Incremental Peace in Afghanistan
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Many non-Pashtun communities in northern Afghanistan see the continuing conflict in the country as between ‘included’ Pashtuns and ‘excluded’ non- Pashtuns. How can a better appreciation of this perspective inform more effective peace policies?
This article discusses non-Pashtun views of on conflict and peace in northern Afghanistan. Many non-Pashtun communities in the north perceive the current war not as between the Afghan government and an armed opposition, but between Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns. Such an outlook reflects broader ethnic divisions and centre–periphery splits derived from entrenched perceptions of a prolonged, Pashtun-led project of ‘Afghanisation’ to centralise power in Kabul. Western efforts to support the government in Kabul are understood within the same worldview.
If strategies to address violence in Afghanistan are to gain sustainable traction, they need to acknowledge and account for northern resistance to Pashtun influence and its association with both Kabul and external intervention. A priority from this perspective is to revise commitments to centralised authority enshrined in the 2004 constitution in favour of devolved decision-making to regional institutions.