Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence
Work of Front Line Defenders in Afghanistan: Discussion
Mr. Hassan Ali Faiz:
This morning, we spoke about the issue of ethnic politics in Afghanistan.
One important element in the collapse of the Government was that of ethnic dimensions. There are many ethnic groups in the country, but there are four prominent ones: the Pashtun, which has ruled the country for over 200 years; the Tajiks, the arch-rivals of the Pashtuns; the Hazaras; and the Uzbeks. Except the Hazaras, who are predominantly Shia Muslims, the rest are Sunni Muslims. The Taliban are almost exclusively from the Pashtun ethnic group. The previous Government was also of the ethnic Pashtun. The Taliban are hardliners and they belong to one ethnic group. Because of the historical enmity among ethnic groups, they will do what they want to other ethnic groups who are not in power.
In the cabinet they have announced, out of 33 senior positions, 30 belong to ethnic Pashtuns. They have symbolically given three lower seats to other ethnic groups. We do not know the exact population of the country, but it could be between 28 million to 38 million. Non-Pashtun ethnic groups believe Pashtuns form 38% to 40% of the population. However, they claim to be 50% or 60%. Even if the ethnic group is 50%, the number of seats they have allocated should be half for other ethnic groups and half for the Pashtun ethnic groups. Of the 33 senior positions, they have allocated 30 to themselves and only 3 symbolic positions to other ethnic groups.