his dogged advocacy they can succeed in mobilizing official and unofficial, as well as domestic and international, support for ethnic minority rights in the country. Indeed, the Afghan Hindu and Sikhs minority religious groups’ case has become the paradigm of ethnic minority mobilization in Afghanistan.
Historically the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus have experienced different forms of marginalization in the country. As it is the first time that they have a candidate in the Afghan National Parliamentary elections, it is hoped that this move of the Afghan government, giving a reserved seat for a Sikh or Hindu in the Afghan legislature, to be the start of a new phase in the life of the Afghan Sikhs and Hindus and open a new chapter of opportunities and inclusion of the marginalized groups in the Afghan society.