Thursday, January 9, 2014

Scramble for Power; The State and The Terrorism in Pakistan

Terrorism is the political headline of Pakistan.  All known forms of terrorist activity (religious, sectarian, ethnic, nationalist) is taking place in the nuclear armed- country and some scholars have gone as far as to indicate the fast approaching breakdown of the State. How much such claims may sound exaggerated, but it is true that not a single eye glancing the country’s landscape will miss flashes of explosives, maimed bodies and destroyed infrastructure. The onslaught of Islamist insurgency in the Tribal Areas after US invaded Afghanistan is recent, albeit the deadliest, addition to terrorism history that goes as far as back to the time of the creation of the State itself.
Since the present article talks about terrorism in Pakistan, it is pertinent to define at outset what exactly the term terrorism means. Although it’s a contentious issue and there is not a single mutually agreed definition of the term that exist. But two important features are generally accepted as hallmark of terrorist action.  Number one is the use of violence to pursue a politically motivated agenda. Second is the scope of the message which is intended for an audience that goes beyond the immediate victim to larger community that the targeted individual(s) belongs to. If this definition is followed, then after the bloody events that took place during the partition, the first noteworthy episode of terrorism in Pakistan is the riots against Ahmediyya community spearheaded by Islamist radicals such as Ahrar-Islam, to force the Government to designate the community non-Muslim. Another important demand of the agitators was to exclude the Ahmediyya community from Government jobs. Incidentally, this agitation took place when four months prior to it, constituent assembly in its final draft of Objective Resolution, a collection of rules which were to guide the future constitution, reserved the seat of Head of the State as exclusively Muslim domain. I come back to this historical incident to support the framework, outlined below, to understand terrorism in Pakistan.  
State has monopoly over the means of violence. This sheer imbalance between State and Society in their capacity to exercise violence is a political reality embedded in the contemporary political order of the world and for many ordinary mortals a natural uninteresting fact. The psychological consequences of this which shape the political understanding of the masses is obviously, since the imbalance feels natural and necessary, that the only violence that makes sense is the violence of the State. Any other actor emerging from the society which tries to violate this imbalance is considered brute and its violence senseless. There is also tendency in the society at large, and of course led by the State in such enterprise, is to deprive the brute actor of all the entitlements associated with how national-society defines itself and are dubbed into such categories, as media describes as “radical” “non-Stat actors” “ foreign funded miscreants” etc. The attempted abstract division of “Us” and “Them” is smoke screen that State and Society consciously or unconsciously create to elude the uneasiness that arises due to realization of the crisis and the contradictions within. For it exposes the weaknesses, and in the “nations” will to power, weakness is a crime!
Observers who frequently survey the domestic politics and social dynamics of Pakistan are likely to approve of the country’s rampant attempts at such “elusiveness”. Mostly, the terrorists are some unknown strange violence perpetrators running on dictums of some internationally hatched conspiracy to destroy the country. However, once the smokescreen is lifted with a stroke of dispassionate observance, the picture that emerges of terrorism in Pakistan is a bloody clash for power and influence between different groups of society. Terrorist violence seems to be a one political strategy among many others to negotiate power and influence whose very frequent use indicate the level of entrenched divisions and lack of possibilities and will for political compromises between various actors involved. The ongoing bloody turbulence in Tribal Areas is essentially a question of power, that who should have the power in the region. The inflow of Al Qaeda militants into the area after US launched operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan precipitated Pakistan army to respond and cleanse the area of militants. Historically the region has not hosted army personnel. So as the army moved into area, should such bloody eruption of Tribalist be defined as out of time insurrection of some antique religious fanatics or power hungry actors competing for power they deem too precious to lose?
The ethnic rivalry in the port city of Karachi is again a battle between different groups negotiating power and influence through the use of violence. The agenda of the Baluch nationalist is the control of the regional resources which they claim are being unfairly exploited by the ruling elite who does not represent them. It should be clear that representation of terrorism in this manner is not meant as an apology for terrorists who use violence against the people but quite oppositely to instigate a different framework, which transcends any moral idealization and sharp categorization of the victims and perpetrators, for understanding terrorism in this part of the world.
This framework follows State centered approach, where the State is an institution that monopolizes the means of violence, an unchallenged power to adjudicate, and a gargantuan capacity of social transformation through its all pervasiveness and command of technology. Its attraction rests in the fact that the above mentioned features gives it a brilliant capacity to generate rents from the economy and itself serves as an incentive for political mobilization. This mobilization can take violent form once its peaceful manifestations are not accommodated. State power is a constant incentive and its ability to change the nature of the classes make fight for it’s a fight beyond the class war.
Numbers of features unite post-colonial states in their common political heritage. One is the obvious history of being colonized by the European power. The second is the exogenous institutionalization of the modern State in this part of the world. These States were not formed through evolutionary process like in Europe where changes in productive relations brought the ascendancy of Bourgeois over the Feudal Class and who, after ascending the feudal lordship, eventually succeeded in replacing the absolute monarchy with constitutional one and parliamentary form of government. This was accompanied at popular level with the emergence of unified nations, which again capitalism, as Benedict Anderson reveals, had role to play through its printing revolution, information dissemination and standardization of language among many other factors. This all happened in the background of Renaissance where religious/sectarian identities loosened grip on individual and from idea of rationality, emerged the idea of modern mode of constitutional government, theorizing everyone as equal before the law. To a large extent, every western nation State, though with some notable exception, seems to incorporate within its jurisdiction the majority of the same nation it claims to represent. These historical features however are missing in the State formation in this part of the world. The Europeans brought with them the concept of modern State, institutionalized where they rule, with no corresponding process taking lead in society at large that could knot fate of the diverse communities into the idea of one nation.
As power is concentrated within one institution, while solidarity at social level is more pronounced at group level for example as religious/ sectarian community, caste, tribal etc, rather than in society as a whole, this unleashes a “scramble for power”, as groups within society compete for the State control. One of its classic examples is the idea of separate country for Muslims in India for it was born out of the fear of not being able to secure adequate representation in the power corridors. Pakistan was established on 14th August 1947, however, all it served to do was to narrow down the arena of fight for power and rents between the communities inhabiting the area of the new country. The religious identity was not the only identity that could serve to produce a homogenous nation. Rather, once the State was formed, other identities came into action for mobilizing the communities in their claim for power.
The party which led Pakistan movement was Muslim League whose elite cadre hailed from Hindu-majority province of UP (United Province). This elite group was relatively more educated among Muslim community, and for that reason, were the ones more conscious of the competition that they faced from majority Hindu community in securing government jobs. Hamza Alavi term this community as Salariat which depended on government jobs for its economic survival.
After the creation of the State, this Urdu speaking community migrated to Pakistan and settled mainly in Karachi and Hyderabad, in Sindh province. Due to its experience in government jobs and training in Western education, this community, despite making 4 percent of the total population of the new country, occupied most of the position in State bureaucracy. The interest of this community was therefore to preserve its status and privileged position in power corridors and the easiest way to do this was to privilege the means that gives this community a leverage in keeping its hold on the power. Urdu, the language of this community, and English were made National and State languages , thus tilting the power balance in this community’s favor.
The first reaction to such attempted exclusion from power came from Bengal and then from Sindh. The economics behind the was comparative disadvantage non-Urdu speaking community would face in accumulating necessary human capital, due to language handicap, to build up adequate credentials to claim the share in power. Urdu being national language also entitles it to be the language of curriculum, along with English, and thus making gains in higher education and possibilities of socio-economic advancement contingent on it. Bengal seceded from Pakistan in 1971 to form Bangladesh.
