Problem Of Developing The Optimal Concept Of Harmonizing Ethno-National Relations In Afghanistan


The article is devoted to one of the important topics in the political science and international relations, namely, the urgent issue of developing the optimal concept of harmonization of ethno-national relations in Afghanistan. Based on numerous examples from the life of Afghan society, the authors draw various political and ideological parallels, which make possible to put forward a number of substantive proposals for the improvement of political and legal aspects of the humanization of the ethno-national relations of Afghanistan in the early 21st century. The key point of solving ethno-national issues is not only the idea of state paternalism, but also the equal dialogue with all nationalities, ethnic micro-communities and quasi-ethnic groups. Consequently, the responsibilities of state structures in solving the ethno-national problem will increase, and the protection of human rights of every citizen of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, regardless of his nationality, number and other potential, becomes a priority. All of the above actualizes the solution of urgent tasks in the field of ethno-national relations in Afghanistan, namely the enhancement of modern scientific concepts to bring the country out of crisis, and contributes to the normal improvement of the ethno-political processes in the country.

Keywords: Afghanistanethno-national questionhumanizationnational minorities


In the second decade of the 21st century, Afghanistan is in the state of the deepest systemic crisis. The presence of foreign troops on the territory of this state did not bring the expected result. There is still a situation of mutual distrust between different ethnic and political groups in the country. An attempt is made to return the leading role of the title ethnos in the social and political life of society, whereas the interests of other nationalities and ethnic groups are clearly ignored in solving many problems. Afghanistan remains a country, which military-political situation has not created the conditions for national reconciliation and constructive inter-ethnic dialogue. It also has neither influential nor strong authority, possessing at least minimal resources to bring the country out of the impasse. Moreover, the main participants of the modern Afghan political process failed to find the national consensus on the way of creating the political structures of the modern civil society in Afghanistan.

The theoretical basis of the article is the collection of works of the Tajik, Russian and Western researchers, such as Saidov (2010), Imamov (2015), Nuriddinov (2012), Arunova (2000, 2001, 2008), Panichkin (2015), Korgun (2001, 2004a, 2004b), Rubin (2005), Cohen (2012) and others, who have made significant contributions to the study of the history, politics and ethnos of Afghanistan. Furthermore, among the recent researchers there is Boyko (2010), who has made significant contribution to the theory of the problem study of the Oriental studies and Afghanistan, in particular.

The evolution of Afghan statehood turned out to be unstable. Therefore, we can see now the fragmented society, political extremism, ethno-regional policies and the formation of all sorts of heterogeneous regional proto-state structures, which allow some researchers such as Ruben, an American scientist, to characterize the modern situation of the Afghan statehood as “a failed state” (Rubin, 2005).The Russian analyst Andreev (2004) defined it as “a country without a state”. According to Chubarov (2009, p. 91), Afghanistan is most likely “... a set of independent military-political groups than a single state entity”.

Problem Statement

At the beginning of the 21st century, the process of increasing interdependence in the modern world takes place in the conditions of the emergence of a new system of international relations and globalization. Under the influence of these factors, a change in any part of the world effects the situation in the international and interstate relations, especially when it concerns such underdeveloped state as Afghanistan.

The importance of such pressing issues is related to the fact that during almost forty years of the new history of Afghanistan, huge changes have taken place in the system of its statehood. The Afghan society has become the object of various social experiences and the creation of different models of government. Merely in the Contemporary Times in Afghanistan there has been a violent change of six regimes: monarchic (1973), republican, M. Daoud Khan (1978), two left-wing parties regimes (1979), regimes of mujahedeen (1996) and Taliban (2001), the accession to power of H. Karzai, (2002-2014), and the formation of a national unity government headed by Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai (2014 – present). At the same time, the role of the Afghan factor in the geopolitical dimension of the Eurasian security is increasing. It should be borne in mind that among researchers there is little shared understanding as to the level of scientific formation of Afghanistan’s foreign policy. In the country, there is no historical tradition in educating the population in the state spirit; quite the opposite, there is the archaic public consciousness and the extremely low level of the general culture of the population. In addition, the priority of the clan interests, compared with the benefits of the state, does not contribute to the progress of the country and the creation of an effective structure of government and foreign policy. The process of normalizing the situation and the forming an attractive international image of Afghanistan would be facilitated by the achievement of agreement, “liberal consensus” between various ethnic and political groups of the country, as well as their balanced presence in the sphere of foreign policy. All this together makes it difficult to conduct the comprehensive, centralized foreign policy in this country.

