Dr. Imtiyaz Gul Khan
(The word ‘War’, comes brings to mind terrifying scenes of mass destruction and unprecedented human loss. The impact varies depending on the nature, organisation, time and space of a given war. But that does not deny the fact of bitter human experiences. The Afghans have no history but that of incessant conflicts for power control, regional hegemony, tribal and ideological supremacy and territorial possession, with horrendous effects on human psyche, mental make up and individual and collective behaviour. The effects of these conflicts were localised in many cases and regional in others: of late, however, these have been global due to increased militancy, contributing to the painful and fragile state of Afghan affairs. – Author)
As argued above, the First, Second, and Third Anglo-Afghan War fought during 1839-1842, 1878-1881, and 6 May 1919-3 June 1919, have been quite catastrophic bearing horrific ‘retribution’ on the Afghans. The invading army dealt with every village with a carrot and stick approach. Resistance was crushed through a reign of terror, execution, exploitation, and enormous human casualties.
The infrastructural damage and human causalities continued during the soviet occupation and , thereafter, the situation remains unabated in the post-9/11 scenario. In fact, its scale has widened with deployment of additional NATO forces and direct confrontation of the Pakistani army with the Taliban groups in Pakistan and at the Pak-Afghan borders. To comprehend the level of the impact of Afghan wars on society at large, some major areas are outlined for further explanation:
(A) Damages to Infrastructure:
The Afghan Wars destroyed most of the infrastructure built over the past two centuries. They damaged and uprooted arable land, schools, hospitals, roads, factories, farms, etc. This rendered the villages deserted and desolated. In the process, physical structures and traditional politico-administrative institutions collapsed. During the Soviet regime, the problem assumed alarming proportions due to Soviet air bombardment and shelling of villages, the sowing of mines and a “scorched earth” policy by ground forces: all contributing to what is termed as “migratory genocide” and wide spread violations of human rights and international law. By the 1990s, there were 2.6 million Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, and several hundred thousand Afghans in Europe, the USA and other parts of the world. This was accompanied by massive destruction of the country’s infrastructure: more than half of Afghanistan’s 36,000 villages and hamlets were destroyed; large sections of major cities were reduced to rubble; roads were turned into dirt tracks; and farms were rendered unsafe for agricultural activity. By 2001, some important structures like the Darulaman Palace and the Defence Ministry building were razed to ground in Kabul. Major inter and intra-district road systems were rendered ineffective due to conflicts and wars. Reportedly, 80% of road structures were damaged, this included main highways to Panjshir Valley and the Salang Tunnel. The inter-state network of roads was also destroyed in the process, which left the country almost isolated from the world. Institutions were irrevocably eliminated and power groups such as the Khans, urban capitalists, military officers, the intelligentsia, the “ulema” and tribal leaders were marginalised.
Thus material destruction was manifest in damage to infrastructure such as houses, buildings, roads, bridges, orchards, fields and irrigation systems the Karez. Such a damage has multiplied many fold during the NATO bombing of cities, towns and villages in the post-26/11 scenario. The works of rehabilitation sponsored by the global human agencies and organisation, despite best possible efforts, relatively failed to restore the traditional infrastructural image of the country. More so, the relief and rehabilitation projects of different nation states, are grounded in “vested interests” and rendered abortive due to unceasing conflict between the US and NATO forces on the one hand and native Afghan Taliban groups on the other.
