Report: Anti-Karzai Pashtun Resistance In The Making
ISLAMABAD June 16 - Abdullah Sharif
rarely meets reporters, especially since he decided to go back to his
religious duty of Jihad. He has lived in the Southern Pakistani populated
city of Karachi for the last seven years. But now he is planning to shift
to Afghanistan to fight off an invasion of another kind.
While smiling, he admitted Abdullah Sharif was not his real name. Whatever
his name is, he is a former Afghan Mujahideen commander, getting back into
the business again.
“I was in Afghanistan last week and I will be traveling again next week
but will come back. But this would be my last time this summer,” he told
Islamonoline.net in an exclusive meeting at an undisclosed location.
When asked to explain the reason, he said he has been shouldered with a
“responsibility” in his country.
His responsibility given to him by "the organizers of new Jihad", as he
elusively put it, is to fight the Afghan government forces in a certain
district in Afghanistan.
Sharif was once a powerful commander of Hizb el-Islami, one of several
Mujahideen groups who fought the Russian invasion with the backing of the
U.S. He left his party and Jihad when Taliban movement started taking over
Afghanistan and his party decided not to stand in the way of Taliban. Ever
since he has lived in Pakistan.
But more recently, Sharif has formed his own Mujahideen group called Jaish
al Muslimeen (Army of Muslims). He has a very clear reason to join Jihad
at this moment. He is a Pashtun leader who fought against the Russians to
maintain his country’s identity. Now he has joined a Jihad with the same
cause. The enemy this time "is not foreigner."
While President Hamid Karzai entered the second year of his rule over
Afghanistan as an elected President, Afghanistan is already witnessing
re-emergence of Jihad.
On June 13, 2002 a grand assembly of Afghan elders (emergency Loya Jirga)
elected Karzai to head a transitional government in Afghanistan for two
years, as prescribed in the Bonn agreement signed between various Afghan
groups in Bonn, Germany, in December 2001 following the collapse of
Karzai, who is probably not a real target of renewed jihad, might be a
natural causality of this armed campaign which starts gaining momentum.
“Foreign occupation to us not only includes U.S. and ISAF (short for
International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan), but also includes
Tajik and Uzbek warlords controlling Kabul," said Sharif.
He said it is the beginning of a new Jihad for him, noting that he cannot
“I have agreed to work under the command of Taliban who are fighting for
the cause of not only Pashtuns but the cause of Muslims”, he said.
Sharif is also not the only commander who has decided to go back to his
country at hard times to undertake a more difficult assignment. There are
a number of Afghan Pashtun commanders who huddle together in
Pakistan-based Afghan refugee camps to tackle Jihad in the days to come.
In Shamshatoo refugee camp, almost 150 kilometers northwest of Islamabad,
in a makeshift tent that bears the sign “Hizb el-Islami Afghanistan
Education Committee” members of this new Mujahideen group discuss
situation in Afghanistan.
Subject matter is the performance of the Karzai government and the neglect
of Pashtuns. In open they don’t talk about Jihad.
“Yes we have heard about this Jihad but we do not know what is really
happening in Afghanistan,” says Nour Muhammad, Hizb el-Islami's head at
But inside Afghanistan his boss, chief of Hizb e-Islami, Gulbadin
Hekmatyar is playing hide and seek with the U.S. and Afghan government
He has been declared as one of the most wanted men in the U.S. and blamed
for various anti-government acts in Afghanistan. The Afghan government
blames him of committing “terror” against the government forces with the
help of Taliban.
Meanwhile, news of increasing atrocities and violation of rights of
Pashtuns in areas where non-Pashtuns hold power are reported every day.
Pashtuns from the north, where they are a minority, are fleeing to the
Pashtun heartland of the south with tales of pillaging and violence at the
hands of Gen. Rashid Dostum's Uzbek militia, which also has skirmished
with a Tajik group. Similar stories of anti-Pashtun harassment and
killings come from the western province of Herat, ruled by yet another
warlord, Ismail Khan.
Resentment has been expressed by the Pashtun tribal chieftains over the
issue that fighters from the north have joined American forces fighting
al-Qaeda remnants in the south, which is mainly an area dominated by
Add to that, a recent report stated that Afghan Defense Minister General
Mohammad Fahim had appointed 38 generals in an attempt to reorganize the
Afghan army. 37 of these were Tajik generals and the remaining one Uzbek.
General Fahim had not named one single Pashtun general. Yet Pashtuns are
the majority in Afghanistan and now the feeling is getting stronger among
Pashtuns that Taliban and not Karzai represents them.
Disappointed and embarrassed by not having been included in the Afghan
National Army, these self-proclaimed generals are now finding command
positions in another army parallel to the army of General Fahim, that is
the army of Pashtun led by Taliban
“Growing mistrust between Pashtuns and non-Pashtun elements of Afghan
government is favoring us a lot” one Taliban source said.
"By the grace of Allah, many commanders are joining us on their own
initiatives," he added.
Furthermore, Karzai has come under increasing criticism for having done
almost nothing for the improvement of conditions inside the country, and
especially for Pashtuns- the cast he himself belongs to.
However, not every Pashtun Commander is anti-Karzai. There are still many
who support the transitional government, for various reasons.
And then there are these veteran warlords who are part of the Karzai
government. Though they have their own rules of game in the respective
areas where center has almost no writ, still they support Karzai.