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COUNTRY PROFILE - Afghanistan

Introduction:
Afghanistan (which literally means Land of Afghans) is a mountainous, land-locked country
located in south-central Asia. The region has a history and culture that dates back over
5,000 years, although it was only in 1747 that Ahmad Shah Durrani united the various tribes
and founded what is currently known as Afghanistan.
Throughout its history, Afghanistan -- strategically located between Asia, Europe and the
Middle East -- has been fought over by Alexander the Great, Zahirudeen Babur, the Persian
emperor Nadir Shah, the British, the Soviets, Afghan warlords and most recently
the Taliban and NATO-led forces.
Under Zahir Shah, who reigned for 40 years until his abdication in 1973, Afghanistan
experienced its most peaceful and progressive period. Shah brought in a new constitution
which expanded the rights of women and promised free elections, advanced international
relations and set up the country's first university. But his reforms were not welcomed by
everyone. In 1973, he was overthrown by his cousin and prime minister, Mohammad Daoud
Khan.
Daoud initially had the backing of a growing band of communists, but when he tried to make
Afghanistan more politically neutral he was ousted in a coup in 1978 in what has been called
the April Revolution. Months of infighting convinced the then-Soviet Union that the only way
to ensure a stable Communist government in Afghanistan was to invade - an occupation that
was to last a decade and cause the deaths of one million people.
During that time, the US and Saudi Arabia provided millions of dollars and weapons to
the mujahideen, Islamic warriors fighting the Soviets, via Pakistan. The battle also drew
many foreign Muslims, including Osama bin Laden, to Afghanistan to fight.
In the years following the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, the mujahideen fought each other
ruthlessly for power, with the key players being Ahmad Shah Massoud, Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Ismael Khan, Abdul Ali Mazari, Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf
and Burhanuddin Rabbani, many of whom are in the current government.
It was at this time that a group of Islamic students, calling themselves the Taliban, emerged,
promising a return to peace and Islamic values at a time of anarchy. They swept into the

capital, Kabul, in 1996 and remained in control of the country until 2001 when they were
ousted by the US-backedNorthern Alliance.
The US had demanded the Taliban extradite bin Laden who was accused of masterminding
the September 11 suicide attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 from his sanctuary
inside Afghanistan.
When the Taliban refused, the US launched an aerial attack in late October, followed by a
ground assault that drove the regime from power.
While the defeat of the Taliban was swift, the past nine years have seen a revival of the
extremists. From their spiritual birthplace and southern stronghold of Kandahar province, the
Taliban have pushed north and east turning once peaceful regions into yet another
battlefield.
In March 2009, US President Barack Obama unveiled a new American strategy for
Afghanistan and Pakistan to combat what he called an increasingly perilous situation.
In December, he ordered a surge in US troop numbers by 30,000, but also pledged to begin
withdrawing forces by 2011. NATO forces have also set a deadline to hand security to Afghan
forces in 2014.
Government
With help from the international community and the United Nations, Afghanistan adopted its
new constitution, establishing the country as an Islamic republic in January 2004. The Afghan
government consists of an elected president, two vice presidents and a National Assembly
consisting of two houses: the House of the People (Wolesi Jirga) and the House of Elders
(Meshrano Jirga). There is also an independent judiciary branch consisting of the Supreme
Court (Stera Mahkama), high courts and appeal courts. The president appoints members to
the Supreme Court with the approval of the Wolesi Jirga.
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 percent 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.

Afghanistanheld its first presidential election in 2004 which more than 8 million people
voted, nearly half of them women. Hamid Karzai won with 54 percent of the vote. Mr Karzai
also won a second term on August 20, 2009, although there was an outcry about electoral
irregularities. The next vote will be held in 2014.
The first elections to the 249 seat lower house, or Wolesi Jirga, were on September 18, 2005
and the second on September 18, 2010.
The central government has little writ in the rural areas where Islamic religious tradition and
codes, together with traditional tribal and ethnic practices, have an important role in
personal conduct and dispute settlement. Afghan society is largely based on kinship groups,
which follow traditional customs and religious practices, though somewhat less so in urban
areas.
Geography
Located in south-central Asia, Afghanistan is landlocked and mostly mountainous. There are
plains in the north and southwest and sandy desert near the southern borders with Pakistan
and Iran. It shares the longest border with Pakistan to the east and south (2,430 kilometres),
Iran to the west (936 kilometres), Turkmenistan to the northwest (744 kilometres),
Uzbekistan to the north (137 kilometres), Tajikistan to the northeast (1,206 kilometres) and
China to the east (76 kilometres). Its 652,864 square kilometers are divided into 34
provinces and 398 districts.
People
The total population of Afghanistan is roughly 26 million. About one person in seven lives in
the capital, Kabul. Kandahar City has the second biggest population with half a million
people, followed by Herat to the west, Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Jalalabad in the east.
About two and a half million registered Afghans remain in Iran and Pakistan as refugees.
There are four major ethnic groups: Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek. Numerous other
minor ethnic groups (Nuristani, Baluchi, and Turkmen etc.) also call Afghanistan home. While
the majority of Afghans belong to the Islamic faith, there are also small pockets of Sikhs,
Hindus and even some Jews. The official languages of the country are Dari and Pashto.
At country level, the sex ratio is 103.2 men to every 100 women and the average household
comprises 6.3 members.

Religion
More than 99 percent of Afghans are Muslims: of those, 80 percent are Sunni, 19 percent
are Shiite, and 1 percent other religions.
Education
Nationwide, the literacy rate or the percentage of the population over the age of 15 who
can read and write is 26 percent. For men, the rate is 43.1 percent while for women it is 12
percent
There are more than seven million boys and girls enrolled in schools throughout the country,
according to the Education Ministry. However, there are still significant obstacles to
education, stemming from lack of funding, unsafe school buildings and cultural norms.
Furthermore, there is a great lack of qualified teachers, especially in rural areas.
While schools are free and elementary education compulsory, access is a problem. Only
about 17.4 percent of the population has a primary school in their village, and 37 percent
has to travel five kilometres to the nearest one. More than one in four students, or 29.9
percent, have to travel more than 10 kilometres to reach a school.
The situation for secondary schools is broadly the same, with only 7.7 percent having a
secondary school within their village and 41 percent having to travel more than 10
kilometres. High schools are clearly worse. Three out of five have to travel for more than 10
kilometres and only one in five has a high school within five kilometres or less. Under the
Taliban, public education for girls virtually disappeared, however, 34 percent of the student
population are now girls. Similarly, the number of teachers has increased to 175,000, of
which 30 percent are women.
UNICEF estimates that more than 80 percent of females and around 50 percent of males
lack access to education centres. According to the United Nations, 420 schools have been
closed in the country because of poor security.
Health
Afghanistan has one of the highest mortality rates in the world: one in five children dies
before the age of five and one out of every eight Afghan women die from causes related to
pregnancy and childbirth each year. 70 percent of the population lacks access to clean
water. Life expectancy is only 44 years for both men and women

Before the start of the wars in 1978, the nation had an improving health system and a semimodernized health care system in cities like Kabul. Following the Soviet invasion and the
civil war that followed, the health care system was limited only to urban areas and was
eventually destroyed.
The Taliban government made some improvements in the late 1990s, but closed down
medical schools for women and prevented women from seeing anyone but female doctors.
After the removal of the Taliban in late 2001, humanitarian and development needs remain
acute. After about 30 years of non-ending war, there are an estimated one million disabled
or handicapped people in the country. An estimated 80,000 citizens of the country have lost
limbs, mainly as a result of landmines. This is one of the highest percentages anywhere in
the world.
The nation's health care system began to improve dramatically since 2002, which is due to
international support on the vaccination of children, training of medical staff and all
institutions allowing women for the first time since 1996. Many new modern hospitals and
clinics are being built across the country during the same time, which are equipped with
latest medical equipments.
The Afghan Ministry of Public Health has ambitious plans to cut the infant mortality rate
to 400 from 1,600 for every 100,000 live births by 2020.
Economy
Afghanistanis a developing country based on agriculture. Its main exports are fruits and
nuts, carpets, wool and opium. Recently Afghanistan was found to have $1 trillion worth of
untapped natural reserves including natural gas, petroleum, Lithium, coal, copper, chromite,
talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones.
Afghanistan's drugs industry was reported to make up more than half of the economy by
2007, having boomed since the fall of the Taliban. The country supplies over 90 percent of
the world's opium, the raw ingredient of heroin.
Media
Afghanistan's media were seriously restricted under Taliban rule. Radio Afghanistan was
renamed Radio Voice of Shariah

and reflected the Islamic fundamentalist values of the

Taliban. TV was seen as a source of moral corruption and was banned.

