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The tragedy and valor of Afghan - 4 - Transfer of land to peasants

The tragedy and valor of Afgan

Alexander Antonovich Lyakhovsky

"Rebuilding Society", or Taraki's Mistakes, 
Transfer of land to peasants

Since agriculture was the leading sector of the Afghan economy, land reform occupied a special place among the main social and economic transformations outlined by the PDPA. This was explained not only by the role of the agricultural sector in the national economy (more than 87% of the population lived in 22,750 villages, the share in the GNP was 56%), but also by the need to create a broad social support for the regime in the person of landless and land-poor peasants. The basic principles of water and land reform were formulated in the Decree of the Revolutionary Council "On Land" dated November 30, 1978. It established the seizure of surplus land in favor of the state without compensation and the free allotment of land to landless and land-poor peasants and nomads. The beginning of the land reform is considered to be January 1, 1979,

Before the April Revolution, 76% of the rural population of Afghanistan was deprived of land. The feudal lords rented it out on enslaving terms: out of six sacks of harvested wheat, only one went to the peasant. Poverty was widespread.

In the course of the land reform, the state seized 740 thousand hectares of land from 35 thousand landowners without compensation. Of these, 665 thousand hectares were transferred free of charge for 296 thousand families of landless peasants; 40 thousand hectares were allocated for the organization of state farms and 33.5 thousand hectares - for the needs of municipalities.

However, the land reform was too radical, fundamentally flawed, and was carried out without taking into account the realities that existed in Afghanistan. In addition, no mechanism has been created to ensure its implementation. Having received the land for free, the peasants did not know what to do with it further, since they did not have any tools of labor to cultivate it, no seeds, or money. Religious peasants believed that the land had long been divided by Allah, so no one had the right to divide it again. The peasants were also dominated by age-old clan, tribal and clan traditions, which stood guard over the interests of the elders and feudal lords. Many were alarmed that land reform measures were carried out only through administrative measures, intimidation, and repression. At the same time, abuses of power were often allowed (giving the best lands to their relatives, fellow tribesmen, friends, bribery, etc.). In addition, no one was sure that tomorrow this land would not be taken away as easily as it was given.

The land reform did not bring the expected shifts in agriculture, but, on the contrary, destroyed the existing economic system, aggravated the food problem, gave rise to injustice and was one of the factors in the strengthening of the rebellious movement. It undermined the trust of the peasants in the ruling regime and, instead of good for them, brought ruin and impoverishment. Ultimately, the PDPA regime fell largely due to the fact that its reforms did not give anything to the peasants, and they constituted the majority of the country's population.

Equality of all nations and nationalities

A fair resolution of the national question was also of fundamental importance for the PDPA. After all, Afghanistan is a multinational state. More than twenty nationalities of three main ethnic groups have traditionally lived in the country: Pashtun (Afghan), Iranian and Turkic. There are, however, other groups, but they are few in number and do not have a significant impact on the situation in the country. About 90 tribes live in the territory of the country. The peoples of Afghanistan have always differed from each other in terms of quantitative composition, level of socio-economic development, historically formed role in the political and economic life of the country. For centuries, the Pashtun group has dominated in influence on all segments of the population of Afghan society.

There was no exact information on the population of Afghanistan. According to a sample census, first conducted in 1979 (this event was also used against the PDPA. The opposition intensely intimidated Afghans, claiming that the census was being carried out with the aim of registering young people and then sending them to Siberia), the country's population totaled 15.5 million. ... (according to 1987 estimates - 18.6 million people).

Approximate ethnic composition:

Pashtuns - 9 million people. (48% of the total population);

Tajiks - 3 million people (16 %);

Hazaras - 2 million (eleven %);

Uzbeks - 1.5 million people (eight %);

Turkmen - 0.5 million people (3%);

other nationalities (Baluchis, Charaymaks, Muritans, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Arabs, Nuristanis, Pashais, Pamiris, Indians, etc.) - 2.6 million people. (fourteen %).

Pashtuns. You cannot understand Afghanistan without understanding the Pashtun problem. What is its essence? The fact is that the total number of Pashtuns reaches 18.5 million people. (9 million people of whom live in Afghanistan, and the rest in Pakistan).

