Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Ethnofederalism and the Ethnogeopolitics of Afghan State

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Ethnofederalism and the Ethnogeopolitics of Afghan State

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Bonn agreement has proved to be a reckoning case of mutant ethnic conflict that simply refused to subside given the internal-external connection of groups; the sources of power resided outside the state territory. The law remained in the hands of warlords who were connected to their kinsmen beyond state territory often stressing the borders that has prevented the Afghan state from having peaceful coexistence with neighbors. This tricky situation had much contribution from the Cold War geopolitics, which created microstructures of contested spaces along margins of tribal and kinship groups. The role of technology in making these rivalries count in the stratagem of great powers paved way for the threatening scenario where even the smallest and remotest act of an individual would construe the perception of threat. And, therefore, the war which started as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) finally narrowed down to signature pointing and personality strikes even after a decade.1 This has had much to do with the role of leadership who are the mobilizer of threat. The important variable that got into play with signature strikes were the sections of tribal groups represented by personality and their following. The extended kinship network and loyalty have been the foremost qualification to be a successful warlord apart from small arms and drugs. These drone strikes have particularly riled the Pashtun tribal communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which generated myriad reactions such as one leading to incendiary green on blue attacks.

The present paper looks into structuration of Afghan state since the advent of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) under United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) aegis and myriad forms of ethnomethodological approaches adopted by international agencies during the course to trim down its ethnic baggage. However, the very idea of qawm simply refuses to debilitate the tribal polity and the new arrangement of power sharing has tried to resurrect the consociational form of institution building, but geopolitics of the land simply keeps the aspirations of state stability lower than expected. It has historically been the habit of the Afghans to look beyond their territory but the real deficit of statehood is marked by virulent tribal autonomies that are vulnerable to persistent influence from the neighbors. The most important qualifier at this stage is that not all ethnoscapes feel the same vis-à-vis drone warfare. It is the Pashtun lands, which is spread across the Durand line that has the maximum bitterness against the drones. The sufferings have further aggravated the sense of marginalization among the Pashtuns and they find it more difficult to reconcile with the state that condescends the drone strike. The question arises that through the Bonn agreement international actors tried for maximum inclusion of ethnic groups to build the Afghan state, then why Taliban-led Pashtuns could not see themselves coming to the party. Their antagonisms are based on challenges to the constitutional framework, but their methodology is quite paradoxical. They oppose the present constitution from the perspective of Islam as non-compromising spirit of the state, but their share in power looks for the dominance over Pashtuns, to which most of the Taliban leadership belongs. The coercive power of Taliban essentially emanates from their majoritarian status.2 This also refers to the peculiar setup of Pashtuns. Taliban sees constitution as not only obtrusive to their ethnic but also their tribal framework. The khel and clan system is almost complete reference to political authority commanded by elders. The presence of overarching tier of state that can constrict their bargaining power vis-à-vis other ethnic groups is seen as a threat. There is also an important aspect of body politic, i.e., the role and social space for woman. The women are considered as focus of family honor and their equivalence to land and material asset brings in confrontation with the state. …

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