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Hizb-i Wahdat (The Unity Party)

Muslims comprise 99 per cent of the population of Afghanistan , approximately 80 per cent of them Sunni and the remainder Shi'a followers. The Shi'a minority is concentrated in central and western Afghanistan, and are among the most economically disadvantaged persons in the country. The Shi'a minority wanted a national government to give them equal rights as citizens.

In 1988, Iran united eight Shi'a parties (all but Harakat-i Islami) into Hizb-i Wahdat [aka Hezbe Wahdat] (The Unity Party), primarily consisting of the political representative of ethnic Hazara chiefs. In January 1996, Iran announced it had reconciled them under President B. Rabbani. For a time Hizb-i Wahdat effectively controlled Central Afghanistan. Commander Masood defeated the Hizb-i-Wahdat forces in Kabul in a February 1995 offensive after its ally, Hizb-i Islam, had been defeated by the Taleban. Hazarajat remained under the control of Hizb-i Wahdat, though initially the Jamiat government and later the Taleban contested their power in the town of Bamiyan. By November 1997 the Taleban-imposed blockade on the Hazarajat region ruled by Hezb-i-Wahdat had pushed the population (of about 1 million) to the verge of starvation.

Iran considers itself the protector of the Shi'a Hazaras from the Taleban who are Sunni and militarily anti-Shi'a. The Hizb-i-Wahdat was the instrument of the interests of the Iranian regime in Afghanistan, against the interests of Pakistan, expressed through the Taleban. The Hezb-i-Wahdat is alleged to provide espionage and agent provocateur services to the Iranian regime. The government of Iran has recognized B. Rabbani as the president of Afghanistan and diplomatic relations have been maintained through the Iranian consulate in Taloquan, in the Tajik-controlled north-east of Afghanistan, and not through Kabul, which was captured by the Taleban militia. Iran provided Rabani-Dostem-Masood forces with thousands of anti-personal mines that were deployed in Badghis province and the Bala Murghab areas.

Since its establishment in 1989 Hizb-e Wahdat-e Islami Afghanistan (The Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan) hds been an important political and military player in Afghanistan. Political Islamism was the ideology of most of its key leaders but it gradually tilted towards its Hazara ethnic support base and became the key vehicle of the communitys political demands and aspirations. By 2009, however, Wahdat was so fragmented and divided that the political weight it carried in the country bore little resemblance to what it had once been. It had fragmented into at least four competing organisations, each claiming ownership of the name and legacy of Wahdat. With the exception of Akbaris faction, which promoted fundamentally different political strategies compared to the main body of Wahdat under Mazari and Khalili and also stressed religion at the expense of ethnicity, there is little in ideological terms that can distinguish the various off-shoots of Hizb-e Wahdat from one another.




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