The Hazara Nationalism: in Music and Historical Literature
By Barakat Rastgar
The Hazara nationalism was a response and reaction to the Afghan Nationalism. Hazaras thought that they were not being represented well, and they were kept away from political decision making process. The Hazara nationalism emerged in 1980s, and kept changing with circumstances. As identity is historical, and changing, I will examine the historical literature and political music to understand what kind of nationalist ideology is being promoted in 1980s and 1990s by Hazara historians and artists. My primary sources are the historical literature and the political music of eighties and nineties. The questions I try to answer are: why such literature was being written, what are the popular discourses in these texts and music, and what is the advice of the writers of these texts and artist who sing?
By 1960s and 70s constitution was introduced in Afghanistan. Free press and political parties began to emerge. Hazara intellectuals took active part in politics in sixties and seventies; some were members of communist parties such as PDPA (Peoples’ Democratic Party of Afghanistan.) New Democratic Movement (A Maoist group). Others were member of religious movements such as Sazman-e Mujahideen-e Mosataz‘fin-e Afghanistan. 1 These groups were demanding more rights, and advocating for change in governance in Afghanistan.
In 1978, there was a communist Coup by PDPA party, and the old political structure ended. Unpopular and inexperienced regime took power. In a year, the government lost support and was dysfunctional; Soviets came to the rescue to stabilize the situation. In 1979, Hazarajat was among the first regions to declare its autonomy and resist against the state. In 1979, a political party was formed to keep security in Hazarajat; Shor?y-e Itafaq was formed, after the council of 1200 Hazara khans and Mullahs.2 For the next ten years, Hazarajat was ruled by Hazaras themselves.
Then, there was a long period of competition in Hazarajat between different political groups and different ideologies. There were questions on what it really meant to be a Hazara in modern sense. There was tension up until the end on what really should constitute Hazara identity. Itah?dya-e Mujahidin Islami Afghanistan was formed in 1979 based in Quetta that included Hazara nationalists, and Hazara political refugees who had fled the war in Afghanistan.3 Since the time of resistance to the Communists and Soviet Union coincided with the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Many political clerics were influenced by the Islamic revolution there. Several organizations were formed in Iran that upheld Khomeini’s ideology of Guardianship of the Jurist (Wilayat-e Faqih). These parties were Nehzat Islami Afghanistan, Sazman-e Nasr Afghanistan, Jabha-e Azadibakhsh, Pasdaran-e Jihad Islami.These parties that had Iran’s support too, challenged the locally elected Shor? and defeated them by 1994.
In 1980s there were not only major changes in political landscape, but culturally, economically, and socially there was a revolution. Hazara revolutionary songs and historical literature were only among many activities that was taking place in the public sphere. Other than the historians, singers, there were poets, intellectuals, writers, and artists that took active part in shaping Hazara identity. In the 1980s more than twenty books and hundreds of articles were published on the different aspect of the history of the Hazara nation, before that, hardly any books were available.4
In 1980s a new kind of music began to develop, and it was called ?hangha-e inqil?bi (the revolutionary songs). It was political music, and it promoted freedom, awakening and political mobilization. The first person who started revolutionary songs was Sarwar Sarkhosh and his main message was for the young generation to rise and fight oppression and occupation.
A song about resistance and awakening:
Ay l?le-e ?z?da ay nasl-e jaw?n barkhez
Mayhan ba to men?zad ch?n sel-e raw?n barkhez,
Har gosha-e az mayhan b? kh?n-e to? rangin ast
Sher?n to? r? z?da b? y?d ham?n barkhez,
B? ‘azm khod qayem b?sh ay nasl-e fid? k?r,
?m?da wo beyd?r
N?b?d bek?n mard?na har doshman-e kh?n kh?r
B? neroi sarsh?r
Ta kay shawim bech?ra ay hashm zam?n barkhez
O the free Tulip, O young generation rise!