The fight for power in Sindh was going to take more deadly form in the coming years. One of the first preludes to the coming storm was the boycott of exams in 1958 by the Sindhi students. This imbalance of opportunities which State education program promoted served to create a division rather than producing nation united along linguistic lines. The ascendancy of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Sindhi politician, opened a new chapter in this struggle for power. His government reserved 60 percent quota for government jobs for the rural Sindh, inhabited mainly by Sindhi speaking people and made Sindhi, provincial language alongside Urdu. This was now resented by Urdu speaking community, for it  hurt their privileged access to power and resulted in massive language riots in 1973. Another factor that contributed to tensions in the province was increased migration to Karachi of other ethnic groups such as Pashtuns, and easy availability of arms in the wake of Afghan Jihad.
The point that I intend to emphasize here is that ethnic terrorism was not due to one group or the other emerging from within society and spontaneously starting using violence as political tool rather the usage of the violence as political strategy, i.e. terrorism, was determined by the degree of exclusion that it faced in its bid for power. This degree of exclusion makes terrorism an attractive political strategy whose overall incentive is provided by the State itself, through its power to generate rents.
It was in the interest of the ruling regime in earlier years to make the language that they speak the language of power and promote it through its education program. But that merely served to sharpen the ethnic divisions for what it actually meant for indigenous communities was handicap in securing government jobs and power. The likely consequences of such policy is the political mobilization of a community to pursue its interest and, since that naturally means, soaring community consciousness, it further served to entrench ethnic divisions. Terrorism in this case is one strategy among others through which the community negotiates its interest with the power group running the State and rest of the communities.
The negative externalities of Afghan Jihad, such as weapons and drug flow, is blamed as one of the factor that contributed towards ethnic terrorism in Pakistan. This is true but this should not be mistaken as the root cause of terrorism since Afghan Jihad merely served as an exogenous factor which made violence less costly through the easy availability of arms. The role of language is excluding the Baluch people from power is evident from the fact most of the bureaucracy to run the provincial administration has be imported from outside the province.
The rise of religious militancy can also be studied in present framework where State privileged a certain religious segment of the society through certain sets of policies and established its exclusive claim to power and rents. The roots of Islamization in Pakistan are in the objective resolution which directed the constitution making in Pakistan to follow “Islamic” principles. The defense for this can be formulated by stating that the constitution, the rules of the games, were to be developed within the parameters of the ideology the majority population adhere to. But this goes against the sectarian as well as cultural diversity of Pakistan. The first to react against this was the non-Muslim community. A motion was forward against the “religious” bias of the Objective Resolution draft by Prem Hari Barma, a non Muslim member of constituent assembly. This was defeated by 21 votes (all Muslims) to 10 (all Non-Muslims). The tilted the balance in share for power in favor of Muslim community. Thereafter, the contest became “intercommunity” and Ahmeddiya were eventually elbowed out and consigned to title of non-Muslim, and since State claims to be “Islamic”, that compromised their claim to power as well.  The self-identification of State as Muslim and the consequent diversity of Muslims at social level are well explained by the fact that after agitation against Ahmeddiya, a commission was set up to investigate the disturbance. The report of this commission, known as “Munir Commission” report after interviewing numerous religious Ulema came to conclusion that not two Ulema agreed to one definition of Muslim.  This stance of the State where it becomes party to one community generated incentives for the groups within the community to compete for power. The interests of elite in the group is in keeping the divisions intact and rather sharpen it more which supports their exclusive claim to power.
This sectarian scramble for power became more conspicuous during the regime of Gen Zia ul Haq which spearheaded a massive campaign to Islamize society. This was to develop a constituency of support in domestic as well as international political arena. After toppling Bhutto government, Gen Zia allied with religious right to use religion as legitimizing tool for his unconstitutional rule as well to rally support for Jihad in Afghanistan. The international community, particularly United States and Saudia Arabia provided diplomatic but most importantly financial support to Gen Zia regime in the form of higher international rents, i.e. the aid.  This Islamization enterprise had clear cut sectarian bias and the constituency of support to the regime was essentially of Sunni religious groups.  The domestic imperative of this bias was that Pakistan is Sunni majority country and for that obvious reason the main support could only come from this community and its religious heads. Secondly, the international financier like Saudia Arabia had an ongoing strategic fight with Iran after Ayotallahs take over of the State in 1979 revolution and had an interest to bring “Sunni” regimes within its orbit of influence.
The alliance with regime provided these Sunni Islamist groups higher accesses to the rents in the form of aid and was encouraged to Islamize society using education and popular media. Along with higher funding their graduates were given special opportunities in the government jobs. The direct consequence of such policy was that the State created another violent actor contending for power, influence and the rents. It also legitimize the overt use of religion in politics which is likely to encourage local religious figure, facing sectarian competitors, to politically mobilize along sectarian lines thus further entrenching the divisions within society. One observes in ethnic politics, that the rise of Sindhi during 1970’s was resented by Urdu speaking community as threat against its established interests. Similarly, now in the current period the very same State which introduced sectarian actors in its legitimate political arena, tries to exclude them from the power and thus facing violent backlash from the affected parties.
The case of tribal areas fits within this framework as well. Tribal leaders resisted the control of Britian during its heyday of colonial rule in India for subjugation of community hurts the established interest of the ruling tribal leaders. Of course the culture plays a strong role in motivating a community to resist foreign control but the ultimate motivation comes from threat of losing the power. In post 9/11 period, after the US launched operation enduring freedom in Afghanistan, and as the Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters moved into tribal areas, Pakistan army launched the operation to cleanse the area of the militants. One way of describing the situation is to term tribal people as followers of as irrational ideology threatening the mainstream society. Another look to the situation reveals that as State tries to penetrate the areas which have been historically only under its nominal control, its arrival also disturbs the established economic and political systems which is resented by the actors who benefit from it. So far the State has functioned in this region by appointing Political Agents who theoretically and, to quite an extent practically, holds dictatorial power in the region. But the current phase of penetration means the transformation of the local order on much wider scale as to put the current beneficiaries in state of loss. For example, if State tends to transforms the process of adjudication in the area, that ought to make tribal leader irrelevant in adjudicating dispute. Similarly, if State tries to manipulate the economic system by influencing the flow of good across the borders, this ought to produce some affected parties. The interests of these parties are therefore to fight to sustain the current order intact. Imtiaz Gul sheds indirectly sheds light to economics behind the conflict that Arab fights fleeing from Afghanistan into tribal areas also brought the money with them whose sum outweigh the amount a particular tribal leader could secure from the State thus providing incentive for these leaders to support the militants.
Therefore, what one sees in Pakistan is the diverse array of social groups fighting each other to secure power and the rents. The State and its power to generate rents is the ultimate incentive for these groups to compete with each other in taking its complete control or share of it and thus unleashes a scramble for power. The idea nation-state, where a State secures allegiance of the its citizens through constitutional consents, seems to be missing in politics of Pakistan and perhaps in this part of the world. The State is not the projection of the collective will of the society but is seen as instrument to secure the interest of ones community or group whose interest is to sustain its rule by supporting its constituency and blocking opportunities for the others. If this theory is assumed to be correct, it seems like that the State, as manifested in its policies, itself is a generator of divisions rather than social cohesion.  

