Hizb-e Wahdat-e Islami Afghanistan, shortened to Hizb-e Wahdat, has been an important political and military player in Afghanistan since its founding in 1989. Like most contemporary major political parties in Afghanistan, Hizb-e Wahdat is rooted in the turbulent period of the anti-Soviet resistance movements in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It was formed to bring together nine separate and mostly inimical military and ideological groups into a single entity. During the period of the Afghan civil war in the early 1990s, it emerged as one of the major actors in Kabul and some other parts of the country. Political Islamism was the ideology of most of its key leaders but the party gradually tilted towards its Hazara ethnic support base and became the key vehicle of the community’s political demands and aspirations. Its ideological background and ethnic support base has continuously shaped its character and political agenda. Through the anti-Soviet jihad and the civil war, Hizb-e Wahdat accumulated significant political capital among Afghanistan’s Hazaras, which arguably could have been spent in the establishment of long-lasting political institutions in Afghanistan.
By 2009, however, Hizb-e Wahdat was so fragmented and divided that the political weight it carried in the country bore little resemblance to what it had once been. It had fragmented into at least four competing organizations, each claiming ownership of the name and legacy of Hizb-e Wahdat.