Chafing Under Pashtunwali

by Joshua Foust on 12/10/2008 · 1 comment

Azar Balkhi has an interesting take on the apparent ban on female voices over Radio Ghazni:

The Taliban insurgency is historically a predominantly Pashtun movement, still have very little influence among other Afghanistan minority ethnic groups like the Tajiks, Uzbek and Hazaras. It’s hard to keep others from one who believes that gun is jewel of men. If nobody ends the culture of Pashtun warlordism, in 50 years the entire country will become Taliban.

Its not that other ethnics hate Pashtuns and not allowing them to rule upon their cities, its about Pashtun believe and mentality that everywhere they go they force other ethnic groups, while using government power and Islam as an excuse, to make them live under Pashtun culture called Pashtunwali’s code, which is very similar to Taliban law. In north and central Afghanistan people are unfamiliar with word (terrorism and suicide bombing) because the majority of these areas are non-Pashtun. There is a saying in Afghanistan (all Pashtuns are not Taliban but all Talibans are Pashtun).

Now the new democratic constitution gives an equal right to women and men but Pashtun rulers avoid that and trying to keep women toward the back and make them think that they just belong to kitchen and inside home. Banning female voice from public data lines means they are no longer part of our society.

Just something to consider as we hear all our policy brains talking about how to “awaken” and “engage” Afghanistan when they really only mean about 30% of the country or so—that is, a big number of Pashtuns, and little else.

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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 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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{ 1 comment }

Terry Tucker December 13, 2008 at 4:19 am

Azar is absolutely correct. From my observations in Northern Afghanistan, it is “Rawaj” that is important; Also, they have women politicians and a number of women teachers and professors. But, then again, the Hazara, Uzbek, Tajik and others in Northern Afghanistan are “Liberal” in comparison with the Pashtun areas. Our biggest failure so far is that we have failed to concentrate on the counterinsurgency at the “woleswali” (district) level.

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