Rethinking governance in Afghanistan. (The Future of Afghanistan)

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Nigel J.R. Allan, “Rethinking governance in Afghanistan. (The Future of Afghanistan)”.

Journal of International Affairs, Spring 2003 v56 i2 p193(10).

Any future government in Afghanistan will have to resolve the problem of

representation in a government based on population, and most importantly, on

territorial representation that will accommodate most major ethnic groups and

regional alignments.

One year after the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan is,

relatively speaking, a peaceful place. For a country in the throes of civil

wars since the early 1970s, there is a sense that placidity reigns. The

central government is weak, and frankly, this is welcome. For decades,

external donors promoted an ineffective Pashtun hegemony in Kabul while they

disregarded outlying areas. Yet the question remains: Can Afghanistan's

regional powers, now backed by individual or multilateral external

reconstruction agencies and security forces, sustain this relative peace?

Answering this question requires delving into a matter often overlooked in the

literature on Afghanistan: the strong link between ethnicity and territory. An

investigation into the ethnic territorial situation in Afghanistan suggests a

potential path towards successful governance in the country

The overwhelming issue facing a new Afghanistan is not security per se, nor is

it, as others have claimed, the creation of a central government with a

standing army. The challenge is balancing regional powers--the new khans, or

warlords, as they are pejoratively described in the Western press--with their

assumed right to govern their supporters and territory in a manner that

minimizes human conflict. This article argues that this action can be

accomplished only by devolving centralized nation-state power out of Kabul,

the perennial seat of conflict.

Afghanistan exists at the moment in a state of suspense. An informal ceasefire

after decades of conflict has pervaded the country. Peace, as such, does not

prevail so much as an autarchic equilibrium rules. For the first time since

the 19th century, no party is dominant, and the Pashtun hegemony has been

broken. The Kohestani General Fahim, from the Panjshir valley in the

Hindukush, has the envious task of maintaining control of Kabul while regional

khans consolidate power. In the run-up to the 2004 elections there will be a

jockeying for power that was not forecast in the 2001 Bonn Agreement, but that

is hardly a new phenomenon in Afghanistan.
Kabul goes into convulsions every 40 to 50 years. The most recent episode

began in 1973 when King Mohammad Zahir Shah, an ethnic Pashtun from the

Durrani confederation, was ousted by his cousin in a bloodless coup. Prior to

1973, a rebellion had broken out in 1929 after the British status of

protectorate lapsed and local insurgents from Kabul Kohestan exiled the

Pashtun king, Amunullah.

Tracing the history of Aghanistan reveals similar outcomes of minimal

leadership successes and many catastrophes. Throughout these skirmishes,

battles and wars, one feature is clear: The Pashtun claims on an Afghan empire

were never realized.

The lessons to be learned from this litany of failed Pashtun rulers are many,

but this article focuses on one: For an Afghan state to survive, it must both

include representatives of the different ethnic groups and simultaneously

account for the complexities of its geographic space and distinctive ties that

its residents have to it. (1) Simply put, space, or rather territory, must

have representation in any future solution to this perennial problem of

conflict. Up until this point, this has not been the case.
Fredrik Barth's book, Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of

Culture Differences, made a substantial contribution to the anthropological

debate over ethnic identity when it was published three decades ago. Barth

suggested that ethnic identities are not determined by groups assigning them

to one another; people invent their own ethnic identities based on how they

perceive themselves in relation to other people. By introducing this idea, he

shifted the focus of defining ethnic identity from an objectivist

structuralist perspective to a subjectivist social interactionist perspective.

Ethnic boundary in the Barthian sense does not refer to physical boundaries,

but rather to social boundaries among groups. (2)

In examining ethnic identity in Afghanistan, Barth's approach discounts one

crucial aspect: ethnic groups often define themselves in relation to the land

from which they hail. Pashtuns, for example, and now the media, assign the

ethnonym Tajik to people who speak Dari, the local dialect of Persian. The

Tajiks themselves, however, never use that ethnonym, preferring to use the

name of the valleys they come from to identify themselves, such as Panjshiri,

Munjani and Andarabi. They identify with a place, not a tribe, nor its

mythical origins, like the Pashtuns do. By using the aspatial ethnonym

"Tajik," the Pashtuns are, in a sense, denying Tajiks a territorial basis in

Afghanistan and therefore are discrediting their right to spatial

representation in any government in Kabul. The Western perception of

Afghanistan's ethnic groups is also in line with the Barthian mode of

ethnicity. By viewing regional dominance and authority as a hindrance to a

uniform, aspatial multicultural government dominated from Kabul, they are

ignoring the essential link between ethnicity and territory in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has 55 ethnic groups who speak 45 languages. (3) For millennia,

