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Thread: The Struggle for Pashtunistan

  1. #1
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Afghan Customary Law: "Pashtunwali" and its Relationship with Formal Institutions

    Excellent and informative article on Pashtun customary law by Tom Barfield. Found via Afghanistanica.

    ...
    Pashtuns, even wealthy ones, who moved to large cities were even farther removed from the values of the
    Pashtunwali because there they were enmeshed in state systems of government that restricted autonomy and cash economies that valued money more than honor. It is for this reason that examples of customary law as a living tradition are found mainly in the marginal areas of rural Afghanistan even though the ethos of the Pashtunwali is common to all rural Pashtuns ...


    The blog has some nice commentary as well:

    I would venture a guess that if it was possible to do a quantitative analysis of revenge in Afghanistan, a researcher would find that few Pashtuns actually attempt revenge and even fewer attain it. But damn it, that whole Pashtunwali thing makes for an interesting article. And never mind that it is a wee bit Orientalist and sensationalist; Whatsisname at that there newspaper wants to tell you that Pashtuns are an unthinking bunch of maniacs bent on revenge, guided only by their basest emotions and incapable of logic, reason, forgiveness or pragmatism. I’m not going to cite any articles because there are so many to choose from, and not just from second-rate rags like [insert name of any newspaper in the world], but in quality sources such as The Economist and The Christian Science Monitor.

    What those journalists are leaving out are the concepts of Nanawatay, Rogha, Nagha and Jirga. All these concepts are, in some form or another, tools for reconciliation, forgiveness, compensation, punishment or justice. And guess what? They are included in Pashtunwali along with Badal.

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    Default The Struggle for Pashtunistan

    CSIS, 17 Oct 07: The Struggle for “Pashtunistan”: The Afghan-Pakistan War
    - The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007. Statistics show that although the numbers of incidents are higher than comparable periods in 2006,they show the same seasonal pattern.

    - The nature of the incidents has however changed considerably since last year, with high numbers of armed clashes in the field giving way to a combination of armed clashes and asymmetric attacks countrywide.

    - The Afghan National Police (ANP) has become a primary target of insurgents and intimidation of all kinds has increased against the civilianpopulation, especially those perceived to be in support of the government, international military forces as well as the humanitarian and development community.

    - The more significant change in 2007 is the shift from large-scale armed clashes in the field to asymmetric or terror-style attacks. The former do still take place and as air support is often used, casualty figures are still high. On average however these clashes are fewer and smaller than in 2006.

    - Possible reasons include the high numbers of Taliban fighters killed during summer 2007 including many mid-level and senior commanders. Another reason must be the realization that these types of attacks are futile against a modern conventionally equipped military force supported by a wide range of air assets. The Afghan National Army (ANA) has also been improving throughout 2007
    Complete 28 slide brief in pdf at the link.

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    Council Member Shivan's Avatar
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    Default The Struggle for Pashtunistan

    Thank you for posting. The data are useful.

    I'm not sure what the CSIS purports to show besides providing quantifiable data on what we already know. If Cordesman is suggesting that Pashtunistan is a prime goal of the Taliban, he's wrong.

    Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan will cede territory to form a Pashtun homeland. This is an old Pashtun dream, and revived in some quarters. To quote an Afghan specialist (whom I will not name here), the Afghan leaders, “like poker players at a card game, are more interested in dividing the pot than they are in dividing the table at which they sit." Hypothetically, if there was to be a Pashtunistan, it would not receive the funding Afghanistan receives, and would be beset by neighbors on many sides. Afghanistan is not the Balkans: the Balkans were various ethnicities hastily cobbled together; however, Afghans consider their multi-ethnic state the norm. While Pashtunistan is a sore point, Pashtun thought and aspirations are not homogenous, i.e., while there may be some support for Pashtunistan, it is not universal.

    There are multiple causes for the mosaic insurgencies in Afghanistan, and voluntary support for the Taliban varies from clan to clan, sub-clan to sub-clan, village to village, and is more complex than can be described herein. Which gets us into the "cultural intelligence" aspect, i.e., why do many Pashtuns support the Taliban? Why is their gravitational attraction increasing, while the attraction of the democracy project continues to decline?

