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Ethnic and Communal Conflicts: 1900 to Present: South, Central, and West Asia

Bill Kte'pi

Ethnic and communal conflicts have been a recurring problem in south and central Asia, and the independence achieved by many states in the 20th century—the independence and partition of India and Pakistan, the dissolution of the Soviet Union resulting in independence for the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, and so on—has in some cases flamed these conflicts by giving one party the power to disenfranchise others. Conflicts in the 20th century have included the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Chakmas in Bangladesh, Hindu/Muslim and Hindu/Sikh conflicts in India, and Pathan/Muhajir riots in Pakistan. Ethnic background, religion, language, and caste are all elements that can divide as well as unify groups. In Afghanistan and the former Soviet states, the collapse of the Soviet Union brought with it political and social instability, and opportunism for old disputes to be revived—including territorial conflicts that couldn't be resolved during Soviet rule or occupation. ...

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