Posted by: Editor | June 29, 2009

“The Times They Are A-Changin”

This guest post and the views expressed in it are solely of the author. You can contribute by sending your writings to Hazaristan.times@gmail.com

From “A Hazara’s Diary”

The title is borrowed from living legend Bob Dylan’s famed song written in October 1963, which depicted the change taking place in the American society with the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the opposition to the Vietnam War at its peak in the US. The song tried to relay to the establishment to wake up and accept the change as the will of people cannot be ignored and subdued. Although Bob wrote this song in the 1960’s but the message behind is ever green and can apply to all times and eras; where a people wake up and realize their true potential and march towards their destiny. These days if one listens really hard, one can hear the song reverberating in the plains and mountains, the valleys and steppes, the cities and villages of Afghanistan, where a change is brewing and has the potential to shift the tectonic plates of the country’s socio-political landscape.

A Hazara political-cultural-social renaissance is in the making!

Now how can we give credence to the statement above? – some will label it as emotional sloganeering and others might just think that it is an optimists dream; but this can be proved with ample evidence. In order to grasp the magnitude of change we must go through the bygone eras as this will help us put things in perspective. To understand this better we will take a journey which will take us from the peaceful days (before 1880) to one tyrant’s (Abd al-Rahman) rule, then to the other tyrant’s (Nadir Shah) rule and then fast forward to the current day scenario where the Hazaras have become a potent force in the political sphere.

The days of Peace(before 1880):

In the 19th Century; the Hazara community was based on the landed class-peasant class model; more of a feudalistic society. The landowners were given the titles of ‘Mir’, ‘Khan’ and ‘Sultans’.  The relationship between the land owners and ruled social classes were based on the ownership of the means of production (livestock, land and water). Political and military power remained an exclusive monopoly of the Hazara nobility. Hazara chiefs had their own private armies and regular armed men. The chiefs collected taxes from the peasantry with the aid of their paramilitary followers. The supremacy of the chiefs had been legitimized by the clerics who issued religious edicts in their favor. Most clerics were on the payroll of Hazaras chiefs and later became owners of endowed land and received religious taxes. Clerics also occupied important administrative posts and presided over judicial and legal matters.

Hazaristan’s affairs were run exclusively by the Hazara nobility and therefore had autonomy. The relations between Hazaras ruling class and Afghan monarchies were based on the principle of mutual cooperation. The Mir was expected to pay annual taxes to the king and to ensure the security of the trade routes within his territories. He was also required to send a member of his family to lead a group of armed men to serve the king in terms of war and social crises. The king reciprocated by granting Hazara chiefs the right to exercise political power in their respective regions.

Learning from this era:

1)      The Hazaras had autonomy in their region and because of this autonomy there was peace amongst the ethnic nations of the country.

2)      The trade routes passed through Hazaristan – as it is in the centre of the country and commercially it makes sense to take the shortest route for trading. The same applies today; but the Pushtun establishment has as a policy bypassed Hazaristan by depriving it of a decent infrastructure which could support trading and transportation.

3)      The clergy even back then were used as a tool to control the masses by the ruling class – this trend is even prevalent today where we see that the masses are divided along sectarian lines to ensure that the ruling elite’s position is secured.

Curse of Abd al-Rahman (1880-1901):

Hazaras lost their autonomy when the British-backed Abd al-Rehman (1880-1901) defeated the Hazara tribes one by one; primarily due the British fire power on his side. Eventually the entire Hazarajat was occupied and forcibly incorporated into the Afghan state in 1893.  To protect its interests in the Indian-subcontinent the British worked to establish a strong central government in Kabul. For this reason they supported Abd al-Rahman in the subjugation of national communities throughout the country.  To mobilize public opinion in support of his war on Hazaras Abd al-Rehman encouraged religious leaders to travel to the villages and entice people into a jihad (religious war) against Hazaras. Hazaras did not want to become an easy prey for Abd al-Rehman’s mercenary army and like other national communities; they were willing to help enemies of the Kabul rulers. Since their defeat in 1893, Hazaras have been enslaved and subjected to state sponsored discrimination and oppression.

Abd al-Rahman partitioned Hazarjat into three provinces; Kabul, Bamiyan and Qandahar. In so doing, his main objective was to eliminate once and for all the Hazara’s sense of unity and independence and to create divisions within the Hazara nation. By suppressing Hazaras, Abd al-Rahman intended to teach a lesson to other ethnic communities that they will experience a similar fate if they attempt to rebel against his rule.

