|Prime Minister of Pashtunistan|
Assumed office |
8 October 2019
|Monarch||Duran Daud Khan|
|Preceded by||Abdul Qadir Baryalai|
10 October 1991|
|Political party||Pashtun Social Movement (2016–Present)|
|National Unity Party (2013–2016)|
|Branch/service||Pashtun National Army|
|Years of service||2011–2014|
|Unit||Special operations forces|
Hikmatullah Zain (born 10 October 1991) is a Pashtun politician who has been the Prime Minister of Pashtunistan since 2019 and is currently the youngest head of government in the world. A member of the Pashtun Social Movement, he became the Prime Minister after the party formed the basis of the ruling coalition in the lower house of parliament following the 2019 Pashtun legislative election.
Before his political career, Zain originally studied law at Balkh University before dropping out and serving in the Pashtun National Army from 2011 to 2014. He became a lieutenant and during that time served in a special operations forces unit. After leaving the army Zain became active in politics, first joining the ruling National Unity Party before becoming part of a new political force, the Pashtun Social Movement, in 2016. Actively campaigning for the party, Zain emerged as one of the leading members of the populist Movement and after its electoral victory in the September 2019 election he was appointed as Prime Minister by the new government.
Since his election in late 2019, he had taken part in the Pashtun peace talks and has pledged to create a unity government including representatives of Taliban and achieve the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.
Early life and service
Hikmatullah Zain was born in Balkh, the capital of Balkh Province, Pashtunistan, in 1991. He is the son of a Pashtun father and a Tajik mother, and his father had been a colonel in the army of the communist-aligned Social Democratic Republic of Pashtunistan. Since his youth, Zain learned wushu, Chinese martial arts, and competed in several local tournaments during his teenage years. In 2009 he entered the Law Faculty of Balkh University, but in 2011 he dropped out before completing his studies at age twenty. Zain decided to serve in the military professionally as an officer, and graduated from the King Zahir Shah Reserve Officer Infantry School in 2012. The details of his service are not known, but he was assigned to the Special Operations Forces of the National Army after being commissioned as a lieutenant. In 2014 Zain chose to leave the army to enter politics. Since 2013 he had been a member of the National Unity Party, the country's ruling party since 1997, and considered himself to be a Pashtun civic nationalist and economic populist.
In 2016, a break occurred in the National Unity Party when several younger politicians broke off over the party leadership's refusal to investigate corruption allegations against a number of senior government officials. The new Pashtun Social Movement emerged from this new group, a civic nationalist and economic populist party, promising to end corruption that has plagued Pashtunistan's government, end the war with the Taliban, and raise the people's standard of living after purging corrupt officials. Zain joined the Social Movement when it was founded. His first experience in politics was during the 2016 Kabul municipal elections, in which the new party was able to field candidates for more than half of the 504 municipal council seats in the capital. Although the municipal councilmen had a mostly symbolic and limited political role, the Social Movement's emergence as the second largest party behind the National Unity Party with 109 seats was seen as a success. Hikmatullah Zain had worked as one of the organizers of the party in Kabul, helping find and register candidates. However in the process he was recognized by some senior party members as an effective leader himself.
Since 2017, Zain had taken part in campaigning and setting up offices for the party in other parts of the country, the first such election campaign in Pashtunistan's history, as normally the parties did not do any campaigning. Because of this, as of late 2018 and early 2019, the Pashtun Social Movement emerged as one of the leading parties in the country according to polling (in what few polls have been done, due to the logistical and security problems in Pashtunistan).
One of the main points of the 2019 election campaign of the Pashtun Social Movement was ending the war with the Taliban factions, by negotiating with them in the format of the peace talks that were started earlier by the Anglo-American negotiators and former Prime Minister Abdul Qadir Baryalai's government. Zain has said that he will take a greater role in the negotiations and that the occupying powers will have a secondary role, as he believes that Pashtuns must decide on the country's future themselves, and that Anglo-American powers must facilitate the conditions of the peace talks. He believes that the opposition must be incorporated into the system as a legitimate political party, and its fighters become incorporated into the Pashtun National Gendarmerie or be forced to disarm. Zain has said he will increase the pace of the negotiations in order to bring about a deal within a year of his election.
Zain has repeatedly called for Pashtunistan to join the China-led anti-hegemonic alliance that opposes the Anglo-American powers after their troops leave the country. Economic cooperation with China has been increasing in recent years and Zain has said that he will try to increase economic ties with China, which will also help develop Pashtunistan in return and will also increase the Pashtun government's revenue from trade. He also advocates improving relations with Persia.
Since his childhood, Zain has practiced wushu (Chinese martial arts) and competed in local tournaments.