The Ismailis of Afghanistan: CASUALTIES & MIGRATION OF THE ISMAILIS
In 1986, Dr. Najib, who was a Pushtun ethnic, replaced Babrak Karmal. The Ismailis working in the government, notably in the Secret Service Department, called as KHAD, held high positions, but were dismissed. Most of them had gone to India and Russia, and finally settled in Canada.
Dr. Najib resigned after the peace negotiation of UN, and it led the transfer of power to a coalition of Islamic parties in 1992. It was followed by a civil war in Kabul, resulting an influx of the Ismailis of different provinces to pour down in Pakistan.
The Ismailis in northern parts of Afghanistan originally are concentrated in Baghalan province along in Kayan valley, the districts of Doshi including Kilagai, Neikpai, Shoturjangal, Charbagh and Pulikhumri town having 3500 families, in Samangan province including mountainous villages of Pasaband having 800 families, in Kundoz province and Khanabad district having 500 families, Mazar-i Sharif having 300 families, etc. have migrated towards Central Asia and Pakistan.
During two and a half centuries of its existence since 1747, Afghanistan has experienced two large-scale mass migrations, both resulting from violent campaigns of massacre conducted by ruling regimes. During the first period of migration, hundreds of thousands of Afghanistan inhabitants sought refuge in neighbouring countries. These migrants, or refugees from the period of Abdur Rahman’s reign (1880-1901) were composed of all ethnic groups within Afghanistan.
Incessant tribal fighting couped with the instability of the Kabul regime and the obstructionism tendency of the theologian class resulted another mass migration in 1978 and 1992. The whole country is still in the grips of a bloody factional tribal war ever since the downfall of its communist President Najibullah in 1992, and the influx of the immigrants is continued. The greater part of Afghanistan is under control of the Taliban; a guerilla group emerged in 1994. As for the Ismailis of Afghanistan, it must be admitted beyond doubt that it was a greatest mass migration throughout the Ismaili history.
It is worthwhile to mention that the illiterate jamats of Afghanistan were quite unknown with the real picture. When they settled outside Afghanistan, they learnt the factual position from different sources.
The Ismailis of Afghanistan have unabated love for the Imam rooted with unwavering faith. The Afghan Ismailis adjusted themselves in the Ismaili society out of Afghanistan and oriented in their traditions prevalent in the Ismaili world. They are regular in their religious practices and give adequate education to their children, keeping religious and secular dimensions in equal balance. When they will return to their homeland, it appears that they will take away the religious practices, which they followed outside Afghanistan, and introduce in their Jamatkhanas. Their practices and institutions will most probably influence the other regions of Central Asia.
Soon after the migration, the Afghan Jamat breathed a sigh of relief. The Afghan Jamat learnt that the Imam of the Age is an absolute authority. It is an awareness gleaned in their thoughts due to coming into the contacts of non-Afghan Jamat. The force of vehement fear and persecution hovering upon them seems to have melted away gradually in their minds. They maintain that the Imam guides his followers through a network of appointed leaders of the Imamate Institution. The only real remedy of the situation lies in the education and in imparting genuine Ismaili values. They are being oriented in the countries and take adequate benefits in pluralism.
On this juncture, we deem it necessary to throw some lights on the non-Afghan Jamat, who served and helped the Afghan Ismailis in accordance with the guidance of the Imam as an act of religious service. It is a great mishap for one who migrates from one to another country without assistance and cooperation. The pitiable condition almost disappeared when they came into the new contacts and a ray of hope gleaned in their future.
FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an international group of agencies established to compliment and facilitate the provision of emergency humanitarian assistance in specific regions of Africa and Asia. FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The units of FOCUS are incorporated in Canada (1994), Europe (1996), United States (1996) and Pakistan (1998). Each unit has a Board of Directors and Managements. The FOCUS International Coordinating Committee coordinates their activities on global level. Over last five years, FOCUS has progressively refined its capability to mobilize local manpower and other resources to permit prompt needs assessments and distribution of emergency relief supplies to the Afghan refugees. Their service includes provision of food, primary health care, education and assistance in moving from refugee camps to permanent housing.
Warm and well-deserved tribute must be paid to the leaders, institutions and workers, who, despite language problems came forward in the field with all resources and helped their Afghan Ismaili brethren in their daily foods, clothes, lodging, health, education, jobs, etc. Indeed, every front came into action, recalling the tremendous role the Ansars (helpers) played in Medina in the time of our Holy Prophet. They have exhibited true spirit of fidais of the past, which shall ever remain remembered. This is an incredible service, rather a true notion of jihad (holy war) ordained in Islamic teachings.
During his last visit to Pakistan in October 2000, Mawlana Hazar Imam said: "It is my conviction that, when peace returns as, Inshallah, it will, one day, to Afghanistan, there will be many years needed to rebuild society, to rebuild the economy of Afghanistan, and the process to rebuild society, and to rebuild the economy of Afghanistan, will require educated men and women."