Abd al-Rahman used to remind his subjects that they should be thankful to him as he enslaved the Hazaras otherwise, they would have had to work like Donkey’s if it were not for the enslaved Hazaras”. There was also a forcible conversion from Shiasm to Sunnism and as a result of this oppression many Hazaras fled to British India, Russia and Iran.

Learning from this era:

1)      Clergymen were again used by the sitting monarch to further tighten his grip on the people – this is still happening in the country where extremist Mullahs are pleased and used to gather support.

2)      Hazaristan was divided into different administrative regions to ensure that the unity amongst the Hazaras is broken. This trend has not been reversed and Hazara dominated areas are still demarcated in such a manner that the unity and strength of the Hazaras is not reflected. As a result of this unfair demarcation, the votes of the Hazaras are wasted as they are casted in Pushtun dominated areas.

Post-independence Era (1901-1929):

Ammanullah was a protagonist of bourgeois development and tried to modernize Afghanistan based on European model of development. In 1923 he introduced a new constitution, which abolished slavery and granted equality to every citizen of the country. Amanullah was overthrown by British supported Habibullah in 1929. Hazaras supported Amanullah and fought to restore him to the throne. After nine months General Nadir Shah defeated and executed Habibullah Kalkani a.k.a Bache Saqaw. General Nadir Shah although promised to restore Amanullah to the throne but did otherwise and declared himself the king.

Nadir’s government appointed Pushtun administrators to Hazaristan and tried to build Pushtun nationalism by promoting Pushtu language and popularizing its culture in Hazarjat while simultaneously condemning Hazara culture and history. Nadir’s brutal reign was brought to an end when he was assassinated by Abdul Khaliq Hazara to avenge the decades of oppression on the Hazaras by Nadir Shah and his fore fathers.

Abdul Khaliq Hazara by assassinating a sitting tyrant monarch has immortalized himself amongst the Hazaras and other oppressed nations. He is a celebrated hero amongst the Hazaras who see him as a liberator and who showed the Pushtun establishment that even after utilizing every single method to subjugate the Hazaras from genocide to slavery, from state discrimination to annihilating the Hazargi identity; the fascist elitist Pushtun establishment has failed miserably in its nefarious designs.

Learning from this era:

1)      The Pushtun dominated establishment systematically tried to destroy Hazaragi identity and culture by promoting Pushtunisation of Hazaristan.  This trend even continues today where we see that Hazaras and other ethnic groups like Uzbeks and Turkomen have virtually no significant presence in the affairs of the state.

2)      The assassination of a Nadir Shah by Abdul Khaliq Hazara shows that even though the Hazaras were suppressed by the state even then they did not give up and kept fighting for their survival as they have a fighter’s souls in them. Even today, despite of being neglected for over a hundred years the Hazaras are trying rigorously to catch up in all fields to compete with other ethnic groups.

From King’s subjects to King Makers!

The journey from pre 1880 to 1929; basically showed how the Hazaras went from being an independent, autonomous peace loving people to an oppressed people by the Pushtun establishment primarily due to the interference and support of the British. It is amazing to see how the Hazaras have bounced back from the oblivion back into the political spotlight against all odds. This simply goes to show the resilient genes and never-say-die attitude of the Hazaras.

The elections are scheduled to take place on 20th August and with each passing day the campaign fever is gripping the country. This year’s election will not bring any new face at the top of the power pyramid in Afghanistan as Hamid Karzai (against America’s wishes) is all set to retain his position for another term in the office. It’s noteworthy to investigate deeper what is ensuring Karzai’s electoral victory.

If we look at the ethnic mix of the country following figures will be a good estimation (as no updated census data is available and previous population censuses are all controversial):

  • Pushtun 35-38%
  • Tajik 30-35%
  • Hazaras 20-25%
  • Uzbek 10-15%
  • Others 5-10%

Pushtuns and Tajiks have been the traditional elite of the country with a large representation in both the bureaucracy and military and they have been rivals as well. Pushtuns, of course have always been controlling Kabul with the exceptions of Habibullah Saqaw and Burhanuddin’s short stints.  This Pushtun and Tajik rivalry is personified in the modern day in the shape of Karzai vs. Abdullah’s campaigns for the presidential election 2009. The numerical strength of Pushtun and Tajiks neutralize each other out (35% vs. 30%) in the ballot paper and this means that the winning candidate will have to have the support of the third largest group; Hazaras

This mathematical equation; places the Hazaras in a very formidable position. This position of strength of the Hazaras is further boosted by the Wahdat-Junbish(WJ) alliance which basically makes this duo the King Maker of Afghanistan’s political chess board. Karzai being a shrewd politician has realized the fact that he cannot win without the support of Hazaras and Uzbeks and this is the reason he had invited them for talks and accepted their demands. It is very important to note here that the Hazaras and Uzbeks will be a potent force only till they are united – the day when these two camps part ways their political power will vanish. If the deal goes through without any hiccups and both sides keep their part of the bargain then Karzai gets to keep his position as president and the Hazaras and Uzbeks will get on a road which ensures to give them their rightful place amongst the other groups of Afghanistan.

