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Afghanistan: Information on the Pathans and their political significance from 1994 to 1995; and on whether or not they are currently opposed to the forces of Hekmatyar

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 December 1995
Citation / Document Symbol AFG22548.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Afghanistan: Information on the Pathans and their political significance from 1994 to 1995; and on whether or not they are currently opposed to the forces of Hekmatyar, 1 December 1995, AFG22548.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aac824.html [accessed 13 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to World Directory of Minorities, "Pashtuns, Pashtouns, Pakhtuns, Afghans" are alternative names for "Pathan" (MRGI 1990, 310). Political Handbook of the World:1994-1995 states that alternative names for "Pushtuns" are "Pashtuns or Pathans" (1995, 3), and information provided in the glossary of Afghanistan: The Great Game Revisited states that the term "Pathan" is the Indian form for "Pushtun" or "Pukhtun" (1987, 465-66). Since these terms appear interchangeable, the term "Pashtun" rather than "Pathan" will be used for the purpose of this Response to Information Request.

Sources consulted by the DIRB differ on the percentage of Pashtuns in Afghanistan. Some sources state that they represent approximately 30 to 50 per cent of the population (Manchester Guardian Weekly 24 Apr. 1994; Encyclopedia of the Third World 1992, 2; UNHCR 13 June 1994; Asian Survey July 1995, 631-33). However, The Herald and Minority Rights Group (MRG) disagree, stating that these figures reflect the situation before 1978 (Oct. 1995, 30; Feb. 1992, 11). According to MRG, some 85 per cent of over 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan are Pashtun, and according to a late 1987 Gallup poll, only 13 per cent of the population remaining in Afghanistan is Pashtun (ibid.). Corroborating information for this last statement could not be found among the sources consulted by the DIRB.

According to the Manchester Guardian Weekly, the Pashtuns wish to keep power out of the hands of the Tajiks (24 Apr. 1994), who represent approximately 30 per cent of the population (ibid.; UNHCR 13 June 1994; The Herald Oct. 1995, 30). The Pashtuns have ruled Afghanistan for between 250 and 300 years (ibid.; MRG Feb. 1992, 9; Manchester Guardian Weekly 24 Apr. 1994).

The Pashtun are primarily Sunni Muslims who live mainly in the east and south of Afghanistan (MRG Feb. 1992, 9). Those in the east belong to the Ghilzai tribes, and those in the south to the Durrani (The Herald Oct. 1995, 30). Most of the Mujahideen leaders are Pashtun from the east (ibid. Oct. 1995, 30-31), while the Taliban leadership and membership are largely Durrani from the south (ibid.; FEER 18 May 1995, 24; Facts on File 9 Mar. 1995). Further information on the Pashtun can be found in the attachments from World Directory of Minorities, The Herald of October 1995 and Asian Survey of July 1995. A map indicating the locations of the major ethnic groups is provided in the MRG attachment.

After the fall of the Najibullah régime in April 1992, a Pashtun religious leader, Sigbatullah Mojaddidi, took over as head of state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Freedom in the World 1994-1995, 89). Fighting immediately broke out between the Mujahideen along ethnic lines: the Pashtuns, represented by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and his Hizb-i Islami forces, battled the Tajiks, who were represented by Burhanuddin Rabbani, his military strategist Ahmed Shah Masoud, and the Jamaat-i Islami (ibid.; The Times 12 Sept. 1994; The Daily Telegraph 16 Mar. 1994). At the end of 1992, the Jamaat-i Islami forces of Rabbani and his army chief Masoud broke with the Shi'is of the Wahdat coalition of nine Hazara minority parties, who then joined Hekmatyar (Manchester Guardian Weekly 24 Apr. 1994). Rabbani was elected president in June 1992, and in the 7 March 1993 Islamabad Accords, it was agreed that Rabbani would continue as interim president while Hekmatyar became prime minister (Asian Survey Feb. 1994, 187). On 1 January 1994, General Dostam and his mainly Uzbek forces deserted Masoud and Rabbani and joined Hekmatyar (Manchester Guardian Weekly 24 Apr. 1994; Freedom in the World 1994-1995, 90).

In the autumn of 1994, the Pashtun-based Taliban, an army consisting of religious students, appeared on the political scene. Since then it has become a major political force, and by February 1995 had gained control over ten Pashtun provinces (Asian Survey July 1995, 623; Facts on File 9 Mar. 1995). According to The Herald, the Taliban has now captured all of southern and western Afghanistan (Oct. 1995, 31). According to two sources, the Taliban and its ally, General Dostam, joined forces with Hekmatyar against Rabbani (ibid. Sept. 1995, 68; MEI 6 Oct. 1995, 13-14; ibid. 20 Oct. 1995, 14) in order to mount an offensive against Kabul (ibid.). Sources did not provide a date for the union.

