Afghanistan Values and World Cultural Exchange
COUNTRY OR TERRITORY: Afghanistan
HISTORICAL HEGEMONIST: United Kingdom
DATE OF INDEPENDENCE: August 19, 1919
LANGUAGE: Dari; Pashto; Turkish
COUNTRY POPULATION: 28145000
POPULATION OF AFRICAN DESCENTS: 3940
INTRODUCTIONAhmad Shah Saduzay is considered by some the father of Afghanistan and the founder of the Afghan nation. The land spans across Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran. Its capital is Kabul, and most of the country is sparsely populated. The nation name, "Afghanistan" is relatively recent. In ancient times, the land was known as Ariana and Bactria and it was named Khorasan in the Middle Ages. Like all nations, Afghanistan's geography has played a central role in its history. Relatively inaccessible, the mountainous country is landlocked, and is surrounded by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China.
RACIAL IDENTITYAfghans are a diverse mix of people with different background across the ages. They have historically inherited a crossbred variation of Indian, Persian, Arabic, Greek, Turkish and Mongolian genes.
ETHNICITYAfghanistan main ethnic groups are Pashtun, 42 percent; Tajik, 27 percent; Hazara, 9 percent; Uzbek, 9 percent; Aimak (a Persian-speaking nomadic group), 4 percent; Turkmen, 3 percent; and Baloch, 2 percent.
ATMOSPHEREThe people of Afghanistan are governed by strict Islamic religious-agenda. Although, Afghanistan has one of the oldest world historical relics, namely the Buddhas of Bamyan, the country is not a typical tourist destination. Much of this could be attributed to the lack of adequate infrastructure. This in turn could be attributed to instability due to a long standing record of Anglo-Afghan belligerence and domestic feud. The atmosphere is tense, due to the presence of foreign military occupation and domestic feuds between political rivalry and religious fundamentalists. The Afghans in general are resilient and remain hopeful that the crisis that has caused so much pain to so many people shall one day come to pass.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUNDArchaeological evidence indicates that urban civilization began in the region occupied by modern Afghanistan between 3000 and 2000 B.C. The first historical documents date from the early part of the Iranian Achaemenian Dynasty, which controlled the region from 550 B.C. until 331 B.C. Between 330 and 327 B.C., Alexander the Great defeated the Achaemenian emperor Darius III and subdued local resistance in the territory that is now Afghanistan. Alexander successors, the Seleucids, continued to infuse the region with Greek cultural influence. Shortly thereafter, the Mauryan Empire of India gained control of southern Afghanistan, bringing with it Buddhism. In the mid-third century B.C., nomadic Kushans established an empire that became a cultural and commercial center. From the end of the Kushan Empire in the third century A.D. until the seventh century, the region was fragmented and under the general protection of the Iranian Sassanian Empire.
After defeating the Sassanians at the Battle of Qadisiya in 637, Arab Muslims began a 100-year process of conquering the Afghan tribes and introducing Islam. In 1919 Afghanistan signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi, which ended the Third Anglo-Afghan War and marks Afghanistan official date of independence. In the interwar period, Afghanistan again was a balancing point between two world powers; Habibullah son Amanullah (ruled 1919-29) skillfully manipulated the new British-Soviet rivalry and established relations with major countries. Amanullah introduced his country first constitution in 1923. However, resistance to his domestic reform program forced his abdication in 1929. In 1933 Amanullah nephew Mohammad Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan, began a 40-year reign.
A new constitution, ratified in 1964, liberalized somewhat the constitutional monarchy while economic and political conditions worsened. In 1979 the threat of tribal insurgency against the communist government triggered an invasion by 80,000 Soviet troops, who then endured a very effective decade-long guerrilla war. Between 1979 and 1989, two Soviet-sponsored regimes failed to defeat the loose federation of Mujahideen guerrillas that opposed the occupation. In 1988 the Soviet Union agreed to create a neutral Afghan state, and the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan in 1989. In 1992 Afghanistan descended into a civil war that further ravaged the economy and created power struggles among several armed groups. An Islamic fundamentalist group, the Taliban, gained control of most of the country in 1996 and began asserting repressive control of society in effort to rid the Afghans off certain foreign influence, especially western civilization. Ignoring an international outcry, Supreme Commander of the Taliban Mullah Mohammad Omar ordered the destruction of all non Islamic religious-statues in Afghanistan. The destruction of scores of pre-Islamic figures, including the centuries-old Buddha in Bamiyan, ensued in campaign to stop the worshiping of "false idols," throughout the country.
