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Cablegate: Kabul's Ethnic Tensions

VZCZCXYZ0024
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #1077 1211332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301332Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3756
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4409
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS KABUL 001077

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON AF
SUBJECT: KABUL'S ETHNIC TENSIONS

REF: A) Kabul 1035
B) Kabul 469
C) Kabul 249
D) Kabul 112

1. (SBU) Summary: Competition for land, basic municipal services,
and discrimination may be aggravating latent ethnic tensions among
Kabul's increasingly self-segregating Pashtun, Hazara and Tajik
populations. The capital's population growth is outrunning the
government's gradually improving ability to govern. Inter-communal
harmony in Kabul, already home to one-sixth of Afghanistan's
population, is important to the government's ability to extend
stability throughout the country.

2. (SBU) Kabul Citizens' Council head Ghafar Dawi, one of a
dwindling number of "Kabulis," pre-war urban natives who proudly
deny any ethnic affiliation, told us increasing ethnic tensions are
one of the major challenges confronting his city. He says
land-hungry urban Pashtun and Hazara migrants accuse Panjshiri
Tajiks of having grabbed available urban real estate.

Panjshiris Take the High Ground
-------------------------------
3. (SBU) Several of our local contacts allege post-war Panjshiri
newcomers purposely situated their mountainside-clinging settlements
on Kabul's high ground so they could enjoy strategic advantage in
the event of an urban inter-communal war. Competition between
established neighborhoods and high-ground Panjshiris for scarce
drinking water is a more immediate source of tension. Perceived
Panjshiri arrogance occasionally results in violence. Late in 2007,
a Panjshiri driver's attempt to force his car through a spill-over
crowd of non-Tajik Kabul mosque worshipers precipitated a riot and
several deaths. Some Panjshiris acknowledge acting peremptorily out
of a sense of entitlement. They assert rights derived from having
been the first anti-Taliban force to reenter the city after the 2001
liberation.

Hazaras Take It to the Streets
------------------------------
4. (SBU) Assertive community leaders in the sprawling and
underserved Hazara neighborhoods of southwest Kabul, like MP Fatima
Nazary, are becoming more insistent in their demands for municipal
services for their communities. Nazary led Hazara demonstrators in
January when they protested publicly over the lack of electricity
(REF C). Thousands of Hazaras took to the streets in 2003,
protesting against alleged police targeting of their ethnic group,
in the post-liberation capital's first large-scale demonstrations.

Pashtuns: They Think We Are All Taliban
---------------------------------------
5. (SBU) According to Mohammad Isshaq Daqeeq, a Pashtun elder from
Kabul's District 3, his community perceives outright mistreatment
rather than neglect from Tajik-run government ministries. He traces
Pashtun grievances back to the overthrow of the Taliban when the
occupying Tajik militias arbitrarily dismissed Pashtun municipal
employees. He accuses the Tajik-dominated Interior Ministry, which
controls the police, and National Directorate of Security (NDS) of
arresting Pashtun males on false charges of Taliban affiliation so
their families can be compelled to pay ransoms for their release.
Former Kabul Provincial Council Head Maulawi Abdul Aziz Ahmadzai,
also a Pashtun, charged NDS with arbitrarily arresting 10 Pashtun
religious leaders last year. They were released when family and
friends paid off their captors, he alleged.

6. (SBU) The international community effort to stabilize Afghanistan
broke the cycle of inter-ethnic bloodletting, which had become a
dominant feature in Afghanistan's nearly three decades of war.
Unfortunately, the Kabul gvoernment's inability to accommodate or
serve its rapidly growing and ethnically diverse population may be
reawakening inter-communal hatreds.

WOOD

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