Afghanistan

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Introduction Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. Subsequently, a series of civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution and a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. On 7 December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. The National Assembly was inaugurated on 19 December 2005.
History

Though the modern state of Afghanistan was founded or created in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani,[27] the land has an ancient history and various timelines of different civilizations. Excavation of prehistoric sites by Louis Dupree, the University of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Institution and others suggests that humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities of the area were among the earliest in the world.[28][29]

Afghanistan is a country at a unique nexus point where numerous Indo-European civilizations have interacted and often fought, and was an important site of early historical activity. Through the ages, the region has been home to various people, among them the Aryan (Indo-Iranian) tribes, such as the Kambojas, Bactrians, Persians, etc. It also has been conquered by a host of people, including the Median and Persian Empires, Alexander the Great, Kushans, Hepthalites, Arabs, Turks, and Mongols. In recent times, invasions from the British, Soviets, and most recently by the Americans and their allies have taken place. On the other hand, native entities have invaded surrounding regions in Iranian plateau and Indian subcontinent to form empires of their own.

The region that is now Afghanistan was for much of its history part of various Persian dynasties, such as the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian Empire (559–330 BCE)

Between 2000 and 1200 BC, Indo-European-speaking Aryans are thought to have been in the region of northern Afghanistan. It is unlikely[30] that the Aryans themselves originated in Afghanistan although they did migrate from there south towards India and west towards Persia, but they also migrated into Europe via north of the Caspian. These Aryans set up a nation that during the rule of Medes and Achaemenid Persians which became known as Aryānām Xšaθra or Airyānem Vāejah. Original homelands of the Aryans have been proposed as Anatolia, Central Asia, Iran, or Northern India, with the directions of the historical migration varying accordingly.[31][32] Later, during the rule of Ashkanian, Sasanian and after, it was called Erānshahr (Persian: ايرانشهر - Īrānšahr) meaning "Dominion of the Aryans."

The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom at it's maximum extent, circa 180 BCE

It has been speculated that Zoroastrianism might have originated in what is now Afghanistan between 1800 to 800 BC, as Zoroaster lived and died in Balkh.[33].[34] Ancient Eastern Iranian languages, such as Avestan, may have been spoken in this region around the time of the rise of Zoroastrianism. By the middle of the sixth century BC, the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids supplanted the Median Empire and incorporated what was known as Persia to the Greeks within its boundaries; and by 330 BC, Alexander the Great invaded Afghanistan and conquered the surrounding regions. Following Alexander's brief occupation, the Hellenistic successor states of the Seleucids and Greco-Bactrians controlled the area, while the Mauryas from India annexed the southeast for a time and introduced Buddhism to the region until the area returned to the Bactrian rule.

Buddhas of Bamyan were among the largest Buddha statues in the world, dating back to the first century AD.

During the first century AD, the Kushans created a vast empire centered in modern Afghanistan and were patrons of Buddhist culture. The Kushans were defeated by the Sassanids in the third century. Although various rulers calling themselves Kushans (and generally known as Kushano-Sasanians) continued to rule at least parts of the region, they were probably more or less subject to the Sassanids.[35] The late Kushans were followed by the Kidarite Huns[36] who, in turn, were replaced by the short-lived but powerful Hephthalites, as rulers of the region in the first half of the fifth century.[37] The Hephthalites were defeated by the Sasanian king Khosrau I in AD 557, who re-established Sasanian power in Persia. However, the successors of Kushans and Hepthalites established a small dynasty in Kabulistan called Kushano-Hephthalites or Kabul-Shahan/Shahi and were later defeated by the Muslim armies.

Islamic conquest of the region
Main article: Islamic conquest of Afghanistan

In the Middle Ages, up to the nineteenth century, the region was known as Khorasan.[38][39][40] Several important centers of Khorāsān are thus located in modern Afghanistan, such as Balkh, Herat, Ghazni and Kabul. It was during this period of time when Islam was introduced and spread in the area.

The region of Afghanistan became the center of various important empires, including that of the Samanids (875–999), Ghaznavids (977–1187), Seljukids (1037–1194), Ghurids (1149–1212), and Timurids (1370–1506). Among them, the periods of Ghaznavids[41] of Ghazni, and Timurids[42] of Herat are considered as some of the most brilliant eras of Afghanistan's history.

In 1219 the region was overrun by the Mongols under Genghis Khan, who devastated the land. Their rule continued with the Ilkhanates, and was extended further following the invasion of Timur Lang ("Tamerlane"), a ruler from Central Asia. In 1504, Babur, a descendant of both Timur Lang and Genghis Khan, established the Mughal Empire with its capital at Kabul. By the early 1700s, Afghanistan was controlled by several ruling groups: Uzbeks to the north, Safavids to the west and the remaining larger area by the Mughals or self-ruled by local Afghan tribes.

