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Afghanistan with its past, present and Future

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Muhammad Arif : Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), Former Head of FSCD SBP, Former Head of Research ArifHabib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, Former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan

Afghanistan is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. It is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to the north, and Tajikistan and China to the northeast. Occupying 652,864 square kilometers (252,072 sq. mi), the country is predominately mountainous with plains in the north and southwest. It is inhabited by 31.4 million people as of 2020, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Kabul serves as its capital and largest city.

Afghanistan’s population is divided into several ethno linguistic groups. Generally the four major ethnic groups are the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. A further 10 other ethnic groups are recognized and each are represented in the Afghan National Anthem

Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country’s strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets, and in 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries. It has been called “unconquerable and nicknamed the “graveyard of empires”, though it has been occupied during several different periods of its history.

The modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the “Great Game” between British India and the Russian Empire.

Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, the country became free of foreign dominance, eventually becoming the Kingdom of Afghanistan in June 1926 under King Amanullah. This kingdom lasted almost fifty years, until King Zahir was overthrown and a republic was established in July 1973. In 1978, after a second coup, Afghanistan became a socialist state, provoking the Soviet–Afghan War in the 1980s against mujahedeen rebels. By 1996 most of Afghanistan was captured by the Islamic fundamentalist group, the Taliban, who ruled most of the country as a totalitarian regime for over five years. The Taliban were removed from power after the US invasion in 2001 but still controlled a significant portion of the country. The twenty-year-long war between the government and the Taliban reached a climax with the 2021 Taliban offensive and the resulting fall of Kabul which returned the Taliban to power.

The country has high levels of terrorism, poverty, child malnutrition, and corruption. It is a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the Group of 77, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Afghanistan’s economy is the world’s 96th largest, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $72.9 billion by purchasing power parity; the country fares much worse in terms of per-capita GDP (PPP), ranking 169th out of 186 countries as of 2018.

Arab Muslims brought Islam to Herat and Zaranj in 642 CE and began spreading eastward; some of the native inhabitants they encountered accepted it while others revolted. Before Islam was introduced, people of the region were mostly Hindus, Buddhists and Zoroastriansbut there were also Surya and Nana worshipers, Jews, and others. The Zunbils and Kabul Shahi were first conquered in 870 CE by the Saffarid Muslims of Zaranj. Later, the Samanids extended their Islamic influence south of the Hindu Kush. It is reported that Muslims and non-Muslims still lived side by side in Kabul before the Ghaznavids rose to power in the 10th century.

By the 11th century, Mahmud of Ghazni defeated the remaining Hindu rulers and effectively Islamized the wider region, with the exception of Kafiristan. Mahmud made Ghazni into an important city and patronized intellectuals such as the historian Al-Biruni and the poet Ferdowsi.The Ghaznavid dynasty was overthrown by the Ghurids, whose architectural achievements included the remote Minaret of Jam. The Ghurids controlled Afghanistan for less than a century before being conquered by the Khwarazmian dynasty.

n April 1978, the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in a bloody coup d’état against then-President Mohammed Daoud Khan, in what is called the Saur Revolution. The PDPA declared the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, with its first leader named as People’s Democratic Party general secretary Nur Muhammad Taraki. This would trigger a series of events that would dramatically turn Afghanistan from a poor and secluded (albeit peaceful) country to a hotbed of international terrorism. The PDPA initiated various social, symbolic and land distribution reforms that provoked strong opposition, while also brutally oppressing political dissidents. This caused unrest and quickly expanded into a state of civil war by 1979, waged by guerrilla mujahedeen (and smaller Maoist guerillas) against regime forces countrywide. It quickly turned into a proxy war as the Pakistani government provided these rebels with covert training centers, the United States supported them through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the Soviet Union sent thousands of military advisers to support the PDPA regime.Meanwhile, there was increasingly hostile friction between the competing factions of the PDPA – the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcha

In December 2001, after the Taliban government was overthrown, the Afghan Interim Administration under Hamid Karzai was formed. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was established by the UN Security Council to help assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security. By this time, after two decades of war as well as an acute famine at the time, Afghanistan had one of the highest infant and child mortality rates in the world, the lowest life expectancy, much of the population were hungry, and infrastructure was in ruins. Many foreign donors started providing aid and assistance to rebuild the war-torn country.

Taliban forces meanwhile began regrouping inside Pakistan, while more coalition troops entered Afghanistan to help the rebuilding process. The Taliban began an insurgency to regain control of Afghanistan. Over the next decade, ISAF and Afghan troops led many offensives against the Taliban, but failed to fully defeat them. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world because of a lack of foreign investment, government corruption, and the Taliban insurgency.

Meanwhile, Karzai attempted to unite the peoples of the country and the Afghan government was able to build some democratic structures, adopting a constitution in 2004 with the name Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Attempts were made, often with the support of foreign donor countries, to improve the country’s economy, healthcare, education, transport, and agriculture. ISAF forces also began to train the Afghan National Security Forces.

Following 2002, nearly five million Afghans were repatriated. The number of NATO troops present in Afghanistan peaked at 140,000 in 2011, dropping to about 16,000 in 2018.

On 14 April 2021, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had agreed to start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by 1 May. Soon after the withdrawal of NATO troops started, the Taliban launched an offensive against the Afghan government, quickly advancing in front of collapsing Afghan government forces.

According to a US intelligence report, the Afghan government would likely collapse within six months after NATO completed its withdrawal from the country.

On 15 August 2021, as the Taliban once again controlled a vast majority of Afghan territory, the Taliban began capturing the capital city of Kabul, and many civilians, government officials and foreign diplomats were evacuated. President Ghani fled Afghanistan that day. As of 16 August 2021, an unofficial Coordination Council led by senior statesmen was in the process of coordinating the transfer of the state institutions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

On 17 August, the First Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, AmrullahSaleh, proclaimed himself the caretaker President of Afghanistan and announced the formation of an anti-Taliban front with a reported 6,000+ troopsin the Panjshir Valley, along with Ahmad Massoud and Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain howeversays that “around 100” U.S. citizens are still in Afghanistan. Last week Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a press conference that less than 200 and likely closer to 100, Americans that wanted to leave are still in the country.

Further Taliban and opposition forces continue to battle to control the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul with resistance fighters saying they have captured hundreds of Taliban troops.

The National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan, grouping forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said that it surrounded “thousands of terrorists” in Khawak Pass and the Taliban abandoned vehicles and equipment in the DashteRewak area.

According to him nearly 1,000 Taliban fighters were either killed, wounded, or taken captive after the exit route behind them was closed off, Dashti said. The information could not be verified independently.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter that its forces seized five of the province’s seven districts. Karimi said Khinj and Unabah districts had been taken, he said.

Mullah Abdul GhaniBaradar, the head of the Taliban’s political office, has told that the group is in the process of forming an inclusive government following its lightning takeover of the country last month.

“I assure the people that we strive to improve their living conditions, and that the government will be responsible to everyone and will provide security because it is necessary for economic development, not just in Afghanistan but in the whole world,” he said in the capital, Kabul.

This is what is happening now but nobody know that what would happen to women their education and their role in economy and how relations are normalized with west, Russia, China, US, India,Pakistan and others or whether Afghanistan is becoming a center for another political group in the world with its anarchy.

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