people have streamed southward out of Central Asia across the Hindukush passes

into Kabul Kohestan and down into the fertile Indo-Gangetic plains in the

Indian subcontinent. They have intermixed with local people, and many have

settled along the way. Over the last 500 years, in addition, members of the

Pashtun tribes--Durrani and Ghilzai--have migrated out of the Quetta-Kandahar

region and into the Kabul region.
The word "Afghanistan" itself is a British construction, first used in the

Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1801. It includes more than those known colloquially

as Afghans, that is, Pashtuns. Each major region sharing a contiguous border

with Afghanistan has ethnic groups now residing in Afghanistan. Turkmen,

Uzbeks, Tajiks and smaller ethnic groups have cultural ties across the borders

of Afghanistan. Indeed, there are more Pashtuns in Pakistan than in

Afghanistan. Since 1880, when the British created the state of Afghanistan,

there have been massive internal population movements at the instigation of

the Pashtun royalty as part of their plan to Pashtunize the country Pashtuns

were moved from their stronghold in southern Afghanistan to land confiscated

from other ethnic groups. The Hazara in central Afghanistan had their pastures

given to Pashtun pastoralists by a royal edict. (4)

Even though the Pashtun royal ruler was ousted in 1973 the quest to Pashtunize

the country continued with the Taliban government, which seized power in 1996.

Taliban is a Pashto word with a Pashto suffix attached to the Arabic word

"talib." Contrary to popular belief, the Taliban was an ethnic movement, not a

religious group. Twenty-six out of twenty-seven members of the Taliban

government's leadership were Pashtuns; many of them were determined to bring

the various ethnic groups of Afghanistan under traditional Pashtun

conservative rural culture.

Major and minor ethnic groups have been shut out of representation in the

government, largely because they lived in remote regions of Afghanistan, far

from Kabul. This spatial inequality enabled the Pashtun monarchy, backed by

their kinfolk, to exert hegemonic control over the military, clergy,

judiciary, commercial and civil authorities in Kabul throughout the 20th


In the literature on ethnic groups in Afghanistan, there are many disputes

over the link between ethnicity and territory. Failing to grasp the depth of

the connection in Afghanistan, foreigners often denigrate the association. (5)

This article points to two crucial factors in this debate: the notion of

manteqa and the migration patterns of people in and out of Afghanistan.
Throughout much of the Muslim world, manteqa designates an idea of shared

space in which its inhabitants maintain a great degree of cultural uniformity.

The notion, however, is not unique to the Middle Eastern world. We find

similar South Asian terms of bahal in Nepal, mohalla in Pakistan, nukkad in

India, para in Bangladesh and syver-kade in Sri Lanka. The word manteqa

conjures up an image of neighborhood and landscape.

In their essay on manteqa, Frederic Roussel and Marie-Pierre Caley recognize

the importance of the term and its various interpretations in rural

Afghanistan. (6) They use manteqa as a spatial administrative planning unit

for the delivery of relief and reconstruction aid in Afghanistan through their

Paris-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) Agency for Technical

Cooperation and Development. As the people identify with this space, it is

easier to energize the local population into a cohesive body to collaborate in

reconstruction projects that have to manage disjointed segments of the local

No evidence of manteqa appears in Pashtun society. Knowing that foreigners are

familiar with the term, Pashtuns may use the word when conversing with

foreigners, but when questioned closely, they cannot identify their manteqa.

This is not surprising, as Pashtuns are an intrusive ethnic group in

Afghanistan. They conquered other ethnic groups, appropriating their land and

water. Their migration patterns over the past 500 years from the

Quetta-Kandahar region to Ghazni, Kabul and Peshawar, when they either

displaced or integrated other groups in the process, are well known.

