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Cablegate: Bamyan: Hazara Politics: View From the Central Highlands

VZCZCXRO1589
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #1818/01 2011233
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191233Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4747
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 001818

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER ECON AF
SUBJECT: BAMYAN: HAZARA POLITICS: VIEW FROM THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

REF: A) Kabul 1008
B) Kabul 1460

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) Bamyan is a bellwether for political attitudes of members
of the Hazara ethnic group, and it offers insights to how various
parties are seeking to engage the Hazara population. Hezb-e-Wahdat
Islami and the Hezb-e-Wahdat Islami-e-Mardum remain the most active
and influential parties in the Hazarajat; Haji Mohammad Mohaqqeq and
the Mardum party have gained momentum in recent months. The
Insejomi Milli party under Sadiq Mudabir is new to the field but
appears to be a serious contender for influence. Meanwhile, the
majority of Tajiks in the province are loyal to Jamiat-e Islami or
Hezb-e Islami.

The Demographics
----------------
2. (U) Though more Hazaras live outside Bamyan province than inside,
it remains the political touchstone and heartland for the Hazara
community. Hazaras view development in Bamyan as symbolic of
central government attention to the Hazara minority. Should
anti-government elements target Hazaras, many would return to Bamyan
and rely on it as a strong hold. Thus, Bamyan remains a
battleground for the hearts, minds, and votes of Hazara throughout
Afghanistan.

3. (SBU) Population data is difficult to obtain because Afghanistan
lacks updated census data, large numbers of Hazaras have returned
from Pakistan and Iran, and many have migrated within Afghanistan.
Rough estimates portray the following distribution: 1.2 million in
Kabul, 750,000 in Samangan and Balkh, 400,000 in Bamyan, 350,000 in
Ghor and Dai Kundai, 270,000 in Ghazni, 230,000 in Wardak, 190,000
in Herat, and 100,000 in Sari Pul.

The Primary Parties: A Tale of Two Hezb-i-Wahdats
--------------------------------------------- ----
4. (SBU) Two branches of Hezb-e Wahdat Islami have the most
influence among Hazaras. The first branch, Hezb-e-Wahdat Islami is
led by Second Vice-President Mohammad Karim Khalili, who inherited
leadership from Hazara leader and unifier Abdul Ali Mazari. Under
Khalili's leadership the party still commands reach and resources.
However, the stature of Khalili and his party is diminishing as the
perception that Khalili has failed to support the Hazara people
during his vice-presidential tenure increases. Hazaras have seized
on Khalili's long absence from the province and hands-off reputation
to perpetuate this impression. Despite its decline, the party's
staunch supporters hold key leadership positions, including Deputy
Governor Fahimi, current head of the Provincial Council Poya, and
the Deputy Chief of Police. Their base of power lies in Bamyan and
Yakawlang Districts.

5. (SBU) Kabul MP and former presidential candidate Haji Mohammad
Mohaqqeq leads the Hezb-e Wahdhat Islami-e-Mardum party, which
commands the majority of Hazara support. Despite a 2005 setback
when Mohaqqeq aligned himself with Abd al-Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, a
figure widely despised by Hazara, in an ill-fated deal to elect
Sayyaf lower house Speaker in exchange for Sayyaf's support of
Mohaqqeq's run for First Deputy Speaker, the party has steadily
regained popularity. Mohaqqeq actively complains about the lack of
attention, development, and equality for Hazaras. He travels to the
province regularly and recently donated a large statue of Mazari in
the central round-about, hinting he may be a better inheritor of
Mazari's legacy. In Kabul, meanwhile, Mohaqqeq's rhetoric has
turned increasingly towards a Hazara nationalist line, which appears
to be gaining political traction.

6. (SBU) At his provincial party headquarters Mohaqqeq is taking a
populist approach, sponsoring sports events like a widely-attended,
full-contact karate tournament, and receiving development requests
in order to "expedite" them to the government. The Mardum branch of
Hezb-i-Wahdat has support from around 70 percent of the Hazara
population. Many of the better educated and more connected Hazara
leaders, however, remain suspicious of Mohaqqeq's past human rights
violations and unsavory political alliances. The party remains
active in central Bamyan and maintains major power bases in the
populous southern districts of Panjab and Waras. The party's
message on social justice and equality for Hazaras has lately gained
more credence. The perception of central government inaction on
Kuchi (Pashtun nomads) migration into Hazarajat and the perception

KABUL 00001818 002 OF 002


that development is only happening in Pashtun areas continue to fuel
discontent.

The New Entrants and the other Bamyan
-------------------------------------
7. (SBU) The Insejomi Milli party, a relative newcomer to the Hazara
political scene, has surprised many with its popularity. In
mid-June, the party opened its new centrally located headquarters in
Bamyan. Sadiq Mudabir, Deputy to Farooq Wardak, Palace Head of
Parliamentary Affairs, leads the party. Minister Wardak and Mudabir
also worked together when Wardak headed the Joint Electoral
Management Body. In some ways, Isejomi Milli is a splinter of the
Hizb-e Harakat Islami-e Mardum-e Afghanistan, which splintered from
the Harakat-e Islami party. Mudabir's influence in the current
administration, coupled with his knowledge of the elections process,
could make his new party a formidable political force. Insejomi
Milli is appealing to intellectuals, university students and youth.
It bills itself as one of the President's parties and has the
support of the Minister of Mines. Some recent appointments,
including the Provincial Executive Officer, seem to indicate the
party is already leveraging a spoils system to reward supporters.

8. (SBU) While Bamyan is known as the Hazara homeland, the northeast
districts of Bamyan are recent additions to the province, and the
majority ethnic group is the Tajiks, not the Hazaras. The Tajiks in
these districts divide their allegiance between Jamiat-i-Islami and
Hezb-i Islami.

9. (SBU) Comment: Governor Sorabi remains staunchly apolitical,
refusing to align herself with any party. Recalling her attendance
of an initial Insejomi Milli event in Kabul, she said she was
uncomfortable with the strong evidence of conservative Pashtun
influence at the event. As elections approach, however, more and
more people seem to be clamoring for the governorship. The position
may become a mechanism for Karzai to pull Hazaras into his political
orbit. Governor Sorabi says she is open to suitable alternatives
but insists any move happen on her terms.

10. (SBU) Most senior figures in Bamyan appear to accept the reality
of a Pashtun President. They even say they prefer a Pashtun over a
Tajik candidate, revealing a lingering distrust of Tajik intentions
and previous broken alliances.

WOOD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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