Research Questions

It is necessary to notice that the process of shaping the national policy of Afghanistan is seriously influenced by the following factors: the emergence of the Pashtun problem in connection with the rivalry of world powers; the status of a “buffer state” inherent in Afghanistan; the predominance of the structure of divided people in the ethno-system of society, etc. The today results of the evolution of the Afghan statehood are fragmented society, political extremism, ethno-regional politics and the formation of all sorts of heterogeneous regional proto-state structures.

Currently, the situation in this country (after the National Unity Government came to power (2014)) and around it continues to be very complex and confusing. Nevertheless, nobody can give an unambiguous assessment of how the situation in Afghanistan will develop or what the future model of a multi-ethnic society will be in the country.

Today, the main result of the development of Afghan society has become the establishment of the National Unity Government. It was easy to foresee that Ghani Ahmadzai would become a president of the country. Nevertheless, in our opinion, the formation of the National Unity Government with the rise to power of the group of Abdullah Abdullah and his team is the failure of American policy in Afghanistan. Since the American scenario did not provide such a high place for the team of Abdullah Abdullah. Most likely, the Americans were ready to bring to power a group of Ghani Ahmadzai and some of the Afghan technocrats of Pashtun origin associated with him. However, events began to unfold in a different way. The very fact of the division of power between the former mujahedeen and the current Afghan Western technocrats is the great victory of the Afghan people.

Objectively, there could be no other option. Indeed, the social base of Ghani Ahmadzai is rather narrow. Firstly, they are some of the Western Afghan technocrats, part of the refugees from Afghanistan and former Afghan citizens who worked in the West for a long time in various countries. Secondly, it is only a certain part of the Pashtuns. In fact, in Afghanistan, the descendants from the Pashtun clan Ghilji primarily support the group of Ahmadzai, while the Abdali do not. Finally, it is a small part of the Hazaras headed by Sarwar Danish and the part of the Uzbeks led by Abdul Rashid Dostum. It is clear that the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan played a major role in the victory of Ahmadzai. Strategically, the American plan was to eliminate the presence of mujahedeen in the political elite of Afghanistan. However, they failed.

Purpose of the Study

We see the need for political reform in Afghanistan in the near future. The formula for the power sharing, the distribution of authorities between the president and the prime minister must be consolidated at the constitutional level through the decisions of the Loya Jirga. In our opinion, people need a national development program for Afghanistan. We also believe that under any circumstances they must not return to flirting with regionalism and individual countries. It is also inappropriate to formulate the question of the separation of Afghanistan, so attractive to the American neoconservatives. Afghanistan is strong because it is a united unitary state, and its benefits in this form will be much greater in the future.

However, it can be argued that despite the great changes that have recently occurred in the Afghan society, the historical reality and the essence of all current political processes, upheavals and threats in Afghanistan, stay the same. Because the central government, as in previous decades, is not able to be a representative for the interests of all ethnic groups and the entire Afghan people fighting for their rights.

This requires a fundamentally new approach to resolve ethno-national issues, to create a platform for the evolution of Afghan statehood and impart the democratic character inherent to a multi-ethnic society of Afghanistan (In Afghanistan, there are about 20 large and small nations and ethnic groups, and taking into account individual ethnic micro-communities, there are about 52. In addition, some quasi-ethnic groups remain unidentified in the country.) .

Therefore, naturally, there is a need to develop a strategic program for the activities of the state and society in the sphere of ethno-national relations. At its core, it is a strategic program of state and society to transform ethno-national relations in the country. This concept in the sphere of ethno-national relations, in our opinion, should play a positive, healing and stabilizing role in the life of multi-ethnic Afghan society. Along with this, it should be a system of modern views, principles and priorities of the authorities taking into account the specifics of the Afghan society in the field of inter-ethnic relations. Therefore, this option should contain a modern understanding of the goals and objectives of public policies, strategies and tactics to solve the specific problems of the original development of the tribes and nationalities of Afghanistan, as well as the main approaches to harmonizing ethnic and national relations in all spheres of Afghan society.

Research Methods

We use various modern research methods of socio-political phenomena and processes, including political, systematic, historical etc. in this article. We use the political (political-sociological) approach to the analysis of the connection between the geographic position of the state and its foreign policy while studying the foreign policy of Afghanistan and its relationship with other countries. In addition, based on the principle of consistency and methodological premise, we consider that the American military presence in Afghanistan has become a major event in the international life of this country at the present stage.

