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The Challenges to Nation-Building
in Afghanistan continues....
Islam has served at times as a unifying force against foreign, nonMuslim invaders, but it has never been cohesive enough to unite all the Pashtuns and other ethnicities of Afghanistan. Some scholars regard PanIslamism as an attractive ideology, stronger at times with anti-colonialist fervour.
The contemporary phenomenon of “political Islam” in Afghanistan arguably has a basis in the traditional role of Sufism and the influence in society of the most prominent pirs (“saints”), together with the constant allure for the Afghans of the concept of jihad and martyrdom. Afghanistan’s contemporary Islamic movement has cohered around a new Islamic paradigm focusing on the concept of the state and legitimacy of power.
Regional differences and regional identities often create deep cleavages manifest in the social attitudes and national politics.
In Afghanistan, Pashtuns traditionally have resided in a large semicircular area following the Afghan border from north of the Darya ye Morgab east and southward to just north of 35° latitude. Enclaves of Pashtuns live scattered among other ethnic groups in much of the rest of the country, particularly in the northern regions and in the western interior owing to Amir Abdur Rahman’s policy of Pashtun resettlement.
The Tajiks are also numerous. A problem in discussing this ethnic group lies in the tendency of some non-Tajik groups to classify anyone who speaks Dari as a member of this group. Some also categorize any
urbanite who has become “detribalized” as Tajik. This is particularly true for Kabulis. Tajiks generally live in the west in the area around Herat, in the northwest interior, and (primarily) in the northeast of the country, although not in the Wakhan Corridor. Tajiks speak Dari and Tajik dialects of Dari. Some Tajiks are Sunni, while others (particularly those in the north of the country) are Ismaili.
To be continued...