For additional information on the Taliban, please consult Responses to Information Requests AFG21226.EX of 17 July 1995 and AFG20612.E of 9 May 1995, which are available at Regional Documentation Centres.

For information on the current political scene in Afghanistan, please consult the September 1995 attachment from The Herald. Please consult Response to Information Request AFG22133.E of 14 November 1995, available at Regional Documentation Centres, for information on the current political climate in Afghanistan. The attachments from Freedom in the World 1994-1995 and Asian Survey of February 1995 provide background information on the political alliances between the various players since the collapse of the Najibullah régime in April 1992.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Afghanistan: The Great Game Revisited. 1987. Edited by Rosanne Klass. New York: Freedom House.

Asian Survey [Berkeley, Calif.]. July 1995. Vol. 35, No. 7. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady. "The Decline of the Pashtuns in Afghanistan."

_____. February 1994. Vol. 34, No. 2. Barnett R. Rubin. "Afghanistan in 1993: Abandoned but Surviving."

The Daily Telegraph [London]. 16 March 1994. Ahmed Rashid. "Afghan Fighting Threatens Wider Conflict in Region." (NEXIS)

Encyclopedia of the Third World. 1992. 4th ed. Vol. 1. Edited by George Thomas Kurian. New York: Facts on File.

Facts on File World News Digest [New York]. 9 March 1995. "U.N. Peace Plan Stalls." (NEXIS)

Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) [Hong Kong]. 18 May 1995. Vol. 158, No. 20. Ahmed Rashid. "Grinding Halt: Taliban Student Army Suffers Serious Setback."

Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights & Civil Liberties, 1994-1995. 1995. Edited by James Finn et al. New York: Freedom House.

The Herald [Karachi]. October 1995. Vol. 26, No. 10. "The Pakhtun Factor."

_____. September 1995. Vol. 26, No. 9. "Rabbani's Last Stand?"

Manchester Guardian Weekly [London]. 24 April 1994. Bruno Philip. "'An Afghan Is for Hire, Not for Sale,." (NEXIS)

Middle East International (MEI) [London]. 20 October 1995. Mushahid Hussain. "Afghanistan: A Decisive Round."

_____. 6 October 1995. Mushahid Hussain. "Afghanistan: Taliban's New Successes."

Minority Rights Group (MRG). February 1992. No. 92.2. Nassim Jawad. Afghanistan: A Nation of Minorities. London: MRG.

Minority Rights Group International (MRGI). 1990. World Directory of Minorities. The High, Harlow, Essex: Longman Group UK.

Political Handbook of the World, 1994-1995. 1995. Edited by Arthur S. Banks. Binghamton, NY: CSA Publications.

The Times [London]. 12 September 1994. Adrian Brooks. "Children of Kabul Pay Bloody Price for Afghan Conflict." (NEXIS)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 13 June 1994. Public Information (PI) Fact Sheet: Afghanistan. (DIRB country file)

Attachments

Afghanistan: The Great Game Revisited. 1987. Edited by Rosanne Klass. New York: Freedom House, pp. 465-66.

Asian Survey [Berkeley, Calif.]. July 1995. Vol. 35, No. 7. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady. "The Decline of the Pashtuns in Afghanistan," pp. 621-34.

_____. February 1995. Vol. 35, No. 2. Zalmay Khalilzad. "Afghanistan in 1994: Civil War and Disintegration," pp. 147-52.

                Facts on File World News Digest [New York]. 9 march 1995. "U.N. Peace Plan Stalls." (NEXIS)

Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights & Civil Liberties, 1994-1995. 1995. Edited by James Finn et al. New York: Freedom House, pp. 89-91.

The Herald [Karachi]. October 1995. Vol. 26, No. 10. "The Pakhtun Factor," pp. 30-31.

_____. September 1995. Vol. 26, No. 9. "Rabbani's Last Stand?," pp. 68-69.

Manchester Guardian Weekly [London]. 24 April 1994. Bruno Philip. "'An Afghan Is for Hire, Not for Sale,." (NEXIS)

Middle East International (MEI) [London]. 20 October 1995. Mushahid Hussain. "Afghanistan: A Decisive Round," p. 14.

Minority Rights Group (MRG). February 1992. No,. 92.2. Nassim Jawad. Afghanistan: A Nation of Minorities. London: MRG, pp. 9-11.

Minority Rights Group International (MRGI). 1990. World Directory of Minorities. The High, Harlow, Essex: Longman Group UK, pp. 310-12.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 13 June 1994. Public Information (PI) Fact Sheet: Afghanistan. (DIRB country file)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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