Hotaki dynasty: first Afghan rule
Main article: Hotaki dynasty

In 1709, Mir Wais Hotak, a local Afghan (Pashtun) from the Ghilzai clan, overthrew and killed Gurgin Khan, the Safavid governor of Kandahar. Mir Wais successfully defeated the Persians, who were attempting to convert the local population of Kandahar from Sunni to the Shia sect of Islam. Mir Wais held the region of Kandahar until his death in 1715 and was succeeded by his son Mir Mahmud Hotaki. In 1722, Mir Mahmud led an Afghan army to Isfahan (now in Iran), sacked the city and proclaimed himself King of Persia. However, the great majority still rejected the Afghan regime as usurping, and after the massacre of thousands of civilians in Isfahan by the Afghans – including more than three thousand religious scholars, nobles, and members of the Safavid family – the Hotaki dynasty was eventually removed from power by a new ruler, Nadir Shah of Persia.[43][44]

Durrani Empire: beginnings of the "Afghan state"
Main article: Durrani Empire

In 1738 Nadir Shah and his army, which included four thousand Pashtuns of the Abdali clan,[45] conquered the region of Kandahar; in the same year he occupied Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore. On June 19, 1747, Nadir Shah was assassinated, possibly planned by his nephew Ali Qoli. In the same year, one of Nadir's military commanders and personal bodyguard, Ahmad Shah Abdali, a Pashtun from the Abdali clan, called for a loya jirga following Nadir's death. The Afghans gathered at Kandahar and chose Ahmad Shah as their King. Since then, he is often regarded as the founder of modern Afghanistan.[1][46][47] After the inauguration, he changed his title or clans' name to "Durrani", which derives from the Persian word Durr, meaning "Pearl".[45]

By 1751 Ahmad Shah Durrani and his Afghan army conquered the entire present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, along with Delhi in India.[18] In October 1772, Ahmad Shah retired to his home in Maruf, Kandahar, where he died peacefully. He was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah Durrani, who transferred the capital from Kandahar to Kabul. Timur died in 1793 and was finally succeeded by his son Zaman Shah Durrani.

European influence
Main article: European influence in Afghanistan

Political cartoon depicting Sher Ali Khan with his "friends" Britain & Russia (1878).

During the nineteenth century, following the Anglo-Afghan wars (fought 1839–42, 1878–80, and lastly in 1919) and the ascension of the Barakzai dynasty, Afghanistan saw much of its territory and autonomy ceded to the United Kingdom. The UK exercised a great deal of influence, and it was not until King Amanullah Khan acceded to the throne in 1919 that Afghanistan re-gained complete independence over its foreign affairs (see "The Great Game"). During the period of British intervention in Afghanistan, ethnic Pashtun territories were divided by the Durand Line. This would lead to strained relations between Afghanistan and British India – and later the new state of Pakistan – over what came to be known as the Pashtunistan debate. The longest period of stability in Afghanistan was between 1933 and 1973, when the country was under the rule of King Zahir Shah.

However, in 1973 Zahir Shah's brother-in-law, Mohammed Daoud Khan, launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan. Daoud Khan and his entire family were murdered in 1978, when the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan launched a coup known as the Great Saur Revolution and took over the government. The 1978 Khalq uprising against the government of Daoud Khan was essentially a resurgence by the Ghilzai tribe of the Pashtun against the Durrani (the tribe of Daoud Khan and the previous monarchy).[48]

Soviet invasion and civil war
Main articles: Soviet war in Afghanistan and Civil war in Afghanistan

As part of a Cold War strategy, in 1979 the United States government (under President Jimmy Carter and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski) began to covertly fund and train anti-government Mujahideen forces through the Pakistani secret service known as Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). In order to bolster the local Communist forces, the Soviet Union—citing the 1978 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighborliness that had been signed between the two countries—intervened on December 24, 1979. Over 100,000 Soviet troops took part in the invasion, who were backed by another 100,000 and plus pro-communist forces of Afghanistan. The Soviet occupation resulted in the killings of at least 600,000 to 2 million Afghan civilians. Over five million Afghans fled their country to Pakistan, Iran and other parts of the world. Faced with mounting international pressure and great number of casualties on both sides, the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

Soviet troops withdrawing from Afghanistan in 1988. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev

The Soviet withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was seen as an ideological victory in the US, which had backed the Mujahideen through three US presidential administrations in order to counter Soviet influence in the vicinity of the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

Following the removal of the Soviet forces, the US and its allies lost interest in Afghanistan and did little to help rebuild the war-ravaged country or influence events there. The USSR continued to support President Najibullah (former head of the Afghan secret service, KHAD) until 1992 when the new Russian government refused to sell oil products to Najibullah regime.[49]

Because of the fighting, a number of elites and intellectuals fled to take refuge abroad. This led to a leadership imbalance in Afghanistan. Fighting continued among the victorious Mujahideen factions, which gave rise to a state of warlordism. The most serious fighting during this period occurred in 1994, when over 10,000 people were killed in Kabul alone. It was at this time that the Taliban developed as a politico-religious force, eventually seizing Kabul in 1996. By the end of 2000 the Taliban had captured 95% of the country.

