of the nation. This was particularly evident in how they saw political parties; especially in the second phase of research, these were viewed as vehicles for the destruction of the country:
Parties and groups are not good for our people. Disunity, wars and problems are created by these parties and have been created in the past. In our area there are two groups, one is Hizb-i-Islami and the other is Harakat. There was an issue between two families, one of which belonged to Hizb-i-Islami and the other belonged to Harakat. Both sides had weapons and they were supported by their parties. They fired at each other and caused the deaths of several people. In the end one family moved to another area but the enmity still exists. The situation was caused by the parties who gave weapons to these families and supported them.
Male student, urban Ghazni
Political parties are not good in Afghanistan because they create differences in the local area. In the past the parties fought among themselves and many Afghans were killed in their wars.
Male taxi driver, urban Ghazni
Political parties are a big disturbance for the development and rebuilding of Afghanistan... [T]hey destroyed Afghanistan and divided the country into pieces, so according to my opinion these parties are not good. I wish that their elders would become united and choose one person among them who can work for Afghanistan and help it to stand on its own feet.
Male elder, rural Ghazni
All political parties have a priority to generate high-level positions for themselves and they do not serve the people. They only think about their personal interests and they promote ethnic discrimination.
Male taxi driver, urban Nimroz
All the parties are fake parties and they exist for the destruction of Afghanistan, not for reconstruction. Just look at how they destroyed the whole of Kabul.
Male villager, semi-urban Nangarhar
Deconstructing “Democracy” in Afghanistan
Political parties should not be given so much power that they can harm the government’s activities.
Male computer repairman, urban Nangarhar
And we should all unite together and share our sorrow and joy with each othe . We shouldn’t be divided into different races, religions, parties or groups; then we can make a real and strong government; otherwise it is impossible.
Female village representative in
local shura, rural Nangarhar
It has often been said that parties have a negative reputation in Afghanistan on account of the atrocities committed during the 1990s, for example in the civil war. However, there appears to be more to this narrative. Parties have had a troubled history in Afghanistan extending back to the mid-20th century, which explains in part why many Afghans consider them to represent an extreme, conflictual politics: throughout the country’s history, they have been consistently sidelined by leaders concerned about the rise of an opposition. Only officially allowed to register for the first time in 2003, their development as political players remains tightly restricted. As such, parties developed on the fringes as clandestine organisations within Afghanistan or factions based in Pakistan or Iran,74 and were prone to the espousement of radical agendas. As a consequence, they are often associated with communists on the one hand, or the religious fundamentalism of the Islamist mujahiddin on the other.75 The consistent marginalisation of parties by successive governments in Afghanistan has prevented the development of moderate, policy- driven parties and has contributed to the way in which they have become associated by Afghans with violent opposition and instability.
(Kabul and Brussels: ICG, 2005), 1,2,13, http://www.crisisgroup. org/~/media/Files/asia/south-asia/afghanistan/B039_political_
75 ICG, “Political Parties in Afghanistan,” 11. For more on the development and history of Afghanistan’s political parties, and their categorisation into different ideological groups, see Thomas Ruttig, “Islamists, Leftists and a Void in the Centre: Afghanistan’s Political Parties and Where They Came From 1902-2006” (Kabul: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2006).