Afghanistan Table of Contents
Another factor which affected the mujahidin cause was the insistence that mujahidin victory was to be synonymous with the transfer of power to the Peshawar parties. The expatriate political process created a distorted perception of the social and political realities created by fourteen years of war. Contention for power at the national level could not be contained within the parameters of a struggle essentially among Pushtuns based in Peshawar. Challenges had emerged from the minorities, especially the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. Moreover, the political arena was greatly complicated by the intimate ties that neighboring governments and political agencies had fashioned with the parties and the major communities inside Afghanistan. For all the emphasis the Peshawar leadership placed upon installing an Islamic order, implicit in their expectations was the assumption that social basis of government was continuity of Pushtun dominance.
Such expectations were as much a product of the immediate concerns they faced in Pakistan as they were linked to a tradition of Pushtun rule. The refugees, their captive constituency, were overwhelmingly Pushtun and overwhelmingly from the Ghilzai and eastern tribal areas. Almost all were villagers living in massive, quasi-urban camps, subject to degrees of regimentation and control which sharply contrasted with their accustomed autonomy. In Pakistan they served as a political sounding board for the parties, thereby magnifying the party leaders' perception of popular acceptance of their ideology and themselves. It was convenient to overlook the fact that large as it was, the refugee population did not genuinely represent the demographic and social realities inside Afghanistan itself. As a result of their absence, the refugees in Pakistan sharply reduced the proportion of Pushtuns actually living inside Afghanistan. From a putative majority, they had clearly become a distinct minority. While refugee return after the war was expected, it was uncertain when they could return and how many eventually would.
Data as of 1997