During the Taliban's seven-year rule, much of the population experienced restrictions on their freedom and violations of their human rights. Women were banned from jobs, girls forbidden to attend schools or universities.[50] Those who resisted were punished instantly.[citation needed] Communists were systematically eradicated and thieves were punished by amputating one of their hands or feet.[citation needed] Meanwhile, the Taliban managed to nearly eradicate the majority of the opium production by 2001.[51]

2001-present war in Afghanistan
Main article: War in Afghanistan (2001-present)

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom, a military campaign to destroy the al-Qaeda terrorist training camps inside Afghanistan. The US military also threatened to overthrow the Taliban government for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden and several al-Qaida members. The US made a common cause with the former Afghan Mujahideen to achieve its ends, including the Northern Alliance, a militia still recognized by the UN as the Afghan government.

In late 2001, US Special Forces invaded Afghanistan to aid anti-Taliban militias, backed by US air strikes against Taliban and Al Qaeda targets, culminating in the seizure of Kabul by the Northern Alliance and the overthrow of the Taliban, with many local warlords switching allegiance from the Taliban to the Northern Alliance.

Inauguration of Hamid Karzai on December 7, 2004, after winning the presidential election.

In December of the same year, leaders of the former Afghan mujahideen and diaspora met in Germany, and agreed on a plan for the formulation of a new democratic government that resulted in the inauguration of Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun from the southern city of Kandahar, as Chairman of the Afghan Interim Authority.

After a nationwide Loya Jirga in 2002, Karzai was chosen by the representatives to assume the title as Interim President of Afghanistan. The country convened a Constitutional Loya Jirga (Council of Elders) in 2003 and a new constitution was ratified in January 2004. Following an election in October 2004, Hamid Karzai won and became the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Legislative elections were held in September 2005. The National Assembly – the first freely elected legislature in Afghanistan since 1973 – sat in December 2005, and was noteworthy for the inclusion of women as voters, candidates, and elected members.

US Army in Kunar Province

As the country continues to rebuild and recover, it is still struggling against poverty, poor infrastructure, large concentration of land mines and other unexploded ordnance, as well as a huge illegal poppy cultivation and opium trade. Afghanistan also remains subject to occasionally violent political jockeying. The country continues to grapple with the Taliban insurgency and the threat of attacks from a few remaining al Qaeda.

At the start of 2007 reports of the Taliban's increasing presence in Afghanistan led the US to consider longer tours of duty and even an increase in troop numbers. According to a report filed by Robert Burns of Associated Press on January 16, 2007, "U.S. military officials cited new evidence that the Pakistani military, which has long-standing ties to the Taliban movement, has turned a blind eye to the incursions." Also, "The number of insurgent attacks is up 300 percent since September, 2006, when the Pakistani government put into effect a peace arrangement with tribal leaders in the north Waziristan area, along Afghanistan's eastern border, a U.S. military intelligence officer told reporters."

Geography Location: Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran
Geographic coordinates: 33 00 N, 65 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 647,500 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Texas
Land boundaries: total: 5,529 km
border countries: China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers
Terrain: mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Amu Darya 258 m
highest point: Nowshak 7,485 m
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
Land use: arable land: 12.13%
permanent crops: 0.21%
other: 87.66% (2005)
Irrigated land: 27,200 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 65 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 23.26 cu km/yr (2%/0%/98%)
per capita: 779 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts
Environment - current issues: limited natural fresh water resources; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation; overgrazing; deforestation (much of the remaining forests are being cut down for fuel and building materials); desertification; air and water pollution
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note: landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)
Politics

Politics in Afghanistan has historically consisted of power struggles, bloody coups and unstable transfers of power. With the exception of a military junta, the country has been governed by nearly every system of government over the past century, including a monarchy, republic, theocracy and communist state. The constitution ratified by the 2003 Loya jirga restructured the government as an Islamic republic consisting of three branches, (executive, legislature and judiciary).

Politicians of Afghanistan having lunch with the visiting U.S. President George W. Bush in Kabul on March 1, 2006.

Afghanistan is currently led by President Hamid Karzai, who was elected in October 2004. The current parliament was elected in 2005. Among the elected officials were former mujahadeen, Taliban members, communists, reformists, and Islamic fundamentalists. 28% of the delegates elected were women, 3 points more than the 25% minimum guaranteed under the constitution. This made Afghanistan, long known under the Taliban for its oppression of women, one of the leading countries in terms of female representation. Construction for a new parliament building began on August 29, 2005.

The Supreme Court of Afghanistan is currently led by Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi, a former university professor who had been legal advisor to the president.[52] The previous court, appointed during the time of the interim government, had been dominated by fundamentalist religious figures, including Chief Justice Faisal Ahmad Shinwari. The court had issued numerous questionable rulings, such as banning cable television, seeking to ban a candidate in the 2004 presidential election and limiting the rights of women, as well as overstepping its constitutional authority by issuing rulings on subjects not yet brought before the court. The current court is seen as more moderate and led by more technocrats than the previous court, although it has yet to issue any rulings.