(B) Damage to Human Resource:
As stated above, the Afghan wars pre-empted enormous human casualties and migration over the years. Soviet policy of subjugation and Sovietization was based on physical extermination with a totalist ideology to rupture Afghanistan’s economic, social, cultural and religious legacy. The policy was executed by indiscriminate bombing of villages. The estimates of the physical damage suffice to prove the comprehensiveness of the destruction: tens and thousands of people were killed, injured and rendered homeless in the process. To quote a report on the extent of the Refugees: “in Afghanistan virtually everyone is a victim.” Consequently, the Afghan wars created the biggest ever refugee problem in the world. The entire population was virtually displaced. In the process, more than six million civilians sought sanctuary in neighbouring countries which required international agencies to pump in billions of dollars for relief and rehabilitation of the refugees. With the ouster of the Taliban regime, the refugee problem was thought to be over as more than 2-3 million people returned home by 2003. However, thereafter, the situation deteriorated with great intensity. The tale of human death was equally dismal. According to a report: “war has killed two million Afghans, perhaps as many as two million were maimed and disabled, [it] created an army of orphans and widows, turned half the population into internally displaced persons and refugees, including six million outside the country.” Migration and human casualties made country’s population erratic. The 1979 census reports estimate the country’s pre-war population at 13.05 million, though other reports suggest it to be between 15-17 million including the nomadic population. Noor Ahmed Khalidi calculated that 876,825 Afghans constituting 7% of the total Afghan population were killed during the ten years war (1978-1987). Martin Ewan and Marek Sliwinski estimate the figure at 1.25 million or 9% of the pre-war population. Siddieq Noorzoy presents an even higher figure of 1.71 million deaths for the same decade. Another decade of Afghan wars (1980-1990) brought about marked demographic changes in Afghanistan. About 6.2 million Afghans constituting 32% of the projected population emigrated into refugee camps in Pakistan, Iran, and elsewhere and more than 1.5 million were killed, bringing the total to 7.7 million, well over 40% of the total projected population of 1990. Of this total, over 5 million or 47% of the rural population was affected in the process. This number grew further to 7.37 (51%) of 14.4 million in subsequent years. Indeed, the magnitude and intensity of demographic damages has been unprecedented, as is displayed in the following table.
Demographic Damages Due to Soviet War 1980-1990 in Millions
|1977 Population Actual||1990 Projected Population||Total Deaths||Total Emigration||Internal Migration|
Reports suggest that from 1.5 million to more than 2 million war deaths occurred in Afghanistan since 1978, with an average of 350 combat deaths per-month in 1997. Human Rights Watch mentions that by 2000 some 1.5 million people died as a direct result of the conflict and some 2 million people became disabled permanently. Though, the level of deaths reduced with the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, it did not end there after. This is proved by the number of casualties that followed ethnic cleansing with the fall of Mazar-i-Sharief and Bamiyan to the Taliban in September- October 1998. Over 1,500 civilians’ were massacred from the Hazara ethnic minority, and women were tortured and raped. The number of wounded persons was also on the rise due to the Afghan wars. To quote Rasul Baksh in 1994: “the proportion of those incapacitated by the war is 31 per-thousands of the entire population of the country.” One report indicates that 1.0 million people were rendered disabled during the Soviet-Afghan wars. There was a mass exodus due to the fear of the Taliban. This was particularly true of the ethnic minority groups of the Shomali Plains, in the north of Kabul. Reportedly, some 180,000 civilians fled the country as “wells were poisoned, land was mined, and traditional irrigation canals and dams were bombed” by the Taliban during their conflict with the Northern Alliance, particularly during 1999-2000. The immediate victims of this widespread uprooting were children, aged civilians and war widows. Afghanistan not only had the highest number of (6.2 million) refugees in 1990, but it also had a record number of (2 million) internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the same period. Substantial repatriation occurred with the fall of the Communist government in 1992, though 2.7 million continued to remain refugees in Pakistan and Iran. The level of Afghan refugees was such that Pakistan had to close its borders with Afghanistan in 1994. More than 1.5 million IDP were registered in Afghanistan between 1992 and 1997 alone. By late 1998, approximately 3.7 million Afghans were reluctant to return to their war-ravaged country under the Taliban regime. During this period 2 million refugees lived in Pakistan, 1.5 million in Iran, and about 10,000 on the border of Tajikistan. The 1997-2000 Taliban push into northern Afghanistan, together with the 2000 drought further prompted several hundred thousand Afghans to flee the country. During the United States bombing on Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan in 2001, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians left the country as they had no food or shelter.
