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Afghanistan is composed of 18 different communities marked by ethnic, linguistic and religious differences. But ask any Afghan who he is, and he won’t hesitate to reply: an Afghan! ~ Amir Taheri
We will never be a pawn in someone else's game. We will always be Afghanistan. ~ Ahmad Shah Massoud
In Afghan society, parents play a central role in the lives of their children; the parent-child relationship is fundamental to who you are and what you become and how you perceive yourself, and it is laden with contradictions, with tension, with anger, with love, with loathing, with angst. ~ Khaled Hossein

Afghanistan (Pashto/Dari: افغانستان, Afġānistān), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a country in Central and Southern Eurasia. Once a buffer state between the Russian Empire and British India, it has remained in state of civil war since 1978, when conservative Afghans rebelled against a Communist government. The rebellion prompted an invasion and occupation by the Soviet Union, which Muslim fighters defeated with international support. The Muslim fighters overthrew the Communist government in 1992 and were overthrown in 1996 by the more conservative Taliban movement. The United States led an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 attacks, accompanied by a coalition of NATO members in 2003.

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  • For archaeologists Afghanistan, rich in ancient treasures and once a key stop on the legendary silk road, is an "open-air museum", albeit one ravaged by war and plagued by looters.
  • Afghanistan's location and the variety and abundance of its bountiful mines of gold, copper and precious stones make it an archaeological holy grail. The Afghan lapis-lazuli, a brilliant blue semi-precious gemstone, was used as decoration by the Egyptian pharaohs and the great kings of Assyria and Babylon, Bendezu-Sarmiento notes.


  • He would be surprised at the fluctuation and instability of the civil institutions. He would find it difficult to comprehend how a nation could subsist in such disorder... Opportunism prevails in Afghanistan. The changing combination of forces is not based on any principle; they simply represent the unfolding of old rivalries and new clashes of interests.
  • Afghanistan was a full part of the Hindu cradle up till the year 1000, and in political unity with India until Nadir Shah separated it in the 18th century.
    • Koenraad Elst, Ayodhya and after: Issues before Hindu society (1991)


  • The war in Afghanistan was prompted more than anything by displeasure with the country’s then-president, Hafizullah Amin. Although he led Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed Communist party, he had angered the Kremlin by assassinating his predecessor, Mohammed Taraki, a rival Communist. Moscow blamed Amin’s ruthlessness for a wave of rebellion in the countryside that threatened the government. By eliminating him, the Kremlin reasoned, a coup d’état would save the Communist regime that kept the Soviet Union’s southern neighbor within Moscow’s sphere of influence.
  • Despite grievous mistakes in planning and execution, however, the Soviet war in Afghanistan was no unmitigated failure. Until Washington provided the rebel mujahideen with Stinger surface-to-air missiles in 1986, Moscow had the upper hand. The rub for the U.S.S.R. was that soon after the reforming Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985—but before the introduction of the Stinger missiles turned the conflict’s tide—he had already promised to withdraw Soviet troops.
  • We are very much welcoming a new national policy on the rights of internally displaced people. This would help find solutions for the many, many displaced who were affected by conflict, natural disasters and basically gives them far more rights than they had before. And puts the onus on the different governments, ministries etc where they are located.


  • Let’s look at the nature of what the imperialists and their lackeys call democracy in Afghanistan. In the Afghan government, as reflected in the constitution, political parties, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, in short all civil and individual rights are restricted by Islam and Islamic Sharia, nothing is permitted beyond that and everything is illegal. In this aspect, the main difference between the current Islamic Republic regime and the Islamic Emirate regime of the Taliban is that the current regime is a multi-party Islamic regime, while the Taleban regime was a single-party Islamic regime....As a method, democracy is utilised to dress up the anti-democratic religious Islamic nature of the regime as being modern.



  • The contracts, the subcontracts, the blind contracts given to people, money thrown around to buy loyalties, money thrown around to buy submissiveness of Afghan government officials, to policies and designs that the Afghans would not agree to. That was the major part of corruption.


  • For archaeologists, Afghanistan is virtually off-limits for fieldwork, as Taliban forces battle the Kabul government in far-flung provinces and security remains tenuous even in the capital. Yet U.S. and Afghan researchers are now finding thousands of never-before-cataloged ancient sites in the country, which for more than a millennium served as a crucial crossroads linking East and West. The discoveries promise to expand scholars’ view of long-vanished empires while giving the battered nation a desperately needed chance to protect its trove of cultural heritage.