Among them, especially the Pashtun feudal nobility and tribal leaders, there are very strong sentiments in favor of self-determination and the formation of their own independent state, Pashtunistan, on the territory of the traditional settlement of the Pashtun tribes.

This situation arose due to the fact that after the wars with Afghanistan (1838–1842 and 1878–1879), part of the territory located on the right bank of the Indus River (from the Chitral region in the north to the Quetto-Pishinsky highlands in the south-west), where the Pashtuns lived, ended up under the auspices of the British. In 1893, during negotiations between the Emir of Afghanistan Abdurahman Khan and the head of the British border mission, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the British Colonial Government in British India Mortimer Durand, the Afghan side agreed to the proposed border line between Afghanistan and British India, which received in the political dictionary the name "Durand line". This agreement split the territory inhabited by the Pashtun tribes. Outside Afghanistan, about half of the Afghans (Pashtuns) ended up in the neighboring territory - some of them remained in British India (since 1947 - Pakistan). The Pashtuns did not accept this, and many of them completely ignored the border, which was the reason for the periodic complication of Afghan-Pakistani relations.

After the end of World War II, the Pashtuns, supported by the Afghan government, made a series of unsuccessful attempts to achieve independence. For example, in 1949 the National Assembly of Pashtunistan was created, which convened a Jirga (large council) of Pashtun tribes, where representatives of all tribes vowed to restore the independence of Pashtunistan, "occupied by Pakistan." In 1959, there were major clashes between the Pashtun tribes and the Pakistani army. The Afghan government supported the tribes. This led to the aggravation of Afghan-Pakistani relations and the rupture of diplomatic relations in 1961 (restored in 1961 with the mediation of Iran).

No Afghan government has ever recognized the Durand Line as a legal border, considering the territory inhabited by Pashtun tribes an integral part of Afghanistan, and the “line” itself as the border with Pashtunistan, not with Pakistan.

The Pakistani leadership, while not putting forward territorial claims to Afghanistan, at the same time insists on the official recognition of the "Durand Line" as the state border between the two countries, but most Pashtuns regard this as a betrayal of national interests. And nationality for the Pashtuns is the second religion: to know your family and its major representatives, your tribe, and its history, be proud of it and extol the deeds of fellow tribesmen is the duty of every Afghan, moreover, not only willingly, but always passionately fulfilled.

The Afghans "spread" and strengthened not by "leaps", but gradually, successfully using the favorable historical situation. Over the centuries-old history of their existence, a system of self-government was developed, which helped them survive and still takes into account national traditions and peculiarities to the greatest extent.

In Afghanistan, a stable tribal structure has been preserved, which includes nationalities that are divided into tribes, and those, in turn, into clans, clans, families. All of them are characterized by specific kinship, economic and political relations. There are also tribal associations and tribal groups. Each tribe has always been like a "state within a state." The tribes break up into small clan communities and are governed by assemblies (jirgas) of heads of families. The elders of the communities are elected and replaced by jirgas; they have executive power. The Loya Jirga meets to resolve common issues affecting all tribes. Each tribe from time immemorial had its own armed formations, designed to protect the territory of residence and the interests of the tribe. In nomadic tribes, the number of armed detachments was about 20% of their population. The tribesmen had horses and were good riders. Their military training was not much inferior to the training of regular troops. Within the tribes, an iron discipline was maintained, for violation of which harsh punishments were imposed, up to the death penalty.

Afghanistan is essentially a confederation of separate tribes and nationalities. And although the tribes at the beginning of this century took an oath of loyalty to the central government and began to observe some state laws, they retained self-government on their territory. However, as well as the observance of customs, traditions, morals and, in general, the entire way of life of the ancestors.

As the largest group, the Pashtun tribes have always enjoyed various formal and informal privileges. The Pashtuns (and partly Tajiks) were staffed with the state apparatus and the officer corps, they were exempted from serving in the regular army, practically did not pay taxes and customs duties, were not involved in labor service, retained the traditional principles of self-government and justice, they were allowed to carry weapons, were allocated the best lands, including those in areas where other nationalities predominated.

In Afghanistan, compact Pashtun tribes live mainly in the provinces adjacent to the “Durand Line”, in the so-called “zone of free Pashtun tribes” (about 5 million people). This zone includes entirely the provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, the southern part of the Zabol, Ghazni, Laghman provinces and the eastern part of the Kandahar province. In addition, Pashtuns can be found almost throughout the country.

