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Home >>  Culture & Conflict Studies  >>  Ghor Province

Ghor Province

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Governor Aqahi Abdullah
Governor Aqahi Abdullah
Ghor District Map Click here to open Ghor District Map

Provincial Overview (PDF)

Ghor Province is located in western Afghanistan. The population of under 600,000 are consisted of Tajik, Hazara, Aimak, Uzbek, Pashtun and a variety of other ethniciites of lesser representation. Agricultural and animal husbandry are the primary occupations of inhabitants. Opium, wheat, barley and sesame remain the primary active crops. The Governor, Baz Mohmammad Ahmadii was appointed in the summer of 2007.

Dut to its proximity to areas producing large amounts of opium, Ghor is a potential transit area for illegal narcotics. However, its rugged terrain and undeveloped infrastructure make it a less likely avenue of transport. Opium originating in Helmand and bound for Central Asia may become more common in the province as interdiction efforts are increased in Farah and Herat Provinces. The current governor is for Ghor province is Aqahi Abdullah Heiwad Haiwad, an ethnic Tajik.

Click to view Ghor Province Tribal Map Click here to open Ghor Tribal Map
Click to view Tribal Map

Human Terrain:

Tajiks: Tajiks are the second largest ethnic group in Afghanistan after the Pashtuns and comprise between 25-30% of the population. The Tajiks in Afghanistan tend to live in settled communities as opposed to a nomadic lifestyle. Pashtuns refer to them as Farsiwan, or speakers of Farsi, the lingua franca of Afghanistan (50% of Afghanistan speaks Farsi, as opposed to only 35% for Pashtu). Between the Tajiks and Pashtuns there has been significant animosity in recent years. Forming the backbone of the Northern Alliance, they also have a base in the nation of Tajikistan. They held out fiercely against the Taliban. Most Tajik are Sunni Muslims, but a few are Shi'a. Tajiks made up the majority of the Northern Alliance, both in terms of membership and leadership. Tribal ties have largely broken down among the Tajiks; therefore, social organization is defined primarily by geography. Despite their lack of cohesiveness the Tajiks are often brought together due to the perceived common threat posed by the Pashtuns.[1] In the Province of Ghor, Tajiks are the majority ethnic group and present throughout the province.

Aimak: The Aimak are a Persian-speaking nomadic or semi-nomadic tribe of mixed Iranian and Mongolian descent who inhabit the north and north-west highlands of Afghanistan and the Khorasan Province of Iran.[2] They are closely related to the Hazara, and to some degree the Tajiks. They live in western Hazarajat in the provinces of Ghor, Farah, Herat, Badghis, Faryab, Jowzjan and Sar-e Pol. The term Aimak derives from the Mongolian term for tribe (Aimag). They were originally known as chahar or (the four) Eimaks, because there were four principal tribes: the Taimani (the predominating element in the population of Ghor), the Ferozkhoi, the Temuri, and the Jamshidi. Estimates of the Aimak population vary between 250,000 and 2 million. They are Sunni Muslims, in contrast to the Hazara, who are Shiahs. The best estimates of the Aimak population in Afghanistan hover around 1-2 million. The tally is made difficult since, as a consequence of centuries of oppression of the Hazara people in Afghanistan, some Aimagh Hazaras are classified by the state as Tajik, or Persian instead of Aimaks.

Chanar: The Chanar Aimaqs are believed to be of Turco-Mongolian origin. This assessment is based on their physical appearance and the style of dwellings they utilize which closely resemble Mongolian style yurts. The Chanar speak a Persian dialect (Dari) unlike their Turco-Mongolian kinsmen in other areas.[3] The Chanar Aimak of predominate all but the eastern districts Ghor Province.

Hazara: The Hazara, a distinct ethnic and religious group within the population of Afghanistan; they have often been the target of discriminatory and violent repression. Most likely descended from the Mongols of Genghis Khan, (there is also a strong argument that they are of Eastern Turkic origin), the Hazara are noticeably different in physical appearance when compared to the Pashtun majority. In terms of religion, the vast majority of the Hazara are of the Shia Muslim faith, again in contrast to the Pashtuns who are Sunni Muslim. Due to these differences, “the Hazara have experienced discrimination at the hands of the Pashtun-dominated government throughout the history of modern Afghanistan.”[4] As the traditional underclass of Afghan society, Hazara were exploited and made to work as servants and laborers. As a result, there tends to be an anti-government and anti-Pashtun bias among the Hazara. In present day Afghanistan, the Hazara are divided geographically into two main groups: the Hazarajat Hazara and those who live outside the Hazarajat. The Hazarajat is located in the Hindu Kush Mountains in central Afghanistan and is “centered on Bamiyan province and include[s] areas of Ghor, Uruzgan, Wardak, and Ghazni province.”[5] The Hazara living outside of the Hazarajat live in and around Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Samangan province. Due to atrocities committed against them by the Taliban, the Hazara by and large are opposed to the Taliban. In August 1998, the Taliban massacred approximately 4,000 Hazara in Mazara-e Sharif; this massacre was followed by another the next month when the Taliban killed another 500 Hazara in Bamiyan. The Hezb-e Wahdat (Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan) is an umbrella political organization which commands the support of large numbers of Hazara. The Hazara are also often at odds with the Kuchi population within the Hazarajat. The Hazara are the majority ethnic group in the eastern districts of Ghor Province.