Since 2002, there has been a surge in the number of media outlets including radio and TV
stations and some 100 active press titles, operating under a wide range of ownerships - from
the government, provincial political-military powers and private owners to foreign and NGO
sponsors. The main private TV and radio networks command large audiences.

HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN
HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN
An Afghan nation
Dost Mohammed
Two Anglo-Afghan Wars
Abdurrahman Khan
Zahir Shar and Daud Khan
Reform and reaction
Soviet occupation
Civil war
The Taliban
War against al-Qaeda
A new start?

HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN Timeline

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An Afghan nation: from1747

The region of Afghanistan has for much of history been part of


the Persian empire. From time to time it has been linked with
the northern plains of India, as under the Kushan dynasty of
the 2nd century AD. Very occasionally, as in the time
ofMahmud of Ghazni, it has existed as a kingdom
approximating more closely to the modern borders of
Aghanistan.
The beginning of modern Aghanistan can be dated to 1747,
when the Afghans in Nadir Shah's army return home after his
death. Their leader, Ahmad Khan Abdali, enters Kandahar and
is elected king of the Afghans in a tribal assembly. He takes the
title Durr-i-Durran ('pearl among pearls') and changes the
name of his tribe to the Durrani.
Ahmad Shah Durrani, as he is now called, has learnt from
Nadir Shah the profession of conquest. He applies his skills
with great success over the next twenty-five years. The extent
of his empire fluctuates, according to the success of his
ceaseless campaigns to protect its boundaries. But for much of
his reign Aghanistan extends from the Amu Darya in the north
to the Arabian Sea, and from Herat to the Punjab.
Ahmad Shah wins from his people the title Baba (meaning
approximately 'father of the nation'). The throne in Afghanistan
remains with Ahmad Shah's tribe, though much disputed
between his descendants, until they are ousted from Kabul in
1818.

Dost Mohammed: 1818-1838

Kabul is taken in 1818 by an Afghan tribe, the


Barakzai, led on this occasion by Dost Mohammed - the
twentieth but the most forceful of the twenty-one sons of the
tribal chieftain. Civil war against supporters of
theDurrani continues for several years, until in 1826 the
country is safely divided between Dost Mohammed and some
of his brothers.
Dost Mohammed receives the greatest share, in a stretch from
Ghazni to Jalalabad which includes Kabul. He soon becomes
accepted as the leader of the nation, taking the formal title of
amir from 1837. He is accepted in this role by foreigners as
well as by the Afghan tribes.
Afghanistan's relationship with foreign powers is by now an

important factor. Since the time of Peter the Great, in the early
18th century, Russia has been interested in developing a direct
trading link with India. This means the need for a friendly or
puppet regime in Afghanistan. The idea of Russian influence in
this region (the only neighbouring territory with easy access to
Britain's Indian empire) inevitably rings alarm bells in London.
Dost Mohammed finds himself courted by both sides. A British
mission is in Kabul in 1837. While discussions are under way, a
Russian envoy also arrives and is received by the amir.

The British immediately break off negotiations and are ordered


to leave Kabul. The response of the governor-general of India,
Lord Auckland, is forceful but in the event extremely unwise.
He uses the rebuff as a pretext for an invasion of Afghanistan,
in 1838, with the intention of restoring a ruler from
the Durranidynasty (Shah Shuja, on the throne from 1803 to
1809) who has shown himself to be more malleable.
This is the first of three occasions on which the British
attempt to impose their political will on Afghanistan. All three
attempts prove disastrous.

Two Anglo-Afghan Wars: 1838-1842 and 1878-81


In December 1838 a British army is assembled in India for an
Afghan campaign. By April 1839, after a difficult advance under
constant harassment from tribal guerrillas, the city of Kandahar
is captured. Here Britain's chosen puppet ruler, Shah Shuja, is
crowned in a mosque. Four months later Kabul is taken and
Shah Shuja is crowned again.
By the end of 1840 the rightful amir, Dost Mohammed, is a
prisoner of the British. He and his family are sent into exile into
India. But the British garrisons in Afghan towns find it
increasingly difficult to control proud tribesmen, up in arms at
this foreign intrusion in their affairs.

In January 1842 the British garrison of some


4500 troops withdraws from Kabul, leaving Shah Shuja to his
fate (he is soon assassinated). Most of the retreating British
and Indian soldiers are also killed during their attempt to
regain the safety of India.
A British army recaptures Kabul during the summer of 1842,

more as a gesture of defiance than as a matter of practical


policy - for the decision is subsequently taken to restore Dost
Mohammed to his throne. He returns from India in 1843 and
rules peacefully, without further British interference, for
another twenty years. He extends his territory, by the end of
his reign, as far west as Herat.

Dost Mohammed is succeeded by his third son Sher Ali, after


some years of bitter family feuding. It is Sher Ali's perceived
leaning towards Russia which again provokes British hostility.
Evoking memories of his father's offence in 1837, he
welcomes a Russian mission to Kabul in 1878 and on this
occasion even rejects a British one.
In November 1878 three British armies push through the
mountain passes into Afghanistan. They take Jalalabad and
Kandahar by the end of the year, and soon seem to have
achieved everything they might wish for. A very advantageous
treaty is agreed in May 1879 with Yakub Khan (the son of Sher
Ali, who has died in February).

Under the treaty Yakub Khan accepts a permanent British


embassy in Kabul. Moreover Afghanistan's foreign affairs are
from now on to be conducted by the British. But events soon
prove that such a privilege can be dangerous in Afghanistan. In
September the British envoy to Kabul and his entire staff and
escort are massacred.
This disaster brings an immediate escalation of British military
activity in Afghanistan, but to little political advantage. Yakub
Khan is exiled to India. In his place the British have to accept
Abdurrahman Khan, a rival grandson of Dost Mohammed and
the popular choice of the Afghan tribes as their amir.

Abdurrahman has spent ten years in exile during the reign of


his uncle Sher Ali, having been on the losing side in the bitter
family war of succession. But his chosen place of exile does not
chime well with British interests. He has been in the Russian
empire, in Samarkand, acquainting himself with Russian
methods of administration.
In 1880 Britain accepts Abdurrahman as amir of Kabul,
agreeing at the same time not to demand residence for a
British envoy anywhere in Afghanistan. When British troops
finally withdraw in 1881 (having meanwhile helped
Abdurrahman against some rebellious cousins), the political
achievement of two costly wars against Russian interference
seems on the debit side. But at least Abdurrahman proves an
excellent amir.