In short, the direct effect of the Afghan Wars on the population has been stunning. More than 50% of the population was directly harmed by the war through death, injury, and displacement. There is hardly any Afghan family that was not been affected by the recurring wars and conflicts in Afghanistan. The effect was invariably felt in the cities, towns and villages: houses, mosques, schools, hospitals, industrial structures, roads, bridges, orchards, and fields were damaged due to several factors. Soviet tactics were designed to destroy the rural base of popular support for secessionism. The attacks were directed to destroy agricultural areas, water facilities, and livestock. While violating Geneva protocols, they used various nerve gases, mustard gases, and other chemical/biological weapons in several provinces. Consequently, the massive bombings and the food shortages, drove millions of peasants out of their villages. More than 50% of Afghan villages were turned into ghost towns, and millions of antipersonnel mines, in particular, the little “butterfly mines” fixed by the Soviets maimed millions in the countryside. Reports suggest that 20 to 25 people each day were either maimed or killed by landmines, and by 1996, some 20,000 civilians died and another 400,000 were disabled. Kabul has been the world’s most heavily-mined city where mines were placed in houses, walls of buildings, roads and streets. These led to a large number of casualties and displacements. The catastrophic impact is apparent as most of Afghanistan has a primitive look, with farmers struggling to provide food for their families. Many of them growing opium poppy as it requires less water than most food crops, and fetches good returns in the international market. The lucrative crop was promoted by the Taliban to re-energize their feeble economy.
The country and its people, therefore, relied heavily on foreign aid for sustenance. However, most of the support flowed in the form of military aid and relief for refugees. Little aid was allocated for institutional re-building and reconstruction. A recent study by the American nongovernmental agency, Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), and the Centre on International Cooperation (CIC) of New York University, suggested that only 1% of Afghanistan’s reconstruction needs have been met so far. Further, “donor fatigue” is a significant problem in Afghanistan, and the UN was unable to even meet its relief targets. For example, the 1999 UN appeal for $112 million from the international community, garnered only $29 million by late June 1999, with a further $12 million pledged for relief efforts outside the appeal; previous appeals did not achieve 75% of the targets.
The wars were extremely detrimental to sustainable economic development in Afghanistan. Existing industries were stalled. The most vibrant economic activities were transit trade, opium cultivation, heroin manufacturing and smuggling of duty-free goods into Pakistan. Consequently, the value of transit trade was estimated at $2.5 billion in 1997, half of Afghanistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $5 billion. The Taliban regime in Herat earned $30,000 per-day on customs duties prior to closing of the border with Iran in early 1997. The overall annual value of Afghanistan’s legal exports declined steadily during the 1990s to a value of well under $100 million, whereas illegal narcotics industry grew to the extent that Afghanistan, produced 4,581 tons of opium, 75% of the world’s total of 6,000 tons in 1999. Presently, the only significant domestically produced exports are narcotics and some timber and gemstones. Instead of a viable economic base, the country is surviving on illegal or quasi-legal, activities related to narcotics, arms trafficking, and smuggling of duty-free goods. However, little industrial infrastructure survived. Although mine clearing has been under way for over a decade, there are still an estimated 10 million mines scattered throughout the country, a deterrent to traditional economic growth and repatriation of refugees. On the other hand, no Marshall Plan was provided to rebuild Afghanistan which exposed the poor Afghan population to death and starvation, though economic development and human security is claimed to be the hallmark of the Hamid Karzai government.