It should also be noted, that in the article we widely use the historical method, which involves considering the history of the formation, establishment and development of the Afghan state in close connection not only with local political, economic, military-strategic, diplomatic, ideological and cultural processes, but also with the attitude of regional powers to the state.

As we studied the theory of international relations and the research papers about the Afghan theme, we relied on other basic techniques. In particular, the methods of content analysis and “event-analysis” (the study of event data) were used in order to revise the activities of the USA after its invasion into Afghanistan, to clarify the true goals of this military-political action and to predict further events.

In addition, in the methodological aspect, the article is based on the systematic approach, including, inter alia, the study of international legal documents and other sources using the methods of comparative and objective analysis of the course of actions, which take place in modern Afghanistan, in the context of their inclusion in global processes.

Correspondingly, the present Afghan conflict cannot be considered according to the method of the systematic approach as a phenomenon of the regional nature, it emerges within the broader political framework, in particular, within the contradictions between the superpowers.


The experience of many countries shows that the process of state formation is associated with the dominance of one or (in extreme cases) two or three nations, which, as a rule, are in power. In the history of civilisations, the humanistic ideas of peaceful coexistence, the problems of providing the dominant nation with the appropriate conditions for a favourable ethnic well-being of non-national, other religious people were not always priority in politics, both of individual states and in the world community as a whole.

Policies and Legal Framework for the Harmonization of Ethno-National Relations

The process of creating civilized relations of the dominant nation with the indigenous people within the framework of a unified state institution can be divided into following phases as the mechanisms: protection of indigenous peoples (minority indigenous peoples), contractual-historical (16-17 centuries), constitutional parliamentary (18 – mid. 20th century), consulting and legal (mid-twentieth century - further in the future). The 21st century has become a turning point in the formation of an integrated system of legal norms, principles and procedures with regard to indigenous peoples.

The fact of the creation and functioning of international intergovernmental organizations (like the UN, the Council of Europe etc.), the global democratization of the peaceful community, the intensive development of international human rights law – all these actions initiated legal standards on the rights of nationalities (in recent decades) and indigenous people.

The fundamental legal documents providing the “rules of the game” on human rights in the international community: the United Nations Charter and the International Bill of Human Rights, which includes Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966a) (both 1966), and optional protocols to them (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966b).

Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims in the 1st part, 2nd article: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms <…>, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, <…>, national or social origin” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, para. 8).

Regarding the participation in public affairs, art. 21 declares that “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives” and “Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).

These statements are not purely declarative; they acquire the character of binding legal norms in the art. 25 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is the basis for their mandatory inclusion in the national legislation of the UN member states that have ratified and signed this pact.

From the second half of the 20 – early 21 centuries the international community and individual states did not only follow the principles of forming legal norms designed to ensure so-called “humanitarian crisis” and respect for the human rights of indigenous peoples. They try to turn to the establishment and propaganda, cooperation and partnership with them as the only alternative imperative of sustainable development of human civilization at the present stage. These are reflected in Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (principle 22) (Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992).

Cooperation and partnership, based on the recognition of the essential value of any people and nation, their undisputable rights to participate in solving their own development issues, implies the establishment of principles and norms of dialogue between the governments of independent states and their indigenous peoples. It is possible to understand the concerns of various groups of different cultures only through the dialogue. Through the forming the civilizational foundations of the world social structure, the dialogue mechanisms have acquired real shapes: a contractual mechanism (a contractual-historical period), a mechanism of parliamentary representation (a constitutional-parliamentary period) and a consultation mechanism (a consultation-legal period).

Schematically it looks like this. The treaty mechanism – the contractual agreement (for example, in the colonial period between conquerors and communities of aborigines). Parliamentary mechanism provides for the representation of different people in decision-making bodies at any level: international, domestic, regional and local. The consultation mechanism is legitimized, i.e. it is provided by certain regulatory legal acts. In this case, there is mandatory or preferential involvement of interested groups of societies in the decision-making, usually these groups cases do not have any opportunity to be represented in power structures.

The need to use a consultation mechanism when making decisions affecting directly or indirectly the interests of indigenous peoples is justified in “the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention No. 169” (Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries) (Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989), as well as in “The World Bank Operation Manual. Operational Directive 4.20 on Indigenous Peoples” (The World Bank Operation Manual, 1991).