Pashtun tribes are ethnically divided into four groups: Kerlani, Gurgosht, Durrani (in turn, has two branches - Zirak and Panjlai) and Gilzai.

According to a number of researchers, the most primitive (original), strong and most viable of the Pashtun groups is the Kerlani, which lives "in its primary national nest (Suleiman mountains)." The other three groups are considered by ethnographers as derivatives of the Kerlanis who moved from their native places, adopted ethnic admixtures, or assimilated other nationalities and settled in new places as independent tribes.

In total, there are about 90 tribes in Afghanistan. The largest of them are: Barakzai, popalzai, nurzai, alizai, iskhakzai, safi, tarkani, momand, jadran, shinvari, afridi, hugiani, ahmadzai, jadzhi, chakmani, brazier, hostval, andar, haruti, tarakhel, aleikhel The tribes are conditionally divided by the Afghan-Pakistani border and maintain close kinship, trade, economic and various other ties.

Some Pashtun tribes live on both sides of the Durand Line and are constantly migrating from Pakistan to Afghanistan and back. Here are the largest of them: Safi - has more than 160 thousand people, of which 140 thousand people. settled in the northeastern part of Kunar province.

Momand has more than 650 thousand people, including 250 thousand people. lives in the eastern part of the Afghan province of Nangarhar.

Shinvari - over 200 thousand people One of the most warlike tribes. Lives in the area of ​​the Khyber Pass and west of it (in Afghanistan - 150 thousand people).

Afridi - about 500 thousand people (including 80 thousand people in Afghanistan).

Jadran - about 160 thousand people The main area of ​​residence is the provinces of Shktika and Paktia. It has well-trained combat detachments that guard the tribe's settlement area.

Jaji - about 120 thousand people, lives mainly in the northeastern regions of Paktika province. Differs in militancy.

Khugiani - about 150 thousand people, settled in the southwestern regions of the Nangarhar province.

Mangal - about 130 thousand people, lives in the province of Paktia. Has well-organized combat units. He is at enmity with the Jadran and Jaji tribes.

Suleimankhel is the most powerful nomadic tribe, wandering from Pakistan through the Vareak Gorge to Katavaz, Charni, Bazakhva. This tribe is constantly on the move (stops do not exceed 5 days) and is distinguished by harsh and cruel manners, especially in relation to the sedentary population, is engaged in robbery and destruction of crops.

Each tribe has its own distinctive, characteristic features only for it (traditions, clothing, symbols, attributes, etc.). Members of the same tribe always recognize each other.

The Pashtuns have their own sacredly revered "Pashtunwalai" - a set of unwritten laws. The main ones are gayarat - honor, imandari - truthfulness, devotion to truth, regardless of the consequences, badal - fearlessness and courage ... These rules are followed by the Pashtuns along with the laws of Islam and Sharia.

People of other nationalities are portrayed by them as something alien, hostile and even low, although the guest is always given increased attention and respect. Anyone who has had a chance to visit and work in Afghanistan has experienced this for himself.

Each Pashtun is very proud to belong to this nation and values ​​their freedom. A. Ye. Snesarev 4 in his work "Afghanistan" (1921) quotes the phrase of the Pashtuns to the British reproach that they, the Afghans, have mutual strife, unrest, poverty: we Afghans are always and above all free. "

The love of the inhabitants of Afghanistan for their Fatherland is reflected in the proverb: "The native land is dearer than the whole world." Afghans have great respect for the memory of their ancestors and are fanatically devoted to it. This is one of their characteristic strengths. After all, a nation that renounces its past, traditions and beliefs of its ancestors has no future either; it either gradually dies or is reborn. And the greatness of a nation is not determined only by its size and wealth.

Freedom is a utopian, alluring, sweet, elusive, intoxicating word, erected by the Afghans into a kind of cult, which they have worshiped with pride and selflessness for centuries. But often those who tried to enjoy this heady freedom were choking in blood. It is not given to anyone, it slips away like a mirage, is inaccessible like the horizon. Freedom is a wonderful, unattainable dream and hope. Apparently, that's why it is so desirable. Millions of lives have been thrown on its altar, but where is the people who can say: "I am free!"