Abdurrahman Khan and his successors: 1880-1933


Abdurrahman is followed on the throne by three generations of
his family. He sets a pattern, which they follow, of an
authoritarian regime dedicated to the introduction of
technology and investment from more developed countries though the violence and anarchy of Afghan life often frustrate
such modernizing intentions.
Abdurrahman is succeeded in 1901 by his son Habibullah Khan,
who successfully maintains a policy of strict neutrality during
World War I. After the war he demands international
recognition of Afghanistan's full independence. This claim
prompts Britain's third ineffectual intervention in Afghan
affairs, though it is Habibullah's son Amanullah Khan who has
to deal with the crisis (after his father is assassinated in
1919).
A month of fighting between British and Afghan forces is
inconclusive and rapidly leads to a treaty (signed in Rawalpindi
in August 1919) in which Britain acknowledges Afghanistan's
independence as a nation. With this much achieved, Amanullah
accelerates a programme of reform on European lines. But in
doing so he alienates the old guard. Amanullah is forced into
exile during an outbreak of civil war in 1929.
Order is restored by Amanullah's cousin, Nadir Khan, until he
in his turn is assassinated in 1933. This act of violence brings
to the throne Nadir's only surviving son, as the 19-year-old
Zahir Shah.

Zahir Shar and Daud Khan: 1933-1978


In a reign of forty years Zahir Shah skilfully promotes Afghan
interests. Once again neutrality is successfully maintained
during a World War. And in the ensuing Cold War Afghanistan
brilliantly demonstrates the power of a non-aligned country to
derive benefits from the major players on both sides. Both the
USA and the USSR build highways and hospitals, in a mood of
superpower competition orchestrated by Zahir's cousin and
brother-in-law Daud Khan (prime minister from 1953).
Daud Khan resigns in 1963 because of tense relations with
Pakistan (the border is closed from 1961 until just after his
resignation). His departure prompts Zahir Shah to attempt a
major constitutional reform.
The constitution put in place in 1964 transforms Afghanistan in
principle into a constitutional monarchy, excluding members of
the royal family from political office and providing for an

executive answerable to a legislative assembly of two


chambers.
Elections are held in 1965 (and again in 1969). At first the
system seems to work well, but soon there is friction between
the king and parliament. A sense of political stalemate is
aggravated in the early 1970s by drought (bringing famine and
100,000 deaths) and other economic difficulties. In 1973 Daud
Khan returns to power with military support in an almost
bloodless coup. Zahir Shah goes into exile in Europe.

Daud Khan has come back into power (now as prime minister
of the new republic of Afghanistan) with the help of left-wing
elements in the Afghan army, but he nevertheless tries to
maintain a centrist policy - combining measures of reform at
home with a broadly based foreign policy less dependent on
the USSR and the USA. In particular he takes steps to mend
fences with Pakistan.
But in the perception of Afghanistan's radicals he is drifting
back towards old royalist ways. A new constitution in 1977
promotes Daud to the role of president. It also brings in what
is seen as a cabinet of cronies, including some of his own royal
relatives. The result, in 1978, is a violent revolution setting
Afghanistan upon an entirely new course.

Reform and reaction: 1978-1979


Daud's government is overthrown (and he and most of his
family killed) by a lef-wing faction within the army. When the
coup is complete, the officers hand over control to the nation's
two leftist political parties - Khalq (the People's party) and
Parcham (the Banner party). The two are for once working in
harmony, though only briefly.
Once in government, the two Khalq leaders seize power. Nur
Mohammad Taraki becomes president and prime minister, with
Hafizullah Amin as one of two deputy prime ministers. The
Parcham leader, Babrak Karmal, is the other deputy prime
minister - but he is soon despatched abroad as ambassador to
Prague.
Taraki and Amin press ahead with a rapid programme of reform
along communist lines. Equal rights for women are introduced,
land is redistributed - all against the advice of Moscow, which
favours a more cautious approach for fear of a Muslim
backlash. Meanwhile the leaders of the Parcham party are
persecuted and in several cases killed. Many, including Babrak
Karmal, take refuge in Russia.
The Kremlin is soon proved right. Within months insurrection is

breaking out all over the country. In March 1979 a resistance


group declares a jihad, or holy war, against the godless regime
in Kabul. In the same month more than 100 Soviet citizens
living in Herat are seized and killed.

Meanwhile the two Khalq leaders are themselves at


loggerheads. In September 1979 the president, Taraqi,
attempts to assassinate his prime minister, Amin. Instead,
within two days, Taraqi is in the hands of Amin supporters.
Three weeks later he dies - 'of a serious illness', according to
the official announcement.
Since 1978 the Soviet presence has been gradually increasing
in Afghanistan - their most recent puppet state, and potentially
a prestigious scalp in the Cold War. Now, in the anarchy of late
1979, Moscow decides to take a more active role. In December
Soviet troops move into Kabul. As Britain always feared, Russia
finally bids to control Afghanistan. And as Britain long ago
discovered, this is a most unwise ambition.

Soviet occupation: 1979-1989


The communist prime minister, Hafizullah Amin, is either shot
or commits suicide within a day of the Soviet invasion. In his
place the Russians bring Babrak Karmal from Moscow, as their
puppet ruler.
But ruling Afghanistan in these circumstances proves
impossible. Russian tanks can take any town and Russian
planes can bomb even remote valleys into temporary
submission, but as soon as the focus of military might shifts
elsewhere the guerrillas return to take control on the ground.
Only Kabul remains a relatively safe area in ten years of
devastation. And once the USA begins supplying the guerrillas
with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, even Soviet air attacks
become dangerous missions.
The most striking Soviet achievement is inadvertently
persuading seven Afghan guerrilla groups to come together in
a common cause. In 1985 these seven, meeting in Peshawar,
form a united front as the Islami Itehad Afghanistan
Mujaheddin (Islamic Unity of Afghan Warriors, or IUAW). The
mujaheddin (from the same Arabic root as jihad, holy war)
become famous throughout the world as the latest
manifestation of the Afghan fighting spirit.
The warfare between Russia and the mujaheddin not only
devastates an already poor country. It also depopulates it.
Eventually some 2 million refugees flee into Pakistan and
another 1.8 million into Iran.

When Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power in the Soviet Union in


1985, the festering sore of Afghanistan is one of the urgent
problems confronting him. He attempts first a political solution,
replacing the useless Babrak Karmal with a former chief of
police, Mohammad Najibullah.
Najibullah proves equally ineffective in reconciling the Afghan
people to a Soviet presence, and in 1988 Gorbachev decides to
cut his losses. He announces that Soviet troops will begin a
phased withdrawal. The last battalion crosses the Friendship
Bridge over the Amu Darya river in February 1989 - leaving
President Najibullah to try and run a communist Afghan state
on his own.

Civil war: from1989


Contrary to expectations Najibullah contrives to remain in
power for three years, holding at bay the mujaheddin. But in
1992 Kabul falls to his opponents. He secures promise of a safe
passage from the UN forces, who prove unable to escort him
out of the city. He is given asylum in the UN compound in
Kabul.
An Islamic state is immediately declared. On occasion the
seven factions in the IUAW, together with three Shia groups
from western Afghanistan, do manage to work in harmony. But
it is a fragile truce, shattered by outbreaks of internecine
warfare around Kabul. The capital is frequently bombarded by
rival guerrilla forces trying to assert themselves. 1.5 million
inhabitants (75% of the total) flee the city.
The Taliban: from1994
In 1994 the most significant group in present-day Afghanistan
emerges unheralded and without fanfare. A mullah in
Kandahar, Mohammad Omar Akhund (commonly known as
Mullah Omar), forms a group which he calls Taliban, meaning
'students' - in this case Sunni students of the Qur'an. In the
violence and chaos of Afghanistan, the Taliban inevitably
become a guerrilla group; and, compared to the blatant selfinterest of certain other mujaheddin, the Taliban's simple
message of Muslim fundamentalism proves immensely
attractive.
Recruiting mainly among Pathan tribesmen in the east of the
country and from refugee camps in Pakistan, the Taliban gain
rapidly in numbers and in strength.
After Kandahar itself, Herat falls to Taliban militiamen in
September 1995 - to be followed by Jalalabad at the other

extreme of the country a year later. Within weeks of taking


Jalalabad, the Taliban achieve the ultimate success. They have
been besieging Kabul for twelve months and more, while at the
same time fighting other guerrilla groups engaged in the same
activity. Now, in September 1996, with surprising suddeness
they burst into the city.
Their first act is go to the UN compound and seize the expresident Najibullah. Within hours he and his brother are
swinging from a concrete structure, among grinning tribesmen,
at Kabul's main traffic intersection.

