It’s very enlightening fact that the only road of Afghanistan called Ring Road goes mainly through Pashtun territory. All ethnic groups are cross-border except the Hazara; this fact gives us an idea of the influence that the neighbour countries have in the different zones of Afghanistan.
Explained: Why Afghanistan is Influenced By Its Neighbours
New Delhi (ABC Live India): The current turmoil in Afghanistan, after the withdrawal of United States army has urgently forced geopolitical researchers to know the short and long-term effects of this emergent global crisis.
The ABC Geopolitical research team working on the fallout of United States in Afghanistan has referred a research report prepared by the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies (IEEE) published in the month of April, 2011 on Geopolitical Analysis of Afghanistan to its readers under its mission titled “Information For All”.
For many centuries, Afghanistan has been a natural corridor for conquerors and traders that moved troops or goods from West to East, between Middle East and India, and the other way around. This was the path chosen by Alexander the Great, 328 years before Christ. Nowadays, Afghanistan is more than a corridor; it’s a crossroad of routes in Asia.
The political, economic, social and military life of the Afghan State, of 652.000 square km of surface, is conditioned by the Hindu Kush mountainous massif which has 600 km in length and ranges the whole country from northeast to southwest. These mountains part a great amount of territory and hinder communications between the various provinces; in addition, the harsh continental climate during winter favours the tribe’s importance over the central government and frequently constrains the state action to the capital and its whereabouts.
Traditionally, the terrain has helped the asymmetrical strategies, particularly the use of the guerrilla. In the depth of the valleys, it’s easy to find refuge among a population that must manage autonomously the services which, like security, should be provided by the State itself. The communication problem is worse in the North. Until the opening of the Salang tunnel by the Soviets in 1964, the pass between Kabul and the north of the country was very precarious. This tunnel is an important step and has been under attack many times.
The external borders aren’t natural and lack any type of control; that’s why they are prone to illegal traffic of weapons, drugs and human beings. Its length is directly proportional to its interrelationships with its neighbours.
Afghanistan has nearly 29 millions of inhabitants that have lived during 31 years in wartime; this has caused one million of Afghans to live as refugees in Iran and 2.5 million in Pakistan.
These figures give us an idea of the importance and influence that both neighbours have in the conflict’s resolution. Living conditions are really hard, with a life expectancy of only 44.5 years, 20 % of the population live in extreme poverty, 1 out of 4 children dies before reaching 5 years, and more than 40 % of the population hasn’t got a job. More than the 75 ?n’t access basic services. In this human environment, the social structure is build around the ethnic group and tribe. There are four that are very important (Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara); and 21 minor (Aimaq, Turkmen, Baluchis), etc.
The Pashtun are the founders of the independent Afghanistan, the main group and the ethnic group that identifies more with the Afghan nationalism. They are Sunni and constitute the 42 % of the population.
The Tajik, that form the 27 % of the population, have a Persian origin and are also Sunnis. They speak Dari or Persian which was considered an educated language; this made easier their access to the administration and clergy of a country controlled by Pashtun people.
Their presence at the capital and other cities as well as in the wide northwestern area, near the Republic of Tajikistan make this ethnic group the most important one in the country after the Pashtun; and they don’t hide their aspirations of taking part in the political power.
The Hazara are considered as Afghanistan’s pariah by other ethnic groups; they are originally nomad people and probably Mongolian descent, who have been relegated to the poorer and more mountainous areas in the centre of the country.
They are Shia people and so they have a certain bound with Iran; however, they were also greatly repudiated by the Taliban people who don’t consider them Muslim. They speak a variant of Persian and they constitute 9 % of the country’s population.
The Uzbeks and Turkmen of Turkish origin are the 9 % and the 3 %, respectively, of the population. They live in the north, in regions near the Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan’s republics.
If we sum the ethnic distribution and the language, we can see that the Pashtun are cohesive with both aspects. Nevertheless, it’s important to highlight that this group feels more nationalist despite their internal divisions caused by tribal fights for the power.
It’s very enlightening the fact that the layout of the main and nearly the only road of Afghanistan called Ring Road goes mainly through Pashtun territory. All ethnic groups are cross-border except the Hazara; this fact gives us an idea of the influence that the neighbour countries have in the different zones of Afghanistan.
The ethnic differences propitiate continued frictions which are the breeding ground for civil conflicts, typical in Afghanistan’s history, and that shouldn’t be overlooked at this moment. In Badghis province, 63 % are Tajik; however, in the Gormach and Murghab districts, the majority of the population is of Pashtun origin, while in the Muqur districts this ethnic group is an important minority (44 %)In Qala and Naw, 72 % are Tajik and 28 % Pashtun.