Instead of manteqa, Pashtuns use the word watan, which for them denotes a

notion of a home place, but it can even mean all of Afghanistan. Watan

operates at a much larger scale than manteqa, which is bounded space. Although

the boundaries are invisible, they are well known. A journey by motor vehicle

in the non-Pashtun rural areas, for example, is now punctuated by frequent

halts where drivers exchange pleasantries with roadside sentries. Reports from

expatriates traveling in rural Afghanistan contain frequent complaints of

having to pay tolls at stoppages. They see these extractions as highway

robbery, though they are, of course, merely fees for right of passage from one

manteqa to another. Roussel has remarked that foreigners traveling on foot

during the jihad were often handed over from one guide or bodyguard to another

at remote locations in the countryside. This exchange did not occur in areas

occupied by Pashtuns.
Non-Pashtuns will defend their manteqa with force; as a rule, Pashtuns are

oblivious to this. The Kuh Daman valley, which contained the orchards and

breadbasket that sustained the Kabul area for millennia, was pulverized by the

PashtunTaliban in 1999. The Taliban used a scorched-earth policy to destroy

the Kohestani ("Tajik") manteqas, for they knew each manteqa had a commander

who could marshal support from his collateral neighbors to oppose them.

Another characteristic of ethnicity and territory in Afghanistan is the

shifting allegiances to the land, often the result of forcible removals of

non-Pashtuns by Pashtuns, that have marked the area for centuries. Under royal

and military authority, the Pashtuns expropriated cultivatable land, pastures

and water rights from other ethnic groups. In early 2003, Human Rights Watch

and Amnesty International both reported instances of a substantial forced

exodus of Pashtun refugees out of the northern areas where their ancestors

were settled a century before by the Pashtun king. (7) By spending their

winters in present-day Pakistan on the plains and tributaries of the Indus

River and their summers on the newly conquered pastures in Afghanistan, these

Pashtun nomads instituted debt-credit relationships with the Hazara. This

resulted in penury and the forfeiture of their land. (8) Now that this area of

northern Afghanistan is under control of a local indigenous ethnic commander,

local residents are expelling the Pashtuns who took their land and water a

century ago under royalist decrees.
A large population of seasonal migrants also affects the territorial makeup of

the land. The problem with a highly mobile population of seasonal migrants and

long-term permanent migration is not well understood. For millennia residents

have streamed out of the Hindukush-Himalaya down to the Indo-Gangetic plains,

part of a long, historic process in which Afghans (rohilla, hill

people)--predominantly Pakhtun/Pashtun--migrate down the Gangetic valley,

depositing and creating their culture and landscapes of Rohilkhand and Oudh in

northern India, altering the ethnic makeup of the land. (9)

Ignorance of manteqa and migration could breed problems for the nascent

government in Kabul. In 2002 The United Nations High Commission for Refugees

(UNHCR) and NGOs enticed two million emigres, exiles and refugees back to

Afghanistan with inducements of food and domestic supplies. (10) Only a

fraction of these people can reclaim their former livelihoods. After being

laid waste for decades, the land is ruined, and its ancient and modern

irrigation systems have been destroyed. During the civil wars over the last 30

years, new claimants supplanted former absentee landowners, and clashes with

returnees have been all too common. The refugees, who have lived in refugee

camps for two decades, do not have the skills or fitness to rehabilitate their

former homeland. For most refugees, return simply means trading one refugee

camp for another. The World Food Program (WFP) and other relief agencies keep

them functioning in an elementary way by providing a modicum of food, and if

they are lucky, some shelter. Meanwhile, more than one million Afghan refugees

have resettled all over Pakistan. Many live profitable lives engaged in

pursuits that contribute to their own welfare and that of their adopted

country. Pashtun refugees tend to remain in Pakistan where many Pashtuns

reside, while members of other ethnic groups journey to Kabul to live in camps

and occasionally go back to their home areas.
The repatriation of millions of former Afghan residents back to Afghanistan is

a risky, never mind foolish, enterprise on the part of Westerners. The reason

is obvious: throngs of people living in reduced living space, with limited

resources, is a recipe for disaster. Urban turmoil appears a likely

consequence of this international policy.
Foremost among plans to redress spatial inequality among ethnic groups in

Afghanistan must be the desire to create regional parity among major ethnic

groups. Regionally diverse groups must be given a representative voice, even

if they vary substantially from a majority group like the Pashtuns. The genius

of the U.S. system of government is that the Senate represents the territorial

states in an equal manner. Small populations have their voices heard and their

needs met, thereby creating cohesion for the nation-state. Afghanistan lacks

this spatial cohesion.

Furthermore, under the 2001 Bonn agreement, the UN agencies in Kabul are in

charge of what has become a feeding frenzy, as international ambulance chasers

and carpetbaggers seek to devour the substantial funding for relief and

reconstruction. The alienation of the Afghan population in this scramble for

funds is worrisome. The lack of coordination in aid activities in Kabul

currently poses a major threat to the stability and security of the country.