Afghanistan's puritanical Taliban welcomed Islamic fundamentalist groups, including the Arab terrorist organization al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As al Qaeda committed a series of international terrorist acts culminating in attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the Taliban rejected international pressure to surrender al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. When the United States and allies attacked Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, the Taliban government collapsed, but Taliban and al Qaeda leaders escaped. And, the United Statesâ€"led International Security Assistance Force invaded Afghanistan and help install a new government.
CULTURAL RELATIONS WITH AFRICANS
There is a large presence and long history of Arabs in Afghanistan. Some of these ethnic Arabs are from Africa. The relationship span several centuries from ethnic Arab fighters who migrated to the area during conflicts dating back from the 7th century till the recent Soviet-Afghan War when they assisted fellow Muslims in fighting the Soviets and pro-Soviet Afghans. There has been more presence of people of African descent in Afghanistan since the American invasion in 2002, mostly in military service, humanitarian organization services or rare incident of tourism.
HUMAN RIGHTSThe Bonn Agreement of 2001 established the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) to investigate human rights abuses and war crimes. In 2005 the government passed a three-year Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan, whose goals were supposed to be met by the end of 2008. Those goals included documentation of crimes committed since the Soviet invasion of 1979, prosecution of human rights violators, and compensation of victims families.
However, as of mid-2008 the government had made only little progress toward fulfilling the plan. In the early 2000s, some types of human rights violations continued, particularly outside the region controlled by the central government. The National Security Directorate, Afghanistan national security agency, has been accused of running its own prisons, torturing suspects, and harassing journalists. The security forces of local militias, which also have their own prisons, have been accused of torture and arbitrary killings. Warlords in the north have used property destruction, rape, and murder to discourage displaced Pashtuns from reclaiming their homes. Child labor and trafficking in people remain common outside Kabul. Civilians frequently have been killed in battles between warlord forces. A prison rehabilitation program began in 2003, but poor conditions in the overcrowded prisons have contributed to illness and death among prisoners. In the absence of an effective national judicial system, the right to judicial protection has been compromised as uneven local standards have prevailed in criminal trials.
The government has limited freedom of the media by selective crackdowns that invoke Islamic law, and self-censorship of the media has been encouraged. The media remain substantially government-owned. In 2004 a media law nominally lifted restrictions on some media activity but continued to forbid criticizing Islam or insulting officials. Journalists and legal experts criticized the nominally lesser restrictions of the 2004 law, and harassment and threats continued in 2008, especially outside Kabul. The commission that oversees the press includes no representatives of the news media, and the press law permits government censorship of the news. No registration of religious groups is required; minority religious groups are able to practice freely but not to proselytize.
Women right to work outside the home, including political activity, has received increasing acceptance in the early 2000s. The constitution of 2004 makes an explicit commitment to the advancement of women and to gender equality, and 25 percent of the seats in the lower house of the National Assembly are designated for women. However, conservative elements in the judiciary have demanded separate education and a strict dress code for women. In rural areas, the social status of women remains low. They are denied access to education and jobs and often not allowed to leave their homes without a male relative. An estimated 80 percent of Afghan women enter forced marriages. In the early 2000s, poverty forced many women to enter the sex trade; their number is believed to have increased significantly since 2001, when it was estimated at 25,000.
LIST OF DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN ORGANIZATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS• Afghan Network
• Afghan Connection and Gems from Central Asia
• Afghan News Channel
CONTRIBUTORAUTHOR: Wale Idris
REFERENCESLibrary of Congress Federal Research Division
The United Nations
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Economist Intelligence Unit
Sustainable Development Indicators for Afghanistan in details:
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