People 31,889,923 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.6% (male 7,282,600/female 6,940,378)
15-64 years: 53% (male 8,668,170/female 8,227,387)
65 years and over: 2.4% (male 374,426/female 396,962) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 17.6 years
male: 17.6 years
female: 17.6 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.625% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 46.21 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 19.96 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.049 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.054 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.943 male(s)/female
total population: 1.049 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 157.43 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 161.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 152.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 43.77 years
male: 43.6 years
female: 43.96 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 6.64 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.01% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2008)
Nationality: noun: Afghan(s)
adjective: Afghan
Ethnic groups: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
Religions: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi'a Muslim 19%, other 1%
Languages: Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashto (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 28.1%
male: 43.1%
female: 12.6% (2000 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
conventional short form: Afghanistan
local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Afghanestan
local short form: Afghanestan
former: Republic of Afghanistan
Government type: Islamic republic
Capital: name: Kabul
geographic coordinates: 34 31 N, 69 11 E
time difference: UTC+4.5 (9.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 34 provinces (velayat, singular - velayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamian, Daykondi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghowr, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabol, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khowst, Konar, Kondoz, Laghman, Lowgar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nurestan, Oruzgan, Paktia, Paktika, Panjshir, Parvan, Samangan, Sar-e Pol, Takhar, Vardak, Zabol
Independence: 19 August 1919 (from UK control over Afghan foreign affairs)
National holiday: Independence Day, 19 August (1919)
Constitution: new constitution drafted 14 December 2003-4 January 2004; signed 16 January 2004
Legal system: based on mixed civil and Shari'a law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); Vice Presidents Ahmad Zia MASOOD and Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government; former King ZAHIR Shah held the honorific, "Father of the Country," and presided symbolically over certain occasions but lacked any governing authority; the honorific is not hereditary; King Zahir Shah died on 23 July 2007
head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); Vice Presidents Ahmad Zia MASOOD and Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004)
cabinet: 25 ministers; note - under the new constitution, ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
elections: the president and two vice presidents are elected by direct vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if no candidate receives 50% or more of the vote in the first round of voting, the two candidates with the most votes will participate in a second round; a president can only be elected for two terms; election last held 9 October 2004 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: Hamid KARZAI elected president; percent of vote - Hamid KARZAI 55.4%, Yunus QANUNI 16.3%, Ustad Mohammad MOHAQQEQ 11.6%, Abdul Rashid DOSTAM 10.0%, Abdul Latif PEDRAM 1.4%, Masooda JALAL 1.2%
Legislative branch: the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 249 seats), directly elected for five-year terms, and the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (102 seats, one-third elected from provincial councils for four-year terms, one-third elected from local district councils for three-year terms, and one-third nominated by the president for five-year terms)
note: on rare occasions the government may convene a Loya Jirga (Grand Council) on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it can amend the provisions of the constitution and prosecute the president; it is made up of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils
elections: last held 18 September 2005 (next to be held for the Wolesi Jirga by September 2009; next to be held for the provincial councils to the Meshrano Jirga by September 2008)
election results: the single non-transferable vote (SNTV) system used in the election did not make use of political party slates; most candidates ran as independents
Judicial branch: the constitution establishes a nine-member Stera Mahkama or Supreme Court (its nine justices are appointed for 10-year terms by the president with approval of the Wolesi Jirga) and subordinate High Courts and Appeals Courts; there is also a minister of justice; a separate Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission established by the Bonn Agreement is charged with investigating human rights abuses and war crimes
