chapter  1
58 Pages


Television pictures of Afghanistan portray it as a barren, rocky, mountainous land. The people look undernourished and desperate to find sustenance. Most of all they would like a quiet life after all the strife and bloodshed of the last twenty years or so. Eighty per cent of the country is mountainous. Afghanistan is where the Himalayas end and afford a way north across a plain. The mountains are a blessing and a curse. They have always afforded protection against the foreign invader whose instincts have been consistently preda­ tory. Families, clans and tribes have been able to escape the ruthless scourge of the attacker. However, this led to isolation as a necessary price of survival. Scratching a living from the often inhospitable terrain was very difficult and back­ breaking. Why not wait until someone else’s harvest was ripe and then seize it? Sometimes there was no choice. If one’s own farming was unsuccessful, one was presented with a stark choice. Go out and steal some food or die a lingering death. The history of the ethnic groups in Afghanistan is one of

permanent conflict, over resources, food, women, water. Indeed, if there was anything worth having, there was a

fight. Almost all socT h e HISTORY OF THE ETHNIC GROUPS IN ieties went through

pacific societies which solved all their conflicts by compromise and negotiation but they no longer survive. The history of man is the history of conflict. When women rule there is also conflict.