The USG Open Source Center analyzes the stances of the parties representing the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara Shiite minorities in Afghanistan and finds that they reject President Hamid Karzai’s plans for reconciliation with the Taliban or are lukewarm to it. Some Pashtun parties are enthusiatic about the idea. Although each ethnic group mentioned is a minority, it should be noted that together non-Pashtuns make up some 58 percent of the population and so are in aggregate the majority.
OSC Analysis: Afghanistan: Support for Karzai’s Reconciliation Limited Among Minority Parties
Afghanistan — OSC Analysis
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 …
Afghanistan — Support for Karzai’s Reconciliation Plan Limited Among Minority Parties
Afghanistan’s major non-Pashtun political parties have offered conditional support at most for President Karzai’s reconciliation initiative with the Taliban, suggesting that support for the proposal is limited among non-Pashtuns
(1) Predominantly Pashtun parties such as the Hezb-e Islami (Arghandiwal) have expressed strong support for reconciliation.
Pashtuns comprise 42% of the Afghan population, followed by Tajiks with 27% and Uzbeks and Hazarahs, each with 9% of the population, according to the 2009 CIA World Factbook.
The leading Tajik party, the Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan (Islamic Society of Afghanistan), led by Burhanudin Rabani, has not been observed to issue any official statement on reconciliation. However, the National Front, a coalition of mainly non-Pashtun groups that Rabani chairs and that supported Abdullah Abdullah in last year’s presidential election, offered critical opinions about the prospect of reconciliation with the Taliban.
On 30 January, the website of the National Front’s Political Committee quoted Abdullah Abdullah as saying that “talks are a two sided process; (since) one side (Taliban) is not ready for talks therefore talks are not an option at this point.” He also said that there should be a national dialogue about reconciliation with the Taliban, adding that “people want to know if they are going back to the Islamization of the Taliban government that was ousted in 2001.” (2)
A 3 February editorial on the National Front website stated that “pouring millions” of dollars into areas under Taliban control would be “considered as a reward to those who fight the government.” (3)
An unattributed and undated article titled “London Conference a Blow to the Young Afghan Democracy” on the National Front website questioned the effectiveness of President Karzai’s peace initiative, asking: “Can a vague peace proposal which has been put together behind closed doors, without consultation with the parliament and civil society, bring peace to the nation?” (4)
President Karzai’s Uzbek ally, the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (NIMA), led by General Abdurrashid Dostum, has not issued any official statement. However, the NIMA web page was critical of the proposed talks with the Taliban, expressing uncertainty about the motives behind reconciliation.
An undated article by Asefa Saba, a frequent contributor to the NIMA web page, stated that “people are concerned about the latest proposed talks with the Taliban,” adding that the dominance of certain “discriminatory” and “chauvinistic” circles (an oblique reference to Pashtuns) in the government has created doubt about government policies. In his “Open Letter to the UN Secretary General,” the author asks: “Have you forgotten the atrocities that the Taliban committed in northern Afghanistan?” (5)
President Karzai’s ethnic Hazarah ally, the Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Afghanistan (Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan), led by Second Vice President Karim Khalili, has not issued any public statement on the president’s reconciliation initiative, but the party’s official publication, Mosharekat-e Meli, has offered noncommittal and mildly critical opinion about the initiative.
A 2 February editorial in Moshareka-e Meli noted that “the participants in the (London) conference were primarily interested in two issues: negotiations with the Taliban and the mechanism for conducting such negotiations, and the strengthening of regional cooperation.” The editorial suggested that there are still a number unanswered questions about this process, such as: “Would the Taliban accept the reconciliation offer? On which principles would regional cooperation materialize? Would each country pursue its own interest in Afghanistan? Would regional cooperation take place on the basis of the common interest? Can the Afghan Government keep a logical balance in its relations with regional powers?” (6)
Another Karzai ethnic Hazarah ally, the Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami Mardom-e (Afghanistan People’s Islamic Unity Party), led by member of parliament Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, issued a statement supporting the London Conference but stipulating conditions for reconciliation with the Taliban.
The party published a statement in the independent Daily Afghanistan on 2 February saying that the party “supports” the decisions of the London Conference, adding that “any type of reconciliation effort must fully respect Afghanistan’s Constitution and values such as democracy, freedom of expression, human rights, women’s rights, and Afghanistan’s multi-ethnic structure, political, religious, and cultural diversity.” (7)
Ramazan Bashardost, the 2009 presidential candidate who received the majority of the Hazarah vote, has not issued any official statement on reconciliation.
Karzai’s Pashtun ally, the Hezb-e Islami Afghanistan led by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, expressed strong support for the “reconciliation” initiative, calling it the main reason for his party’s support for Karzai’s reelection.
BBC Persian Service quoted Arghandiwal in June 2009 as saying his party supported President Karzai because “Karzai’s program recognizes negotiation and reconciliation with the Taliban as the only way out of the current crisis. (8)
(1) For information on President Karzai’s reconciliation initiative please see (OSC EUP2006020110 1006 1 February 2010 31 January 2010 Afghanistan President Karzai Addresses London Conference on 31 January (U) )
(2) (Open Source (Not OSC) http://www. jabhaemeli. com 1 January 2010 Abdullah Abdullah: Reconciliation With Taliban Impossible (U) )
(3) (OpenSource (Not OSC) http:// www. jabhaemeli. com 3 February 2010 Karzai Reconciliation Strategy has Triggered Ethnic and Legal Apprehension (U) )
(4) (Open Source (Not OSC) http://www. jabhaemeli. com 3 February 2010 London Conference A Blow to Young Afghan Democracy (U) )
(5) (Open Source (Not OSC) http:// junbesh. net 3 February 2010 Open Letter to UN General Secretary (U) )
(6) (Open Source (Not OSC) http:// mosharekatemeli. com 2 February 2010 Editorial (U) )
(7) (Open Source (Not OSC) http://www. dailyafghanistan. com 2 February 2010 Afghanistan People’s Islamic Unity Party: London Conference Important for Future of Afghanistan (U) )
(8) (Open Source (Not OSC) http:// www. bbc. co.uk/ persian/ afghanistan 9 June2009 BBC Persian Service Afghanistan News (U) )
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