Political parties and leaders: Afghanistan Peoples' Treaty Party (Hizb-e-Wolesi Tarhun Afghanistan) [Sayyed Amir TAHSEEN]; Afghanistan's Islamic Mission Organization (Tanzim Daawat-e-Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Rasoul SAYYAF]; Afghanistan's Islamic Nation Party (Hezb-e-Umat-e-Islam-e-Afghanistan) [Toran Noor Aqa Ahmad ZAI]; Afghanistan's National Islamic Party (Hezb-e-Mili Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Rohullah LOUDIN]; Afghanistan's Welfare Party (Hezb-e-Refah-e-Afghanistan) [Meer Asef ZAEEFI]; Afghan Social Democratic Party (Hezb-e-Afghan Melat) [Anwarul Haq AHADI]; Afghan Society for the Call to the Koran and Sunna (Hezb-e-Jamahat-ul-Dawat ilal Quran-wa-Sunat-e-Afghanistan) [Mawlawee Samiullah NAJEEBEE]; Comprehensive Movement of Democracy and Development of Afghanistan Party (Hizb-e-Nahzat Faragir Democracy wa Taraqi-e-Afghanistan) [Sher Mohammad BAZGAR]; Democratic Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Democracy Afghanistan) [Tawos ARAB]; Democratic Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Domcrat-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Kabir RANJBAR]; Elites People of Afghanistan Party (Hezb-e-Nakhbagan-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Hamid JAWAD]; Freedom and Democracy Movement of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Nahzat-e-Aazadee Wa Democracy-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Raqib Jawid KOHISTANEE]; Freedom Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Azadee-e-Afghanistan) [Ilaj Abdul MALEK]; Freedom Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Isteqlal-e-Afghanistan) [Dr. Ghulam Farooq NEJRABEE]; Hizullah-e-Afghanistan [Qari Ahmad ALI]; Human Rights Protection and Development Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Ifazat Az Uqooq-e-Bashar Wa Inkishaf-e-Afghanistan) [Baryalai NASRATI]; Islamic Justice Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Adalat-e-Islami Afghanistan) [Mohammad Kabir MARZBAN]; Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (Hezb-e Harakat-e-Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Ali JAWID]; Islamic Movement of Afghanistan Party (Hizb-e-Nahzat-e-Melli Islami Afghanistan) [Mohammad Mukhtar MUFLEH]; Islamic Party of Afghanistan (Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan) [Mohammad Khalid FAROOQI]; Islamic Party of the Afghan Land (De Afghan Watan Islami Gond) [Mohammad Hassan FEROZKHEL]; Islamic People's Movement of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Harakat-e-Islami Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Ilhaj Said Hussain ANWARY]; Islamic Society of Afghanistan (Hezb-e Jamihat-e-Islami) [Ustad RABBANI]; Islamic Unity of the Nation of Afghanistan Party (Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami-e-Melat-e-Afghanistan) [Qurban Ali URFANI]; Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Karim KHALILI]; Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Ustad Mohammad MOHAQQEQ]; Labor and Progress of Afghanistan Party (Hezb-e-Kar Wa Tawsiha-e-Afghanistan) [Zulfiqar OMID]; Muslim People of Afghanistan Party (Hezb-e-Mardom-e-Mosalman-e-Afghanistan) [Besmellah JOYAN]; Muslim Unity Movement Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Tahreek Wahdat-ul-Musimeen Afghanistan) [Wazir Mohammad WAHDAT]; National and Islamic Sovereignty Movement Party of Afghanistan (Hizb-e-Eqtedar-e-Melli wa Islami Afghanistan) [Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai]; National Congress Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Kangra-e-Mili-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Latif PEDRAM]; National Country Party (Hezb-e-Mili Heward) [GHULAM MOHAMMAD]; National Development Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Taraqee Mili Afghanistan) [Dr. Aref BAKTASH]; National Freedom Seekers Party (Hezb-e-Aazaadi Khwahan Maihan) [Abdul Hadi DABEER]; National Independence Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e Esteqlal-e-Mili Afghanistan) [Taj Mohammad WARDAK]; National Islamic Fighters Party of Afghanistan (De Afghanistan De Mili Mubarizeeno Islami Gond) [Amanat NINGARHAREE]; National Islamic Front of Afghanistan (Mahaz-e-Mili Islami Afghanistan) [Pir Sayed Ahmad GAILANEE]; National Islamic Moderation Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Eatedal-e-Mili Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Qara Bik Eized YAAR]; National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Junbish Mili Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Sayed NOORULLAH]; National Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Mili Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad AKBAREE]; National Movement of Afghanistan (Nahzat-e-Mili Afghanistan) [Ahmad Wali MASOOUD]; National Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Mili Afghanistan) [Abdul Rashid ARYAN]; National Patch of Afghanistan Party (Hezb-e Paiwand Mihahani Afghanistan) [Sayed Kamal SADAT]; National Peace Islamic Party of Afghanistan (De Afghanistan De Solay Mili Islami Gond) [Shah Mohammood Popal ZAI]; National Peace & Islamic Party of the Tribes of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Sulh-e-Mili Islami Aqwam-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Qaher SHARIATEE]; National Peace & Unity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Sulh Wa