Afghanistan is a graveyard of super powers, no doubt, but it has also become a cemetery of Afghans’ peace, prosperity and stability. Afghanistan has become prey of the power politics, no one can deny the fact, but it has also been the victim of Afghan internal dissension and antagonism. The geographical misfortune coupled with the internal division of Afghan society on ideological and ethnic lines pave the way for the intervention of power politics inside Afghanistan. The conflicting ideologies and the clashing visions in Afghan society create a vacuum and a situation which is being filled and exploited by the greedy power politics. The primary cause of Afghan imbroglio is, thus, internal and its solution lies inside Afghanistan. 

Internally, three main forces are active in Afghanistan with their different agenda and objectives; religious conservatism, liberal secularism and ethnic nationalism. The perpetual struggle between these forces thus obscures the prospect of stable and peaceful Afghanistan.

Ideologically, the Afghan society has been deeply divided into liberal seculars and religious conservatives. The liberals want a democratic state with its glaring feature of modernity on the western lines for which the conservatives are not yet ready to embrace. On the contrary, they want a theocratic state with strict adherence to Sharia law, for which the liberals are not ready to accept. Though in minority, these two groups have practically hijacked the whole society. The majority Afghans are the helpless and hopeless common people whose first priority is peace and bread. Unfortunately, no one is ready to give them peace and uplift their standard of life. 

Ethnically, Afghan society has been divided into Pashtun (42percent), Tajik (27percent) Hazara (9percent) and Uzbak (9percent) etc. The two major ethnic groups, Pashtun and Tajik want political supremacy and strive hard to get control over the political power of the country.

These three forces and their struggle are not new phenomena in Afghanistan but it has a long history but suffice it say that it was in late 1970s that the genie of liberalism once again came out of the bottle when the People Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) tried to implement a liberal and Marxist-Leninist agenda in Afghanistan. As a reaction, the forces of conservatism once again came out to oppose the new communist agenda of PDPA. This internal struggle between the forces of liberalism and conservatism pave the way for the cold war power politics. USSR sided with forces of liberalism while USA helped the forces of conservatism. The decade (1979-89) long war destroyed the country’s peace and stability.

It was ended with victory of the forces of conservatism. However, this victory brought another menace on Afghanistan when the forces of conservatism took the color of ethnic nationalism. A civil war started primarily between Tajiks Burhanudin Rabbani, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Pashtun Gulkbadin Hekmathyar.  It was a struggle for political power and supremacy. The atrocities of the civil war gave birth to a new force in the form of Taliban.

Taliban movement was a blend of religious conservatism and Pashtun nationalism. Hence, it faced the combined opposition and resistance of liberalism and ethnic nationalism of Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek. Surprisingly, this time, USA joined the forces of liberalism against the conservative regime of Taliban (1994-2001). Though Taliban have been ousted of power, but the struggle is still going in the Afghanistan. In nutshell, the divided Afghan society and the internal tag of war between forces of conservatism, liberalism and ethnic nationalism fuelled by external power politics make the vicious circle which is the major source of Afghanistan instability.

The Afghan society should take the initiative and should focus on realignment, readjustments and reconciliation of the opposing tendencies and conflicting ideologies. It should reach at some compromise for national integration and social solidarity. The ethnic groups should learn peaceful co existence. The liberals should understand the ground realities and the Afghan traditional social and cultural set up in which there is a little room for the western style modernity and liberalism at this stage.

The religious conservatives should realise the needs and requirements of the 21st century. The world community should play the role of mediator, facilitator and honest broker in the Afghans reconciliation process. Change is desirable and it must come, but it should come by the consent of the people instead of coercion.   Afghanistan has suffered a lot, and Pakistan has also suffered greatly. The people of both the countries deserve peace and a prosperous life and they should have it.

 The writer is former youth parliamentarian from Fata.    Email: