Afghanistan and Pakistan: The question of pashtun nationalism?

Amin Saikal*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    The Pashtun people that straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan are divided along family, clan and tribal lines, but constitute an ethnic-based nation in the classic sense of the term. Since the end of 2001, many of them find themselves subjected to intense efforts by the Afghan and Pakistani governments, backed by the US and many of its allies, to expunge the Pashtun-dominated radical Taliban Islamic movement from their midst. However, many Pashtuns now see themselves as squeezed in by adversarial forces, encroaching upon their religion, land, resources, honour, and cultural-social norms and values. In the absence of a return to peace and stability in their lives and locations, they are becoming increasingly prone to accommodating the Taliban not only as a religious, but also as a nationalist movement, and could eventually brush aside their historical divisions, and rally behind the Taliban leadership in pursuit of their historical goal of an independent "Pashtunistan". This paper identifies several ways of acting to avert such a development-a consideration that seems to be missing in the strategic calculations of the Afghan and Pakistani governments, as well as their international backers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5-17
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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