(C) Damage to Economic Framework:
As discussed above, due to the ongoing conflict, a vibrant economic phenomenon remained a distant dream in Afghanistan. Before 1978, agriculture and pastoralism were the major sectors in the country. As much as 85% of the village population fundamentally thrived on agriculture supported by trade and village crafts. As such, 90% of the cultivated land was used for food grains of which wheat was grown on two thirds of the area sown. Other agricultural produce included cotton, dried and fresh fruits for both domestic consumption and export. While the traditional Afghan economy was shattered, an opium-heroin economic sector based on drug trafficking emerged to replace it during the wars. Hence, the traditional socio-economic system of rural Afghanistan, altered because of the wars and conflicts during the Soviet occupation . Under the Soviets, agriculture, its produce, exchange and distribution was declared a state monopoly. Further damage to the agricultural sector was a result of infighting between the Soviet troops and Afghan Mujahedin, and, therefore, food supply frequently fell short in the consumption centres. Because of state ownership, the peasants were handicapped to barter their limited produce in the towns and city markets. The roads were blocked and transport, irrigation and bazaar systems were disorganised. Agricultural capital which had developed over the years was badly affected as the Soviet forces struck the socio-economic base to dilute anti-Soviet resistance. It is reported that some 10 million (50%) of the total livestock: horses, bulls, cows, donkeys, goats, and lambs, constituting part of Afghanistan capital, were decimated. Besides, all types of roads, linking the principal agricultural areas with major population centres, were severely damaged owing to the heavy use of Soviet tanks and armoured vehicles. Part of the damage was inflicted during bombing and cordon-and-search military operations, usually on the highways. In some strategic zones, like Panjshir Valley, bombing and assault by ground troops not only destroyed supplies but also made the land uninhabitable due to forced migration.
The destruction of the Afghan rural economy was mani-fold. First, the countryside was emptied of its labour force as most of the Afghans joined the armed struggle against the Soviets. Few geographic zones were either completely obliterated due to bombing or evacuated for fear of war. While carrying out military operations against Mujahedin groups the suspected villages and their immediate surroundings were heavily bombed, homes were destroyed and harvest was burned forcing the affected villagers to abandon their villages. During military operations villages were razed to the ground and food reserves were set on fire which triggered a wholesale exodus of peasants, craftsmen, and tradesmen from their respective villages, thereby causing an immense decline in agricultural production and productivity. The following tables explain the position during 1978-1982.
Average Acreage and Farm Production per-Jerib in Sairs
% age change
% age change
% age change
% age change
% age change
Farm Production per-Jerib in Sairs
% age change
% age change
% age change
% age change
% age change
The above tables are reflective of the sharp decline in area statistics as well as farm production. The trend started with the Soviet occupation and continued throughout their rule in Afghanistan. The year-wise and crop-wise data would have made the position clear, but for want of the same, one is constrained to treat just the information of a few years 1978 and 1981-82 as the indicators of a sharp fall in the acreage and production of different grains, obviously because of shortage of labour following Soviet repression. This was complicated by the absence of agricultural loans and agricultural livestock, seeds and fertilizers, irrigation facilities and landed aristocracy, the Khans. According to a 1985 SCA survey, 50% of the farmers in Afghanistan reported about bombing of their village, one quarter destruction of irrigation systems, and more than a quarter shooting of their livestock and similar number reported about the decline in the availability of necessary inputs and services. As a result, from 1978-1986, yields decreased by about 50% for dry land and about 33% for irrigated land, while at least a third of the land was abandoned. The number of sheep, goat, and cattle declined from one half to one-third. According to a 1980-90 report, about 10 million animals (50% of the total livestock) were decimated by Soviet troops. Cutting down of fruit trees such as vines, apples, apricot, pomegranate is also reported in the research-based surveys.
Decline of Agricultural Capital in Conflict Zones by 1987
Based on the Reports of the Settled Villagers
|Nature of Damage||1978||1980||1985||1986||1987|
|Destruction of irrigation||0||13||24||20||12|
|Burning of crops||0||04||11||08||04|
|Bombing of village||0||23||53||38||22|
|Destruction of grain store||0||07||13||10||03|
|Livestock killed by mines||0||02||02||01||02|
Decline of Agricultural Capital in Conflict Zones by 1987
Based on inputs from the migrant villagers
|Nature of Damage||1978||1980||1985||1986||1987|
|Destruction of irrigation||0||12||36||30||0|
|Burning of crops||0||02||10||09||0|
|Bombing of village||0||21||65||49||0|
|Destruction of grain store||0||03||10||06||0|
|Livestock killed by mines||0||02||11||07||0|
Therefore, on account of a stagnant economy, Afghanistan relied heavily on outside assistance. According to Rubin, during the 1980s and 1990s, the Kabul government derived virtually all of its revenue from Soviet aid, sales of natural gas to the USSR, and borrowing from the Central Bank at inflated rates of interest. After the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992, Afghanistan’s relief and reconstruction projects were sponsored by the UN and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Mujahedin or subsequent Taliban government spent most of their resources on continued military struggle for which Pakistan annually provided $10 million from its budget.
