The Ghilzai Factor
Such issues were also related to the demographics of Peshawar politics. Acase can be made that the politics of the Afghan war was a virtual Ghilzaiaffair. Khalq's Ghilzai leaders, Hafizullah Amin and Muhammad Taraki, began theprocess with the 1978 coup. The Afghan military forces were dominated by Khalqiofficers, many of whom were Ghilzai. Babrak Karmal (with Durrani connections)was replaced by Najibullah, one of the few Parchamis with Ghilzai roots. On theopposing side Hekmatyar, Sayyaf, and Nabi are Ghilzais; Khalis is from aneighboring eastern Pushtun tribe (the Khugiani); Gailani and Mujaddidi are fromimmigrant Sufi families whose religious and political links are largely withGhilzais. Only Rabbani has no intimate connection with Ghilzais.
Except for Babrak Karmal, the great Durrani Pushtun confederation had littlerepresentation on either side in the conflict. Gailani's party has stood in forthe royal family, partially because of the anomalous position of Zahir Shah.
The Ghilzai factor had major implications for the Kabul and the Peshawarsides. Both--for very different reasons--were committed to a break with anestablished tradition of Durrani rule. Some spoke of the Marxist usurpation andthe war as Ghilzai revenge against Durrani dominance. Ethnic rivalry, perhapsmore than Islamic ideology, was responsible for the refusal of the Peshawarparties to accept Zahir Shah into mujahidin politics.
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