  • We will never be a pawn in someone else's game. We will always be Afghanistan.
    • Ahmad Shah Massoud, in Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (2005) by Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzullo.
  • After fighting the longest war in its history, the US stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How could this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for more than 16 years – deploying more than 100,000 troops at the conflict’s peak, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,300 soldiers, spending more than $1tn (£740bn) on its military operations, lavishing a record $100bn more on “nation-building”, helping fund and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies – and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations?
  • Despite almost continuous combat since the invasion of October 2001, pacification efforts have failed to curtail the Taliban insurgency, largely because the US simply could not control the swelling surplus from the country’s heroin trade. Its opium production surged from around 180 tonnes in 2001 to more than 3,000 tonnes a year after the invasion, and to more than 8,000 by 2007. Every spring, the opium harvest fills the Taliban’s coffers once again, funding wages for a new crop of guerrilla fighters.
  • The CIA looked the other way while Afghanistan’s opium production grew from about 100 tonnes annually in the 1970s to 2,000 tonnes by 1991. In 1979 and 1980, just as the CIA effort was beginning to ramp up, a network of heroin laboratories opened along the Afghan-Pakistan frontier. That region soon became the world’s largest heroin producer. By 1984, it supplied a staggering 60% of the US market and 80% of the European. Inside Pakistan, the number of heroin addicts surged from near zero (yes, zero) in 1979 to 5,000 in 1980, and 1.3 million by 1985 – a rate of addiction so high the UN termed it “particularly shocking”.
  • By 2007, the UN’s Afghanistan Opium Survey found that the country’s then-record opium harvest of approximately 8,200 tonnes provided 93% of the world’s illicit heroin supply. Significantly, the UN stated that Taliban guerrillas have “started to extract from the drug economy resources for arms, logistics, and militia pay”. In 2008, the rebels reportedly collected $425m in “taxes” levied on the opium traffic, and with every harvest they made enough funds to recruit a new crop of young fighters from the villages. Each of those prospective guerrillas could count on monthly payments of $300 – far above the wages they would have made as agricultural laborers.
  • For most people worldwide, economic activity, the production and exchange of goods, is the prime point of contact with their government. When, however, a country’s most significant commodity is illegal, then political loyalties naturally shift to the economic networks that move that product safely and secretly from fields to foreign markets, providing protection, finance and employment at every stage. “The narcotics trade poisons the Afghan financial sector and fuels a growing illicit economy,” John Sopko explained in 2014. “This, in turn, undermines the Afghan state’s legitimacy by stoking corruption, nourishing criminal networks and providing significant financial support to the Taliban and other insurgent groups.”



  • Afghanistan never has had, and never can have, the cohesion and consistency of a regular monarchical government. The nation consists of a mere collection of tribes, of unequal power and with divergent habits, which are held together, more or less closely, according to the personal character of the chief who rules them. The feeling of patriotism, as known in Europe, cannot exist among the Afghans, for there is no common country... There is no natural or ethnical reason why Herat and Candahar should be attached to Cabul. Herat is inhabited by races entirely alien to the Afghans, by Jamshidis, Eymaks, and Hazrehs; while at Candahar, though the lands were parcelled out by Nadir Shah in the middle of the last century among the Durrani aristocracy, and their descendants still exist as a privileged class, the peasantry are everywhere of Persian, or Tajik, or Turkish descent, and have no community of felling with the northern and eastern Afghans.


