The creation of Afghanistan in 1880, following the Second
Anglo-Afghan War, gave an empowering voice to the Pashtun people,
the largest ethnic group in a diverse country. In order to distil
the narrative of the state's formation and early years, a
Pashtun-centric version of history dominated Afghan history and the
political process from 1880 to the 1970s. Alternative discourses
made no appearance in the fledgling state which lacked the
scholarly institutions and any sense of recognition for history,
thus providing no alternatives to the narratives produced by the
British, whose quasi-colonial influence in the region was supreme.
Since 1970, the ongoing crises in Afghanistan have opened the space
for non-Pashtuns, including Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks, to form
new definitions of identity, challenge the official discourse and
call for the re-writing of the long-established narrative. At the
same time, the Pashtun camp, through their privileged position in
the political settlements of 2001, have attempted to confront the
desire for change in historical perceptions by re-emphasising the
Pashtun domination of Afghan history. This crisis of hegemony has
led to a deep antagonism between the Pashtun and non-Pashtun
perspectives of Afghan history and threatens the stability of
political process in the country.
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