If we gather all the learnings mentioned above in each era; we will come to realize that the central government is still using the ages old policies to control other ethnic groups of the country which include:

Previous Regimes brutal policies

Current practice

Change demanded by the people

–    Economic Blockade The previous regimes did not allow any economic activity to prevail in the areas of other ethnic groups and as a result; Hazaristan is deprived of infrastructure and industries which is required to uplift the living standards of the populace Wahdat-Junbush(WJ) list of demands include that a proper transportation network is established throughout Hazaristan and once this is completed then economic activity will pick up.
–          Corrupt Clergies All the regimes since the past hundred years have been using religion as a tool to cement their grip on the people. The government can force corrupt clergy in issuing fatwas by bribing them so that the religious policies support them. As both Wahdat and Junbish are nationalist-secular parties they oppose the role of mullah in running the affairs of the state.

As the WJ alliance gets stronger the grip of the clergy will be loosened and they will not be able to exploit the people in the name of religion any more.

–          Culture wars One of the main weapons of the Pushtun dominate establishment has been a systematic state sponsored process of ‘Pushtunisation’ of other nations; be it Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkomen or Tajiks. One of the main demands of WJ alliance is to demand promotion of Hazaragi and Uzbek language and culture by the state. Once this program is initiated the Hazaras and Uzbeks will get their most revered treasure back; their cultural identity.
–    Administrative Ploys All previous regimes have used their administrative authority to forge national statistics in population census and also demarcate boundaries of provinces in such a manner which favors the Pushtuns. The WJ alliance has also demanded that the state recognizes the actual numerical strength of Hazaras (25%) and Uzbeks (15%) and also they have demanded additional provinces with Hazara and Uzbek majority areas which are currently merged with Pushtun dominated areas.

The Hazara-Uzbek (40% of population) bloc has become the largest vote bank in the country and by supporting a particular candidate they can ensure his/her victory even before the elections. By supporting Karzai, and pushing their charter of demands the WJ alliance has changed the political fault lines of the country forever. This strength has come through the democratic process; which ensures equality and justice for all.

The journey from being ethnic minorities to king makers of the country has been a long and an arduous one for the Hazaras but one thing is for certain that they are here to stay as long as democracy is given a chance in the country and the world will realize that ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’ in Afghanistan!

The political reawakening of the Hazaras is leading to a social and cultural re-awakening…the next part of the article will be dedicated to what the role of the Hazaras and the Hazara Diaspora can be to act as catalysts for this change.

  • Help has been taken from the book ‘Afghanistan’s Internal Security Threats’ by Musa Khan Jalalzai for the three eras mentioned in the beginning

Responses

  1. In the name of Bamiyan ………

    War was imposed on Hazaras from the day our lands were declared Afghanistan …
    Writer had to look when this region was called Afghanistan …. ????
    Who called it and who authorised it ……..????
    non of HAzaragi cheifs ever accepted this abuse ( Afghanistan ) of HAzarajat land …………….
    The days of Peace(before 1880): this is wrong ….
    as we had already lost lands in Qandhar ….
    britians had their Cantonments in and aruond Qandhar 1839 …………..
    this reawakening of the HAzaras is to cheat hazaras again ……. as we are not separated from Arabic and Persian Devi , devtasss ……….

    Ba amman e Bamiyan …….

  2. Great! this article is excellent and hope that WJ allaince should continou and reach towards future steps in order to play a strong rule in this country. One big concern is W leaderships I believe it is almost good for nothing.

    Sincerely

  3. Salam to every Hazara:
    The article on Hazaras important and role in Afghanistan was briliant and no matter what mistakes are made, because no body can be an positioned to every points accuratly, and I hope for the contributor to be peace and calm and continue in using your effort with writing such excellent articles.

    Thank you…

  4. Bamiyan’s got a valid point when he says ‘war was imposed on Hazaras when our lands were declared Afghanistan’

    I would really like to know the history on this particular subject – can anyone refer a source?

    The problem with our history is that it is not documented.

    • Faiz Muhammad Katib is one of many sources …..
      British Diaries of Qandhar ………..
      as well a number of other books ….

