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 Afghanistan Papers are essays authored by prominent academics, policy makers, practitioners and informed observers that seek to challenge existing ideas, contribute to ongoing debates and influence international policy on issues related to Afghanistan’s transition. A forward-looking series, the papers combine analysis of current problems and challenges with explorations of future issues and threats.