Anti-Pashtun sentiment

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Anti-Pashtun sentiment refers to fear, dislike, or hostility towards Pashtun people or anything related to Pashtun culture in general[dubious ]. It can sometimes be broadly construed as a subcategory of anti-Pakistan sentiment or anti-Afghan sentiment as Pashtuns are the second largest ethnic group in Pakistan and the largest in Afghanistan[citation needed]. Anti-Pashtun sentiment has been present in South-Central Asia among different non-Pashtun groups for various political and historical reasons.[citation needed][dubious ]


There is a traditional rivalry for power and influence between the Pashtun majority in Eastern Afghanistan and the Persian Majority Northern and Southern Afghanistan. About 80% of Afghanistan Speak and Understand Persian Language Dari. Dari-speaking ethnic groups of Afghanistan such as the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and Turkmen, have often stirred anti-Pashtun[citation needed]sentiments against the Pashtuns. In 1975, an uprising broke out in Panjsher Valley against the rule of Afghan prime minister and Pashtun nationalist Daoud Khan, which was believed to have been "sparked by anti-Pashtun frustrations.[citation needed]"[1] The uprising was led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, an ethnic Tajik. The Settam-e-Melli, led by Uzbek activist Tahir Badakhshi, has been described as "an anti-Pashtun[dubious ]leftist mutation."[1] According to Nabi Misdaq, the Settem-e-Melli "had an internal programme of provoking minorities to armed resurrection to stand up to Pashtuns[verification needed]."[2] The Shalleh-ye Javiyd, a Maoist political party founded in the 1960s that predominantly drew support from Shi'a Muslims and Hazaras, was also similarly opposed to Pashtun rule in Afghanistan.[citation needed]

However, Misdaq notes that these anti-Pashtun stances were usually engraved more in a "Shi'a-versus-Sunni Afghan", "Dari-speaking-intellectuals-versus-Pashtun-rulers" and "majority-versus-minority" context rather than resentment on misrule or mistreatment by Pashtun kings and dynasties.[2] This could be because Afghan dynasties such as the Durrani Empire, although Pashtun by origin, had been considerably Persianised and had even adopted the Dari language over Pashto; this cultural assimilation made the Durranis culturally familiar to Dari-speaking non-Pashtuns and neutralised any ethnic hegemony.[citation needed]

The Rabanni government which ruled Afghanistan in the early and mid-1990s was viewed by the Taliban as corrupt, anti-Pashtun and responsible for civil war.[3]

A Human Right Watch (HRW) report published in 2002 stated that, 'following the collapse of Taliban regime in Northern Afghanistan in 2001, a rise in Anti-Pashtun violence[citation needed][dubious ]was reported in Northern Afghanistan. Ethnic Pashtuns from that area were subject to widespread abuses like killings, sexual violence, beatings, extortion, and looting'.[4] The Pashtuns were particularly targeted because their ethnicity was closely associated with Taliban. The HRW report held three ethnically based parties like Uzbek Junbish-i-Milli Islami Afghanistan, Tajik Jamiat-e Islami and Hazara Hezbe Wahdat responsible for the abuses against Pashtuns in Northern Afghanistan.[4] Many Afghan Pashtuns also held Northern Alliance responsible for the abuses committed against the Pashtuns communities in rest of the Afghanistan.[5]

Pashtuns are also stereotyped as 'wild and barbaric' in Afghanistan by non-Pashtun Afghans.[6]

Many Afghan Pashtuns view Afghan National Army (ANA) as being dominated by Tajik-led anti-Pashtun ethnic coalition[dubious ][citation needed]. The Tajiks, on the other hand, view Pashtun population as largely aligned with Taliban. This in turn as created a civil war like situation in Afghanistan.[7][8]


Following independence, one of the factors of resentment among Pashtun population was the British-inherited name of the North-West Frontier Province, which did not represent Pashtuns as compared to other provinces[citation needed][dubious ]e.g. Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan which were all named after their resident ethnic groups. Rajmohan Gandhi mentions that "persisting with the imperial name for a former empire's frontier province was nothing but anti-Pathan[citation needed][dubious ]discrimination."[9]

During the 1980s, anti-Pashtun sentiments were present in Karachi among some sections of the[dubious ]Urdu-speaking Muhajir community.[10][11] According to Maya Chadda, increased Pashtun migration to Karachi, which included Pashtun migrants from neighbouring Afghanistan due to the Soviet war, disturbed Karachi's sensitive demographics and brought about an "increasingly violent competition for land, jobs, and economic control[dubious ] of the city."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Arnold, Anthony (1983). Afghanistan's Two-Party Communism: Parcham and Khalq. Hoover Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-8179-7792-9.
  2. ^ a b Misdaq, Nabi (2006). Afghanistan: Political Frailty And External Interference. Routledge. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-0-415-70205-8.
  3. ^ Katzman, Kenneth (2017). Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy (PDF). Congressional Research Service. p. 4.
  4. ^ a b "Paying for the Taliban's Crimes: Abuses Against Ethnic Pashtuns in Northern Afghanistan". Refworld. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Pashtuns face post-Taliban anger". Christian Science Monitor. 12 April 2002.
  6. ^ "How can we negotiate with the Taliban? Afghan women know". United States Institute of Peace (USIP). 7 February 2019.
  7. ^ "POLITICS: Tajik Grip on Afghan Army Signals New Ethnic War". IPS News. 28 November 2009.
  8. ^ "Afghan Army Struggles With Ethnic Divisions". CBS News. 27 July 2010.
  9. ^ Gandhi, Rajmohan (2008). Ghaffar Khan: nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns. Penguin Books India. p. 243. ISBN 978-0143065197.
  10. ^ Akmal Hussain (1990). "The Karachi Riots of December 1986". Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots and Survivors in South Asia (PDF). Delhi Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ Rais, Rasul Bux (1997). State, Society, and Democratic Change in Pakistan. Oxford University Press. p. 122.
  12. ^ Chadda, Maya (2000). Building Democracy in South Asia: India, Nepal, Pakistan. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 100. ISBN 978-1555878597.