Academic journal article South Asian Studies

A Historical Analysis of Trends in Pakhtun Ethno-Nationalism

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

A Historical Analysis of Trends in Pakhtun Ethno-Nationalism

Article excerpt


To the Marxists, the state arose as a result of class struggle between the pre-state kinship based social order characterized by low development of wealth and labour, with the new classes that resulted from a progression of growth in productivity of labour, private property and exchange. In this class struggle, which is a product of differences of wealth and control over the utilization of labour powers of others, old kinship based society withers away and gives way to the emergence of a new one based on control over the state. This materialistic explanation for state emergence through a class struggle is forwarded by the Marxists as the basis for the origin of the state throughout written history (Engels, 2004). The state is perceived as a tool of exploitation used for perpetuation of dominant ruling class's power. And therefore, the revolution by proletariat is supposed to do away with the state and create a basis for a classless, stateless society.

The Marxist and neo-Marxists consider all forms of national struggles as manifestations of class struggles. The emphasis on this position negates the concept of national struggle as emanating from a primordial entity of a 'nation,' or as a nationalism struggle rooted in human psyche. This strand also rejects modernization's theory's analysis of nationalism as an autonomous diffusionist modern and civilizing idea emanating as a corollary impact of Western colonialism (Blaut, 1987: 60-72). The Marxist ideology regards all national struggles as class struggles. Such struggles in colonial set-up assume the character of indigenous population struggling against foreign rule. In other cases, where there is no foreign rule, such struggle may assume the form of a culturally and territorially distinct minority group within a state struggling against suppression of its culture or resisting exploitation of its working population. In both cases, the state is controlled by another (or foreign) ruling group or class agents, who are engaged in a sort of class struggle in the garb of linguistic, racial, economic and social conflicts. Such class struggle may result in creation of separate states, or independence from foreign rule, or greater autonomy to the minority community within the existing state (Blaut, 1987: 8-17 & 57-69).

The Pakhtun ethno-nationalist struggle in its irredentist form may also be viewed as a form of class struggle against the dominant class or classes for attainment of control over state power. However, the class character of such irredentist struggle was middle class bourgeoisie and the movement itself may be termed a reactionary struggle to protest the showering of privileges to the top-class Pakhtun bourgiousie, first by the British masters and later after the creation of Pakistan by the Punjabi and Muhajir dominated state of Pakistan. The irredentist struggle by the Pakhtun ethno-nationalist class for an independent state raised its head twice in the history of Pakistan's existence, but for the majority period, such struggle has assumed the form of demands for greater provincial autonomy within the Federation. However, the irredentist movement as well as demands for greater autonomy has been more of struggle perpetuated by the elite classes of the Pakhtuns. The enthusiasm has not really been shared by either the Pakhtun proletariat or the peasant classes, whose class and economic interests have become too integrated with the rest of Pakistan. This reflects that ethno-national struggle may be termed as class struggle, but of very specific classes and the failure of such struggles may also be blamed on class differences within a single ethnicity and the perception of these classes on the future economic gains they may or may not accrue from an independent status.

What is Ethno-nationalism?

Ethno-nationalism combines two words, 'ethno' and 'nationalism'. Just as with other social terminologies, ethno, ethnicity, ethnic, and ethnic group as well as nationalism and naation are hard and tricky to define, though they are often used interchangeably. …

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