It is for "freedom" that Afghans have always fought with weapons in their hands with foreigners, in inter-tribal and other wars. These wars were practically permanent. Depending on their scope and goals, they differed in types: "blood feud", war between tribes (intertribal) or with the central government, as well as the holy war of Muslims ("jihad") for Islam and Sharia.

Traditionally, it is a matter of honor for every Afghan to protect family, clan, tribe, nation, and religion. Any harm done to the Afghan family or its interests is subject to revenge (often with the use of violence). According to the Code of Honor ("Pashtunwalai"), adopted by the Afghans, the inability to obtain revenge is tantamount to the loss of honor, namely, it is the basis for each Pashtun's awareness of his own "I".

a) A war aimed at "blood feud" (vendetta), as a rule, is small in scale (family for family, family for family, etc.). All methods are allowed in it, and the favorite tactic is an ambush. They kill certain people who need to be killed. The war ends when the balance is restored between the opposing sides. The result of such a war is always a draw.

b) Tribal war or war with the central government ("Jang"), as a rule, avoids bloodshed. It is primarily of a symbolic nature and is conducted behind closed doors. In the Pashtun tribes, war is primarily a show of strength. It is being conducted against the backdrop of endless negotiations and agreements: the stake in case of victory is the extraction, not the destruction of the enemy's manpower. It is quite normal to refuse from hostilities in exchange for the payment of a predetermined amount. Tribal warfare, by tradition, is very limited in mobility and takes place in a certain territory. War has its inherent time and space: the battle takes place outside the village, only men fight, this is not done during the harvest, etc. The main thing in such a war is the conquest of primacy, seniority, embodied in economic benefits (land, mining, ransom payment, etc.). As the Pashtun proverb says, they fight for land, gold, and women (“zan, zar o zamin”). But they fight in the name of prestige ("heisat") and in the name of honor ("namus").

c) The holy war "jihau" (or "ghazavat") has a radical difference: such a war is caused by a religious figure and is aimed at fighting against foreigners - infidels. She rises above the values ​​and code of the tribe by calling for a fight against the "infidels" for Islam and Sharia. There are no more killed here ("koshta"), there are martyrs for the faith ("shahids"). There is no longer a warrior or a Pashtun - there is a "mujahid" fighting a "kafir" (infidel). Although "jihad" is not inter-tribal warfare, it retains many of the characteristics of inter-tribal wars and their tactics.

With regard to the free Pashtun tribes, the Afghan leadership could not avoid a number of steps that led to a serious violation of the existing family, kinship and ethnic ties and caused the growth of opposition, especially in the periphery (forcible conscription into the army, unjustified bomb-assault strikes on the places of their resettlement, repressive measures against individual leaders and elders of tribes, etc.).

Strengthening the traditional separatist sentiments and distrust of the leaders in the central authorities (accusing the PDPA leaders of striving to "replace the leaders with commissars"), using blackmail and bribery, the opponents of the regime managed to win over a significant part of the Pashtun tribes and other national minorities of Afghanistan, as a result of which the tribal The militias, previously traditionally cooperating with the Kabul government and carrying out border protection, ceased to obey him and went over to the camp of the armed opposition.

Tajiks live mainly in the northern and central regions of Afghanistan. True, their colonies are found in other provinces of the country. The main occupation of Tajiks is agriculture. The tribal division of this nationality is practically absent. Tajiks make up a significant stratum of the urban population (especially in Kabul and Herat). Some Tajiks call themselves Sardehi (Ghazni region), Galcha (Badakhshan), Gerati, Dekhvan (Farah, Kandahar), Guri (Herat).

Hazaras are settled in the central part of the country - Khazarajat, which partially covers six provinces. According to legend, they are the descendants of Genghis Khan's warriors. The main occupation of the Hazaras is agriculture and pastoralism. Preserved tribal divisions (Dzhuguri, Uruzgani, Daikunda, Daivangi, Yakaulang, Sheikhali, Beksud, etc.). They live compactly. They form their own communities, whose members are connected not only economically, but also religiously. The Hazara population is Shiite Islam. This situation negatively affects relations with other peoples of Afghanistan, most of whom are Sunnis.