Wahdat-e-Mili-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Qader IMAMI]; National Prosperity and Islamic Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Sahadat-e-Mili Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Osman SALEKZADA]; National Prosperity Party (Hezb-e-Refah-e-Mili Afghanistan) [Mohammad Hassan JAHFAREE]; National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Nahzat-e-Hambastagee Mili-e-Afghanistan) [Pir Sayed Eshaq GAILANEE]; National Solidarity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Paiwand Mili Afghanistan) [Sayed Mansoor NADREEI]; National Sovereignty Party (Hezb-e-Eqtedar-e-Mili) [Sayed Mustafa KAZEMI]; National Stability Party (Hezb-e-Subat-e-Mili Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Same KHAROTI]; National Stance Party (Hizb-e-Melli Dareez) [Habibullah JANEBDAR]; National Tribal Unity Islamic Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Mili Wahdat-e-Aqwam-e-Islami-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Shah KHOGYANI]; National United Front (Jumbah-e Mutahed-e Milli) [Burhanuddin RABBANI] (a coalition); National Unity Movement (Hezb-e-Tahreek Wahdat-e-Mili-e-Afghanistan) [Sultan Mohammad GHAZI]; National Unity Movement of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Harakat-e-Mili Wahdat-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Nadir AATASH]; National Unity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Mili Afghanistan) [Abdul Rashid JALILI]; New Afghanistan Party (Hezb-e-Afghanistan-e-Naween) [Mohammad Yunis QANUNI]; Peace and National Welfare Activists Society (Hezb-e-Majmeh Mili Faleen-Sulh-e-Afghanistan) [Shamsul Haq Noor SHAMS]; Peace Movement (De Afghanistan De Solay Ghorzang Gond) [Shahnawaz TANAI]; People's Aspirations Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Aarman-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Ilhaj Saraj-u-din ZAFAREE]; People's Freedom Seekers Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Aazadee Khwahan Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Feda Mohammad EHSAS]; People's Liberal Freedom Seekers Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Lebral-e-Aazadee Khwa-e-Afghanistan) [Ajmal SUHAIL]; People's Message Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Resalat-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Noor Aqa WAINEE]; People's Movement of the National Unity of Afghanistan (De Afghanistan De Mili Wahdat Wolesi Tahreek) [Abdul Hakim NOORZAI]; People's Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Ahmad Shah ASAR]; People's Prosperity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Falah-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Ustad Mohammad ZAREEF]; People's Sovereignty Movement of Afghanistan (Nahzat-e-Hakemyat-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Hayatullah SUBHANEE]; People's Uprising Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Rastakhaiz-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Sayed Zahir Qayed Omul BELADI]; People's Welfare Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Refah-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Mia Gul WASIQ]; People's Welfare Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Sahadat-e-Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Zubair PAIROZ]; Progressive Democratic Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Taraqee Democrat Afghanistan) [Wali ARYA]; Republican Party (Hezb-e-Jamhoree Khwahane-Afghanistan) [Sebghatullah SANJAR]; Solidarity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Hambastagee-e-Afghanistan) [Abdul Khaleq NEMAT]; The Afghanistan's Mujahid Nation's Islamic Unity Movement (Da Afghanistan Mujahid Woles Yaowaali Islami Tahreek) [Saeedullah SAEED]; The People of Afghanistan's Democratic Movement (Hezb-e-Junbish Democracy Mardom-e-Afghanistan) [Sharif NAZARI]; Tribes Solidarity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e Hambastagee Mili Aqwam-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Zarif NASERI]; Understanding and Democracy Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Tafahum Wa Democracy-e-Afghanistan) [Ahamad SHAHEEN]; United Afghanistan Party (Hezb-e-Afghanistan-e-Wahid) [Mohammad Wasil RAHIMEE]; United Islamic Party of Afghanistan (Hizb-e-Mutahed Islami Afghanistan) [Wahidullah SABAWOON]; Young Afghanistan's Islamic Organization (Hezb-e-Islami-e-Afghanistan-e-Jawan) [Sayed Jawad HUSSINEE]; Youth Solidarity Party of Afghanistan (Hezb-e-Hambastagee Mili Jawanan-e-Afghanistan) [Mohammad Jamil KARZAI]; note - includes only political parties approved by the Ministry of Justice
International organization participation: ADB, CP, ECO, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE (partner), SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Said Tayeb JAWAD
chancery: 2341 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 483-6410
FAX: [1] (202) 483-6488
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador William B. WOOD
embassy: The Great Masood Road, Kabul
mailing address: U.S. Embassy Kabul, APO, AE 09806
telephone: [93] 700 108 001
FAX: [00 93] (20) 230-1364
Flag description: three equal vertical bands of black (hoist), red, and green, with a gold emblem centered on the red band; the emblem features a temple-like structure encircled by a wreath on the left and right and by a bold Islamic inscription above
Culture