To support the above mentioned framework, I recently completed a study (unpublished) on the causes of terrorism in Pakistan. The empirical results show a positive impact of per capita education expenditure by the state on terrorism in the country. The above discussion has tried to show that how education, by privileging the national language or through its sectarian biases, benefits particular community to attain higher human capital and consequently higher jobs. The obvious reaction to it has been from the communities and sects which are left out in competition for power. Another interesting result is the positive impact of per capita law and order expenditure and terrorism. Police and other law enforcement agencies are long understood to be used by the group in power to pursue their political ends. Even the religious groups have penetrated the police to secure their sectarian agenda as the report “ The State of Sectarianism in Pakistan’ by International Crisis Group reveals. The conflicts therefore are in the very failure of the State in absorbing the diverse communities into national polity. The quest for developing one identity out of many has back-lashed by lowering the chances for those groups, whose economic competitiveness is harmed by the policies set up by the State.  All the violent actors that we see fighting in Pakistan may be different in their outlook, methods of terror but share the quest for power in common. Power, concentrated within the State is the ultimate incentive to supply terror to secure it. Stronger the concentration of power is, and stronger are the impediments to have share in it, it is expected to lead to more violence. It works like in self-perpetuation cycle, where higher concentration of power through higher incentive to secure rents, and blocked political opportunities, to lead to more violence. This further entrench the divisions as communities become more inward. This also gives opportunity to the State to assume more power to contain this violence and thus further fuelling the incentive  of terrorist to supply it as well. The policies that leads to more decentralization should be seriously reconsidered as long term solution to contain the level of violence, for it is expected higher inclusiveness of communities in power domain would lead to lower preference for violence to claim it. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Emergence of Islamic Empire During the Caliphate 
(632-661 AD)
(Part 1)
We live in an integrated world. The ability to connect, communicate and commute has astonishingly increased in recent times.  People ascribing to different religions and from different culture are found in more or less number almost everywhere. Yet the fault-lines still exist and despite this integration, the geographical landscape of the world can still be divided on the basis of faith.  All of the three great Abrahamic religions developed in and around the Hilly Flanks. However, the majority of the people living in that area are the followers of the last of the Prophet of Abrahamic tradition. What makes Islam different from Christianity and Judaism in political terms is its continuous presence in this region ever since its emergence 1400 years back.
The very prevalence of Islamic faith in the Arabian Peninsula, Fertile Crescent and the areas around makes the enquiry that how the expansion of a nascent state that Muhammad established in Medina took place? The death of the Prophet led to widespread insurgency by the unruly Arab tribes.  The geo-political situation of the besieged state was also very critical as two great empires, i.e. Sassanid and Eastern Roman Empire, were flexing muscles right across the north-eastern and western frontiers.  Despite these odds, the Muslim State of Medina showed an incredible resilience. In a short span of time, it was able to make inroads into Persia and Roman East and by the time of the assassination of Ali on 27thof January 661, the whole Peninsula, Mesopotamia, Persia, Kurdistan, Armenia, Syria  and Egypt were under the Muslim rule.  All this happened during the reign of first four Caliphs, a.k.a Rashidun Caliphate (Abu Bakar, Umar Ibn Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Talib). These Caliphs presided over republic which, despite the feud and infighting that took place by the end of this period, was able to expand beyond the frontiers of peninsula and topple the rule of Sassanid and Byzantine rule in the region. Rare in history are examples of such electrifying expansion amidst formidable adversaries are found. It laid the basis for the continued presence of Islamic faith and Muslim people in the region.
The purpose of this writing is to narrate the major historical happenings of this period which last from 632- 661. As geographical expansion necessarily entails a conflict with the surrounding powers, the main emphasis is on the conflicts and wars of the time. It’s a pity that some of the groups today justify their religious violence as necessary to enforce their ideology. The historical expansion of the Islamic Empire through war is taken as justification for violence. However, as this writing will make it clear, most of the times Muslims were provoked into a conflict. The propagation of faith did not constitute the only reason and at times when some preemptive military decisions were taken, there was a strategic ground for that. This makes it further important to understand what happened during the early years.
The article focuses on the events in a chronological order and deal with the time period of each Caliph separately.
The time of Abu Bakar;
Abu Bakar (573-634) was the first Caliph of the four Rashidun. He belonged to the clan Banu Taym of the tribe Quraish. After the demise of Prophet Muhammad he was hastily elected to administer the new state. According to another tradition, Omer consulted the elders and pronounced him as the Caliph.  Syed Amir Ali describes him “as man of fair complexion, thin countenance, of slender built and a stoop”.
The demise of the Prophet led to widespread political upheaval across the Arabian Peninsula.  The centre required the tribes to pay the poor-tax.  The political uncertainty after the Prophet’s death provided an incentive to the tribes scattered across north-east to do away with this obligation.  This movement was spearheaded by one Malik Ibn Nuwaira who contended that Zakat was no more obligatory after the Prophet’s death. This was a highly critical moment for the new state and in a short span of time it was again confined to the city of Medina. False prophets emerged in a futile attempt to fill this political vacuum.
Abu Baker’s immediate tasks were to contain these threats and embolden the spirit of the people. After being elected, he spoke “ Behold me! Behold me with the cares of the government. I am not the best among you. I need all your advice and all your help. If I do well, support me. If I do mistake, counsel me.  To tell the truth to the person commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance. To conceal it is treason. In my sight, the powerful and the weak are alike and to both I wish to render justice.  As I obey God and his Prophet obey me; If I neglect the laws of the God and the Prophet, I have no more right to your obedience”
The main threat to the republic was from north-east and the west.  Figure 1 shows the spatial distribution of the major empires during this time. The Sassanid covered the modern day Iran, Iraq, parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan and  Central Asia. The Roman East had Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt under its control.  So the Fertile Crescent was almost equally divided between the two empires. The two minor Kingdoms of Ghassanid and Lakhmid were the Roman and Sassanian vassals respectively.
 The Caliph barely had a chance to consolidate his rule when the rebellion at the frontiers brought the state with headlong clash with the neighboring empires. During his reign, these conflicts escalated into multiple theatres of war, in most of which despite being outnumbered and logistically inferior, the army of Saracens prevailed.   During the last days of the Prophet, a Muslim envoy had been killed in Syria. An expedition had been ordered by him to demand reparations for this murder.  An army under the command of Usama bin Zaid was gathered at Jaraf near Medina. The Prophet’s death postponed this expedition which was later on executed by Abu Baker.
Figure 1