At present, in order to resolve issues concerning the indigenous population three mechanisms are used in the UN member countries with a developed system of democracy: contracts, parliamentary representation and consultation mechanism, depending on the historically established political and legal culture in a given society.

The 21st century brings many new and progressive trends in the above issues. Simultaneously, various complex and controversial global phenomena have emerged in the modern world, i.e. climate change; a new migration wave in Europe; terrorism, separatism, Islamic radicalism (like Al-Qaeda, ISIL); the new stage of the arms race; the intensification of civilizational contradictions between countries; claims to the sole world leadership of some states etc. They all can be sources of new threats and challenges to humanity. As a result, along with the process of internationalization and globalization, the ethnic heterogeneity of states and the number of problems associated with these issues increase.

In view of the historical reality, one or several nationalities and ethnic groups, which, due to their ethnic linguistic and religious identity, differ from each other, reside in the territory of almost every state. Therefore, it is important to ensure a harmonious relationship between representatives of national minorities and the national majority, and national minorities among themselves. It seems that such an approach is one of the foundations for the development of a democratic society, and therefore, the factor of peace, stability and justice, as well as the humanization of ethno-national relations.

It is important to point out that the rule of respect for the individual is essential important for the effective function of the international principle of democracy within a country. Priority becomes the general principle and constitutional law of democratic states. According to this position, we have attempted to propose some general principles, existing mechanisms and standards to protect a nation, nationalities and ethnos in a multi-ethnic Afghan society. Along with this, it becomes important how to use the principles to improve public relations in resolving acute national conflicts in Afghanistan.

Polyethnic Model of the Afghan State

At present, it is a well-known fact that the modern model of a multi-ethnic Afghan society does not meet the requirements of the country's ethnic and national development. From the point of view of modern political science and state studies, it is difficult to determine the type, form and model of the state of Afghanistan.

As the well-known Afghan scholar Korgun (2001) rightly pointed out, “The general vector of development of Afghanistan from absolutism to modern models is constantly interrupted by a rollback, sometimes deep, as at present, to historically doomed forms of being and social consciousness” (p. 24).

The non-Pashtun ethnic groups, which lived in the territory of Afghanistan, had practically no connection to the central government. That, in its essence, was one of the causes of interethnic conflicts and created the groundwork for the national-class struggle in Afghanistan.

At such course of ethno-political processes, the historical memory was formed in the collective consciousness of non-Pashtun peoples, that Pashtuns are the state-forming ethnic group in Afghanistan; the state is controlled by them and created in the name of protecting and preserving their interests. Moreover, non-Pashtun nationalities in this country are included in the category of “Mardo-e Tokhodzhom-e” (guest nations) in the collective consciousness of the Pashtun elite.

Therefore, the non-Pashtun peoples have no reason for sensible compromise and cooperation with the central government of the Pashtuns. In order to resolve this issue, it is necessary to free the government from the usurpation of one people and to ensure the fair participation of non-Pashtuns in the management of public affairs, both vertically (legislative, executive authorities) and horizontally (judicial and administrative authorities).

In such a broad historical context, a unique phenomenon took place in the collective consciousness of the non-Pashtuns of Afghanistan, which can be roughly summarized as a complex of “the power superiority of the non-Pashtun north over the Pashtun south”. It is noteworthy to reveal the crux of the problems, that complications were associated with a significant violation of the ethno-demographic and ethno-political balance of society during the civil war, with multimillion immigration that weakened the position of the titular people in the management of public affairs. In parallel with this, the national emancipation of various minority and ethnic groups, and the further growth of national self-awareness of the main non-Pashtuns (Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks) are taking place. An important factor in the revival and consolidation was the alliance of all non-Pashtuns and the military-political groups of mujahedeen into the parties.

This ethnic alignment essentially raised the question of the defining “national majority” and “national minority”. However, the answer remains unequivocal: Pashtuns are not super-ethnos and are not included in the category of the “majority” of the ethnic rank of the Afghan society. According to the famous Afghan scholar Arunova (2001, p. 212), “by the time of the fall of the PDPA and the proclamation of the ISA, Pashtuns no longer constituted the majority of the population”.