One year after the cessation of Operation Enduring Freedom, major temporary

road and bridge repair has yet to begin. Despite massive infusions of

international aid, the principal north-south road from the Shomali plains to

Kabul, as of November 2002, still has its two major bridges lying in the

riverbeds with no temporary bridges functioning. To the east of Kabul on the

road to Jalalabad, a road journey that once took two hours now takes eight. No

temporary measures to alleviate these conditions have been made.
The building of an Afghan nation with strong central control, put forth in

2001 in Bonn and the 2002 follow-up meeting, is a fantasy of social democratic

European governments. (11) The solution for Afghanistan may instead lie in

considering and implementing the features of a coimperium form of governance.

According to Alain Coret's definition, "a coimperium is a regime in which a

partial international community exercises certain competencies over a portion

of the territory of a third state." (12) The frequently cited example is that

of Sudan, established by Egypt and Britain as a condominium in 1899. Both

countries later assumed coimperium supervision after 1922. (13) Third-party

jurisdiction of a condominium-coimperium nature also prevailed over physical

features, such as rivers in the case of Luxembourg under the Treaty of

Aix-la-Chapelle in 1816, gulfs and bays in the cases of El Salvador and

Nicaragua in 1914 and islands in the case of the Caribbean in 1917.
Under a coimperium regime, the state still holds sovereign rights over the

territory but competencies by the coimperium community can be exercised. At

the same time, any government in Kabul must be grounded in the history and

tradition of the people currently living in what we call Afghanistan. All

regions of the country must be able to participate in decisions that affect

them. This involves maintaining indigenous suzerainty by creating regions

dominated by particular ethnic groups that have a powerful presence both at

the local and national levels. These features of a coimperium are already

taking place in Afghanistan.
Following the model of a coimperium, a pattern of regionalizing donor aid is

already becoming apparent. America is now letting the United States Agency for

International Development (USAID) contract for reconstruction in the Kandahar

region, which has been the principal beneficiary of American largesse since

the 1950s. (14) Germany, the biggest donor so far, is sending field personnel

to the Paktia-Paktika region, which has long been a focus of German interest.

Since 1973, France has kept its links open through refugee and reconstruction

projects to Kohestanis (Tajiks) in Kabul Kohestan, the central Hindukush and

the Badakshanis in the northeast. Both Daud in Kunduz/Khanabad and Dostum in

the Mazar area received support from the Soviet Union and now from Russia.

Ismail khan in the Herat region receives subsidies from Iran. The Pashtuns,

Gui Agha in Kandahar and Bacha Khan Zadran in Khost are powerful forces in the

south and east. Italy is allotted quasi-jurisdiction over the Jalalabad region

in the east. Undoubtedly another neighbor, Pakistan, will reestablish its

presence with former Pashtun clients in the east. Afghanistan is thus

receiving financial subsidies from foreign donors as it has done in the past.

(15) The crucial distinction is that not all the money is staying in Kabul, as

it did during the Muhammadzai royalist period. Rather, it is the profligate UN

agencies in Kabul that are earning the ire of the general population as they

squander substantial resources on the presumption of creating a strong central

government served by legions of expatriates.
Under the leadership of the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief

(ACBAR), NGOs are now upset by the American military decision to send

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), composed of members of the U.S.

National Guard and reservists, out to different regions of the country. The

NGOs regard these forces, dressed in civilian clothes but bearing arms, as an

infringement on territory they successfully occupied with refugees in Pakistan

for over two decades. (16) They feel having these Americans in close proximity

will taint them, even though PRTs bring skills that many NGOs lack in rural

reconstruction, such as medical and health care, communications, engineering

and mechanical skills for repairing machinery in local use and construction

skills in rebuilding roads and buildings. Few NGOs have personnel with this

vital expertise. As the PRTs span out over the country, they too settle in

regions. By linking the regionalization of the foreign donors with the PRTs, a

stronger externally driven regionalization of Afghanistan is developing.

Any future government in Afghanistan will have to resolve the problem of

representation in a government based on population, and most importantly, on

territorial representation that will accommodate most major ethnic groups and

regional alignments. (17) At present, the Constitutional Drafting Commission,

created by the 2001 Bonn Agreement, is due to submit its final draft

constitution in October 2003. Difficulties in resolving contentious issues

will arise. The commission contains three members of the fascist Afghan Millat

party, which seeks total Pashtun autonomy over Afghanistan.

