Final Afghan Election Results Show Hazara Minority Trumped Dominant Pashtuns

By Tom A Peter; Ben Arnoldy | The Christian Science Monitor, November 24, 2010 | Go to article overview

Final Afghan Election Results Show Hazara Minority Trumped Dominant Pashtuns


Tom A Peter; Ben Arnoldy, The Christian Science Monitor


Hazaras' strong showing is concerning to majority Pashtuns - many of whom couldn't get to the polls because of insecurity - and casts doubt on how fair the election was.

Nearly two months after Afghans cast their votes in the parliamentary election, the country's Independent Election Commission released the final results for all but one area of the country.

While concerns remain about corruption and fraud, one of the biggest flash points ahead may prove to be the disproportionately large number of Hazara representatives elected - especially compared to Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan.

"It is indeed the deprivation of a very large group in the country, pushing them further towards isolation," says Haji Mohammed Hazraq, a member of the provincial council in Wardak. "One of the biggest reasons for insecurity is that the Pashtuns don't see their representatives in the government, despite being the largest group in the country."

The swell in Hazara representation comes in large part from insecurity in Pashtun regions that kept potential voters from the polls on election day. Throughout the country, most of the fighting takes place in Pashtun areas and the Taliban is almost exclusively Pashtun movement. As a result, they were more likely to experience threats and danger on election day and military forces had greater difficulty securing their areas.

"The security forces created a vacuum, nobody was there, and the Taliban threatened them," says Israr Khan, the president of the Awakened Youth Association, a political awareness group focused on creating peace.

Hazaras' disproportionate strength

Early analyses of the final results show that the Hazara community may have snagged a share of the lower house that represents as much as double their actual proportion of the population.

In Ghazni, the last remaining constituency to be counted, preliminary results indicated that all 11 seats went to Hazara candidates, even though the province has a slim majority of Pashtuns with significant Hazara and Tajik minorities. Officials estimate it will be another week before they have official results due to the closure of numerous other polling stations, as well as other election-day irregularities, such as one district that only counted three votes.

Wardak province also saw a surge in Hazara representation. Though the region is predominately home to Pashtuns, three of the five seats went to Hazaras.

All this is a serious concern for many of the country's Pashtuns, who allege that they are now underrepresented, especially in Wardak and Ghazni.

The Hazaras' victory, however, is unlikely to spark ethnic strife. Instead, it may cast further doubt on the fairness and representativeness of the elections. Ethnically imbalanced results suggest to some Afghans a process that was either not truly democratic or, at worst, rigged.

Allegations of fraud still loom heavy over the election, with doubts remaining about whether today's announced results will be accepted.

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