In the future, some representatives of the non-Pashtuns of Afghanistan put forward the thesis that if southern tribes mainly took part in the war against the British, then perhaps they had rights to become the dominant ethnic group in the political hierarchy. During the Soviet aggression, all people and tribes of the country took part in the struggle against the communist regime in Afghanistan. Following this logic of reasoning, everyone, especially the majority nations, has the right in the management of public affairs on an equal basis (Andreev, 2004). In this regard, the Afghan politician and researcher Ghulam Ali Muvahhid notes that “in Afghanistan there are 99% of Muslims, of which 1/3 are Shiites, 2/3 are Sunnis. Jihad was supported by three quarters of non-Pashtuns, and only by one-quarter of Pashtuns. Of course, such principle should be observed in the formation of state structures and the creation of political institutions of society.

Since the entry of the NATO coalition forces into Afghanistan, as in previous times, the ethno-national situation has been characterized by aggravation of interethnic relations, the emergence of ethno-political conflicts in the country. Therefore, a more serious approach is required to address this issue. It is encouraging that there is no splitting in the country according to the signs of south and north, Pashto and Dari, Shiites and Sunnis. Different options and scenarios of the development of ethno-national situation in Afghanistan are discussed now. However, the objective is how the world community can assist the Afghan leadership in addressing the above issues and ensuring human rights in the country.

According to the International law a minority is “a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a State, in a non-dominant position, whose members – being nationals of the State – posses ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population” (Constitution of India, 2000). From this point of view, the ethnic groups of Sindhis (13%), Pashtuns (9%), Baluch (3%), minorities Kalasha, Kho, Kohistanis, Shina people and other ethnic groups can be attributed to minorities (Mahmood, 2013).

At the federal level, there is the Advisory Council for Minorities, consisting of elected representatives of minority communities and their eminent people in the Lower Assembly of the Parliament. Council advises the legislature on issues related to minorities. Minority committees exist at the provincial and district levels.

The most vivid example demonstrating the integration of national minorities into society can be the experience of the Republic of Tajikistan (Kasymova, 2005).

Therefore, while developing the optimal concept of harmonization of ethno-national relations in the Afghan society, it is necessary for the world community and the Afghan government to take into account the following points:

  • general principles and approaches that determine the activities of government and civil society in the field of inter-ethnic relations in Afghanistan;

  • the specific interests of all people, every ethnic group and the harmonization of these interests in a democratic way;

  • on the one hand, self-affirmation and dignified development of nationalities and ethnos, on the other hand, the formation of their unity and community as a nation of the state of the multi-ethnic Afghan people;

  • protection of constitutional rights to self-determination and development of every nation regardless of its size within a single state. As well as guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of every citizen of Afghanistan, regardless of their nationality in all spheres of public and state life;

  • strengthening the community of the multinational people, the unity and integrity of Afghanistan;

  • prevention of any forms of discrimination of the rights and freedoms of the people and person on the basis of national and religious grounds in any of the spheres of public non-governmental life of the country.

The Current Situation in the society of Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, in the second decade of the 21st century, certain conditions emerged for the implementation of the concept through the promoting and carrying out specific practical programs of original national development and multifaceted cooperation of people at central and local levels. There is a real opportunity in the effective use of the potential of the SCO – program “Afghanistan National Development Strategy”, 2016 (Afghanistan National Development Strategy, 2016), with the participation of some neighbouring states in improving the atmosphere of mutual understanding in the sphere of ethno-national relations and eradicating the “three evils”: religious extremism, national separatist movements and international terrorism. This will help to set up the system of internal security in order to create favourable conditions for the development of Afghan society. The complex multi-faceted nature of this phenomenon requires the necessity to focus on the implementation of national policy programs and the achievement of inter-ethnic harmony, primarily at the level of compact residence of nationalities in specific regions, cities, regions, etc.

How will the main point of this work be implemented in the practical activities of the central authorities, in the system of subjects of the Afghan state and in local communities? Which actual directions of development of ethno-political processes will be kept in the focus of the authorities and society? These questions and the answers to them are of fundamental importance for the destiny of the state of Afghanistan and its peoples in modern conditions.