    While Afghanistan may not be sectarian like Iraq, Cordesman fails to acknowledge the importance of its ethnic diversity, with about 55 identifiable ethnicities. It is also more linguistically diverse, with several dialects and languages falling into the broad category of Indo-European (e.g. Persian) and Turkic (e.g., Turko-Mongolian). I disagree with his claim that Afghanistan is religiously more "homogenous" (p.5): Sunni religious orthopraxy varies sharply, and there is no established orthodoxy in the land, and never has, despite the best efforts of Amir 'Abd al-Rahman (1880-1901). Finally, the Shi'ites come in several stripes: from Twelver Shi'a (as in Iran) to Sevener Shi'a (Ismā‘īlī) to Nizāri Ismā‘īlī (commonly, the "Assassins").

    There is thus bound to be some friction, and why Afghanistan should devolve power to regions, be it by de jure or de facto means. A strong central state is not one which most Afghans favor, being accustomed to greater regional, local/tribal autonomy.

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    Canadian Army Journal, Fall 07: The Way of the Pashtun: Pashtunwali
    .....Knowledge of the cultural norms and practices of Afghans is rudimentary at best. Few in Canada, and quite likely Europe and North America, have any real understanding of Afghanistan and its people. Tribal codes and practices seem as distant in time as the American frontier or the “wild west,” and more appropriate to an era dominated by imperial practices and the building of empires, certainly not the 21st Century. Many cannot conceive of a people who do not subscribe to the concept of rights and obligations we in Canada take for granted, and whose lives differ so dramatically from the scope of the privileges that we are afforded in the West. Certainly, few can understand why the Pashtuns of Afghanistan believe what they do, or why it is important to them.

    The purpose of this piece is to describe the code commonly referred to as Pashtunwali, paying specific attention to its tenets and guiding principles, as well as its applicability and usage. Additionally, I will examine its relationship with the Islamic concept of shari’a, as well as the role played by women in its day-to-day use. Lastly, I will close with some observations on the code and possible implications it could have for the conduct of ongoing NATO operations within Afghanistan. The topic warrants study and discussion, largely because of the significant interactions which are happening between westerners currently in Afghanistan as part of the “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF) and “Operation ENDURING FREEDOM” (OEF), but also because if there is any real hope of ever rebuilding Afghanistan and making it a viable nation on the world stage, it is imperative that an understanding of its cultural norms and practices exists beyond that articulated in the popular press.....

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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Very interesting

    Though it reads like a book report at times, it was one of the most informative reports on the details of Pustunwali that I've seen. Women appear to be able to influence male behavior under the Pushtunwali by subtlely positioning themselves in such a way that refusal of their request would be regarded as shameful for a man of authority and cause a loss of standing or honor.

    I wonder how the Pustunwali compares with the Adat of the Chechens - anyone out there know?

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Other slants

    In December 2006 The Economist published an article on the Pashtun code of honour, it is a good account, but is not available freely on their website. It is on this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/1302/The-E...htunwali-tribeAlas link no longer works (Jan 2010).

    This link appears to suddenly end and hard copy of original article is at work, so will check out later today.

    Or try this article, from July 2007, written by an Afghan now resident in Australia: http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/1952/81/

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-10-2010 at 09:40 PM.

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    REI, 2 Apr 08: ‘Pashtunistan’: The Challenge to Pakistan and Afghanistan
    Summary: The alarming growth of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pashtun tribal region of north-western Pakistan and southern Afghanistan is usually attributed to the popularity of their messianic brand of Islam and to covert help from Pakistani intelligence agencies. But another, more ominous, reason also explains their success: their symbiotic relationship with a simmering Pashtun separatist movement that could lead to the unification of the estimated 41 million Pashtuns on both sides of the border, the break-up of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the emergence of a new national entity, an ‘Islamic Pashtunistan’.

    This ARI examines the Pashtun claim for an independent territory, the historical and political roots of the Pashtun identity, the implications for the NATO- or Pakistani-led military operations in the area, the increasing co-operation between Pashtun nationalist and Islamist forces against Punjabi domination and the reasons why the Pashtunistan movement, long dormant, is slowly coming to life.

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    Excellent articles all. As for blogs, don't forget the Baluchis!

