As we gonna publish a document of our comrades of Afghanistan about the national question in their country, we wanted to publish just before a short cultural presentation, so that our readers appreciate it in all its aspects.
In fact, there is mainly a fact that is to know, to understand an important aspect of Afghanistan: the word “Afghanistan” itself.
This word, indeed, is a construction of two words: the suffix -stan, meaning “the land”, and the word Afghani just before it, with therefore Afghanistan meaning the land of the Afghans.
The problem is that the word “Afghan” is a strict synonym for the word “Pashtun” - which makes that the word “Afghanistan” means solely “land of the Pashtuns” (the word Afghani comes from Afghana, a mythical jewish prince that should be the “ancestor” of the Pashtuns, which is of course not true).
The consequence of it is that the majority of the people of Afghanistan is not represented in the name “Afghanistan”.
The Pashtuns represent around 35-40% of the people of Afghanistan, the Tajiks around 26%, the Uzbeks around 8%, and then there are also the Aimaqs, the Turkmens, the Balochs, the Nuristanis, the Pashayis, the Arabs, the Brahuis, the Pamiris, the Gurjars... forming around 15 % of the population of Afghanistan.
And, of course, there are the Hazaras, who form between 10 and 20% of the population. Why this margin of difference? Because the Hazaras are terribly oppressed since the end of the 19th century, facing a violent wave of pashtunization.
The penetration of British imperialism in what is now Afghanistan, with in the background the perspective of concurrency with Russia, was the detonator of this process.
Before it, the Hazaras lived in an autonomous way. But the Pashtuns reactionary leaders wanted to control the zone where the Hazaras were living; the very cruel king Abdur Rahman – who once affirmed he killed 120 000 of his own people (in a country of 5-8 million people), and which under terrible torture was general – was the leader of the process of mass murdering against the Hazaras.
As a result, against this process of liquidation, there were Hazaras uprisings, which had to finally face 30-40 000 government troops, 10 000 mounted government troops, 100 000 armed civilians, Afghan nomads as volunteers, whereas the state of emergency was declared in all the cities.
The defeat of the Hazaras uprisings was followed by the reaffirmation of slavery, and the attempt by the reactionary Pashtun king to liquidate physically all religious and non religious Hazara leaders, with all their families.
It was followed by more uprisings, and finally after 5 years of struggle for mere surviving, a compromise could be established in 1893. The consequence was nevertheless the conquest of a part of the territory of the Hazaras, whereas mass emigration of Hazaras took stand, in Iran and what became Pakistan.
The slavery of Hazaras was then abolished in 1921, but pashtunization took a new course, much harder, on the model of Turkish nationalism in the Kemalist ideology.
In the same way that Kemalism negated the existence of non-Turkish peoples (Kurds, Arabs, Lazs, Armenians, etc.), Afghan nationalism wanted to suppress the others peoples.
Here is what wrote in 1914 Mahmūd Tarzī (1865-1933), theoretician of this Afghan nationalism.
And to understand fully this, there is to know that the historical common language used by all the peoples of what is today Afghanistan always was farsi. Even Pasthos spoke and speak farsi in their relations to the others peoples, and some Pasthos tribes took even farsi as main language (like the Mohammadzai from Kabul and those from Kandahar).
Afghani nationalism is here an invention, like Kemalism, Zionism, the ideology of Pakistan, etc.
Mahmūd Tarzī wrote so:
“Now it becomes necessary to address ourselves, on the importance of our national language Pashto... Firstly, we should understand that every nation has a national language which gives it its life. A nation which loses its language also loses its life.
The protection of the basic language of every country is as important as the protection of life. We are called the Afghan Nation and our beloved homeland is called Afghanistan.
We possess specific customs, ethics and a national language which we call Pashto.
We must protect this language and attempt to develop and improve it. Every citizen of Afghanistan must learn this language even though they may not be a Pashto speaker, and our schools must make the teaching of this language their most important vocation.”
This was not only non-sense because farsi was the lingua franca of the peoples of what is today Afghanistan, it was also a direct attack against democracy and all the peoples themselves.
An interesting thing is that the Afghan royal family, declared pashto as the official language, whereas the king didn't himself speak pashto. It was exactly like when Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the “father” of Pakistan, required Urdu as the main language, when himself, always dressed in english costumes, didn't speak it.
This shows what is behind Pashtunization: chauvinism at the service of the ruling classes. The Hazaras, then, from 1929 to 1978, became a terribly oppressed people. They faced general racism, but also famine sometimes, cultural isolation, economical backwardness.
Is this to mean that it was a national oppression? No, it was not, as Akram Yari, the great revolutionary, who was himself a Hazara (of the Jaghori tribe), noted, it was a class oppression.
This is why the document of the comrades of Afghanistan is of such value. It presents a general democratic content, in a nation that is forming itself – historically against colonialism (British, Russian Social-Imperialist, American...) and against feudalism organized by imperialism.
It is here to note that the word “Afghanistan” was first used as such by British Colonialists in June 26 1838, as recorded in Lahore Pact between British Government, the founder of the Sikh Empire, Ranjit Singh and the then discarded king of “Afghanistan” Shah Shojah.
Before this date, the word “Afghanistan” was only used as a name for the area of Solaiman Mountains, as mythical and historical homeland of the Pashtos.
Then again, with the Gandamak Pact of 1879, which was held between the king of Afghanistan Mohammad Yaqoub Khan and British colonialists, appears also the name of “Afghanistan and its appendages”, which meant on one side with Afghanistan the southeastern part of today’s Afghanistan and the Pakistan bordering, i.e. the Pastho zones, and on the other side Appendages the non-pushto settled areas of today’s Afghanistan.
Afterwards, it was British colonialism who used the word Afghanistan, making pressure to make disappear any reference to the historical word of Khorasan, which designated the area until this period and before the imperialist use of the word “Afghanistan”.
In the same way, the Farsi used in Afghanistan was designated as “Dari”, to make as it would be “different” in nature from the Farsi used in Persia, to deny its historical and practical role for the masses of the area, to reduce it to a “dialect” without importance.
This all shows the importance of a well understanding of the democratic question by the revolutionaries in Afghanistan; only dialectical materialism, today marxism-leninis-maoism, can express the needs of our epoch!