Dostum’s remarks and the fear of ethnic divisions

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 03:48 Written by  Heart of asia Read 284 times

Ethnic schism was one of the major fallouts of four decades of war in Afghanistan. Prior to the communist regimes and the civil war, Afghans were indeed a united nation, and the country’s politics was based on ideological and national interests other than ethnic values.

The creation of Khalq and Parcham factions was the beginning of such divisions, further widened by the internecine war. In the first years following the ouster of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan once again became a home for all Afghans, and a slow nation-building process began; however, some politicians’ hunger for power allowed the foreign enemies of Afghanistan to create problems for the nation-building and unity process.

After the highly disputed 2014 presidential election, ethnic politicians once again saw an opportunity to secure privileges under the cover of ethnicity and language. Although the new dispensation formed against the general will of Afghans was titled as the government of national unity, the upshots are in conflict with its name. From the very beginning, government leaders have accused each other of failures and ethnic politics.

Most recently, First Vice-President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum accused the president and the chief executive officer of ethnic discrimination, claiming that Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah make ethnic-based appointments. Gen. Dostum made the remarks after his anti-Taliban operation ended up in failure in Faryab, and returned to Jawzjan province.

The statements of Dostum, as the country’s second top official, are of great concern, and irresponsible, which should not be viewed as superficial because his allegation of ethnic favoritism against President Ghani is not the statement of an ordinary citizen. He should realize that he is the First Vice-President, and second top official of Afghanistan, not a specific ethnic group, and is therefore not expected to make such irresponsible comments. Promoting ethnic divisions from being in such a very key political position will add to the country’s woes, and grow public concerns.

Given the involvement of foreign elements in fueling ethnic tensions in the country in the past, such remarks bolster the concern that some foreign circles are again seeking to sow the seeds of divisions among the fraternal Afghan ethnic groups through some politicians as their pawns to accomplish their goals. These political leaders should learn a lesson from the failures of ethnic politics in the past, and pursue politics based on national interests other than ethnic ones.
Gen. Dostum should try to unit ethnicities instead of stoking divisions among them, and must consider every corner of the country as his own, not only Jawzjan and Faryab provinces. 

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