Spatial distribution of the empires on the eve of Muslim era
The expedition was a success but it also threatened the Byzantine who had suzerainty over these Christian Arab tribes. The Christian tribes in the north-east also rose up to break away. Khalid bin Walid along with Mothana was entrusted with the task to pacify these insurgencies. This area bordered Al- Hira and Chaldea, which were the possessions of Sassanid.  Chaldea is that historical marshy land located between the Euphrates and Tigris near Shatull Arab, the place where these two rivers converge.
These wandering tribes were scattered across this region from the tip of Persian Gulf to westward along the Euphrates.  These tribes were Arab in race but mostly Christian in faith. The punitive raids conducted by Khalid Bin Walid though pacified the tribes who were erstwhile under the Muslim control but this also led to a friction between Saracens and the kingdom of Hira. The Kingdom of Hira, situated to the south of present day Kufa along the Euphrates, was under the Sassanid rule [see Figure 2] . The tribes attached to Hirrite Kingdom carried out raids into the area under the Muslim control. The conflict had a clear geographical and strategic logic to it. The Kingdom of Hira saw a threat in Muslim expeditions.  Supported by Chaldea, the ruler of Hira gathered a large force which was defeated and Hira occupied by the Saracens.
Figure 2

During this time, Khalid bin Walid was called back to Medina and Mothana was left to command the forces at Persian frontier. Khalid, the son of Walid, was dispatched to another theatre of war against the mighty Romans at present day Jordan- Palestine border.  The consequent battle with the Christian army turned out to be one of the historical battles in the history of mankind. Had the result of this battle been different, so would have been the present day demography of the Middle East. The battle ended the Roman rule in the region and shortly whole of Syria and Palestine were under the Muslim rule.

Battle of Yermuk  
The expedition of Usama bin Zaid in Syria sent shockwaves throughout the Roman East political domain. The area to the west of Chaldea all along the Fertile Crescent to the Palestine was under the control of Byzantine. The Roman Emperor Heraclius sensed the looming threat and gathered a large army at Balca. The raids from the Syrian frontier compelled the Caliph to send another force. This expedition was however met with disastrous defeat. Another force was gathered to fight the encroaching Roman army but this time a different strategy was applied. The force was divided into four divisions. A division under the command of Abu Obaidah was to concentrate its effort on Homs [Emese], Amr- Al Aas was to lead the force to Palestine, Yezid bin Abu Sufian was given the command of Damascus division whereas the soldiers under Shorabil were to fight in Jordan valley [See Figure 3]. All these divisions moved forward supporting each other. The Eastern Roman Emperor Heraclius sent four separate divisions against the Muslim army. The Roman force totaled 240000 whereas the Muslim army had only 40000 fighters.   The Saracens army was outnumbered by 6 to 1 and this disadvantage was going to be further exacerbated in the separate battles. Therefore it was decided to concentrate forces at one place and fight the Romans together. The Muslim generals along with their forces gathered in April 634 at a place called Jualan near river Yermuk, at today’s Syrian -Jordan border. 
Khalid bin Walid was dispatched from Persian front to Yermuk to lead the Muslim forces in one of the decisive battle ever. Syria was under the complete control of the Eastern Roman Empire. This battle was going to seal the fate of Byzantine in Syria and bring it completely under the Islamic dominion. Khalid bin Walid’s name was going to be remembered as one of the greatest military tacticians of all times. Byzantine army was numerically and logistically far superior to that of Muslims and the common-sense implied an easy victory for Roman army.
The Romans aware of Saracen’s strategy also concentrated their forces by the river Yermuk. Almost thirty miles before entering Jordan, the river forms a semi-circular loop. A ravine known as Wakusa or Wadi ar Raqqad provides an entrance to the plain by the river bank. The Romans thought of it as naturally protected ideal place for encampment and entered through the ravine. The Saracens army gathered outside to attack the Roman the moment they come out. Despite their superior numbers, the Romans did not issue from within and the stalemate existed for almost two months. The Caliph then dispatched Khalid Bin Walid to take command of Saracens.   The battle finally took place on 30th of August 634 when finally the Roman army, inspired by the priests, came out.  Half of the Roman army was annihilated. The estimated loss  was 140000 killed , some fled to Syria and the rest were drowned in the river. The Muslim lost 3000 men. For every Saracen soldier who fell in the battle field, almost 47 Roman soldiers were killed. This incredible battle changed the course of history for the time to come. The whole of Levant fell under the Muslim rule afterwards. The implication of Saracens victory was such that, had they lost the battle, we might have been living an entirely different world today.
Figure 3

Abu Bakar however did not live to see Saracen’s victory over the Romans and died 7 days before the battle, on 23rd of August 634.  Khalid bin Walid was informed of the death of the Caliph before the battle but he did not publish the news till the victory. That was the tenacity of one of the great generals of all time.
Abu Bakar’s rule lasted for two and half years. During his reign, the emerging Islamic Empire had come into conflict with the Sassanid and Eastern Roman Empires.  Two major battles against these empires took place but the expansion into Persia and Levant happened during the time of Omer Ibn Khattab.