Pasthun: Pashtuns are few in number in Ghor province.

Uzbek: The Uzbek people of Afghanistan are found north of the Hindu Kush in Afghan Turkistan and are even fewer in number than the Pashtun in Ghor Province. The Uzbek of Afghanistan number approximately 1.6 million but comprise only a small percentage of the population of Ghor Province. The presence of the Uzbek people in this region was facilitated by the frequent invasion of Central Asian Turks throughout history. Uzbeks are the most populous Turkish group in Afghanistan and are recognizable by their broad, flat faces and lighter skin when compared to the Pashtuns. They are historically farmers and stockmen, breeding the karakul sheep and an excellent type of Turkman horse. Their kinsmen reside in the central Asian republic of Uzbekistan. Many Uzbeks fled into northern Afghanistan in the 1920s to escape the suppression when the Soviet government was trying to stamp out their customs and Moslem religion. The Uzbek of Ghor are present in the far north east of the Province in Chahar Sadeh District.[6]

Primary Political Parties

Shuria-e Nazar:
Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, the Governor of Ghor, is a member of Shuria-e Nazar. The party was founded by Ahmed Shah Masood, a Tajik, in an effort to offset the power of the Pashtun ethnic majority. The Shuria-e-Nezar group was a key player in the Afghan Civil war that followed the Anti-Soviet Jihad. After the Taliban were removed from power in 2001, this same group re-emerged in Afghan politics and has continued to seek power for their former Northern Alliance patrons. Many Afghan observers believe that groups like Shuria-e Nazar serve to alienate the Pashtun majority and inadvertently undermine U.S. anti-terror and counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan.[7]

Jamiat-e Islami (Islamic Society of Afghanistan):
Led by Burhanuddin Rabbani. It is predominately a Tajik political party which was active in the anti-Soviet jihad and a major political player in the Northern Alliance. Today Rabbani supports Karzai. Yunus Qanuni’s Hezb-e Afghanistan Naween broke away from Jamiat-e Islami. At least two of Ghor's District Heads are members of Jamiat-e Islami, including the head of the capital district of Chaghcharan.

Hezb-e Wahdat (Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan):
Hazara umbrella organization led by Mohammad Karim Khalili (pictured left). Hezb-e Wahdat is an offshoot and successor to a party of the same name that was established in 1990 when several Iran-based, Shi'a jihadi parties merged. Khalili was chosen to lead the party after the Taliban killed Abdul Ali Mazari, the head of original Wahdat party, in 1995. Khalili's drift toward an alliance with the Taliban is generally blamed for his party's factional disintegration. Khalili has served as second vice president in President Karzai's government and wields particular influence among Hazaras in central Afghanistan. His party's success or failure might be viewed as an indicator of the degree to which Hazaras believe the current government reflects their aspirations.[8]

Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan (Hizb-e Wahdat-e Islami-ye Mardum-e Afghanistan):
Led by Mohammad Mohaqeq, The Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan, like Khalili's party, is an offshoot of the original Wahdat entity formed with the merger of Iran-based, Shi'a Jihadi groups. Mohaqeq was Wahdat's main representative in northern Afghanistan once the Taliban gained control of Kabul in 1996, becoming an ally of the United Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (aka the Northern Alliance). In the post-Bonn Interim Administration, Mohaqeq served as a Karzai deputy and minister of planning; allegedly fired in March 2004.[9] Mohaqeq placed third in the presidential ballot with 11.7 percent of the vote. Mohaqeq's party is expected to participate in a powerful opposition bloc in the National Assembly.[10]

Harakat-e Islami (NUF):
A Shia party originally led by Muhammad Asif Muhsini, the Harakat-e Islami fought the Soviets with support from Tehran. Known for having many Hazara as well as non-Hazara members, this Shiite party refused to join the Hazara coalition Hizb-i Wahdat in the ensuing civil war. Since 2005 they have been led by Hojjatolislam Seyyed Muhammad Ali Jawed, a minister in Karzai’s first cabinet.


Reference
1. 2007 CIA World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html (accessed June 28, 2007).
2. Janata, A. "AYMAQ". Encyclopædia Iranica. Ed. Ehsan Yarshater. United States: Columbia University.
3. "Afghanistan". Encyclopedia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008.
4. US State Department Afghanistan Culture and Ethnic Studies, 2004.
5. Ibid.
6. The Afghan Network: Ethnic Group Profiles, The Turkish Groups of Afghanistan. http://www.afghan-network.net/Ethnic-Groups/uzbeks-turkmen.html (accessed July 24, 2008)
7. Afghan Meli Tolena: US and the Warlords in Afghanistan. http://afghanmelitolena.com/html/warlords.html (accessed July 28, 2008)
8. Afghanistan Votes: Political Parties, Major Parties. http://www.azadiradio.org/en/specials/elections/parties.asp (accessed July 24, 2008)
9.Abdullah Qazi, “Biography of Mohammad Mohaqeq,” Afghanistan Online, http://www.afghan-web.com/bios/today/mohaqiq.html (accessed October 15, 2008).
10. Ibid


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