The same declining trend is recorded during the post-Soviet period. Law and order was restored by the Taliban after a constant spell of disturbance. People returned to resume agricultural activity as a source of livelihood. But soon, the fighting between Taliban and anti-Taliban groups erupted. When the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, they enforced stringent laws which, inter alia, subdued industrial and other sectors. The few remnants of the financial sector disappeared almost entirely and the provision of social services including health and education deteriorated. A number of state institutions, i.e. the Central Bank, treasury, tax and customs departments, police and the judiciary were rendered weak. Loans and monetary transactions were organised through an informal financial sector. Capital and credit were commonly used for meeting basic needs rather than investment. Over two thirds of the loans were accessed for food, clothing, medicine, marriages, etc, while only one third was used for investment purposes.
No doubt, the overall economic situation stopped deteriorating in the first few years of the Taliban regime as inter-regional trade resumed in areas under their domain. Agriculture recovered and cereal production rose in 1998 to levels close to those existing prior to the outbreak of the war in 1979-80. Livestock increased due to the presence of leftover unutilized grazing lands, and horticultural production grew due to the restoration of orchards. The Taliban announced suitable measure to improve agriculture and revive industrial units. In sequence, cereal production increased to 3.85 million tons in 1998, almost 50% more than was recorded a year before in 1997. The improvement followed political stability and repatriation of the villagers to their farm lands. Despite this improvement Afghanistan imported 750,000 tons of wheat to meet the food requirements of the city-dwellers. The following two tables VII and VIII are reflective of changing the trends in agricultural production and productivity during 1997-99:
Afghanistan: Area, Yield and Production of Main Crops: 1997-98
|Type of cereal||Area in (ha)||Yield in (MT/ha)||Production (MT)|
Afghanistan: Area, Yield and Production of Main Crops: 1998-99
|Type of cereal||Area in (ha)||Yield in (MT/ha)||Production (MT)||% age Change in production|
Likewise, they announced concessions to businessmen for the promotion of trade as a boost to the economy. Moreover, they encouraged foreign investment in Afghanistan, in fact, this was the only option to start new projects and revive unfinished ones. However, these measures had little meaning in the absence of a basic structure. Investors were, therefore, required to build their own roads, arrange electricity, transportation, housing, etc. for starting an enterprise in war-torn Afghanistan. Similarly, trained professionals, including telephone operators, electricians, mechanics, etc. had left the country by the time of the Taliban take over. Most of the Taliban-run sectors of economy, finance, trade, and taxation were manned by conservative groups, the Mullah traders-businessmen, truck transporters and smugglers. The rationale of nation building and reconstruction was seen by them in the perspective of expanding the market for smuggling and the trucking trade across the region. Thus any serious foreign investment was unthinkable in conflict-prone Afghanistan. In the meantime, Afghanistan sewed an economic black hole due to fundamentalism and security threats to neighbouring economies. Afghanistan’s infrastructure was ruined due to conflicts and wars. Its basic civic amenities were non-existent: electricity, telephones, motorable roads, regular energy supplies, jobs, food and housing. Therefore, as a result of grinding poverty and unemployment, a large percentage of the population depended on UN and other aid agencies for survival. Western humanitarian agencies had provided food aid to 50% of Kabul’s population by 1998. However, the situation worsened thereafter, due to the Taliban siege of the Hazarajat, widespread starvation in central Afghanistan following floods, submerging of villages and crops in Kandhar, withdrawal of foreign aid and US air strikes.
