HIZB E WAHDAT ( A Party of Unity)
As the name Wahdat (Unity) indicates, the main objective of the party was to unify all Shiite mujahedin organizations under a single political leadership. It was created in response to a strong urge for unity among the Hazara leaders as well as commoners.
In its organizational hierarchy, the party included the following key structures:
- Shuray-e Aali Nezarat, (the Supreme Supervisory Council), was meant to include high-ranking religious figures and experts. In its supervisory role, the council was tasked to monitor all levels of the party and serve as the highest leadership and control mechanism over all activities and policies of the party.
- The next and most important body within the party was its Central Council. This organ was the most powerful deliberative and decision-making authority within the party. Because of the importance attached to it, its membership expanded in a most dramatic manner. Originally, it was planned to include 36 members, but the growing need for expansion and inclusion of other figures and groups into the party resulted in a constant increase in size. The first congress of the party in September 1991 urged the party leadership to facilitate integration of other Shiite groups and figures into the party. As such it was also resolved that the central and supervisory councils could be expanded as needed. At its peak, the Central Council included more than 80 members representing nearly all religious and political groups and influential figures in the region, as well as Hazara figures from the cities. It was through membership and division of power within this council that the party managed to hold the previously fragmented and hostile Hazara political groupings together.
- The Wahdat Manifesto also provided for the formation of provincial- and district-level councils that would report to their relevant committees at the headquarters in Bamyan.
The search for change and unity was instigated and led in particular by the senior leaders of the two main organizations, Pasdaran and Nasr, which were the most exposed to the threat of deligitimisation as a result of their loss of control over their military commanders. The path to unity had been a painstakingly long and complex process, which experienced repeated setbacks and obstacles, because each party sought to maximize their role in the process. This turned out to be a major contentious issue throughout several rounds of negotiations in the run up to formation of the party. Smaller parties pressed for equal representation of all groups while the more powerful ones demanded greater power and a share of the positions in the unified party. Eventually the latter argument prevailed; Nasr and Pasdaran persuaded other organizations to concede to proportional representation.
Smaller parties were pressured and even intimidated into joining the process. Many groups had no other choice than joining it: the cost of standing outside would have been unbearable. The following two examples provide insight into the complexity of the process. Harakat Islami, led by Shaikh Asif Mohsini, was the main Shiite party that refused to join Wahdat. The party was dominated by non-Hazara Shiites. Initially, the party was represented in a series of negotiations, but Mohsini later declined to sign, having presented a number of conditions to be met. His conditions were interpreted as an unwillingness to join a party in which historical Hazara grievances and political aspirations predominated. Nonetheless, sections of his party joined Hizb-e Wahdat either because the new party was more promising for the political future of the Hazaras or because the pressure to join was so strong that it could not be resisted. The party’s core could resist the pressure to join mainly because it was located outside the region. However, it did lose a substantial section of its Hazara following to Hizb-e Wahdat, a fact underlining the growing importance of ethnic identities in the aftermath of jihad in the country.
The military class that had flourished during the civil war posed one of the main obstacles to unification. Nahzat-e Islami is a good example of military commanders refusing to unite in spite of the agreement of their leaders. Its senior leaders participated in the unification process and hosted one of the meetings in their stronghold in the Jaghori district of Ghazni. However, Wasiq, Nehzat’s main military commander in the district, refused to dismantle his military structure and continued to operate under the name of Nahzat. This resulted in a military confrontation with the formerly Nasr commanders who were fighting on behalf of Hizb-e Wahdat. The conflict resulted in the total defeat of Nahzat and other smaller organisations in this district in 1993. As a result, Wahdat in Jaghori and most other parts of Ghazni established itself through the military victory of the former Nasr forces.
One after the other the smaller parties were pressured or coaxed to join the process. In November 1989, the remnant of Behisthi’s Shuray-e Ittefaq also joined. His decision to participate in the unification process was a turning point in the development of clerical leadership in the Hazarajat, as it symbolized the recognition of Khomeinist hegemony by important non-Khomeinist elements of the clergy. Behishthi’s Shura was different from other organizations. He represented the conservative and non-revolutionary component of the ulema. He was a follower of the Khoei school of thought, a moderate, non-political and conservative line of thinking opposed to Khomeini’s revolutionary Islamism and dominant among Afghan Shiites until the early 1980s. By the time Hizb-e Wahdat was in the making, Beheshti was reduced to leading a small fraction of the Shura in Nawur district of Ghazni.
The ambition to integrate previously hostile organizations into a single party had achieved a great degree of success. Officially, all the previous organizations except Harakat were dissolved and their military structures were dismantled. A relatively stable political order was restored in the areas under its control. However, the party suffered from serious structural problems and ideological differences.
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