Haji Mohammad Mohaqqeq
Kabul MP and former presidential candidate Haji Mohammad Mohaqqeq leads the Hezb-e Wahdhat Islami-e-Mardum party, which commands the majority of Hazara support. During the election process for the speaker's position in 2005, Mohaqeq dropped out in favor of the archconservative leader of Afghanistan's Islamic Mission Organization, Abd al-Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf. Ironically, some of the bloodiest and most horrific battles after the collapse of the communist regime in Kabul in 1992 were waged between forces loyal to Sayyaf and followers of the Hizb-e Wahdat (Unity Party), to which Mohaqeq belonged. Despite being rivals in the past, Mohaqeq withdrew his candidacy after Sayyaf promised him the position of first deputy speaker.
Despite a 2005 setback when Mohaqqeq aligned himself with Abd al-Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, a figure widely despised by Hazara, in an ill-fated deal to elect Sayyaf lower house Speaker in exchange for Sayyaf's support of Mohaqqeq's run for First Deputy Speaker, the party has steadily regained popularity. Mohaqqeq actively complains about the lack of attention, development, and equality for Hazaras. He travels to the province regularly and recently donated a large statue of Mazari in the central round-about, hinting he may be a better inheritor of Mazari's legacy. In Kabul, meanwhile, Mohaqqeq's rhetoric has turned increasingly towards a Hazara nationalist line, which appears to be gaining political traction.
At his provincial party headquarters Mohaqqeq is takes a populist approach, sponsoring sports events like a widely-attended, full-contact karate tournament, and receiving development requests in order to "expedite" them to the government. The Mardum branch of Hezb-i-Wahdat has support from around 70 percent of the Hazara population. Many of the better educated and more connected Hazara leaders, however, remain suspicious of Mohaqqeq's past human rights violations and unsavory political alliances. The party remains active in central Bamyan and maintains major power bases in the populous southern districts of Panjab and Waras. The party's message on social justice and equality for Hazaras has lately gained more credence. The perception of central government inaction on Kuchi (Pashtun nomads) migration into Hazarajat and the perception that development is only happening in Pashtun areas continue to fuel discontent.
By 2008, MP Mohammad Mohaqeq, a leader of the predominantly Hazara Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Mardom-e-Afghanistan [Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan], one of the three major factions that had emerged from the earlier "Unity Party", continued to try to unify his divided ethnic group into a bloc that can maneuver between Karzai and the opposition United Front. Though he might prefer to encourage both into a bidding war for Hazara votes, he was increasingly inclining towards the United Front.
Mohaqeq perceives an increasingly pro-Pahstun bias in Karzai's policies, which is eroding the multi-ethnic appeal that secured the president's 2004 election victory. During a late May conversation with us, Mohaqeq condemned Karzai's recently established Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG) as a "Pashtun tool." He also evinced suspicion about Karzai's eagerness to reconcile Pashtun renegades Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar.
Though he fought viciously against the Tajik-dominated United Front's antecedent, the Northern Alliance, during the civil war, Mohaqeq now praises the political opposition, without formally joining it. He has found common cause with his old enemies in the goal of forestalling forever the re-establishment of the Pashtuns' centuries-old hegemony in Afghanistan.
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