Figure 4

Across the ravines lie the battlefield of Yermuk

Abu Bakar was one of the most highly respected Companion of the Prophet and was known as “Al SADIQ”( The Truthful). The level of his honesty can be judged by the fact that even on his death bed he was troubled by the pay he had taken from the treasury. Though a successful merchant himself, after becoming Caliph he concentrated his efforts on the public affairs and management of the empire.  To compensate for his expenses, he was allowed to take 6000 Dirhem annually from the treasury which he refunded by selling a part of his property. Such were the immediate companions of Prophet. Such was character of one of the greatest human being in the history of Muslims.

Death of Chacha Idrees

I am typing this post in deep distress. Someone i really felt myself attached to passed away last night. I feel like i woke up in a fantasy not in reality. The man who i just met on last Thursday, who i saw, walking around, moving, smiling, cracking jokes, doing all that living human being does, is no more. He is dead. He will never be seen again. Never be heard or felt again. The way he has been sucked out of the world has left me moved and shattered and wondering " what is the point?". Someday i will be sucked away from this totality too, like a vacuum cleaner leave no trace of dust, similarly death will also swallow me down its darkened throat. I will never be seen, heard or felt, the very normal of me that you perceive as Luqman, will be taken as someone to be occasionally talked about, and feared when you are alone.

The beloved Chacha Idrees died last night. He was the tea-maker in my department and a man admired for his hospitality and care by everyone. His death is real. His concrete life was invaded by death, the death came and planted explosives inside him, and one fateful second, a second which turned out to be more powerful ( and meaningful) than all the thousands seconds he spent among us, it pushed the button, and the explosion. Explosion and not a trace of his skin, he flesh, his nail, his hair, nothing left. Nothing left. No matter how i splash my arms and legs in the space he used to walk through, not a speck can i feel of him anymore. Death is real. Very real. 

He wanted a mobile phone from me. Every time he would come and ask for it, there was this sense of  "perpetuation" " permanence" , nothing felt ephemeral, nothing felt fleeting, Life felt real. Everything felt permanent. What if he knew he was going to die this early, had he asked for the phone? What is it? Now that i look back, all that, everything, mobile, everything we ever talked over, seems, all meaningless. What was the point? Years and Years long, we do things, we do alot of good things, but a second and its all dead. 

They say dead ones should be remember in good words. But why? I will sit with my colleagues and over a cup of tea would exchange good words about him, but what difference would that make? Will he come back? Will he be able to sit among us, his hair greased with oil, and his stammer, will i be able to hear him stammering again? He has been consumed. Consumed by the force we know not of. He has gone away somewhere. Even if i go and dig his grave up now, inter him, will that be he? Will that be he? Where has he gone? Where do everyone go? Why do they go? Why do we come here and build up , this life, all hopes, desires, attachment, affection, love, relationships, everything, if we all have go to away somewhere? Forever and ever. 

Chacha Idrees, Your death has cast a spell of meaninglessness on me. You should not have died. The more i try to love life, sooner i keep losing all the people i have loved. This keep happening. Death keep coming and keep telling, that behind all the colors of life, all the noise, uproar, cheers, there exist a power, a power with a capacity to destroy in a second  whatever the we construct all along our lives. This is the reality of our life. Death is that dark ocean we sail our life boat for a while, till the storm comes, and drown us to the  depths from where no prayers, nothing of this world can help, to rediscover the wreckage.

Good Bye Chacha Idrees 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Colonial Institutions and Comparative Development in North and South America

Map of North and South America

Colonialism started in American continent with the sighting of one of the Islands of Bahama by Christopher Columbus on 12th of October in 1492. This fateful expedition initiated the modern history of colonization of the New World and the South which were to leave lasting impression on the economic and social landscape of these lands. The motivation behind these expeditions is explained by the events that unfolded later on.

During 16th century the general price level quadrupled in Western Europe. Bodin (1530-96) wrote

"The principle and virtually sole cause of rise in prices is the abundance of gold and silver which is greater in number today than it was during the four previous centuries"

Most of this gold and silver came from the newly developed Spanish colonies in Central and South America. The empires of Aztecs in Mexico and Incas in Peru had abundance of these precious metals and that’s what the Spanish were after. 18000 tons of silver and 200 tons of gold were transferred from Americas to Spain from 1521 to 1660. Spain was forefront in this colonial enterprise.

Britain’s domestic politics was ridden with much controversy and conflict during this period. The country had not yet come to terms with the aftermaths of the civil war (1455-88). The English attempt to establish a colony in Roanoke, North Carolina thus ended in failure. The next major attempt by the English to settle colonies in America happened after she defeated Spain Armada in 1588. Spain’s failed attempt to invade England emboldened the English and they sent three ships namely Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery under the leadership of Christopher Newport to settle colonies in the New World.

Outrageous and inhuman however this apparent plundering of the indigenous wealth of American inhabitants was, the purpose of this writing is not to deliver a tirade against it. Spanish set their colonies in Central and South America while English took the left over in the North. Both of these countries developed different institutions and left entirely different colonial legacies. As we see now the countries which were under English rule are way more prosperous than those who were under Spanish colonial rule. Is it mere coincidence? This essay argues against it. The roots of divergent path to prosperity are to be found in the institutions which these European colonialists established in their respective colonies. The colonists, recognizing their objectives and constraints, put in function those institutions which were exclusive, rent-generating and design to favor the minority elite. These institutions were reformed later on (primarily in the North) as per the necessity arose. The oppressive and extractive economic institutions which the Spanish developed in Central and Southern America were to leave last impression on the economic fate of these countries. On the other hand, the historical reasons which led to an entirely different institutional framework development, the system which became more inclusive gradually, in North America initiated a process which was conducive to economic prosperity.

Hernan Cortes invaded Aztec empire in Mexico in 1519 and by fall reached the capital Tenochtitlan. The main strategy of this Spanish conquistador was to capture the ruler which would subdue the indigenous population, discourage resistance and provide the best opportunity to extract as much precious metal as possible. This strategy was to be followed by all prominent conquistador in the Spanish colonial history. The whole of Aztec empire was captured by 1521 and Cortes at this time initiated some of those oppressive economic institutions whose legacy still cast shadow on these lands. An institution by the name of “Encomeinda” was established. Encomienda was to be an indigenous person granted to Encomendero, Spanish colonialist. Encomienda was to provide his master with all sorts of services the colonialist required. This was institutionalization of abject form of slavery which would exclude the major chunk of population from any sort of economic or social activity to take part in. The same strategy was applied by Francisco Pizzaro in his conquest of Inca empire in Peru in 1533. He defeated the Inca emperor, Atahualpa, at Cajamarca and by next fall conquered Cusco, the Inca capital.

