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The Taliban beyond the Pashuns

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Although the Taliban remain a largely Pashtun movement in terms of their composition, they have started making significant inroads among other ethnic groups. In many cases, the Taliban have co-opted, in addition to bandits, disgruntled militia commanders previously linked to other organizations, and the relationship between them is far from solid. There is also, however, emerging evidence of grassroots recruitment of small groups of ideologically committed Uzbek, Turkmen and Tajik Taliban. While even in northern Afghanistan the bulk of the insurgency is still Pashtun, the emerging trend should not be underestimated.[...] The aim of this paper is to contribute to the disentangling of these questions, none of which is merely academic, since the nature of the Taliban’s inroads in northern Afghanistan is of great strategic relevance. The paper is based on my travels to Afghanistan over the last few years and on my interaction with Afghans from different provinces, as well as with other foreigners who have visited the affected regions.

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