Ordinary citizens welcome the arrival of the Taliban for one of


their outstanding qualities, incorruptibility. But the price is high
in the ruthless imposition of Muslim fundamentalism.
Women now are not only forced to wear the veil in public. They
are prevented from working other than in the home, they are
denied access to education, they are allowed to go shopping
only if accompanied by a male relative. Meanwhile the strictest
version of sharia (Islamic law) is introduced. There are
amputation of hands for theft, and public executions and
floggings.

With the fall of Kabul the Taliban control about two thirds of the
country, but beyond the mountains north of the city there
remains a strong opposing force calling itself the Northern
Alliance. It is led by members of the previous government in
Kabul, but there is also a tribal distinction. The Taliban areas
are largely the home of Pathan tribes (known more locally as
Pashtun and speaking Pashto), whereas the Northern Alliance
is made up of Uzbeks, Turkmen and others.
Warfare continues from 1996, with appalling atrocities on both
sides. In 1997 Taliban prisoners are killed in their thousands by
the Northern Alliance. When the Taliban briefly capture Mazare-Sharif in 1998, they similarly masssacre thousands
of ShiaMuslims in the city.

In 1998 the Taliban renew their attack on Mazar-e-Sharif. This


time they win more lasting control of the city, giving them now
about 90% of Afghanistan.
With this much achieved, and to the surprise of international
observers, the Taliban for the first time appear to see the value
of compromise. In March 1999 their representatives and those
of the Northern Alliance agree to take the first steps towards
forming a joint government. There are no practical results, and
early in the new century the Taliban seem to be becoming ever
more extreme in their imposition of what they consider a pure
Islamic society. The change may be due to increasing contact

with al-qaeda fundamentalists, who subsequently have a


profound effect on the history of Afghanistan. Because of alqaeda, the events of September 2001 spell the end for the
Taliban.

War against al-Qaeda


The terrorist attacks against the USA on 11 September 2001
transform the situation in Afghanistan. The immediate
assumption in Washington is that the outrage is the work
ofOsama bin Laden and his al-qaeda organization. At first
there is widespread scepticism elsewhere, but the Bush
administration is able to form a coalition after convincing
sufficient leaders of foreign nations (crucial is neighbouring
Pakistan, which has previously supported the Taliban).
For several years bin Laden has made his base in Afghanistan
and has formed close links with the Taliban leadership. The first
step in the US campaign is therefore a demand to the Taliban
to hand over bin Laden and close down his al-qaeda training
camps.
The response of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, is that he is
unable to do this - pleading ignorance of where bin Laden is,
but also no doubt reluctant to surrender a guest who shares
his fundamentalist views, who has provided financial support to
the Taliban, and whose forces are probably as powerful as the
Taliban army. President Bush, who has described the American
campaign as a 'war on terrorism', declares that any who do not
cooperate in this war are themselves equivalent to terrorists.
America holds back longer than many have feared, but on
October 7 missile attacks are launched against Taliban and alQaeda targets in Afghanistan (in an operation code-named
Enduring Freedom). It is the start of a bombing campaign
which lasts into the early weeks of 2002.

There are inevitable civilian casualties (known in the jargon of


modern war as 'collateral damage') when missiles and bombs
go astray, but in general the bombardment is extraordinarily
accurate. The al-Qaeda training camps are rapidly destroyed,
as are many Taliban military installations. And the Taliban
infantry dug in on the ground endure an unrelenting
bombardment with massive explosives.
The natural allies of the US (reluctant to send in their own
soldiers for a ground campaign) are the Northern Alliance,
who have survived a lengthy defensive war against the Taliban
in the mountains north of Kabul. Now, with the enemy
terminally weakened by the US bombs, the Northern Alliance
at last begin to make sudden gains.

Mazar-e-Sharif falls on November 9, to be followed by Kabul


just four days later. But it is almost another month before the
Taliban original base and centre of power, Kandahar, is taken.
The city finally falls on December 7 but the Taliban leader,
Mullah Omar, escapes the net. The whereabouts of this secondmost-wanted man become unknown, as do those of the prime
target, Osama bin Laden.
However it is widely believed that bin Laden has withdrawn,
with many of his al-Qaeda fighters, to the Tora Bora mountains
on the eastern border with Pakistan where he earlier tunnelled
out a range of well-equipped caves as a safe haven against the
Russians.

The next wave of US bombing is therefore directed against


these mountains. One by one the caves are taken by Afghan
forces, now working with a few US forces on the ground. Large
numbers of al-qaeda troops are killed or captured. But their
leader proves as elusive as Mullah Omar. When the war fizzles
out, early in 2002, there are two evident benefits. The brutal
Taliban regime has been toppled. And the network of al-qaeda
training camps in Afghanistan has been destroyed. But the
primary purpose of bringing bin Laden to justice remains
unfulfilled.
Instead a retribution of some unspecified kind awaits many
junior combatants captured in the war.

Among the prisoners the Afghans are assumed to be Taliban


soldiers and are treated as such, often being released or
allowed to change sides by their Afghan captors. But
foreigners, most of them Arabs, are assumed to be members
of al-qaeda and are treated as suspect terrorists. In a
development which causes widespread international concern,
planeloads of them are flown, blindfold and shackled, to a US
army base at Guantnamo in Cuba. Here it is the US intention
for them to be tried by secret military courts which have the
power to order execution.
Meanwhile Afghanistan is back in the hands of the factions and
warlords whose rivalries brought the country years of misery
before the Taliban prevailed. How to ensure a more peaceful
future?

A new start?
The United Nations takes the lead in trying to help
Afghaninstan towards a more stable political future. The
country's various factions are invited to send delegates to a

summit conference at Knigswinter, a resort near Bonn. After a


week of difficult negotiation, arrangements are in place for an
interim government. It is to be headed by the Pashtun leader
Hamid Karzai. It is to rule for six months from 22 December
2001. At the end of that period a Loya Girga, or meeting of
tribal elders, will be held to decide on the nature of a
permanent adminstration.
Karzai is elected president at the Loya Girga. With stability of a
kind restored, more rapidly than anyone had dared to hope,
the task can resume of rebuilding a shattered economy and
providing for the millions of Afghan refugees displaced by years
of warfare and repression. But a nearly successful
assassination attempt on Karzai in 2002 reveals how
dangerous the situation remains.

On the eastern edge of Kabul is a modern housing development that once embodied
everything the city hoped to become as international aid and investment poured into the
Afghan economy.
The neat rows of trim bungalows and towering villas, dotted with a high-rise complex
and a new mosque, went up quickly, with 500 construction workers and plenty of
buyers.
But now, property developer Haji Hafizullah Karwan sits in his office surrounded by
advertising materials for his still mostly uninhabited development and frets over how
Kabul's economy has collapsed since most foreign troops and much foreign aid left
Afghanistan at the end of 2014. The loss of the country's economic backbone has left
many of his customers without an employer and unable to move into their finished
homes because they cannot afford the installment payments that are part of their
purchase agreement.
"Most of our customers have bought units by paying 20, 30, or 50 percent in advance,"
he says. "The units have been completed for three years, [but] now, when we demand
payments from them, they don't answer when they see it's a call from our office."
Karwan's construction force has dwindled to just 100 men and his prospects for selling
any more homes in the development, even after slashing prices by half, look bleak.