Hernan Cortes: Conqueror of Mexico

Same institution of Encomienda was established in Inca empire too. The establishment of these institutions were not without logic. The Spanish needed labor to produce food and provide services for newly established colonies thus came Encomienda. Lateron after the discovery of Silver, at Andes, in present day Bolivia, a new innovation occurred. Now they required labor for the extraction of precious metal. Francisco de Toledo was the brain behind the establishment of Reducciones ( reductions) where the adult working age population was concentrated to work in extracting metal . Mita, an Inca institution was also made functional to make the labor work in plantations to produce food who in return were given were given food and shelter. 

Francisco de Toledo: The brain behind the establishment of Reducciones 

These institutions were to last into the nineteenth century where as entirely different institutional developments were taking place in the colonies of North America. Another institutions Trajin was also put in place to make the indigenous population carry load for the Spanish colonialist. These institutions were exclusive and were designed to extract as much surplus as possible from the indigenous population. Wages were forced down to subsistence level and there was no incentive within the system to encourage any sort of innovation.

Cusco; Ancient Capital of Incas Empire

There was however a different story unfolding in the North America. Sailing in the aforementioned three ships, the English, into Chesapeak Bay, founded the settlement of Jamestown in May 1607. However the fate was not much friendly to the English. The indigenous Powhatan confederacy led by Wahunsunacock had no gold or silver. Moreover the demographic realities of the North America were also not conducive to any colonial plundering through forced labor. The population density of the land where English had set foot on was merely 0.75 whereas those in the lands of Aztecs and Incas was as much as 400. There was immense shortage of food and services and Wahunsunacock already aware of Spanish plundering in the South had imposed embargo on the new colony thus ruling out any possibility of trade. The directors of the Virginia company were forced to change the strategy and came up with plan of putting settlers to work if the colony was to survive.

Map of thirteen states which were to become United States. States of Virginia and Carolina where the English planted their earliest colonies can be seen.

Exact location of First English colony of Jamestown in North America

An oppressive institutional framework was put in place where the settlers were to put in barracks and forced to work under the supervisor from the company. Running away or trading anything with the indigenous population was crime punishable by death. The calculated ration was given to the settlers and every aspect of life was controlled. Clearly, not tune to survive in such circumstances, the opportunity cost of running away became more and more low. There was no incentive in the system to make settlers worker by choice. The company was eventually forced to change its strategy again a decade later when a General Assembly was formed to give settlers a say in the laws they were governed by. The system was opened a bit to give settlers a breathing place, to create willingness to stay and work in the colony. A decade further later another colony, Maryland, was formed after the crown gave Lord Baltimore, 10 million acres of land to establish it. The colony of Carolina was formed in 1663 by the eight Proprietors . Both of these colonies initially put up a hierarchical institutional structure where the tenants would work for the lords and pay rents to the elite. The constitution of Carolina was so formulated as there was to be Leet man who would work for the land graves and Caziques. The political power was asymmetrically distributed with only the elite having a say in the decision making. Both the systems were exclusive, designed to generate as much rent as possible and had no incentive for common settler to work willfully and be innovative. The systems had to be revamped after colonial elite failed to make settlers work. The lack of incentive pushed the opportunity cost of fleeing low and in New World such a policy was designed to fail. Clamoring for more economic and political freedom led to the declaration of Maryland and South Carolina as crown colony in 1693 and 1729 respectively. The colony status removed the privileges of the ruling elite and made system relatively more inclusive as the adult male settlers eventually got the say in decision making process.

So we see here entirely two different processes taking place maturing themselves in North and South of America. In the North system eventually got more and more inclusive thus increasing the incentive and scope of innovation in the society whereas in South the system led to congealed relations of power where minority perpetuated its rule and continuously extracted resources from the majority. The Spanish crown got more and more rich where as the indigenous population more and more poor. The roots of the divergent processes to prosperity lies here. Of course America was to experience its political upheavals in the coming years but the relative inclusiveness of its system was the reason behind its earlier take off to development. These divergent paths went further into 19th century. After the Napoleon invasion of Spain and abdication of king Fredinand, the National Junta was formed to resist the French. This national Junta was opposed to the privileges of the elite and this was an anathema to the ruling elites in the colonies attached to the crown. The independence movements thus started, in Bolivia in 1809 but eventually crushed, and culminated in the independence of Mexico 1821. The elite was the beneficiary of the institutional framework put in place during the start of colonial settlements and would no way let its privileges be curtailed.
The political upheavals in the United States during this time were also bloody. The civil war 1861-65 resulted in massive bloodshed. However the volatility of the country’s politics was not as intense as those of central and south America. Mexico had 52 presidents from just 1824 to 1857. The lack of political stability ,exclusiveness of the system and caprice of the rulers threaten the property and incentives to invest.

US had 338 banks by 1818 whereas 90 years later Mexico had only 42. Later rulers of Mexico such Porfirio Diaz indulged in massive land expropriation and rent generation. This was the direct legacy of Spanish colonial rule which developed an elite and institutionalized rent generation. The incentive to invest and innovate was absent within such an institutional framework. While the labor generated rent for elite in South, 40 percent of US citizens who had patents during the first half of 19th century had only primary school graduation. So its not surprise that innovators like Edison emerged from US rather than Mexico. The only guarantee that the former had was the security of return to his innovation and lack of any sort of expropriation.