Ignorant approaches to the regulation of ethno-political processes created ideas about “unreliable peoples”, the ideas of “Saqawi-ye dovvom” (Second Saqaw) (Representatives of other peoples of Afghanistan, who claim to occupy a great post in the hierarchy of power, are ironically called “Sakao” in the collective consciousness of the Pashtuns. Habibullah Kalakani, a Tajik, nicknamed Bacha-e Saqaw (literally son of the water carrier), became a King of Afghanistan for the first time from among non-Pashtunsas a result of a peasant revolt in 1929. Ideologists of the new concept “Saqawi-ye dovvom” were Sulaiman Layeq, a famous poet and a former Minister of Nationalities and Tribal Affairs during the PDPA and Ismail Jung, a local nationalist, hiding under the pseudonym “Samsuri Afgan”.) (Iskandarov, 2014) and the birth of nationalism. The practice shows that nationalism sooner or later develop into Nazism. In the recent history of Afghanistan, this has already happened: Taliban, as a manifestation of Pashtun-centrism under the guise of restoring order in the country and evolving in the future into a form of Pashtun neo-fascism. Therefore, in our opinion, any negotiation with the Taliban is immoral and insults the national feeling of non-Pashtuns, leading to the emergence of new contradictions in the sphere of ethno-national relations in the country. On this basis, it is worth noticing that the principles and values of democracy, the understanding and realization of which ultimately stabilize interethnic relations, should be the main guideline of the new ethno-national policy of the Afghan state.

The important consequence of the growth of ethnic identity was the political activation of ethnic elites and charismatic leaders, as well as the formation of a conglomerate of clan structures.

In consequence, quite a number of tendencies has the troubling character in the development of the ethno-political processes of Afghanistan. Let us enumerate them, a change in the role of Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns in the modern history of post-conflict Afghanistan; the formation of the power superiority complex of the “non-Pashtun north” of the country over the “Pashtun south”, ethnic demographic polarization in a number of regions and the depopulation of national minorities.


Therefore, the contemporary situation in Afghanistan can and should be improved, first of all, by activating state influence, making full use of the creative influence of the civil society potential and friendship of the peoples of Afghanistan.

The future actions on the implementation of state ethno-national policy should cover the following major areas of doings at all levels of government:

  • legislative work to improve state and international relations;

  • provision of guarantees to protect the rights and freedoms of a particular person and national-ethnic communities, regardless of national or religious affiliation;

  • urgent measures to stabilize crisis phenomena in the ethnic and religious spheres;

  • problems of the growing demographic state of society in its ethnic and ethno-political dimension;

  • urgent problems solutions in order to meet the national needs of people in the field of education, culture and language;

  • responsibility for predicting and implementing preventive measures in order to avoid the interethnic conflicts.

In the modern historical conditions in Afghanistan, the following ethno-national and ethno-political problems either seriously activate or significantly fade:

  • manifestations of ethno-political and regional separatism;

  • a lot of ethno-political contradictions and conflicts that have come out of the acute phase and, nevertheless, have remained unresolved in the Afghan society until now;

  • the state and prospects of the so-called titular (indigenous) ethnic groups remain clearly unmarked in the national provinces;

  • ethno-national and ethno-cultural problems of Pashtuns, which manifest themselves both at the regional and national level, are pervasive for the entire system of relations of Afghanistan. Misunderstanding of the specific nature of interests, the role and place of Pashtuns in Afghanistan cannot contribute to the humanization of interethnic relations;

  • the common vision of mechanisms for solving the problems of the indigenous peoples of Afghanistan has not achieved yet;

  • practice shows that in the sphere of ethno-national politics it is necessary to pay more attention to issues of ethnic migration, the return of refugees, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes.

In the current ethno-political situation of the Afghan society, there are three main scenarios and strategies of the ethno-political development of the people in Afghanistan.

  • Sovereign national, national separatist;

  • Unitary unification;

  • Federative integration;

They are closely related to each other.

The first case is about the hypertrophied self-sufficient role of the ethnic factor in the social and political development of the life of modern nations-ethnic groups. This is detrimental both for the prospects of nations and ethnos and for the development of a poly-ethnic Afghan society.

In the second case, there is a tendency to unify the life of people, their maximum assimilation and dissolution in the Pashtun ethnocultural space. This will partially lead to the politicization of the national identity of ethnic groups and individuals, thereby reproducing inter-ethnic conflict. It must be noted that the objective manifestation of integration and assimilation, undoubtedly, has had and will take place in any multi-ethnic society. It is historically proved that the natural assimilation of nationalities and their individual groups of cultures, their adaptation to each other is a common phenomenon. In this situation, it is important to support the evolutionary process of this trend. However, without applying the old and present administrative methods that lead to the next ethnic explosions, as it was several times in the history of Afghanistan. The evolutionary path of preserving and developing ethnic identity, unlocking the potential of all nationalities, their adaptation of mutual influence, and the integration process in a unified state community is promising.

