Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

Police test Afghanistan’s fragile ethnic balance

< 1 min

Some analysts agree that Afghanistan’s ethnic divisions have been oversimplified, and even misunderstood. “There is a tendency among observers to overestimate the animosity between the north and the south, or rather to see it something fixed and static. As if people hate each other just because they are from different areas. It’s not like that,” said Martine van Bijlert, co-director of Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent research group based in Afghanistan. She said animosity arises when one ethnic group forcibly tries to subdue another, not when a group like ANCOP enters an ethnic majority Pashtun area with the intention of working with the population. “It would probably be quite difficult to rile up people against a contingent that is largely from the north but that behaves well, you would need some pretty strong propaganda and even then it would probably be an uphill struggle,” she said. “Many people in the south, and all over the country, are really on the lookout for representatives of the government that behave well. They still hold out the hope that this can supersede factionalism and other dividing lines.”