All this historical discussion provide ample evidence to assume that the institutional framework is key to innovation and economic prosperity. The inclusive political and economic institutional framework provide incentive for the masses to undertake economic ventures. As the system gets more inclusive and competitive, it encourages innovation, which further expedite the growth. The divergent path of North and South America to economic prosperity are due to the institutionalization of the rules which made the former gradually inclusive and the latter exclusive. The institutions are those rules which shape are behavior. The rules set up during the colonial enterprise were designed to perpetuate the slavery and enrichment of minority elite. The historical developments in North America revamped the rules of the game later on whereas the South well into the twentieth century could get out of the grip of them. This to large extent explains Americas prosperity and South’s poverty.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Afghanistan- Resistance, Plurality

Ahmed Shah Durrani (1722-1772) was the founder of modern state of Afghanistan. After nine-days of deliberation by Jirga, the participants agreed to crown him as the emir of Afghanistan in 1747[i]. With this decision, Durrani Pushtuns were to rule Afghanistan until the fateful Marxist coup of 1978.Although a state was formed but its power to administer and territorial configuration kept on varying. Islam which plays a vital role in the lives of Afghanis, have always proved to be unifying force in resistance to foreign occupiers. But, In spite of this display of unity against the invaders, infighting within the ruling clan, between different ethnic groups and resistance to state power also marked the modern history of Afghanistan. Knowledge of the ethnic diversity and plurality of Afghan society helps in understanding these conflicting tendencies. Afghan rulers who tried to centralize power always confronted violent opposition from people of different clan and ethnicity. This insurrectionary tendency has a profound lesson for the major powers involved in the ongoing conflict in the region. As plural a country as Afghanistan is, it requires an extra-ordinary understanding of demographic realities in an attempt to produce a viable political solution for Afghanistan.

According to CIA figure, current population of Afghanistan is approximately 28,396,000. For centuries people from different ethnic background have come and settled in the country. By 15th century, major ethnic groups had settled in the regions where they happen to live today. Inhabiting the region to the south of Hindu- Kush Mountains, Pushtuns make up 42 percent of the population. Ghilzais and Durranis are two major Pushtun tribes. The latter have remained the rulers of Afghanistan since 1747 with control of the government fluctuating between Sadozai [Ahmad Shah Durrani (r1747-1772), Timur Shah (r1772-93), Mahmud Shah (r1800-03, 1809-18) Shah Shuja (r1803-9,r1839-42) Ali (r1818-19)]and Barakzai clan [ Dost Muhammad (1826-39),Muhammad Afzal (1866-67)Abdur Rehman Khan(1880-1901)Habibullah Khan (1901-1919), Amanullah Khan (1919-29) ][ii].On Northern side of Hindu-Kush lives the Tajiks, historically more urbanized than the Pushtuns. They speak Dari and with 27 % of the whole population, they are second largest ethnic group of Afghanistan. Tajiks are credited with the flourishing of Sufism in Afghanistan. Tajik Kart dynasty, which was given responsibility of ruling Herat and western Afghanistan, once the first wave of Mongols invasion ended, by the Persian ruler in 1245, played a tremendous role in flourishing art and Sufism in the country. Northern-Central region is inhabited by Uzbek and Turkic people who collectively make up 12 percent of the whole population. Cultural affinity exists between these ethnic groups and people of Central Asia. Empires from Central Asia have ruled Afghanistan ever since the time of Persian Samanid in 10th century, based in Bokhara and Samarkand .Hazaras who are 9 percent of total population are descendents of the Mongols and are Shiites. They are located in Central Afghanistan and have been subjected to persecution in the past time and again.

After assuming the throne, Ahmad Shah Durrani started expanding his empire. He increased his territorial control to as far Amu Darya, bordering Central Asia, thus bringing Uzbeks and Turkmen living there under his control. Weakening Mughals failed to be the match for Ahmad and ceded Peshawar and substantial territory west of Sindh river to the ruler of Afghanistan. But infighting weakened the territorial control once Ahmad Shah Durrani died. Timur Shah (r 1772-93) could not hold on to the expanding empire. He had to put down the Pushtun insurgency in the east. His five sons ruled until 1826 when inter-tribal feud brought the Barakzai family to the throne. The feuds were primarily driven by jealousies, lust for power and control. Dost Muhammad became emperor in 1826 after an uprising by Barakzais in order to avenge the death of his brother Fateh Khan who was killed by Mahmud Shah(r1800-03, 1809-18). Mahmud Shah considered Fateh Khan a threat as he had successfully suppressed an uprising in Herat. Power struggle led to the fall of Sadozai family. This tribal infighting continued until the scene was set for first Anglo-Afghan war while the territorial gains by Ahmad Shah Durrani beyond the frontiers of that of contemporary Afghanistan which had united all of the Pushtuns were lost.

The English had always been anxious about weak Afghanistan which could lead to Russian encroachment. Their first alliance with Afghan ruler was with Sadozai’s Shah Shuja (r1803-1809, r1839-42). As the infighting between Sadozai and Barakzai clan led to the elevation of Dost Mohammad to the throne, the British afraid of losing Afghanistan to the Russians ,as the Emir in Kabul received the latter’s envoy, invaded the country in 1839 on the pretext of installing the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan to the throne. Within 8 months they occupied Kandahar, Ghazni and then eventually Kabul. Sporadic resistances were squashed and the British succeeded in installing Shah Shuja on the throne of Kabul. For three years, Shah Shuja tried to prove himself an effective ruler but in vain. Unwilling to accept even the indirect rule of the foreigners, riots broke out in 1842 which resulted in, until then the biggest humiliation for the British Empire. Commander of forces in Kabul, Sir William Macnaghten was massacred along with his companions. General William Elphinestone, who succeeded him, decided to withdraw from Kabul. Of 4500 troops and 12000 civilians who left the Balla Hissar fort, only 1 Englishman and 20 Afghan supporters of Shah Shuja were able to make it Jalalabad a week later[iii]. In spite of this humiliating defeat, the English kept on targeting Pushtun tribes. Between first and second Anglo-Afghan war, 100 such attacks were launched against the tribes on either side of the border[iv].

The second Anglo-Afghan war broke out in November 1878. Sher Ali(r 1863-66, r1868-79) had avoided stationing British military observers in his country. Russians presence in the Constantinople had rung alarm bells in Britain and in order to entrap the English empire, a plan had been hatched by the Russians to invade India through Afghanistan[v]. Peace was concluded between the two empires but the presence of Russian envoy in Afghanistan and humiliation felt by the English as they were denied any such privilege, thus increasing their insecurity, resulted in an invasion on 22nd of November,1978 . Sher Ali fled to North. Initially victory seemed confirm but the presence of foreigners yet again united the Afghans as people from different tribal and ethnic background rose up against the foreign invaders. British envoy Louis Cavnagri was massacred along with 75 other men by Afghans. More British troops were sent to Kabul to control the situation and Martial law was imposed. Arrests and executions ensued. Such actions could not keep the Afghanis off from showing resistance. Fierce fighting broke out in Kabul which resulted in huge no. of casualties although more on Afghan side. Undeterred, another attack was launched from Herat under the leadership of Sher Ali’s son Muhammad Ayub Khan who massacred over 1000 of British army personnel in Kandahar thus forcing them to retreat to Kabul. In order to secure a safe way out, English searched for credible leader which they found in Abdur Rehman (1844-1901), nephew of Sher Ali.