  • Nearly twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union pulled its last troops out of Afghanistan, ending more than nine years of direct involvement and occupation. The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways. Rebellion was swift and broad, and the Soviets dealt harshly with the Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them, leveling entire villages to deny safe havens to their enemy. Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the United States. In the brutal nine-year conflict, an estimated one million civilians were killed, as well as 90,000 Mujahideen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops, and 14,500 Soviet soldiers. Civil war raged after the withdrawal, setting the stage for the Taliban's takeover of the country in 1996.
  • Yes, Afghanistan is composed of 18 different communities marked by ethnic, linguistic and religious differences. But ask any Afghan who he is, and he won’t hesitate to reply: an Afghan! The national identity has taken shape over 300 years — after all, as a state, Afghanistan is older than America, Germany and Italy. It is also one of the oldest Muslim nation-states... From 1860 to 1977, a string of Afghan monarchs imposed effective rule throughout their realm. But the monarchy was never absolute, if only because the loya jigrah, a high assembly of tribal and religious leaders, would restrain a despotic king or help a weak one... Until the “time of troubles” starting in the late ’70s, Afghans were proverbial in their hospitality and readiness to welcome foreigners. Over two decades, an estimated 1.2 million young Westerners traveled there in search of the mythical east — without facing any hostility. As for misogyny, Afghanistan was among the first Muslim countries to declare education compulsory for both boys and girls. From the ’60s, it had women doctors, professors, parliamentarians and even Cabinet ministers... The Pakistani military created the Taliban in 1995 — six years after the Red Army left Afghanistan. Al Qaeda funneled money to some mujahedeen, but never played a role in the fighting. Even the mujahedeen couldn’t claim to have driven out the Red Army — which left as part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s strategic retreat. And the Communist regime remained for three years after the Soviets left, collapsing only when its Uzbek militia switched sides and, forging an alliance with Tajik fighters under Ahmad Shah Massoud, captured Kabul. The massive aid for the mujahedeen from America and allies proved a crucial factor in forcing the Soviet withdrawal. The claim that a handful of Pushtun, on their own, defeated the Red Army is laughable... Modern ideas have had a home in Afghanistan since the 19th century. Several Islamist reformist movements started in Afghanistan before spreading to Central Asia and beyond. Afghanistan’s social- democratic, liberal, nationalist, Marxist, Maoist and Islamist parties provided a rich tapestry of ideologies until the ’70s... Eight years ago, no Afghan girls could go to school. Now, a third attend school. Although corruption is rife in the new ruling elite, hundreds of construction projects have finished, with hundreds more under way. More important, perhaps, the vast majority of Afghans think that they’re better off under President Hamid Karzai’s administration — inefficient, arrogant and possibly corrupt as it may be — than under the murderous rule of Mullah Muhammad Omar.


  • The most explicit mentioning of the Afghans appears in Al- Baruni’s Tarikh Al-Hind (eleventh century AD). Here it is said that various tribes of Afghans lived in the mountains in the west of India. Al Baruni adds that they were savage people and he describes them as Hindus.


  • Afghanistan's rugged terrain is honeycombed with natural caverns and man-made tunnels. The Hindu Kush mountains are pocked with caves scooped out of limestone by melting snow. In the sandstone foothills of the southeastern part of the country, everyone from warriors to farmers has carved tunnels that provide ideal hiding places for fighters and ammunition. The hideouts also include caves dug deep into the granite bedrock during the war with the Soviets in the 1980s. This underground warren is connected by crisscrossing passageways, and is equipped with escape tunnels. Some of these massive caves are large enough to drive a truck into, or to house a few tanks and a fighter jet.
  • Afghanistan's populated plains have a very arid climate, and rivers dry up for months at a time. Farmers built the first tunnels, called karez, to transport water from the mountains to their crops. The tunnels typically begin at the foot of mountainous areas, where the initial well is dug down to the water table. The channels then follow a gentle slope to the population centers they support. Some historians believe the underground irrigation system was already in place when Alexander the Great conquered present-day Afghanistan on his way to India in 328 B.C.
  • The Week, “The Caves of Afghanistan”, (January 1, 2007).

In fiction[edit]

Huey Freeman: So colonel, you guys aren’t dropping food anymore? What happened to all that concern about the starving Afghan people? ~ Aaron McGruder
  • Huey squeals to the Feds’ terrorism hotline -
Huey: Why do you keep hanging up on me? I’m telling you the truth!
The CIA trained Osama Bin Laden in using terrorism against the soviets during the Reagan-Bush administration they gave the Afghanistan rebels countless amounts of covert funding!
FBI: Don’t you have better things to be doing?
Huey: Better than fighting terrorism? Heck no! We’re at war!!
  • Huey: So colonel, you guys aren’t dropping food anymore? What happened to all that concern about the starving Afghan people?
Pentagon:Yeah, well…they’re not, uh, starving anymore.
Huey: Is that right?
Pentagon: Yep. Hey told us they’re all full now. Couldn’t eat another bite.
Huey: Amazing, I wonder what was in those food packets.
Pentagon: Well, that’s classified but…let’s just say a snickers really satisfies…

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