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    Two products requiring AKO Log-in and BCKS membership to access:

    Micro Mission Guide: Afghanistan
    Afghanistan's history and culture are complex. This guide is a starting point that draws from the experiences of military operators, academics, and analysts. It complements existing cultural intelligence products on Afghanistan and gives deeper insight into the way Afghans conduct themselves when holding meetings, attending special events, and conducting negotiations.
    NWFP and FATA Pakistan Regional Culture Smart Card
    This culture smart card provides unclassified information on NWFP and FATA culture. Topics addressed include:

    Cultural History
    Governing Laws
    Pashtun Society
    Tribal Agencies
    Centers of Authority
    Frontier Corps

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    First issue of a new publication from the Aryana Institute of Regional Research and Advocacy:

    Kyber - The Voices of Pashtuns, June 2009
    Kyber is an initiative to engage the Pashtun intelligentia and youth, both in the homeland and in the diaspora with the aim to discuss Pashtun issues and contribute to a more informed debate on the Pashtun question on both sides of the Durand Line. The magazine also intends to provide a forum to our youth to remain in touch with their culture, art and literature and at the same time, to illustrate a softer image of the Pashtun to the outer world.
    Articles include:

    • Pashtun Population: An Estimate

    • Pashtun Besieged: Is there a way out?

    • Pashtun Ethnic Cleansing and Opportunity for Peace

    • What do we (Pashtun) need?

    • The code of Pashtunwali

    • IDPs Crisis and Governance Confusion

    • IDPs updates as on 8-5-2009

    • Irfan Khan Revealed Interview with Irfan Khan

    • Video (Specially edited for KHYBER)

    • Afghani Cuisine

    • Green Tea of Peshawar

  11. #11
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for Pakhtun numerous Internet reserach sites

    Thanks for all these Pashtun background info posts, some of which I did not know about.

    Simplified the folks who are the Taliban are Pakhtuns, in the main, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is nothing "honorable" about abusing women and children, and other more gross and fatal acts that are common practice by the Taliban "using the excuse of religion" in today's world.

    But you all know this.

    Again, thanks for some citations I will not take time to explore which I formerly was unaware of.

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Typing error - correction

    My last sentence should have read: "I will now (not is in error) take time to..."

    Arthritic fingers make too many mistakes typing!

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Brief overview of Jedburg's link to KYBER - Voice of Pashtuns, June 2009

    I have "read over" Jedburg's recent posting of the link to KHYBER, THE VOICES OF PASHTUNS, JUNE, 2009.

    Summary comments: Exact same cast of names and personalties who have been among the frequent posters on GLOBAL HUJRA ONLINE a subdivision of KHYBER WATCH.

    My abbreviated partial reviews now are critical in nature, there are some good points made by some of these writers:

    1. M. Bilal Khan Yousafazai, article "Code of Pashtunwali", key point in his opening remarks is that this is an unwritten law and ideology, i.e., custom and practice open to widely differing interpretations. Conservative, oligarical...it in his view has developed into an "accepted constitution." It is under this unwritten constitution that Osama bin Laden is given protection under the guise of hospitality by those Pashtuns who are members of the Taliban. The Jirga system evolves from this "constitution" also. Jirgas are an old practice or custom, my remark (George)...the late King of Afghanistan in 2001-2002 returned briefly to Afghanistan to convene a Grand Jirga of the tribes of Afghanistan, most of whom are ethnic Pakhtuns numerically, to help the Allies restart a new government under Karzai.

    2. Dr. Nbi Misdaq, who currently works for the US Department of State, Foreign Language Institute in Arlington, VA, leads off the listed articles advocating in a softly worded fashion an attempt to sell the secession of Pakhtuns from both Pakistan and Afghanistan to create a new nation-state of Pakhtuwana.

    3. Mohammad Naeem, who is a young Canadian graduate student (told to me to be working on a Masters in Canada, but could as easily be a doctoral student there) is a regular posters on GLOBAL HUJRA ONLINE and has on occasion been verbally violent on line, cursing, etc., which that website has consistently overlooked at allowed (HUJRA). Here again is an activist damning the government of Pakistan, no matter who or which party is in power, and adocating secession.

    4. Jahznzel & Fatima Ahmed (she is a Masters degree student in Canada, where both reside) offer some more of the same general remarks.