The reign of Iron Emir, as Abdur Rehman was known, was marked with terror. He followed the legacy of Sher Ali of national consolidation but his manner was brutal. By transferring population within the country he disturbed the demographic realities. The brutal suppression of Hazaras in the north was followed by an uprising lasting three years from 1891-93. The people of Hazaras refused to surrender and were reduced to enslavement while their land was given to people from other ethnic groups. Tension that still persists between Hazaras who are mostly Shiites and other ethnic groups can be traced back to this brutal policy of Iron Emir. Pagans in the northeastern mountains, known as Kafiristan, were forcefully converted. Uzbeks also rose up against the Emir in 1888 and were dealt heavy handedly. He had to face 40 revolts during his reign as his policies violated the autonomy of other tribes and ethnicities. He was succeeded by Habibullah (r 1901-19).Habibullah’s (1872-1919) reign can be regarded as mixture of conservative and modernist policies. He introduced new ways of communications, shunned by his father, and provided opportunity to the tribal chiefs to have their say in government policies. Integration of tribal chiefs into national affairs had the dual advantage. It not just respected their so cherished autonomy but also provided them legitimate platform where they could express their disagreements. Modern educations and amenities were introduced, although limited to urban areas, but not as swiftly as to disturb the sensitivities of Afghan people. His successor Amanullah (r1919-1929), credited with introducing the first secular constitution of the country, failed to observe such caution. Bent on introducing radical reform, in his effort of imitating Ataturk’s Turkey, he was overthrown by the Traditionalist in 1929. After Zahir Shah (1914-2007) took over, his more experienced prime ministers Muhammad Hashim (1884-1953) consolidated the Afghan state through his authoritarian tactics. Shah Mahmood (1888-1959) who succeeded him introduced political and social liberties. This was the time of radical activism of both Leftist and Islamist. Disenchanted from the government, both wings tried to promote their own views and at times ended up in violent clashes on Kabul university campus. Muhammad Daoud further advanced the social reformist agenda and by the end of his first Prime Minster-ship, high enrollment in schools and women participation in social life could be regarded as an achievement. But his pro-Pashtunistan policy, i.e. to claim the land beyond the Pakistan’s frontier inhabited by Pushtuns, led to Pakistan’s support for the dissident Islamist elements who loathed the progressive stance of the government. Domestic political conflict led to the Marxist coup of 1978. Afghanistan being a highly unsuitable country for Marxist revolution because of its diversity and religious and cultural sensitivities rose up in revolt[vi]. Soviet fear of Islamic uprising within its own domain led to the fateful December 1979 intervention. Afghanistan was once again united against the foreign invaders though ethnic division was conspicuous in the formation of resistance groups. The matters got worse once the Soviets left and these groups started fighting each other to form their own central government. Monarchy which had been able to give Afghanis a symbolic unity was long dead[vii]. The ill-fated policies of states such as USA and Pakistan also complicated matters. Disunity among Afghan resistance groups had initially been deemed favorable by Pakistan as to avoid any future threat of guerilla movement causing her trouble[viii]. But once the Soviets left, this disunity could not be undone. Civil war ensued and neighboring countries started supporting their chosen proxies. Pakistan’s favorite was Gulbuddin Hikmetyar Hizb-Islami but later she switched its support to incipient movement of Taliban. Taliban’s uncompromising conviction of imposition of Shari‘at in Afghanistan by controlling the central state increased the momentum of civil war. Pakistan supported this view for her own strategic purposes and also thwarted any effort by the government of Burhanudin Rabbani to bring Afghan factions together once the Taliban threat became clear[ix]. Eventually once Taliban were able to advance as far as to Kabul, the ethnic divide manifested itself in sheer bloody manner. Offenses in Mazar Sharif in 1997-98 resulted in huge no. of casualties as Pushtuns and Non-Pushtuns, now united in their opposition to Pushtun Talibans, committed ethnic cleansing. During all these years of civil war, Iran, Russia and Central Asian states supported anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Ethnic cleansing of an extent, never occurred in Afghanistan history ever before, horrified the international community. Ahmed Shah Masud’s forces, who was Tajik by ethnicity, massacred Hazara’s in 1995 whereas Hazara’s massacred Taliban in 1997 and were slaughtered by them the following year. Along with this division on ethnic-line, divisions within the Taliban Pushtuns also surfaced. Taliban’s shura was dominated by Durrani-Pushtuns and this centralization of power was resented by Ghilzais Pushtun who had dominated Afghan Jihad.

As Taliban resorted to guerilla warfare after the fall of Kabul in 2001 and with the increase of insurgency in recent years, peace in Afghanistan seems a distant reality. Two lessons that are to be learnt from Afghan history are totally ignored by the actors involved. Afghans have never succumbed to the foreign invaders. Their mutual hostility to occupation has always brought them together. Although majority of current insurgents are Pushtuns, this Pushtun and non-Pushtun divide in resistance is also result of policies for which no rationale Afghan history can provide. Diversity of Afghanistan does not allow any room whatsoever for one ethnic group to have an absolute authority over the whole country. Tribal-society by nature, centralization of power by one clan, tribe or ethnic group does not provide suitable model of government for Afghanistan. A strong central state would require compromises of autonomy by the other clans and ethnicities which is anathema for Afghanis. Regional countries that have over the time supported the proxies in Afghanistan should learn this lesson for their own good. The conflict will not subside unless an all inclusive government with representation from all ethnic groups is formed. As US forces are not going to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, it’s the regional actors who have to decide whether they are going to keep playing the dirty game in Afghanistan or will respect the plurality of Afghanistan by stop waging proxies war in this unfortunate country.


[i] Runion L Meredith, The history of Afghanistan,Greenwood press 2007

[ii] Wahab S and Youngerman B, A brief history of Afghanistan, 2nd Ed, Infobase Publishing 2007.

[iii][iii] Ibid

[iv] Ahmed E and Barnet j R. A reporter at Large. Bloody Games . They New Yorker, April 11. 1988 p.44

[v]Wahab S and Youngerman B, A brief history of Afghanistan, 2nd Ed, Infobase Publishing 2007.

[vi] Ahmed E and Barnet j R. A reporter at Large. Bloody Games . They New Yorker, April 11. 1988 p.44

[vii] Ibid

[viii] Rashid, Ahmed (2000). Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia. London: I. B. Tauris

[ix] Ibid