Jirga Appeals to Pashtun Nationalism to Combat Talibanization

November 23, 2006

The much anticipated Jirga of Pashtun tribal leaders from both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is underway. For weeks president Karzai had promoted just such a gathering as a cure all for the transborder agitation and the infiltration of insurgents and weapons to Afghanistan, all the while drumming up Pakistan’s dishonesty in the war against the Taliban.

Read Ahmad Rashid’s account of the Jirga for the Daily Telegraph here. Here is an excerpt:

“Clean-shaven tribal chiefs with large turbans, religious scholars with long beards and young political activists sat together in a large hall in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar to demand that the peaceful traditions of the Pashtun tribes which ‘are being drowned out in a sea of blood’ be restored.”

Called by Karzai and organized by a prominent Pashtun secular political party in Pakistan (ANP) the Jirga is aimed at appealing to Pashtun nationalist sentiments to battle the “Talibanization” of the ethnic group.

This of course assumes that Talibanization itself is not a manifestation of Pashtun ethnic nationalism. For many in Afghanistan who see that Taliban have an exclusively Pashtun popular base, and certainly for many of the Taliban who see themselves as legitimate defenders of Pashtun ethnic interests, this separation is not so clear cut.

And then there is the question of to what extent can Pashtun ethno-nationalism be rallied before that in itself spirals out of control and becomes a threat. After all, the phrase unintended consequences has an all too familiar ring to it in recent Afghan history (e.g. rallying the faithful to Jihad with American money.)

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An Update About Safrang

November 23, 2006

Safrang is not anymore a personal weblog – or at least it is not a weblog about a person anymore.

For those who think “Oh boy, here we go again!”, yes, this is another in a series of changes that Safrang has been going through since its inception. Now, however, it boasts of such grandoise things as “having found its niche” and hoping to play a part in “filling the void of serious English language blogs about Afghanistan that reflect the national perspective.”

(Visit About page.)

If there is anyone who has been visiting to read my thoughts and wanderings on disparate things and about life as a whole, I hope this does not prove too big of a disappointment. There are far superior personal weblogs out there that chronicle the daily musings of thousands. I am myself a regular consumer of these, and I have to admit that I will miss that aspect of Safrang the most -being able to vent and ramble and digress and tell the world about my feelings and insecurities.

However, it has come to my attention that there are very few English language blogs that engage in a serious discussion of current affairs in Afghanistan from an Afghanistani perspective. In fact, barring a few good Farsi blogs, there are few such blogs altogether. This is a big void, given that Afghanistan is in a critical stage in the inexorable march of history. Safrang aims to be a modest attempt in stepping up to this challenge and playing its small part in filling this void.

If I did not come across as unfair, I would identify the usual pitfalls of most Afghan blogs as these: lack of focus, long absences, irregular posting, and without exception the tendency of all of them to degenerate into tortured narratives of the existential crises of the authors. Safrang has also been guilty of this in the past, but is intent on rectifying itself. َIn addition, Safrang has often fallen into the trap of trying entertain and amuse rather than inform, a trap it hopes to avoid in the future. While topics such as Islam and the West, economics, and of course cinema and American pop culture remain close to my heart, for focus’s sake I will try my best to avoid wandering into these territories when unrelated to the central theme.

It bears emphasizing that despite these changes, Safrang will still strive to provide a fresh editorial perspective on current events from an Afghan perspective, and not merely become a directory of links to news articles about Afghanistan.

In keeping with this shift, the “categories” and “blogroll” sections will be reviewed to reflect the new theme of Safrang. For all other blogs that I visit regularly, please visit my del.icio.us bookmarks (linked under blogroll.)

Thank you for your continued reading and your comments.

-Hamesha