by S. Ghilzai and Abdullah Qazi
Published on June 28, 2015
Updated on July 1, 2018 (by Abdullah Qazi)
Abdul Latif Pedram is a historian, poet, professor of Persian Literature, and currently a member of the lower house of Afghanistan’s parliament (Wolesi Jirga). He was first elected to Parliament representing the northern province of Badakhshan in 2010. He is also the co-founder, and head of the National Congress Party of Afghanistan (Kongara Milli Afghanistan). Pedram was born in Badakhshan’s Darwaz District, in 1963.
His political leaning has been described as leftist, with Marxist tendencies, and he has campaigned extensively in parliament for women’s rights. Pedram, who is an ethnic Tajik, supports a decentralized federal system of government, and has called for the name of the country to be changed to Khorasan. His argument is that the name Afghanistan represents only one ethnic group, the Pashtuns. Historically, and still even today, “Afghan” is used as a synonym for Pashtun. Furthermore, he wants good relations with Pakistan (over India), and he has stated that Afghanistan must recognize the Durand Line as the official border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Because of this, many Pashtun lawmakers have called for him to be tried for treason and worse, some have called for him to be stoned to death. Pedram has been accused of being an Iranian puppet and that he is secretly getting assistance from Iran to cause ethnic divisions in the country. No solid evidence of his involvement with Iran has been provided.
To bolster his political standings, especially, among his fellow Tajiks, Pedram sometimes displays photos of himself alongside photos of the late Afghan military commander who fought against the Soviets, and the Taliban, Ahmad Shah Masood, and the late former Afghan President and head of Jamiat-e Islami, Burhanuddin Rabbani. Pedram was a supporter of Masood and worked with him against the Soviet occupation. However, Masood and Rabbani’s political beliefs were quite different than the beliefs Pedram holds. Neither Masood, nor Rabbani ever called for the name of Afghanistan to be changed to Khorasan, and they never wanted Afghanistan to recognize the Durand Line. Masood blamed the Pakistani government, specifically, its intelligence agency, the ISI, for creating the Taliban to weaken Afghanistan, and eventually make it a puppet state, subservient to Pakistan.
Pedram ran in the October 2004 presidential elections against President Hamid Karzai, but only managed to garner 1.4% of the total ballots. Pedram was highly critical of President Hamid Karzai and the religious conservatives. In early May 2005, he told the publication Payam-e-Mujahid that he is against a permanent American military presence in Afghanistan.
Pedram is also a fierce critic of President Ashraf Ghani. He has accused Ghani of following chauvinistic policies that discriminate against non-Pashtuns in Afghanistan. He believes that Ghani wants to weaken the non-Pashtun tribes and give absolute power to the Pashtuns.
On June 27, 2018, Pedram was verbally and physically attacked during a parliament session by Pashtun members of parliament, after he accused Ghani’s government of dividing Ghazni province into three electoral constituencies, so that more seats can be given to the Pashtuns.
In his own words – notable statements from Pedram on Twitter
- Official website of the National Congress Party of Afghanistan
- Official Twitter of Abdul Latif Pedram
- Latest news on Abdul Latif Pedram