Afghans display pride in their religion, country, ancestry, and above all, their independence. Like other highlanders, Afghans are regarded with mingled apprehension and condescension, for their high regard for personal honor, for their clan loyalty and for their readiness to carry and use arms to settle disputes.[57] As clan warfare and internecine feuding has been one of their chief occupations since time immemorial, this individualistic trait has made it difficult for foreign invaders to hold the region.

Afghanistan has a complex history that has survived either in its current cultures or in the form of various languages and monuments. However, many of the country's historic monuments have been damaged in recent wars. The two famous statues of Buddha in the Bamyan Province were destroyed by the Taliban, who regarded them as idolatrous. Other famous sites include the cities of Kandahar, Herat, Ghazni and Balkh. The Minaret of Jam, in the Hari River valley, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cloak worn by Muhammad is stored inside the famous Khalka Sharifa in Kandahar City.

Buzkashi is a national sport in Afghanistan. It is similar to polo and played by horsemen in two teams, each trying to grab and hold a goat carcass. Afghan hounds (a type of running dog) also originated in Afghanistan.

Although literacy levels are very low, classic Persian poetry plays a very important role in the Afghan culture. Poetry has always been one of the major educational pillars in Iran and Afghanistan, to the level that it has integrated itself into culture. Persian culture has, and continues to, exert a great influence over Afghan culture. Private poetry competition events known as “musha’era” are quite common even among ordinary people. Almost every home owns one or more poetry collections of some sort, even if they are not read often.

The eastern dialects of the Persian language are popularly known as "Dari". The name itself derives from "Pārsī-e Darbārī", meaning Persian of the royal courts. The ancient term Darī – one of the original names of the Persian language – was revived in the Afghan constitution of 1964, and was intended to signify that Afghans consider their country the cradle of the language. Hence, the name Fārsī, the language of Fārs, is strictly avoided. With this point in mind, we can consider the development of Dari or Persian literature in the political entity known as Afghanistan."[58]

Many of the famous Persian poets of the tenth to fifteenth centuries stem from Khorasan where is now known as Afghanistan. They were mostly also scholars in many disciplines like languages, natural sciences, medicine, religion and astronomy.
Mawlānā Rumi, who was born and educated in Balkh in the thirteenth century and moved to Konya in modern-day Turkey
Rabi'a Balkhi (the first poetess in the History of Persian Poetry, tenth century, native of Balkh)
Daqiqi Balkhi (tenth century, native of Balkh)
Farrukhi Sistani (tenth century, the Ghaznavids royal poet)
Unsuri Balkhi (a tenth/eleventh century poet, native of Balkh)
Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (eleventh century, from Herat)
Nasir Khusraw (eleventh century, from Qubadyan near Balkh)
Anvari (twelfth century, lived and died in Balkh)
Sanā'ī Ghaznawi (twelfth century, native of Ghazni)
Jāmī of Herāt (fifteenth century, native of Herat in western Afghanistan), and his nephew Abdullah Hatifi Herawi, a well-known poet
Alī Sher Navā'ī (fifteenth century, Herat).

Most of these individuals were of Persian (Tājīk) ethnicity who still form the second-largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. Also, some of the contemporary Persian language poets and writers, who are relatively well-known in Persian-speaking world, include Ustad Betab, Qari Abdullah, Khalilullah Khalili,[59] Sufi Ghulam Nabi Ashqari,[60] Sarwar Joya, Qahar Asey, Parwin Pazwak and others. In 2003, Khaled Hosseini published The Kiterunner which though fiction, captured much of the history, politics and culture experienced in Afghanistan from the 1930s to present day.

In addition to poets and authors, numerous Persian scientists were born or worked in the region of present-day Afghanistan. Most notable was Avicenna (Abu Alī Hussein ibn Sīnā) whose father hailed from Balkh. Ibn Sīnā, who travelled to Isfahan later in life to establish a medical school there, is known by some scholars as "the father of modern medicine". George Sarton called ibn Sīnā "the most famous scientist of Islam and one of the most famous of all races, places, and times." His most famous works are The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine, also known as the Qanun. Ibn Sīnā's story even found way to the contemporary English literature through Noah Gordon's The Physician, now published in many languages. Moreover, according to Ibn al-Nadim, Al-Farabi, a well-known philosopher and scientist, was from the Faryab Province of Afghanistan, .

Before the Taliban gained power, the city of Kabul was home to many musicians who were masters of both traditional and modern Afghan music, especially during the Nauroz-celebration. Kabul in the middle part of the twentieth century has been likened to Vienna during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The tribal system, which orders the life of most people outside metropolitan areas, is potent in political terms. Men feel a fierce loyalty to their own tribe, such that, if called upon, they would assemble in arms under the tribal chiefs and local clan leaders (Khans). In theory, under Islamic law, every believer has an obligation to bear arms at the ruler's call (Ulul-Amr).

Heathcote considers the tribal system to be the best way of organizing large groups of people in a country that is geographically difficult, and in a society that, from a materialistic point of view, has an uncomplicated lifestyle.[57]

Religions
Main article: Religion in Afghanistan

Blue Mosque in Mazari Sharif.

Religiously, Afghans are over 99% Muslims: approximately 74-80% Sunni and 19-25% Shi'a[61][1][62] (estimates vary). Up until the mid-1980s, there were about 30,000 to 150,000 Hindus and Sikhs living in different cities, mostly in Jalalabad, Kabul, and Kandahar.[63][64]

There was a small Jewish community in Afghanistan (see Bukharan Jews) who fled the country after the 1979 Soviet invasion, and only one individual, Zablon Simintov, remains today.[65]