In historically prevailing conditions, Afghanistan has the most dangerous path – the formation of the federal state system as a model for the settlement of the peoples and regions of modern Afghanistan. In our opinion, Afghanistan can develop only within the framework of a unitary state. Any splitting of Afghanistan will lead to chaos and the formation of numerous proto-state structures that do not have the appropriate joint forms. Moreover, the correspondence of the geographical and ethnic concept has a conditional relevance in Afghanistan. Due to the migration policy, at the end of the 19thand the thirties of the 20thcentury there were huge ethnic changes in the country. Although in historical terms, Afghanistan (as already noted) has always been characterized by de facto tribal federalism of Pashtun tribes, on the one hand, and the confederation of Pashtun and non-Pashtuns, on the other hand, as a legally unformed model of social arrangement de jure. Attempts to create a similar model of government have already taken place under the Taliban regime, when Afghanistan was declared an emirate. Today Afghanistan remains a country of local charismatic leaders with its inherent ethno-regional politics, ethnic radicalism, and in some parameters, as already noted, “a country without a state” (Andreev, 2004).


Consequently, at present, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the war in Afghanistan, conducted by ISAF in the existing format, is ineffective in terms of achieving the officially declared goals and tasks facing the forces of the USA and its allies. The main reason for the inevitable defeat is that the leitmotif of the campaign is the paramount nature of the policy of the United States and NATO in the region, without taking into account the internal problems of Afghanistan. If the coalition really tried to implement a political settlement in the republic, the key focus now would be to find a compromise figure / political authority that could unite or at least arrange all the significant participants in the ongoing processes (including regional leaders and representatives of national minorities). In addition, Western forces should remember the key principle of the democracy, which they profess, and understand that only the Afghans themselves should choose how to live in their country. Nobody must interfere into the internal politics of the republic and determine it. If we talk about the economic part, then there is also a fiasco. Moreover, it is not even a matter of the level of corruption, but of the fact that the ISAF does not have any plan to reorient the population of the country towards an alternative form of economic activity instead of narcotics.

As for the military aspect of the problem, the USA and NATO simply do not have any strategy (to conduct effective combat operations in mountainous areas in the absence of a front line and demarcation between combatants and non-combatants), nor resources to defeat the Taliban. Nevertheless, by now, Afghanistan is in a state of searching for ways of national self-identification, which requires effective protection of human and national rights and freedom. In this regard, along with the Constitution of the State of Afghanistan, it is necessary to develop a charter “On the civil rights of the people of Afghanistan” and the state law “On guarantees of the rights of indigenous minorities of Afghanistan”.

Based on this circumstance in view of the prospects for the development of interethnic relations, it is possible to determine the basic principles of state governing the ethno-national processes in Afghanistan:

  • Parity of interests of national communities and their all-round partnership. This principle logically leads to the recognition of all people living in the territory of modern Afghanistan as equal and equally responsible for the destiny of the entire state. At the same time, no ethnic community could claim the pre-emptive right to control the territory, the institution of power and natural resources either in the state, in general, or in any national-territorial zone, in particular. In other words, none of ethnic groups should be in a privileged position, as it was practiced earlier. Only on such a democratic basis, people can reach the harmonization of inter-ethnic relations in Afghanistan; give a new impulse to the progress of nation-state formation and make conditions for the creation of a civil society in the country.

  • Self-organization of national ethnic life. This means that, in accordance with the principle of national parity and partnership, it is necessary to create real conditions for people to determine and realize their own ethno-political and ethnocultural needs. They must be able to protect rights and freedoms, defend interests in parity and partnership in full compliance with current legislation of Afghanistan, accepted by democratic means and recognized by all nations of the state.

State paternalism and equal dialogue with all nationalities, ethnic and quasi-ethnic groups. The content of this principle consists in the duty of state authorities at all levels (national, regional and local) to protect the rights of a person, a citizen of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, regardless of his nationality and the rights of people, regardless of its size and other potential. The government should provide assistance and support to national minorities and, especially, to small indigenous people.


The authors express their gratitude to the Russian-Tajik (Slavonic) University for financing the research under the University Development Program for 2018.


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Naimov*, I., Negmatova, S., Karimov, F., Saidov, S., & Saidov, H. (2019). Problem Of Developing The Optimal Concept Of Harmonizing Ethno-National Relations In Afghanistan. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 3706-3719). Future Academy.