The deserted new township is just one side of the rapidly changing face of Kabul as the
city and the country adjust to some hard economic realities. For more than a decade,
from 2001 to 2012, Afghanistan posted an average annual growth rate of 9 percent. But
that fast growth rate slowed to just 1.5 percent in 2015. The precipitous drop is the direct
result of the withdrawal of foreign troops, whose presence injected billions of dollars
into an economy whose own economic motors of agriculture and manufacturing still
barely turn.
Afghanistan's economic growth has been based on the service sector, which the
presence of foreign troops created," says Economy Minister Abdul Satar Murad. "With
the withdrawal of foreign troops, service, especially in the transportation sector, sharply
decreased and caused a big drop in economic growth.
In 2010, when there were 130,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, total foreign aid
including military and reconstruction spending was $15.7 billion according to the
World Bank. But today, just 14,000 NATO troops remain and total spending
isreportedly down to $8 billion.
At the same time, Afghanistan has suffered a downturn in private investment as most
foreign troops have left, but the Taliban insurgency continues with no end in
sight. According to the World Bank, registrations of new commercial firms in 2014
shrank by nearly half compared to 2013.
The scale of the economic downturn has left Kabul with a list of problems that goes far
beyond simply unfinished dream homes.
Kabul's relative stability and security after 2001, coupled with its booming economy,
turned it into a magnet for people fleeing violence elsewhere in Afghanistan and those
simply seeking a better economic future. The influx has made it one of the fastest
growing capitals in the world, ballooning from some 500,000 people to 2001 to 5 to 7
million today.
That growth has put enormous strains on the city's infrastructure as it has created an
urban sprawl of mostly unplanned new neighborhoods that now fill the broad valley in
which Kabul sits.

Many of the new neighborhoods started off as encampments of internally displaced


persons (IDPs) who have settled on vacant land, usually on the outskirts of the city or on
the slopes of the hills that ring it. Over time, the residents have built simple mud-brick
homes, but their settlements remain unconnected to the city water supply, sewer
system, or bus lines. The Institute of Afghan Studies, a private institution that
promotes Afghan-U.S. ties, has estimated that up to 50 percent of the city's burgeoning
population lives in such settlements, creating a stark contrast to the older areas of the
city which remain the center of business.
Opportunities for UK businesses in Afghanistan
DIT provides free international export sales leads from its worldwide network. Search
for export opportunities.
5.1Aid funded projects
Aid funded business projects will continue in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.
These will create opportunities for UK consultants with experience in working in conflict
zones and expertise in:

education

healthcare

supporting infrastructure development

governmental capacity development

Identify opportunities to supply products and services to the international aid agencies.
Contact DITs Aid Funded Business Service for more information.
Contact Director, DIT Afghanistan Paul.Grey@fco.gov.uk for more information on aid
funded projects in Afghanistan.

5.2Mining
Afghanistans mining sector is worth up to USD 1 trillion. There are more than 1,000
potential mineral sites in Afghanistan with iron ore, copper, gold, lithium, gemstones
and other minerals present. However, very little commercial exploration has been done
and supporting infrastructure for some of the projects is not in place.
The Afghan government has put out to tender some major contracts following
international standard tender processes. Some projects may receive final approval soon.
Over the next 5 years the focus will be to explore and develop the potential through
exploration.
Opportunities for UK companies include:

early stage exploration support services

consultancy

equipment

Contact Director, DIT Afghanistan Paul.Grey@fco.gov.uk for more information on


mining opportunities in Afghanistan.
5.3Oil and gas
Oil production work has started recently in northern Afghanistan. Further exploration
work is due to start over the next few months and an additional major tender may be
awarded soon.
There will be significant opportunities for UK companies to export mining, and oil and
gas services and equipment to Afghanistan.

Contact Director, DIT Afghanistan Paul.Grey@fco.gov.uk for more information on oil


and gas opportunities in Afghanistan.
5.4Security
The security sector continues to have high demand for products and services. There are
many opportunities for UK companies in the sector.
Contact Export Control Organisation (ECO) to check your goods you are meeting legal
requirements for export.
Contact Director, DIT Afghanistan Paul.Grey@fco.gov.uk for more information on
security opportunities in Afghanistan.
5.5Construction
As they seek to diversify, Afghan businesses are likely to begin investing in some new
projects, such as property or retail or city development.
There will be opportunities to supply price competitive construction equipment,
products and services. The development of the retail sector is at an early stage, but there
will be opportunities in retail franchising.
Contact Director, DIT Afghanistan Paul.Grey@fco.gov.uk for more information on
construction opportunities in Afghanistan.
AFGHANISTAN: BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
In 2007, Afghanistans licit economy grew by a staggering 13.5%, making it one of the
fastest growing economies in the world and the fastest in South Asia. This growth was
led largely by impressive gains in Afghanistans licit agricultural sector, but also gains in
all its primary exports including raisins, carpets, wool, pistachios, almonds, onions, and

gemstones. Domestic industries such as telecommunications, construction, building


materials, financial services, and others are also gaining quickly. The information and
the links below are designed as rough guides and general links for the interested
businessperson.

INVESTING IN AFGHANISTAN
IMPORTING AFGHAN PRODUCTS
CONTRACTING/EXPORTING TO AFGHANISTAN
U.S. Government
Afghan Government
Multilateral Institutions

INVESTING IN AFGHANISTAN
The Afghan Investment Support Agency (AISA) is responsible for registering all foreign
and domestic businesses in Afghanistan and assisting companies with navigating the
multitude of profitable investment opportunities in Afghanistan. The World Banks
Doing Business Survey has consistently rated AISAs ability to register a new
business among the best in the world, with fewer procedures than any other developing
country or even the United States!
Market Information, including reports from world experts in the field, on Afghanistans
many vibrant economic sectors from agriculture to telecommunications.
The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the leading private sector
organization in Afghanistan. They can also assist prospective investors to find partners
and navigate the exciting Afghan market. Their global partners include:

Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (McLean, VA)


Afghan Business Council in Dubai
The American Chamber of Commerce of Afghanistan(AmCham/Af) is affiliated with the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The AmCham/Af is located in Afghanistan and hosts
events, incoming delegations, and international businesses and corporations. The
AmCham/Af is endorsed by the US Ambassador to Afghanistan and works closely incountry with the Department of Commerce to attract and support international
business. AmCham/Afs mission is to promote US business interests in Afghanistan and
members have access to a vast network of business information and contacts in country.
Highly respected, long-term American, Afghan and Asian companies belong to the
AmCham.
Afghanistan Procurement Directory, a vetted company directory produced by the
Canadian NGO Peace Dividend Trust, can help you find a partner for your business
venture in Afghanistan.

IMPORTING AFGHAN PRODUCTS


Afghan craftsmen are world famous for their handmade carpets and jewelry, while
Afghans fertile soil fed by deep snow-fed aquifers produce world-class quality
agricultural products. Top exports to the United States include handmade carpets,
gemstones, pine nuts, licorice root, and other dried fruits and nuts. Regional exports
include raisins, pistachios, pomegranates, onions, and marble/granite materials. For
more information on some of these specific sectors, refer to our Market
Informationpage, which features reports from world experts in the field, or contact the
Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force at: 1-202-482-1812
or AfghanInfo@trade.gov.
The Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan is dedicated to promoting Afghanistans
processing, marketing, and distribution of its many commodities. It is primarily focused

on Afghanistans three most export competitive sectors: agricultural goods (especially


dried fruits and nuts), carpets, and mined materials (especially marble and gemstones).
Afghanistan Procurement Directory, a vetted company directory produced by the
Canadian NGO Peace Dividend Trust, can help you find a vendor for the Afghan goods
or services you seek.
Treasury Clarification on Iran Transshipment
March 13, 2008
The Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued
some interpretative guidance regarding U.S. imports of Afghan goods, which have
transshipped Iran. In summary, U.S. persons (citizens, companies, etc.) are allowed to
import, purchase, resell, etc. carpets and foodstuffs (fruits, nuts, spices, etc.) whether or
not they transshipped Iran. Indeed, U.S. persons are allowed to even engage in loading
such Afghan goods at an Iranian port. For further details, please refer to theOFAC
letter or to the OFAC website on U.S. sanctions policy towards Iran.
Gemstones, Jewelry, and Handicraft Products from Afghanistan
A list of various sources for Afghan-origin products!