A bicameral government that gives political representation to territorial

units as well as population is a necessity for the elimination of spatial

inequality among regions and ethnic groups. A return to the pre-1964

provincial boundaries where government was broken down into the large regions

of Kabul, Mushraqi, Kandahar, Herat, Turkestan, Kataghan and Hazarajat could

possibly take place again.

Nonetheless, there are difficult tasks ahead. In examining the situation that

has developed since the 2001 Bonn Agreement, it is quite clear that the aims

of some of the arbiters and negotiators in Bonn have not been met. Despite

efforts to create a strong central government, Afghanistan has gone the other

direction by moving towards strong regional identities through the formation

of territories dominated by powerful leaders, though not all are based on

ethnic affiliation. International aid organizations and coalition partners

have had to deal with these regional powers, denigrated as "warlords" in the

Western media, while attempting to get aid out to the provinces. These khans,

or powerful leaders, are often closely tied to particular ethnic groups and

their territory and intimately know the inner workings of indigenous spatial


In Afghanistan, all politics have become local, to paraphrase a familiar

American saying. In the past, a central government elite in Kabul absorbed the

subsidies of the British, and then the subsidies from America and the Soviet

Union/Russia, while neglecting non-Kabul Afghanistan. Returning elites who

perceive themselves as modern, supported by UN personnel, seek to graft on to

Afghanistan an alien structure of government that has never worked. The

continual convulsions in Kabul every 40 to 50 years for at least two centuries

have underscored the foolishness of having one ethnic group, the Pashtuns,

backed by a royalist presence, ruling from Kabul.
Critics might see this pattern of regional subsidiarity as impossible to

maintain in the future because of the risk of local warfare. A coimperium,

with the strong regional presence of major donor nations, would provide a

balance throughout the regions of the country. The International Security

Assistance Force (ISAF), if extended throughout the country, could act as a

spatial security force much like the American military force did in the Sinai

Desert. Major nation-states, acting as a coimperium, could have their forces

and civilian personnel placed strategically around the country. Sovereignty

could still be centered in a greatly reduced government in Kabul. Early calls

for administering Afghanistan in a regional manner, however, have been

(1) Ethnic conflict is rampant elsewhere in South Asia. David Zurick et al.,

"Ethnic Fragmentation in South Asia," Arab World Geographer 5 (2002), 53-70.

(2) Fredrik Barth, Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of

Cultural Differences (Boston: Little Brown, 1969).

(3) Nigel J. R. Allan, "Defining Place and People in Afghanistan," Post-Soviet

Geography and Economics 42, no. 8 (2002): 545-560.

(4) Hasan Kakar, "The Pacification of the Hazaras of Afghanistan," Occasional

Paper no. 4, New York Afghanistan Council, Asia Society, 1973.

(5) The significance of the ethnic, highly regional composition of the Taliban

appears neglected by writers on the Taliban period. See for example William

Maley, ed., Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban. (London: Zed

Books, 2002); Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in

Central Asia (London: I. B. Taurus, 2001).
(6) Frederic Roussel and Marie-Pierre Caley, "Les "Manteqas': Le Puzzle

Souterrain de l'Afghanistan," unpublished paper (Peshawar: Agency for

Technical Cooperation and Development, 1993).
(7) All Our Hopes Are Crushed, Human Rights Watch Reports 14, no. 7 (2002).
(8) Daniel Balland, "Nomadic Pastoralists and Sedentary Hosts in the Central

and Western Hindukush Mountains," in Human Impact on Mountains, eds. Nigel

J.R. Allan, Gregory W. Knapp, and Christoph Stadel (Lanham, MD: Rowman and

Littlefield, 1987), 265-276.

(9) Jos Gommans, The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire, 1710-1780 (New York: E.

J. Brill, 1997); David E. Sopher, "Rohilkhand and Oudh: An Exploration of

Social Gradients Across a Political Frontier," in Richard G. Fox, Realm and

Region in Traditional India (Durham: Duke University Program in Comparative

Studies in Southern-Asia, 1977).
(10) A recent critique of the conduct of UNHCR is David Turton and Peter

Marsden, Taking Refugees for a Ride? The Politics of Refugee Return to

Afghanistan (Kabul: Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, 2002). The

inducements included wheat flour for a family for a three months, vegetable

oil, sugar, personal sanitary supplies, polyethylene sheeting and hand tools.

