Disassembling the Baghlan Bombing

by Joshua Foust on 11/25/2007 · 3 comments

The Navy Post-Graduate School, whose Program for Culture and Conflict Studies serves as a “reachback” for the Human Terrain System, has written a report in the current issue of its journal on the casualties—the likely targets of the Wolesi Jirga—of the Baghlan bombing.

It’s actually really interesting and worth reading in full. Péter Marton, however, notes an interesting gaffe:

It’s interesting to see how they have some information to offer on each of the Wolesi Jirga members who were killed, but I’m puzzled a little seeing that they ended up calling Mustafa Kazemi a Tajik (to my best knowledge he was a Hazara politican; he used to belong to the Hizb-i-Wahdat). And you know, after all he was one of the most important victims of the November 6 blast, and certainly not one of those MPs on whom it would have been the most difficult to dig up information. The authors use very few references which is certainly not good, although I do see among the ones listed that they read Registan at least.

He is right about Kazimi—as the spokesman of the UNF, he was very high profile and everywhere else he’s been called a Hazara. And while it’s wonderful to see the NPS referencing Registan.net, here it is to a post in which I erroneously call Gulbuddin Hekmatyar a Tajik—he is in fact a detribalized Pashtun from a Tajik-majority region.

At least they’re not alone. Perfection is a ridiculous standard, and in the grand scheme of things, Kazimi’s ethnicity pales in comparison to his role in the UNF—which was the more probable reason for his probable assassination. So while it is a strange thing to get wrong, I don’t think it matters all that much in the grand scheme of things.

Hrm. I wonder how long until Ann Marlowe swoops in to declare the HTS NPS a complete failure? Oh right, she thinks Tom Jonhson is perfect and above reproach.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Tom Johnson November 26, 2007 at 1:26 pm

Thank you for pointing out our gaffe. You are absolutely correct that Kazimi was Hazara and a former member of Hizbi-i-Wahdat. We have since corrected our site. One of the reasons we decided to make “gazetteer” as well as other information and data available to anyone over the web (http://www.nps.edu/Programs/CCS/) was that we wanted to encourage feedback concerning our work and ultimately enhance the accumulation of knowledge.

TAAJ November 26, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Mustafa Kazemi was not a Hazara – he was a Qizzlbash Sayed – a Shia Tajik whom had a Hazara grandmother – hence his Hazara features.

He belonged to Hezbe Wahdat yes – but seperated away from them when the Hazara faction within it opted for Hazara nationalism as opposed to Shiasm. The Hazara faction of Hezbe Wahdat joined Gulbudin Hekmatyar and later the Taliban in order to try to ethnic cleanse the Tajiks – be they Sunni or Shia.

Gulbudin Hekmatyar is very nationalistic pashtun and most of his trube – the Kharote are style very tribalised and continue to live in their original places within Afghanistan – as opposed to the exception of Hekmatyar himself whom came for a Kharot family that had been given land in the predominantly non Pushtun north of the country.

Hekmatyar – like all the Taliban symathysers in the north and especially Baghlan consist of the childern of the families of the colonies sent to the north by the discriminatory governments of Zahir Shah in order to Pushtunize the north.

Joshua Foust November 27, 2007 at 9:30 am

Mr. Johnson –

I’m quite happy your journal is accessible to the public. I’ve been a bit starved for academic resources since I lost my university library access upon graduation. And I feel I should repeat again that Mr. Kazimi’s ethnicity probably isn’t important, at least when pondering the reasons for his probable assassination. It seemed more a political move than an ethnic one.


Really? You think a Shia Hazara faction joined with the Taliban to slaughter Tajiks? Given the history of the Taliban’s abhorrent treatment of Hazara and seething hatred of Shiism, I’d need some sort of evidence of your assertion — that’s one too many strikes for me to simply accept.

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