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Dostum is offering to divide Afghanistan
Military leader of Uzbek national community of Afghanistan General Abdul- Rashid Dostum is offering to make Afghanistan a federation.
Behind this initiative many are seeing General's intent to strengthen his power in the Northern part of the country.
The project of Dostum's party - National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (NIMA) has been published.
That project contains the appeal to divide the government's authorities on the federal basis.
NIMA is a part of the ruling coalition called ≪United Front≫, which was formed mainly from the representatives of North- Eastern provinces of the country.
It is believed that Dostum's party, where the prevailing majority of members are Uzbeks, has been ≪bypassed≫ when Afghan temporary administration was being formed during the Bonn negotiations in the end of last year, and the party has never received proper representation.
Many key posts in the new administration, headed by Hamid Karzai - ethnic Pashtun, were distributed among the representatives of Tajik diaspora.
Later on Dostum was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense and the Representative of Northern Provinces in the government.
Only two months are left until the Convocation of the All-Afghan Assembly - Loya Jirga, which will form the permanent government of Afghanistan.
Many observers assume that Dostum's current initiative is nothing but the attempt to consolidate his power in the North, while internal and international discussions regarding the country's future are under way.
Also, it is not ruled out that in the future Dostum is planning to expand his authority while seeking after the territorial division of Afghanistan according to ethnic backgrounds.
Dostum's intrigues are giving you the picture of how fragile the current situation of the temporary administration, which was formed mainly from representatives of North-Eastern Afghan ethnic minorities, is.
When they united in the fight against their common enemy, - the Taliban, they temporarily forgot about their disagreements.
And now, when the enemy is cast down, old discords started to emerge.
Some experts even believe that the division of the country according to ethnic backgrounds is inevitable, whether it takes the form of federalization or of creation of regional autonomies.
Even the US Secretary of State Colin Powell was talking about the possibility to establish a federal form of government in Afghanistan while he was touring the region last year.
However, Dr.Habib Mangal, who during the post-Soviet regime was the Ambassador of Afghanistan in Moscow, believes that federal state structure will create many problems, since ethnic diasporas are isolated and scattered all across the country.
Mangal is not denying the necessity to introduce the appointment of local and regional administrations by elections, however he believes that ≪only strengthening of democracy and socioeconomic development of the country can guarantee all ethnicities the participation in the government rule≫.
According to the opinion of Afghan political activist Bashir Azizi, an ethnic Tajik, who at the present time teaches in Netherlands, the respect for histories, cultures, traditions and languages of every group that inhabits the country can become the pledge of stability in the region.
≪Before all the power was monopolized by the Center, it was the Center that defined the destinies of the provinces.Now it has to be completely opposite≫, - he says.
Regardless of whether Afghanistan becomes a federal state, Azizi assumes that the main thing is to provide real participation of all ethnicities of Afghanistan in the rule of the country.
≪There must not be a return to the situation when the power is usurped by one ethnic grouping which later tries to impose its will on all the rest.That was the prevalent approach in Afghan politics throughout the past three decades≫.
If the decision is made to create a federal state in Afghanistan, then the very first problem that will arise right away will be the demarcation of Provinces' borders on the basis of ethnic features.
Let's say, the NIMA Party controls five provinces:Balkh, Sar-i Pol, Jowzjan, Faryab and Samangan.
Uzbeks, Hazaris, Tajiks and an insignificant Pashtu minority are living on their territories.
In the early 20th Century they had to move there from Eastern and Western regions of the country.
Now the areas of compact habitations of representatives of these ethnicities are unevenly distributed across the territories of mentioned provinces and further towards the West.
India is an example of how territorial division ≪from the top≫ may lead to conflicts regarding the access to the resources.
For many years there have been discords going on between the States of Punjab and Haryana about the Beas and Ravi rivers.
Dostum is a personality far from being unambiguous.
Last year his troops captured strategically important Mazar-e-Sharif from the Taliban, which marked a turning point during the anti-Taliban campaign.
Even though Dostum thought he was ≪offended≫ by the Bonn division of the government, he appealed to all the sides to reconcile by stating:
≪There will be no more redistribution of power by force≫.
Maybe there will, if Abdul Rashid Dostum does not get what he wants.
Yasin Bidar, former Editor of the Kabul Times, Born (Netherlands)
Department of Cooperation and Mass Media, Kavkaz-Center