The Hazaras were the first victims of the terry Pashtun nationalism preached by H. Amin and his associates, and they were the first to start an active struggle against the PDPA regime. The impetus for this was the actions of the authorities, when in Daray Yusuf about 100 miners were thrown into a coal mine alive, who expressed dissatisfaction with the deterioration of their financial situation, as well as the raid of a specially formed Pashtun detachment led by Uncle X. and robberies of the population.

The Uzbeks are settled in the north of the country (provinces Jowzjan, Faryab, Balkh, Kunduz). The main occupation is agriculture.

The Charaymaks preserved their tribal division (Jamshids, Firuzkukhi, Taimani, Timuri, etc.).

Turkmens live mostly in the northern and north-western regions and are sedentary. They have partially preserved tribal relations (exaris, salori, saryks, teke, yomuds, alili, etc.).

Nuristanis are in many ways still a mysterious and insufficiently studied people, as it is assumed, the descendants of one of the peoples of the Mediterranean, which remained in the east of Afghanistan on the spurs of the Hindu Kush, in the mountainous northern regions of the Afghan provinces of Lagman and Kunar since the time of the conquest campaigns of Alexander the Great. For a long time, their customs and mores differed from the local peoples and tribes, therefore the area inhabited by them was called Kafiristan (from the word "kafir" - "unfaithful"). And only with their adoption of Islam (about a hundred years ago) it began to be called Nuristan (from the word "Nur" - light). The territories occupied by the Nuristani tribes (Siyah-Pushi, Safid-Pushi) were not controlled by the central government of Afghanistan during the entire period.

Baluchis are settled mainly in the southern part of Afghanistan - in the provinces of Nimruz, Helmand and Kandahar. They suffered the same fate as the Pashtuns - they were separated by arbitrarily drawn borders. There is also a "Baloch problem" in Afghanistan. Baluch tribes (Narui, Bragui, Rashkhani, Sanjarani, Gurgij, Malek, Reigi, etc.) maintain contact with related tribes in Iran and Pakistan. Strive to unite their nation. Running a little ahead, I will note that the Baluchis practically did not participate in the Afghan insurrectionary movement, although attempts to persuade them to do so were constantly made by Pakistan and Iran.

Sikh and Hindu communities also play an important role in Afghan society. Sikhs and Hindus live mainly in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Charikar, and are also found in other provincial centers.

Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Charaymaks and other nationalities and peoples of the north of Afghanistan feel the sense of national pride of the "primordial masters" not only of the northern, but also of other territories of the country. Despite the centuries-old commonality of the historical destinies of the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and other nationalities and peoples of the DRA, mistrust, and ethnic strife between them persisted.

Until April 1978, the non-Pashtun population experienced double oppression: from their feudal lords and from the pro-Pashtun central government. Traditionally, small peoples and nationalities have been the object of discriminatory policies, both in the economic and in the socio-political and cultural spheres, which have been pursued by the ruling circles in relation to them. Pashtuns were appointed mainly to the highest and leading positions in the state apparatus, army, local authorities, and administration. For example, all provincial governors, as well as the overwhelming majority of large feudal lords and landowners, were Pashtuns. For a long time, a policy of violent Pashtunization of areas traditionally inhabited by national minorities was pursued, and Pashtun chauvinism was implanted and fueled.

And although it was declared about the equality of all nations, in practice, the Pashtuns were not going to give up their positions. They continued to dominate all echelons of power, even in areas where members of other nationalities were in the majority.

Huge damage in this matter was caused by Kh. Amin, who, being an ardent Pashtun national chauvinist, toughened up the line on the Pashtunization of the areas where ethnic minorities were settled and carried it out with purely violent methods. Politicians - representatives of national minorities were labeled as "narrow-minded nationalists." They were declared enemies of the revolution with all the ensuing consequences. This contributed to the transition of a large part of the population to the side of the opposition.

Analysis shows that not so much the religious as the national factor was decisive in the rallying of the people and the emergence of armed resistance to the regime. Obviously, belonging to a nation and defending its interests is the closest thing to every person. Apparently, it was no coincidence that clashes on ethnic grounds took place in Afghanistan during the entire period of the Soviet troops' stay there. They did not disappear even after February 1989. And at the heart of most of the armed conflicts that have arisen in the world recently, as a rule, interethnic contradictions lie.


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