    5. Samin Jan Kekah, one of the Islamic religiously focused Pahtun writers on this new site, talks about the Islamic angel Shaytaan as being the biggest scholar and most educated among the angels, among the chose of God, sort of describing this angel as the, my wording, "Patron Saint" of Pashtun separatism and secession to be a new stand alone ethnically based (racial) nation created out of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This writer is from Quetta and is a university student at Balochistan University.

    It needs to be understood that some of the Paskthun folks I am commenting on here represent a reverse racial superiority point of view, and have repeatedly told me in open forum of their disdain for "lesser" tribes and elites. Those who profess Islam are Sunnis, not Shiites, and they are not entirely friendly to Shiites as a matter of fact.

    You find mixed messages and differeing opinions among these and other writers on the new and existing sites. This site, to me, is an attemt to create a direct forum with the world which supercedes their existing sites but builds on it and is in tandum with it.

    You find here and there in these various writings mentioning of the Durand Line, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a major object and purpose of their writing, to eventually undo the 100+ year old border separating Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Finally, the article about IDP (Internally displaced persons) by a free lance Pashtun journalist does provide some helpful statistical tables of where and how many IDPs are accommodated during the fighting.

    Quraysh Khattak is a Pashtun Journalist who worked with many prestigious newspapers including The News. He is a freelance writer and works as a Program Manager in an Islamabad-based NGO. He writes in part:
    Peshawar, Charsadda and Swabi.

    The Ministry of Community Development (former Social Welfare Department) has conducted off camp registration in various areas. According to their record 77516 families of 462528 persons was living in rented houses or with their relatives in 11 districts of the province. But after the peace deal most of the IDPs went back to their home towns.
    Quraysh Khattak is a Pashtun Journalist who worked with many prestigious newspapers including The News. He is a freelance writer and works as a Program Manager in an Islamabad-based NGO.

    IDP’s updates on 8-5-2009
    Aryana Insitute for Regional Research and Advocacy (AIRRA)
    The ongoing militancy in Swat and the operation against the militants in the area has resulted in insurmountable hardships for a huge population of the area. The Islamic militants have imposed their own version of Islamic rules and regulations. They have occupied the houses, property and other places of the common public. The Army has come to rescue situation. But after the lapse of two long years, one of the strongest military in the Muslim world has yet to show the results. Frustration and disappointments compelled the population of the area to move to safer places in other parts of NWFP.

    The controversial peace deal gave an opportunity to the militants to reorganize and regroup. They expanded their influence to District Buner,Shangla, Dir upper and Dir lower. They openly challenged the writ of the government and started militant activities in the areas. The liberals and opinion makers of the society welcomed the recent counter insurgency stance of the government, albeit with a caution. The people of the conflict zones are of the opinion that the supply lines, network and command and control structure of militants would need a ground assault on the part of the military but till now gun ship helicopters and jet aircrafts are used to target the militant hideouts.

    The newly launched military operation resulted in huge migration of masses to down districts of the province and other parts of the country. Displacement of almost one million has taken place till now. Majority of the people have shifted to district Mardan, Nowshera, Peshawar, Charsadda and Swabi.

    The Ministry of Community Development (former Social Welfare Department) has conducted off camp registration in various areas. According to their record 77516 families of 462528 persons was living in rented houses or with their relatives in 11 districts of the province. But after the peace deal most of the IDPs went back to their home towns. *George note: This refers to the on again, off again jirga and Government of Pakistan attempts to negotiate a settlement with the Taliban which we know then blew up and failed.
    Experience tells us on SWJ that any displacement of a few million folks will have tons of problems, as was the case with the earth quakes in the Kashmir zone of Pakistan a few years ago. People gripe, sometimes genuinely, but massive logistics and resettlement and support is a horrendous job never suitable fixed to everyone's satisfaction, witness our Katrina on going repairs and resettlements here in the US.

    End of "George's opinions" of the Pakhtuns, several of whom have dialogued with me since Nov. 2006 when I was invited to be a Member of KHYBER WATCH, sub set being GLOBAL HUJRA ONLINE. I was separately invited to be a contributor, free will, up to me to contribute, on PAKHTUN WOMEN website, being told by the founder of that site that women in general were treated too rudely and hostilly on GLOBAL HUJRA ONLINE and thus set up their own blog site, separately. Such negative cultural norms toward females is a part of the unwritten Pukhwatawana "constitution."
    Last edited by George L. Singleton; 07-23-2009 at 02:12 PM. Reason: correct typo

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