CONTRACTING/EXPORTING TO AFGHANISTAN
U.S. Government
Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps.Gov) The primary portal for U.S.
government procurement opportunities. TheVendors Guide details the process of
searching for procurement opportunities. Vendors may initiate a search for
Afghanistan-related procurement opportunities by selecting the Find Business
Opportunities link on the FedBizOpps.gov homepage and creating a search for
Afghanistan.

The Joint Contingency Contracting System is a database of existing DOD contracts


available in Afghanistan.
Central Contractor Registration (CCR) Database is where U.S. companies seeking U.S.
Government prime contracts are required to register prior to award of any federal
contract, basic agreement, basic ordering agreement, or blanket purchase agreement on
or after October 01, 2003. Please also refer to theCentral Contractor Registration (CCR)
Handbook (900KB PDF only) for more information.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Afghanistan has numerous
projects to expand economic opportunity, agricultural productivity, and improve the
efficiency and accountability of government. Some procurement opportunities can be
found on project specific websites such as:
Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Program
Related Information
Contingency Contracting and Contractor on the Battlefield Policy, Guidance, Doctrine,
and Other Relevant Information
Background information on contracting with the U.S. military in a battlefield.
Guide to Determining Business Size (120KB PDF only)
The Pentagon Renovation Program's "Guideline to Small Business Size Determination
and Category Definitions" helps U.S. companies understand how to qualify as a small
business.
Defense Base Act (DBA) Insurance Coverage
The U.S. Department of Commerce offers a guide to Defense Base Act insurance
coverage, a requirement on all U.S. government contractors and subcontractors working
outside the United States to cover civilian employees, including U.S. citizens, as well as
third-country and local nationals.
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)

Afghan Government
Procurement Unit
The Procurement Unit of the Afghan government is the main facilitator for the awarding
of contracts on behalf of Afghan ministries and the municipality of Kabul. The Unit is
supervised by the Minister of Planning and Minister of Reconstruction and is part of the
Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development Services. The World Bank and the Asian
Development Bank (ADB) fund the majority of projects. Interested firms are advised to
register using the PU registration link on the home page.
The Unit contacts consultants and firms from this registry. Firms may also register by emailing information toprocurement@afghanistangov.org. Companies are also
encouraged to refer to industry ministry websites for sector specific opportunities.
Global
Afghanistan
In June 2012, Afghanistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the
FATF and APG to address its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. Since October 2015,
Afghanistan has taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including by
issuing amended cross-border declaration regulations for the physical transportation of
cash and bearer negotiable instruments. However, the FATF has determined that
certain strategic deficiencies remain. Afghanistan should continue to implement its
action plan, including by: (1) further implementing its legal framework for identifying,
tracing and freezing terrorist assets; (2) implementing an adequate AML/CFT
supervisory and oversight programme for all financial sectors; and (3) implementing
effective controls for cross-border cash transactions. The FATF encourages Afghanistan
to address its remaining deficiencies and continue the process of implementing its
action plan.

DEVELOPING A SKILLED WORKFORCE IN AFGHANISTAN


By Maggie Farrand
October 6, 2014
When Ahmad Zia Monsef first joined Afghan Wireless Communications Co. (AWCC) in
2004, he was hired as an entry-level call center agent. Joining a handful of others for six
hour shifts in a dark room lined with computers, Monsef would don his headset and
answer calls from customers solving problems from billing errors to cell phone
malfunctions.
He was thankful for the job. In a country dominated by temporary, casual jobs and
underemployment, Monsef was lucky.
Last year, Monsefs luck continued: He was chosen to participate in a training course for
AWCC employees as part of the Afghanistan Workforce Development Program (AWDP).
The topic was business communication. He enrolled, with the promise of a promotion
and raise upon completion.
One month later, certificate and new skills in hand, Monsef moved up to regional sales
manager.
I was promoted and our salary increased, he says. We learned we need to use [the
new skills we learned] in the workplace, and with our other colleagues, [and] with [our]
team to achieve our targets.
Monsef joins thousands of others getting the chance, through AWDP, to advance their
careers through targeted, demand-driven training courses.
The program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, seeks to
increase job placements and wages for 25,000 Afghans through access to quality

training, as well as job placement support services. It is implemented by Creative


Associates International.
During its four years, AWDP will provide job opportunities and promotions to Afghans
in six major cities: Kabul, Herat, Mazar, Jalalabad, Kunduz and Kandahar.
With the first cycle of grants completed in September 2013, the program trained nearly
10,000 Afghans, and placed or promoted more than 5,000; 35 percent of whom were
women.

THE NEED FOR A SKILLED WORKFORCE


Afghanistan is plagued by a gap between high demand for mid-level technical and
business management skills and the relatively low number of Afghans who possess
them.
Three decades of conflict have had lasting consequences on the countrys labor force.
Underinvestment in education has resulted in high rates of illiteracy. Innovation has
lagged and modern management techniques have not fully reached the private sector.
To fill the gap, companies typically import labor from neighboring Iran or Pakistan,
driving up unemployment among Afghans.
There is a very acute lack of skilled labor in the country, especially at the mid-career
level, says Dr. Julio Ramirez de Arellano, who directs AWDP for Creative. So it has
depended a lot on foreign labor.

Another issue: Existing training opportunities in Afghanistan dont consider the actual
needs of private sector companies.
Training has been responding to the perception of the type of skills that people need,
but not responding to the real needs of the employers, says Ramirez de Arellano. So
theres this kind of disconnect between what training people get and the needs of the
potential employers.
AWDP reverses this pattern by using a market-driven model, where employers are
invited to help customize programs based on their actual needs for specific skills.
The result is a system that provides unemployed people, as well as mid-career
employees, with training that aligns with both individual and company demands.
INTRODUCING THE AWDP MODEL
The training Monsef and his colleagues received was delivered by Afghan Financial
Services (AFS), an Afghan-led organization providing professional business services.
AWDP selected the company, and 18 other organizations like it, after an intense grant
application and interview process.
Once the grantees are selected, they follow a four-step process in implementing the
project: Assessing the needs of employers; creating or adapting relevant curricula;
conducting competency-based training for qualified applicants; and finally providing
employment services to ensure graduates find jobs or improve their employment status.
With AWDPs emphasis on engaging the private sector, it was not a model most of the
grantee organizations were accustomed to.
They had no idea what the private sector demand analysis actually meant, admits
Salem Helali, AWDPs Deputy Director. Theyd never talked to the private sector
before, so we started working with the grantees, to help them understand the concept.

But organizations like AFS quickly realized their graduates would be specifically
targeted for employment and raises by companies who needed exactly what they could
deliver.
The model makes sense, wherever its been used, says Ramirez de Arellano. Were
very proud that were leading an approach to technical training that makes more sense
than the traditional way.
And it is not limited to just Afghanistan. The four-part, demand-driven approach can be
adapted to any country context.
The AWDP model tailoring trainings to explicit needs of the market is needed in
many countries in addition to Afghanistan, says Larry Hearn, Director of Creatives
workforce development portfolio. With how successful its been in Afghanistan, we
know we can replicate this model elsewhere.
Demand from individuals who wanted the training was even higher than the obvious
interest from Afghan companies needing skilled labor. The first grant awarded to AFS
required 300 people be trained in project management. When they advertised the
training course, they received nearly 5,000 CVs from interested applicants.
There was just too much demand, says Masood Farooq, Program Manager at AFS.
After shortlisting 800 applicants, they trained 428 surpassing their goal by 42
percent.
AWDP also requires grantees to include women in their training coursesa new
demand for most training institutions, but one they proved just as adept at fulfilling. In
the first phase of the program, 31 percent of participants were women.
Once the training ended, AFS had to place at least 70 percent of trainees in jobs under
the terms of the AWDP grant. Again they exceeded their goal, placing 85 percent.