"Recyclers, that is, refugees entering Afghanistan only, for material benefits

and promises, often return to Pakistan, and occasionally Iran, only to

re-enter to obtain the benefits. According to Turton and Marsden, there, is

pressure put on Pashtun refugees to repatriate to Afghanistan to boost the

potential Pashtun voting bloc in the forthcoming voting on the constitution.

(11) For early proponents of a division of Afghanistan into internal entities

compatible with the contextual conditions existing there, see Nigel J. R.

Allan, "Cut Afghanistan in Two," Sacramento Bee, 14 October 2001, L4; Philip

Bowring, "Why Not Redraw Afghanistan's Borders-Or Even Break it Up?"

International Herald Tribune, 8 December 2001; Marina-Ottaway and Anatol

Lieven, "Rebuilding Afghanistan: Fantasy versus Reality," Carnegie Endowment

for International Peace Policy Brief, no. 12, (January 2002); S. Frederick

Starr, "A Federated Afghanistan?" Central Asia Caucasus Institute Biweekly

Briefing, 7 November 2001.
(12) Vincent P. Bantz, "The International Legal Status of Condominia," Florida

Journal of International Law 12 (1998): 102.

(13) Ibid., 77-151.
(14) Nick Cullather, "Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State,"

Journal of American History 89 (September 2002): 512-537.

(15) Many press reports from the region, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and

South Asia mention that Afghanistan's neighbors are "interfering" with the

country. In fact, neighbors are merely representing their state's interests in

the future of Afghanistan, which has exhibited great instability since the

1973 coup d'etat took place. See, for example, Ahmed Rashid, "Afghanistan Torn

as its Neighbours Resume Their Battle for Influence," Daily Telegraph, 10

February 2003; Rashid, "New Battles for Afghanistan Begin," Daily Times

(Pakistan), 21 January 2003; "Jockeying for Influence, Neighbors Undermine

Afghan Pact," EurasiaNet Eurasia Insight, 17 January 2003, at; Ron

Synovitz "Analysts Saying Neighbors Interfering in Kabul's Internal Affairs,"

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 7 February 2003.
(16) Protecting their very existence in Afghanistan, the charities involved in

relief operations ordered a special critical inquiry into the status of the

PRTs (originally termed Joint Reconstruction Teams by U.S. Deputy Assistant

Secretary of Defense Joseph Collins). Barbara J. Stapleton, "A British

Agencies Afghanistan Group Briefing Paper on the Development of Joint Regional

Teams in Afghanistan," at
(17) In January 2003, Afghanistan's Vice-President and Chairman of the

Constitutional Drafting Commission, Nematullah Shahrani, discussed a federal

system for Afghanistan. Shahrani, an Uzbek, wrote a 2003 article entitled "The

Future Political Order of Afghanistan" in the journal Omaid Weekly, no. 557. A

pro-Taliban paper from Pakistan's Dharb-I Mu'min published a highly critical

article of Shahrani's proposition that Afghanistan be federalized. According

to the publication, Afghanistan would be divided into seven regions containing

the following current provinces, Pashtunistan-Laghman, Konar, Paktia, Paktika,

Khost, Kandahar-Zabul, Kandahar, Urozgan, Helmand, Aryana-Nimroz, Farah,

Herat, Ghor, Badghis, Turkistan-Faryab, Saripul, Balkh, Samangan, Kunduz,

Khurasan-Badashshan, Takhar, Baghlan, Pamir-Kapisa, Kabul and Logar. Excluded

from this garbled list are current provinces like Nuristan, as well as a

mislocated region, Khorasan, known for centuries for containing the Herat

region in northwestern Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the scheme compares

favorably with the pre-1964 constitution provinces which were deliberately

destroyed by Kabul Pashtun hegemony in the new 1964 constitution, designed to

break up macro provincial autonomy. Perhaps reflecting the U.S. government s

position, one report notes that "under the current conditions, federalism is

tantamount to partition of Afghanistan." See Amin Tarzi, "Afghanistan's New

Constitution: Towards Consolidation or Fragmentation?". Radio Free

Europe/Radio Liberty Afghanistan Report 2, no. 3 (5 February 2003), at
Nigel J. R. Allan is a geographer at the University of California, Davis. He

specializes in society and habitat relations in the states and countries of

the Hindukush-Himalaya region. His most recent field research in Afghanistan

was in October and November 2002.


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