  5. “Hazara-Uzbek bloc” is “40%” of the population…how u know that? there was no ppl counting in afghanistan. they are bigger than that or smaller than that. All estimates are wrongly said. you’re also spreading an untruth.

  6. Salam to everybody

    I as a Hazara does not accept any boundary amongst Hazaras at all. We are all one and united. Because we are all from Hazaristan and no one left their land by choise. However, we all end up because of massacre,genocide and descrimination of Pashtons…. God know where we should go our helpless people now? The time and cercomstancess will solve the question as it did in the past.

    I as a Hazara who is living in Australia can not forget my dear beloved nation Hazara anywhere.Because they are all belong to me and I belong to them. We must love and respect each other regardless of where we live or what kind of document we have. Because the historic enemies never defrenciate us.They killed us as Hazara and they will do it again…
    Never ask rahm wa karam from your enemy. Never,ever!!!! Never… Trust your own people and Almighty Allah. Don’t be fool or deceived again and again. We must establish ourselve like us we were before like Mongol warriors and Turk nation.

    Hazara has a brilliant history. See the Ghorid,Ghaznavid,Baburis,Koshnise who made the Bamyan Budha. As I said they were not Pashton or Tajikes. They were all Turk Mongol and related relatives. Mazhab should not devide us at all. No arab or Iranian will come to help you nor they came in the past. When Abdul Rahman killed %62 of Hazara nation no arabic counrty or Irani Shia condemened their action at all. You will not find any reaction during that time. Hazaras were killed and tortured helplessly. Because we forgot our history and roots. We did not had any kind of communication with our roots at all.All we had mullas and some people who betrayed us.
    I am delighted Tanzem did organised a program to broadcast through out Mongolia. We must establish our communication back again in order to establish Turk Moghol Modern Federation back again in order to survive. Once we were majority in Afghanistan but Abdul Rahman killed % 62 Hazara and some fleded Quetta,Iran,Cetral Asia,India and Russians states. Majority became minority and minority Pashtoons became majority!!!!!
    Our land were confescated and finally the symbole of Budha in Bamyan was destroyed.The made a fake history and introduced whatever they could. Thanks God once again we foud ourselves back again to raise stronger than before one day inshallah.THE HISTORY WILL REPEAT ITSELVE.

    Ahmad

  7. Salam Dostan

    We the people of Afghanistan especially Hazara should be very proud to had this great civilisation which uniqe simillar to Egyptian Phyramid and Rome and Greek or China and India.

    We should work to reestablish our treasurey and show it to the region and world yes we were civilised and we will establish another one as we did it before. We should not limit ourselve to just readig or writing commets. Each one of us have responsibility to acheive our target.

    Bamyan must establish again through the help of Hazaras all around the world starting from inside the country,people from Quetta,Karachi,Iran and all around the world by encouraging International Communities .Because this great civilisation belong to us and we must establish it again if we leave it to the others then the only thing they can is destraction!!

    Hazara should work and preserve their cultural heritage regardless of the location where they leave. Thinking about empty slogans of Mulla from Iran or ISI of Pakistan will never bring fortne for us nor it could bring in the past other than disasters and misery.

    Long live Hazara civilisation

    Ahmad Australia

  8. Very well written article. Informative. There is one unfortunate thing among the Turkish-Mongol stock! And this is the fact that we still say “Hazaras and Uzbeks.” I think in future only one single name would represent both Hazaras(Turkmen, Aimak) and Uzbeks. If not racially, by the common name of the area they dwell. We have so many cultural similarities. If some one only spend an hour for finding similarites, 5 or 6 pages would be filled!
    Like Ahmad said, we must preserve our culture.
    Ah British, what have you done? The seeds you had sown have become wild monsterous flesh eating organs. You will have to face it. This is the only reality. And every one else will face it who had watered those seeds to become monsters!
    FACE IT NOW.
    May the Creator protect the real followers who were and still are peace lovers.
    Dear Hazaras MORAL UP in all conditions. If you hold each others hands tight, no sorrow can harm you. Teach this non-profit behavior to the rest of the world and lets live in peace. None of us want to be the only and single human being on the planet EARTH!!!! See the reality please.

  9. Salam Qauma,

    A petition has been launched for the target killing of Hazaras in Quetta, at the Website of British Prime Minister Mr. Gordon Brown (number10.gov.uk).
    Please sign up for the petition.
    Click the following link and sign up.

    (http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/HazaraKillings/)

    Thanks

    Press Secretary
    H.O.U.K

    Note: Only people live in uk or Eu can sign up.


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