Moreover, with souring relations of the Taliban with Iran, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, Afghan import and export trade activities halted. However, under the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) agreement Pakistan allowed the Taliban to undertake trade and commerce to meet the minimum requirements of the Afghans. In fact, most of this trade was based on electronics and other consumer items. After the ban on the ATT, most of the items were imported via Gulf countries to Afghanistan and then re-exported into Pakistan. A World Bank study estimated the value of this trade at $ 2.5 billion in 1997, of which goods worth $1.96 billion were re-exported from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
However, much of the progress made during 1996-99, was diluted by a severe drought in 2000 and 2001 which slummed cereal output by almost 50%. Total livestock declined by about 60% since 1998 due to the recurring deaths and the sale of animals during the summer and autumn of 2001. The country registered dramatic drop in food supply emanating from great disruption in domestic and foreign trade under the Taliban, which made 7 million Afghans dependent on international food aid in 2001. Against 5 million tons of cereal requirements of which 4 million tons were of wheat, the country just produced 1.6 million tons of wheat in 2001, i.e. only about 40% of domestic need. Thus, by 2001, all available social and economic indicators pointed to Afghanistan’s pauperized state of affairs.
The Taliban were not the only contributors to the socio-economic devastation, they, in fact, inherited the legacy from the Soviets and what ensued among different groups after 1992. These groups, including of course the Taliban were remotely concerned with planning, reconstruction and rebuilding of their nation, devastated by decades of war and conflicts. The magnitude of popular suffering was horrendous as the country’s economic black hole was getting wider. Some 700 square kilometers of land was contaminated by mines, thereby making farming an extremely hazardous occupation. A study funded by the World Bank estimated that in recent years as many as 500 persons per-month were direct victims of these mines.
Since 2002, the Afghan economy made some progress as regards with GDP growth rate at 52% in the agricultural sector with a value of about $2.1 billion. But the given progress slowed down since mid 2004 due to unpleasant weather conditions though the construction and services sectors grew due to foreign aid and opium trade. Nonetheless, the Afghan agricultural economy remained stagnant owing to structural weaknesses, absence of human capital, irregular funding institutions, failing state systems and incessant conflicts and wars. The domestic revenue in 2001-2003 was estimated at $348.6 millions. The country’s economic growth was such that it failed to alleviate inequality by income, gender or geography. 30% of Afghans were, as such, unemployed, while another 30% were engaged in part-time jobs.  Around 70% of Afghans survived on less than $2 a day.  61% of 17.5 million of rural population was exposed to extreme poverty. Much of the capital was invested in the non-tradable sector, primarily in construction and property building.
The reconstruction process is still very fragile and has to master many perils at the same time. Since the country is deficient of sustainable means of economy, it has, as such, taken recourse to short-cut alternatives. In sequence, most of the south and southeast of Afghanistan is destabilized, warlords control large parts of the country, and the drug economy has spread throughout the country. The northeast border provinces of Kunduz, Baglan and Takhar are dotted with drug and weapon-smuggling routes. The local commanders and government officials reportedly share drug routes for mutual benefits. Opium continues to monetize the Afghan economy, as earnings from drug cultivation, its processing, and smuggling inject cash into Afghanistan’s agricultural, consumer, labour, and construction markets. Moreover, provincial and district officials continue to collude with criminal networks and central government officials provide protection to drug and opium peddlers. This is perhaps why Afghanistan produces much of the world’s opium supply over the last three decades. While, therefore, the production of traditional crops drastically plummeted, that of poppy increased manifold for it involved little agricultural investment and labour. Its production marked a divergence from the traditional cropping pattern simply because poppy cultivation was more lucrative and involved less labour and irrigation. Thus its production in Afghanistan picked up tremendously since the beginning of the Afghan-Soviet War. Today, Afghanistan is the world’s largest opium producer, with the unprecedented record of an estimated 4,581 metric tons produced in 1999 on 90,983 hectares of land in 18 out of the 31 provinces in 104 districts. Its cultivation spread over 40% of the arable land in Afghanistan of which 75% was alone conducted in Helmend and Nangarhar provinces where land holdings were small and irrigation facilities limited. Thus around 75% of the estimated global output of 6000 metric tons is recorded in 1999 in Afghanistan. Its production continues from within and without the region, notwithstanding measures to uproot its production in collaboration with US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and UN Drug control program (UNDCP). Although it was initially manufactured for sale in the West, enough spilled over the local market of Pakistan’s indigenous population of 10,000-12,000 addicts in 1979, 500,000 in the mid-1980s, and 3-4 million in 1999. Its production receded because of the Pak-Governments endeavour. Nonetheless, the number of drug edicts did not come down simply because of in-coming poppy supplies from Afghanistan. For Example, in 1992 Pakistan’s 1.1 million to 1.2 million addicts consumed some 55 tons of heroin, only 18 tons of which were produced domestically. The rest came from Afghanistan’s poppy fields. Opium production and trade expanded in regions controlled by the Northern Alliance and the Taliban.