The homeland prides in you, rise like moving flood,
Every corner of this land is colored by your blood,
Lions have given birth to you, with that remembrance, rise!
Be determined, O sacrificing generation,
Ready and awake,
Destroy heroically, every blood thirsty enemy,
With overflowing energy
A song about freedom:
Ay jaw?n?n Hazara sh?d b?sh
b‘ad azy ya marg ya ?z?d b?sh
O Hazara youths be happy,
After now, die or live freely,
A song about getting freedom:
Ay Hazara tau kay az bandage ?z?d shawi
Sahib khana-e ?b?d shawi
O Hazara, when will you be free from slavery?
Be owner of constructed home
Sarwar’s main message is ?z?di freedom. Sarwar’s songs were symbol of the pain and deep feelings of the people. From his music it is clear, that it is not just about resistance against the Soviets and Communist but a national revival and awakening that was to break from past oppression. In one of his poem he says his role as, “Sarkhosh tau bayad n?la hay mo da sh‘er khu chal kani” Sarwar you should color your songs with touch of our suffering.” Sarwar Sarkhosh was killed in 1983 by some local political group in Orazgan Afghanistan. 5
By early 1980s, new works of history are emerging. The historians claimed that Hazara history has been ignored and marginalized; therefore, there is need to rewrite the history of Afghanistan. Sitam M?ll? or (Oppression based on ethnicity) is the dominant ideology in the works of various Hazara historians of 1980s and 1990s. They believed that in Afghanistan, injustice is not based on gender or class, but it is based on ethnicity. They claimed that through out modern history of Afghanistan the dominant ethnicity the Pashtuns have ruled, and they have suppressed the other minorities. The Hazaras claimed that their oppression in Afghanistan dates back to 1892, The Massacre of Hazaras by Amir Abdur Rahman.6
One of the early works of history about Hazaras was written in 1981 which was later published in Quetta, Pakistan in 1984 Mohamad Eisa Gharjistani, a historian, wrote Kala min?rh? dar Afghanistan, (The Skull-Minarets in Afghanistan). This book is about the Massacre of Hazaras in 1892, the skull minarets were erected from the heads of killed Hazaras. It says, “This book is about different ways of arm struggle (mub?riz?t-e musalih?na) of the tribes and ethnicities of Afghanistan against the puppet (dast nesh?nda) Amir of the colonialists the Britain and Russia….” His advice was for the Mujahideens or resistance fighters to unite and fight against the Soviets and Communists, and learn from the previous wars against the colonialists. 7
In conclusion, he writes that the resistance forces that were fighting Amir Abdur Rahman in 1890s were fiercely crushed. According to him, it was a result of the discord and betrayal between the different tribes and ethnicities. The tyrant Amir could gather army from amongst the people and use against people and massacred people of Afghanistan. The houses of people of Panjsher, and Laghman were burned down. Thousands of people from Badakhshanis, Qataghan, and Turkistan were forced to migrate after massacre. Two third of the Hazara people were completely eradicated. He also lists the many acts of injustice done on their fellow Pashtuns too by the tyrant Amir.
He says that Amir stabilized a colonial government (am?rat-e ist’am?ri) in Afghanistan. He ruled an Afghanistan that is in bloodshed and in deep sleep and unaware of the progress and civilization of the world. Gharjistani says that the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet Union has brought new Amir Abdur Rahmans such as Tarakai, Hafizullah Amin, and Babrak. Gharjistani praises the unity of the people against the unjust ruler. He thinks that the people of Afghanistan should leave aside other minor prejudices, and unite against the main enemy the Soviet Union and its servants. Gharjistani argued that people should rise against the new Communist state that is unjust like people resisted hundred years ago against Abdur Rahman.
In 1980s there was a journal which was published in Kabul called Gharjistan1 on the history and culture of Hazaras. Hazaras made significant population of Kabul, and for the first time in Afghanistan’s history Hazaras were taking high position in the government such as Sultan Ali Kishtmand who was the prime-minister for a decade.