Jawed Ludin, Former deputy foreign minister of Afghanistan, and former chief of staff to President Karzai.
Despite their common heritage, demographic similarities and deeply shared interests as neighbours, Afghanistan and Pakistan today are two very different countries standing wide apart from each other on most measures of analysis. Notwithstanding some simplified aggregating characterizations, such as the US-coined “AfPak” grouping, Afghanistan and Pakistan present fundamentally diferent sets of issues and challenges to regional and global security. This distinctiveness is even truer when applied beyond security to other social, economic and political factors.
Socially, the two countries are undoubtedly linked by deep natural affinities. The Pashtun and Baloch populations in both countries are the two major overlapping communities that bind the two nations together. Beyond these demographic overlaps too, the two peoples enjoy historic, cultural, religious and linguistic ties. However, divergent historic experiences, and the evolving influence other social and political factors, have significantly contributed to the emergence of relatively distinct Afghan and Pakistani cultures, manifesting in distinct social mores among populations on both sides of the Durand Line.
Among the key cultural factors is the role of religion in the two societies. While enjoying a much more sophisticated civil society, advanced level of education and greater exposure to the outside world, the Pakistani society has treated religion as an inescapable political reality lying at the heart of its concept of nationhood. Afghanistan, on the other hand, has been a deeply religious society in the most traditional sense. As a result, it was mainly in Pakistan that we witnessed the birth and exponential growth of political Islam, including some of its extreme and violent manifestations. In Afghanistan, where a separation of the divine and the temporal spheres always existed in its most primordial form, political Islam was a purely imported phenomenon. Even today, several generations into the growth of political Islam in Afghanistan, Afghan Islamists look to Pakistani clergy and Madrassas as their collective ideological cornerstone.
H.E. Jawed Ludin is a former Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister on Political Affairs. He has served as Ambassador of Afghanistan in Canada; and Ambassador of Afghanistan to Norway. He was Spokesperson for, and later Chief of Staff to President Karzai. He currently runs a number of private sector initiatives in Afghanistan, including ANHAM and Mithra Associates LLC.