Thus Afghanistan’s south-west, Helmend and Kandhar provinces, the east Nangarhar, and the northeast Badakhshan, were prone to its cultivation primarily because of unprecedented damage to medieval agricultural structure especially in 1999. In sequence, it symbolized “war economy” that met the challenges set by normally drowning the traditional economy. Besides meeting the requirements of abject peasantry, warlords and repatriating refugees, its production sustained feeble economies of the previous and present regimes and enabled them to barter it for arms and ammunitions. Quite precisely, Taliban made no serious efforts to stall its production during 1998 or 1999, for it formed a significant portion of their revenue from transit trade. The Taliban supreme commander Mullah Omar in July 2000 issued an edict banning its production for being anti-Islam. However, the given edict proved half-hearted due to immediate drought conditions in the country. The subsequent regimes could not make any worthwhile contribution to its control. Lack of coordination between local, regional and global powers alongwith, the breakdown and weakening of centralised state authority explains the reasons of its growth in Afghanistan. In fact, poppy holds the key to power in Afghanistan. No government has till date succeeded in curbing its cultivation. Though, President Hamid Karzai under the pressure of the Western benefactors, provided $500,000 in reward to each of the six opium-free provinces: Ghazni, Paktia, Logar, Paktika, Panjshir and Wardak. However, this was an exception and did not include other 28 provinces. With the result, it was grown on two lakh hectares of land in 2006. Even Karzai’s effort of chemical spraying to destroy poppy crop, was shelved due to powerful patrons of opium trade, including his younger brother Wali Karzai, who supported his government. Thus with rulers in league with opium producers, Afghanistan, undoubtedly, will continue to contribute 90% of the total opium production in the world.
In a way, the ongoing conflicts and wars did not allow the traditional agricultural economy to grow. Rural folk could not attend the fields because of the absence of peace and security. To make a living amid urgency, they changed the cropping pattern, and opted for poppy cultivation for it involved less labour, and irrigation and earned them more than they would have through the cultivation of wheat and other traditional crops. The options of the rural folk were, either to carry out poppy cultivation or to join Jihadi groups or warring factions. The civil war had itself become a “major employer” in Afghanistan. The problems of widespread poverty and illiteracy, displaced refugees, millions of landmines and a wrecked infrastructure made economic recovery difficult.
(D) Damage to Traditional Socio-political Structure:
The long Afghan War profoundly transformed the socio-political framework of Afghanistan. It so happened with the Soviet take over and their calculated policy to replace private ownership and its allied production relations by a Communist order. Sequentially, therefore, the Soviets eliminated the then existing political elite by a new political order based on Leninist-Marxism ideology of classless society; hence, it introduced a new form of government under a single political party and ideological system which was alien to Afghanistan, and its tribal Pashtun and other communities in three major ways. In the first instance, it destroyed the pre-war elites and the social system that supported them on tribal and Islamic lines. In the second, it germinated a strong social reaction against the atheists, and in the third instance, it divided the otherwise nascent Afghans on sharp ethno-ideological lines. They blatantly used force to cow down each another, and changed alliances for mutual gains. Even they used superior military technology to enforce their writ in their respective areas, which plunged the country into lawlessness and disorder. In fact, the near anarchy followed the proliferation of high-technology weapons amongst the entire Afghan population; dubbed as ‘kalashnikovization’. The predicament perpetuated even after the Soviet withdrawal which eventually left behind a rudimentary political system that barely functions today. The hitherto Khans were neutralised, eliminated or forced to leave the country under the policy of “rubbleization”. Though the assembly of elders, or Jirgah was symbolically retained as a national decision making institution, in actual practice, the decision were taken in Kabul proper. During the Najibullah period (1986-1992), various tribal groups and their militias were