ENSURING LONG-LASTING RESULTS


Ingrained in the programs model is a cycle of capacity building: trainees gain capacity
through training courses while grantee organizations grow through AWDPs robust
application process and the staffs guidance through grant implementation.
We are working with private sector to build their capacity and also we are working with
the Afghan private companies regarding their capacity building, explains Farid Samadi,
Grants Activity Manager for AWDP, who acts as the main point of contact for nine of the
programs 19 grantees. We as AWDP provide technical support for them and build their
capacity.
Its a cycle, he says.
The program also provides technical assistance to Afghanistans Ministry of Education,
particularly the Deputy Ministry of Technical and Vocational Education and Training
(DM-TVET).
In fact, the second part of the program, termed on-budget, will be run entirely by the
DM-TVET.
In its 2010 Towards Self-Reliance strategy, Afghanistan set a goal of fiscal selfreliance which means ending its dependence on international aid. The international
community signed on, and now at least 50 percent of development assistance must be
channeled through the national budget of the Afghan government.

On-budget funding pushes Afghan government ministries to learn how to manage aid
money and implement programs, with the ultimate goal of becoming self-sufficient.
As we go into the on-budget time of the project, Ramirez de Arellano explains, our
role becomes much more as technical assistance for the Ministry of Education.
Asif Nang, Deputy Minister of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, sees
incredible value in Creatives ongoing partnership with his office.
When AWDP began, he lent several staff to the program so they could absorb as much as
possible. Now hes preparing a new wing of the Ministry of Educations TVET building
to house several AWDP staff during the on-budget phase.
The partners, they work to expand and also to improve the capacity, and the same time
to improve the quality of technical vocational education, says Nang. It is all very
necessaryvery necessary in the needs of the market.
As AWDP continues toward its goal of training and placing 25,000 Afghans, it will be
the connection to labor market needs that will ensure the programs success. In Deputy
Minister Nangs opinion, its exactly what his Ministry office and his country needs.
Foreign relations of Afghanistan are handled by the nation's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is
headed by Salahuddin Rabbani. He answers to, and receives guidance from, the President of
Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani.
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has close and friendly relations with a number of countries
around the world, including: Turkey, United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Spain, South
Korea, Italy, India, China, Canada, United Arab Emirates and many others.

1980s Soviet war, Afghanistan pursued a policy of neutrality and


nonalignment rein its foreign relations, being one of a few independent
nations to stay neutral in both World War I and World War II. In
international forums, Afghanistan generally followed the voting patterns
of Asian and African non-aligned countries. During the 1950s and 60s,
Afghanistan was able to use the Russian and American need for allies

during the Cold War as a way to receive economic assistance from both
countries. However, given that unlike Russia, America refused to give
extensive military aid to the country, the government of Daoud Khan
developed warmer ties with the USSR while officially remaining nonaligned. Following the coup of April 1978, the government under Nur
Muhammad Taraki developed significantly closer ties with the Soviet Union
and its communist satellites.

After the December 1979 Soviet invasion, Afghanistan's foreign policy mirrored that of the Soviet
Union. Afghan foreign policymakers attempted, with little success, to increase their regime's low
standing in the noncommunist world. With the signing of the Geneva Accords,
President Najibullah unsuccessfully sought to end the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan's isolation
within the Islamic world and in the Non-Aligned Movement.
Most Western countries, including the United States, maintained small diplomatic missions in the
capital city of Kabul during the Soviet occupation. Many countries subsequently closed their
missions due to instability and heavy fighting in Kabul after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
Many countries initially welcomed the introduction of the Taliban regime, who they saw as a
stabilizing, law-enforcing alternative to the warlords who had ruled the country since the fall of
Najibullah's government in 1992. The Taliban soon became alienated of those countries' positive
feelings with knowledge of the harsh Sharia law being enforced in Taliban-controlled territories
spreading around the world. The brutality towards women who attempted to work, learn, or leave the
house without a male escort caused outside aid to the war-torn country to be limited.
Following the October 2001 American invasion and the Bonn Agreement the new government under
the leadership of Hamid Karzai started to re-establish diplomatic relationships with many countries
who had held close diplomatic relations before the communist coup d'tat and the subsequent civil
war.
The Afghan government is focused on securing continued assistance for rebuilding the economy,
infrastructure, and military of the country. It has continued to maintain close ties with North America,
the European Union, Japan, Australia, India, China, Russia and the Greater Middle East as well as
African nations. It also seeks to establish relations with more South American or Latin nations. In late
2011, relations between Afghanistan and Dominican Republic were established.

Afghanistan - Market Entry Strategy


Generalizes on the best strategy to enter the market, e.g., visiting the country;
importance of relationships to finding a good partner; use of agents.

Last Published: 4/17/2016

Strong local knowledge is a vital part of business development in


Afghanistan.
Be familiar with key players both in business and in government.
Visit the country. Get to know your potential partners and their
capabilities to do business with U.S. firms. Meet with local Chambers of
Commerce especially the American Chamber of Commerce
(AMCHAM), the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), and
the Export Promotion Agency of Afghanistan (EPAA). Many U.S. firms
may find it beneficial to partner with a local firm which knows the region
and can advise on security, and other issues of doing business in the
region.
Expect high costs associated with doing business in an insecure and
volatile region.
Before travel, U.S. citizens should review the Consular Information
Sheet (Country Specific Information) and Travel Warning for
Afghanistan. These documents can be found at the following
website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/afghanistan
.html.
Personal relationships are especially important in Afghanistan. With the
legal and regulatory framework still in a nascent stage, businesses are
built almost entirely on the strength of the business relationships.
GETTING STARTED
Eventhoughthere'sstillnoelectricityatHassinaSherjan'snewfactoryontheoutskirtsof
Kabul,theyreallydon'tneedittoday.Sunlightpoursthroughthelargewindowsand
illuminatesabusyroom,where12menandwomenareworkingonpillowcoverings,
curtains,placematsandotherhighendtextiles.TheygrinasSherjaninspectstheirwork:
glitteringlinesofhandappliedbeadsonwhatwillbeasetofeleganttablerunners.
"Ihavetokeepreinforcingtheideaofquality,"saysSherjan,presidentofBoumiCo.
"We'reproducingforanupscaleworldmarket,sotheyhavetounderstandastraightline
isalwaysstraightandevenasmallstainonthefabricisn'tacceptable."

