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Jamiat-e Islami (also rendered as Jamiat-e-Islami, Jamiati Islami), is an Islamic political party in Afghanistan along the line of the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan and Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Jamiat-e Islami means "Islamic society" in the Persian language and is also known as just Jamiat for short. Jamiat is the oldest Islamic political party in Afghanistan. It has a communitarian ideology based on Islamic law but is also considered moderately progressive. During the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the following civil war in Afghanistan, Jamiat-e Islami was one of the most powerful of the mujahideen groups. The majority of the party are ethnic Tajiks of northern and western Afghanistan. Since 1968 the official leader of Jamiat has been Burhanuddin Rabbani, although his actual power within the party has fluctuated.


In 1979 Ahmed Shah Massoud, who had joined Jamiat as a university student, organised a mujahideen group in the Panjshir Valley to fight against the communist Government and their Soviet allies. This group grew to control multiple provinces and include thousands of fighters. The Soviet Army launched a series of major offensives to attempt to destroy the Jamiat forces, but they were unable to engage most of Massoud's men. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops in 1988, the mujahideen groups continued to wear down the government forces; in 1992 the communist government collapsed entirely. Massoud's forces were among the first to enter Kabul. Beneath Massoud the principal military commanders were Mohammed Fahim, Bismillah Khan, Gul Haider, Baba Jalandar, Shahid Panah and Shahid Tariq of Parwan.

Meanwhile, negotiations among the leadership of various mujahideen groups led to a tentative agreement to appoint Rabbani, who had spent the civil war in exile, as interim President. Disputes between Gulbudin Hekmatyar and the Jamiat leadership, combined with tensions between the other major Mujahideen factions, soon led to a resumption of fighting within Kabul. This led to massive civilian casualties and destruction of much of the city. Jamiat retained control of Kabul, pushing back a coalition of Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, the primarily Hazara group Hizb-e-Wahdat and Abdul Rashid Dostum's Jumbish-i-Milli Islami.

By 1995 the Taliban, which had seized control of much of southern Afghanistan with comparative ease in the previous year, were advancing on Kabul. Massoud rejected Taliban demands that he surrender. In March, Massoud launched a major offensive that would prove to be the Taliban's first major reversal and inflicted heavy casualties on their forces. The Taliban regrouped and allied with Dostum, which allowed them to launch another offensive in mid-1996. Jamiat lost control of the capital in September 1996.

Following the capture of Kabul, the major mujahideen factions put aside their previous feuds and formed the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, commonly known in the west as the Northern Alliance. Rabbani became political leader of the United Front, but most power lay with the Defence Minister Massoud. Other Jamiat members, mostly protégés of Massoud, took up senior positions within the United Front Government. Yunus Qanuni served as Interior Minister and Dr Abdulluh was Foreign Minister. During the United Front's existence, Jamiat remained the most powerful faction, controlling about 10,000 of the Alliance's 40,000 troops. Most observers agreed that Massoud's forces were the best trained and equipped of the United Front.

On the 9th of September 2001, Massoud was assassinated by a pair of suicide bombers. Immediately afterwards Taliban forces launched a major offensive against Jamiat positions. Mohammed Fahim was chosen to succeed Massoud as leader of Jamiat's military wing and repulsed the Taliban offensive. With extensive assistance from an American-led coalition in October and November 2001 (see War in Afghanistan (2001–present)), United Front forces recaptured most of Afghanistan.

Since then, Jamiat appears to have splintered. The military/Massoud wing of the party, led by Fahim, Qanuni and Abdulluh, dominated the Afghan Transitional Administration from which Rabbani was absent. Qanuni subsequently formed the Afghanistan e Naween (New Afghanistan) party and has emerged as de facto leader of the opposition to President Hamid Karzai. By contrast, Rabbani and Jamiat have backed Karzai.




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