Economy Economy - overview: Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict. The economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 largely because of the infusion of international assistance, the recovery of the agricultural sector, and service sector growth. Real GDP growth exceeded 7% in 2007. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, agriculture, and trade with neighboring countries. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, and the Afghan Government's inability to extend rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan's living standards from its current level, among the lowest in the world. While the international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $24 billion at three donors' conferences since 2002, Kabul will need to overcome a number of challenges. Expanding poppy cultivation and a growing opium trade generate roughly $4 billion in illicit economic activity and looms as one of Kabul's most serious policy concerns. Other long-term challenges include: budget sustainability, job creation, corruption, government capacity, and rebuilding war torn infrastructure.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $35 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $9.933 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 7.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,000 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 38%
industry: 24%
services: 38%
note: data exclude opium production (2005 est.)
Labor force: 15 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 80%
industry: 10%
services: 10% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate: 40% (2005 est.)
Population below poverty line: 53% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 16.3% (2005 est.)
Budget: revenues: $715 million
expenditures: $2.6 billion
note: Afghanistan has also received $273 million from the Reconstruction Trust Fund and $63 million from the Law and Order Trust Fund (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: opium, wheat, fruits, nuts; wool, mutton, sheepskins, lambskins
Industries: small-scale production of textiles, soap, furniture, shoes, fertilizer, cement; handwoven carpets; natural gas, coal, copper
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: 754.2 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 36.3%
hydro: 63.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 801.4 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 100 million kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption: 5,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 4,120 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 19.18 million cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 19.18 million cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 47.53 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports: $274 million; note - not including illicit exports or reexports (2006)
Exports - commodities: opium, fruits and nuts, handwoven carpets, wool, cotton, hides and pelts, precious and semi-precious gems
Exports - partners: India 22.8%, Pakistan 21.8%, US 15.2%, UK 6.5%, Finland 4.4% (2006)
Imports: $3.823 billion (2006)
Imports - commodities: capital goods, food, textiles, petroleum products
Imports - partners: Pakistan 37.9%, US 12%, Germany 7.2%, India 5.1% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $2.775 billion international pledges made by more than 60 countries and international financial institutions at the Berlin Donors Conference for Afghan reconstruction in March 2004 reached $8.9 billion for 2004-09 (2005)
Debt - external: $8 billion in bilateral debt, mostly to Russia; Afghanistan has $500 million in debt to Multilateral Development Banks (2004)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA
Currency (code): afghani (AFA)
Currency code: AFA
Exchange rates: afghanis per US dollar - NA (2007), 46 (2006), 47.7 (2005), 48 (2004), 49 (2003)
note: in 2002, the afghani was revalued and the currency stabilized at about 40 to 50 afghanis to the US dollar; before 2002, the market rate varied widely from the official rate
Fiscal year: 21 March - 20 March
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 280,000 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 2.52 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: limited landline telephone service; an increasing number of Afghans utilize mobile-cellular phone networks in major cities
domestic: aided by the presence of multiple providers, mobile-cellular telephone service is improving rapidly
international: country code - 93; five VSAT's installed in Kabul, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, and Jalalabad provide international and domestic voice and data connectivity (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 21, FM 5, shortwave 1 (broadcasts in Pashto, Dari (Afghan Persian), Urdu, and English) (2006)
Radios: 167,000 (1999)
Television broadcast stations: at least 7 (1 government-run central television station in Kabul and regional stations in 6 of the 34 provinces) (2006)
Televisions: 100,000 (1999)
Internet country code: .af
Internet hosts: 21 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 535,000 (2006)
Communications - note: Internet access is growing through Internet cafes as well as public "telekiosks" in Kabul (2005)
Transportation Airports: 46 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 12
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 34
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 9 (2007)
Heliports: 9 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 466 km (2007)
Roadways: total: 34,782 km
paved: 8,229 km
unpaved: 26,553 km (2004)
Waterways: 1,200 km (chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Kheyrabad, Shir Khan
Military Military branches: Afghan Armed Forces: Afghan National Army (ANA, includes Afghan National Army Air Corps) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 22 years of age; inductees are contracted into service for a 4-year term (2005)
Manpower available for military service: males age 22-49: 4,952,812
females age 22-49: 4,663,963 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 22-49: 2,662,946
females age 22-49: 2,508,574 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 275,362
females age 22-49: 259,935 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.9% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: Pakistan, with UN and other international assistance, repatriated 2.3 million Afghan refugees with less than a million still remaining, many at their own choosing; Pakistan has proposed and Afghanistan protests construction of a fence and laying of mines along portions of their border; Coalition and Pakistani forces continue to monitor remote tribal areas to control the border with Afghanistan and stem terrorist and other illegal activities
Refugees and internally displaced persons: IDPs: 136,565 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in south and west due to drought and instability) (2006)
Illicit drugs: world's largest producer of opium; cultivation dropped 48% to 107,400 hectares in 2005; better weather and lack of widespread disease returned opium yields to normal levels, meaning potential opium production declined by only 10% to 4,475 metric tons; if the entire poppy crop were processed, it is estimated that 526 metric tons of heroin could be processed; many narcotics-processing labs throughout the country; drug trade is a source of instability and some antigovernment groups profit from the trade; significant domestic use of opiates; 80-90% of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghan opium; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through informal financial networks; source of hashish