AlltheworkersaredressedintraditionalAfghanclothesexceptSherjan,whoseWestern
clothesanduncoveredheadstandout.Hersisalookthat'sbecomingmorecommonin
Afghanistan.The46yearoldisoneofthemillionsofAfghanswhofledthecountry
duringnearlythreedecadesofstrife.Now,somearereturningtostartbusinesses,and
they'refindingthatAfghanistanisanentrepreneur'sdream.
"Ifyouwanttomakemoneytoday,figureouthowtotakeadvantageofthegrowing
economyinAfghanistan,"saysKateBuggeln,aNewYorkCityconsultantwho
volunteerswiththeUnitedNationsaffiliatedBusinessCouncilforPeacetoassistwomen
startingbusinessesinAfghanistanandotherpostconflictcountries."Theentireworldis
pouringinmoneyforreconstruction,andaninfrastructureisemerging.Securityisgetting
betterbecausetheAfghanpeopleareresolutethattheywillnotgobacktothechaosof
before."
Ofcourse,therearecertainlychallengestodoingbusinessinAfghanistan.EveninKabul,
themoststableanddevelopedpartofthecountry,theelectricalgridonlyextendstosome
areas.Powerisirregular,forcingresidentsandbusinessownerstorungenerators.Most
streetsareunpavedandunmarked,andtelephoneandinternetservicesoftencrashwhen
itrains.Businessescan'trelyonanestablishedsupplychainbecausethereisn'tone
nearlyeverythingtheyneedmustbeimported.It'salsohardtolineupatrainedwork
force;skilled,experiencedemployeesoftenhireoutatapremiumtothethousandsof
nongovernmentalorganizations,orNGOs,inAfghanistan.TheNGOshavealsodriven
upthecostofdoingbusiness,withlandlordsnowdemandingfirstworldpricesforthird
worldproperties.Forsafety,manybusinessespayforarmedsecurityguardsand
concertinawiredcompounds.
Also,centuriesoldtraditionsoftenstandinthewayofmodernbusinesspractices.Three
yearsago,RanginaHamidi,29,leftVirginiaforAfghanistanandfoundedacompanyin
oneofitsmostconflictriddenareas.KandaharTreasuresincorporatesthebeautiful
embroideryAfghanwomentraditionallydointheirhomesintotextilesforan
internationalanddomesticmarket.Hamidihadtofindwomenwhosehusbandswouldnot
onlyletthemworkforhercompany,butalsoletthemworkoutsidethehome.Now
Hamidistruggleswiththeattitudesofthewomenthemselves:"It'sdifficultforthemto
understandtheneedforatimetable,structureanddiscipline.[They]wanttoworkasthey
wouldintheirhomes,andit'sdifficultformetorunaproductionunit[thatway]."
Still,theabsenceofamenitieshascreatedmanyentrepreneurialopportunitiesin
Afghanistan."Youwon'tfindanotherplacethatofferssomanyopportunities,"says
TamimSamee,42,atelecommunicationsprofessionalfromWashington,DC."Here,
everythingisneeded.Youtakeachancetorunabusinesshere,buteverythingisonthe
upsurge."SameehasfoundedtwohightechcompaniesinKabul:OraTech,which

developsandmanagesdatabases,andDigistan,whichdoessystemsintegrationforlarge
companies.HehasalsoopenedamodelfarmoutsideKabul,showcasingnewtechniques
ingrowing,irrigatingandprocessingtraditionalAfghancrops.
Althoughthey'remakingmoney,Sherjan,HamidiandSameesaytheydidn'treturnto
Afghanistantostrikeitrich.Theywanttobepartofrebuildingtheirhomeland'seconomy
soextremistswillhavefeweropportunitiestopreyonthedesperationofthepoorand
uneducated.Astheirbusinessesgrow,theytrytoboostothersbyrelyingonlocal
sourcingwheneverpossibleSherjan,forinstance,getshercottonfromAfghanistan's
oneremainingcottonfactory.Theyalsotapthelocalworkforceinsteadofbringingin
cheaper,moreskilledworkersfromneighboringcountries.Often,thismeansinvestingin
extensivetraining.SameeputsemployeesthroughauthorizedOracleandMicrosoft
trainingprograms.
"Whatkeepsmegoingisthehopethatsomethinggoodwillcomeofthisplace,"Samee
says."It'saonceinalifetimeopportunitytobepartofsomethingbiggerthanyourself.I
getgoosebumpsjustsayingthat."

Dealing with ifrastructure


New roads bring jobs, progress to Afghanistan
Located in south-central Asia, Afghanistan was once a stop on the historic Silk Road. A mountainous, landlocked
country, Afghanistan has remained largely undeveloped due to multiple wars.
Challenge
After decades of war, Afghanistan needed a path to economic recovery, including new roads, bridges, power plants
and the capacity to maintain them.
Solution
In 2006, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Afghanistan Infrastructure and
Rehabilitation Program (AIRP) in partnership with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. USAID hired Louis Berger, in a
joint venture with Black & Veatch, to implement the program and spur economic recovery and political stability
through the rehabilitation of critical physical infrastructure throughout the country.
Louis Berger designed and managed construction projects and provided technical assistance to the Afghan
government, established an Afghan-led reconstruction effort and developed sustainable local capacity to operate and
maintain the completed infrastructure. Program highlights include:

Managing construction of new roads throughout Afghanistan, including the 103-kilometer KeshimFaizabad Road, the 101-kilometer Gardez-Khost Road and the Southern Strategy Road in Kandahar
province.

Refurbishment of a 15MW hydroelectric turbine at the Kajakai Dam.

Working with the Afghan government to develop a sustainable road management entity capable of
maintaining more than 1,500 kilometers of primary and provincial roads.

Building the capacity of local contractors and laborers to construct and maintain Afghanistans expanding
road network.

Creation of more than 16,000 jobs in the region and positively impacting the lives of an estimated 9
million people.

Despite Afghanistans persistent warfare, Afghans have made


significant progress in laying the foundations for a more
representative state that can meet its peoples needs. Among
the achievements, accomplished with international support
since the Talibans overthrow in 2001, the country has held
five national elections, enrolled millions of children in school,
established a robust environment for the media and civil
society, and drastically increased womens participation in
public life and government. Still, as the international
presence in Afghanistan wanes, the state remains fragile and
heavily reliant on outside technical and financial support to
sustain basic functions.

USIP's Work
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has worked to promote peace and
stability in Afghanistan since 2002, and in 2008 opened an office in Kabul to
manage an expanding program of conflict-resolution and peacebuilding
activities. USIPs research suggests that a major cause of instability and
conflict in Afghanistan has been the failure of state institutions to respect
and promote the rule of law and operate accountably and effectively. USIP
informs U.S., Afghan and international policies and programs and builds the
states capacity to govern competently and legitimately. It strengthens the
abilities of civil society organizations and civil servants to resolve conflict and
advocate for better governance. USIP will remain committed to Afghanistan
throughout the transition and beyond. USIPs recent work includes:
Countering Violent Extremism Through Non-Violent Civic
Mobilization: After decades of violent conflict, many Afghans lack
knowledge of peaceful methods to press for solutions to their grievances.
Extremist groups fill this gap with appeals to youth to commit violence and
crime that they often cast as religious jihad for justice. Building on its
research and pilot projects, USIP works with Afghan civil society groups to
counter extremist narratives. These joint projects engage religious leaders at
the community level. They develop indigenous anti-extremist messages that
resonate with specific communities, disseminating them through local
outreach and media initiatives. And they propose peaceful alternatives to
violence. In summer 2015, USIP published two research papers (below) on
the narratives of extremism and their effects on Afghan youth.
Partnership With Afghan Universities: With unprecedented numbers of
Afghans now attending universities, USIP joined with Kabuls Gawharshad
Institute of Higher Education, a private university, to create a peacebuilding
and conflict resolution curriculum for eventual use nationwide. The Ministry
of Higher Education approved the curriculum for general use in May
2015. Herat University and Nangarhar University, public institutions in
western and eastern Afghanistan, respectively, are working with USIP and
Gawarshad toward adopting peace studies in their programs.
Land Conflict Resolution: USIPs research has identified disputes over land
ownership as a major source of conflict. So the Institute is partnering with
ARAZI, the governments newly independent land authority, to work with
local communities on documenting disputes that have been resolved through
traditional methods. The goals are to prevent future conflicts arising from
settled disputes, to support ARAZIs capacity to document land issues around
the country and to help develop legislation for the formal registration and

deeding of land. ARAZIs current priorities are fighting corruption, preventing


land grabs, and arranging restitution for usurped land. USIP and ARAZI also
supported the creation of the High Council on Land and Water, chaired by
President Ashraf Ghani. The High Council includes Chief Executive Officer
Abdullah Abdullah and 10 ministers and heads of agencies. Its creation
signals that land issues, an area in which USIP has worked for several years,
are receiving top-level political attention in the government.