induced to join the government to facilitate the elimination of the resilient Afghan groups. These changes fragmented traditional ethnic loyalties among the four main Afghan ethnic groups: the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. A variety of political movements were formed in and across these ethnic groups. These movements included ethnic nationalists; centrists or Afghan nationalists; Islamists; and Communists. The political impact of these changes was particularly strong among the minority Tajiks and Uzbeks. Increased education among the ethnic minorities sensitised them to the disparities between them and the Pashtuns who dominated the government and the armed forces. Groups such as the Setami Melli were formed in the 1960s to advocate the rights of non-Pashtuns. Among them Durrani groups were not accounted for policy making decision because of the absence of Durrani Khans in opposition to Kabul. Even former king Zahir Shah kept a low profile throughout the war. Interestingly, as Shah M. Tarzi noted, “immediately after the Soviets withdrew and the external threat dissipated, prominent figures of the Sadowzais, Popalzais, Achekzais, and Barakzias, the four major Durrani sub-tribes, openly protested against the legitimacy of Hekmatyar, Rabbani, and Khalis.”
Since religion was a prominent indicator of a vibrant social role, many of the hitherto Khans wore religious mentor and transformed from traditional ulema to fundamentalist Mullahs. With religious footing in background, they steered the military and political command. Kakar states that the rise of Mullahs as socio-political and military leaders was without parallel in modern Afghan history. While enjoying traditional support, some of them had an active role in changing power politics of Afghanistan, and even ousted from power, President Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Moulvi Yunus Khalis, and Rasoul Abdur Saffaf the women fundamentalist. They had also a great deal to do with the political role of their fellow Afghan chiefs Ahmed Shah Masood and Ismail Khan of the Mujahedin, and Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Jowzjani Uzbek militia and the refugee populations in Pakistan and Iran.
At the end in 1994, a new elite group, the Taliban representing mostly the hitherto marginalised Kandahari Pashtuns, took over reigns of whole country, with profound implications for Afghan culture and society. Under strategic considerations, they enrolled in their ranks the Durrani, non-Durrani Pashtuns from the Kandhar area and encouraged younger base of leadership than was customary in Afghanistan. Most of the Taliban leadership was composed of either Mujahedin and small-unit commanders, or else the pupils in Pakistani Madrassas. The average Taliban teenager has been, therefore, illiterate, often orphaned or from a family hit by the war; hence, deeply ignorant of the wider world. His knowledge came from within a very conservative framework. Nonetheless, they brought about fundamental changes in Afghan society: they marginalised Jirgah system and encouraged leadership among young people. More so, they conducted Afghan leadership at a time that was crucial to the regional and global order. It is either because of the Soviets or Taliban that Afghans were exposed to a sophisticated war technology and weaponry. From 1978 to the early 1990s, the Soviet Union supplied worth $36 billion to $48 billion military equipments to the Communist regime in Kabul, at the estimated cost of $3-4 billion per-year. In a way, Soviet military aid made Afghanistan the world’s fifth largest importer of weapons during 1986-1990. This is apart the supplies to the Mujahedin from the United States, Saudi Arabia and China worth $6-12 billions to the detriment of the Afghan physical infrastructure and the Afghan segmentary social system embedded with a cultural syncretism. The weaponry was often misused leading to banditry and other vices. Local groups of erstwhile Mujahedin controlled small areas in the name of a Mujahedin party with which they had at least a nominal affiliation. They extracted resources from the innocent citizens often by quasi-legal methods, extortion, robbery, rape, and murder. Initially, the Taliban marginalised misuse and anarchy. But subsequently, they failed to end it as is revealed by the available reports. In the process, killing became a way of life in Afghanistan in the name of ethnic cleansing.
With the damage of the inbuilt socio-political structure and the influence of foreign hand and sophisticated war technology, Afghanistan is leading towards a disaster which spill over Pakistan, Iran, Central Asia and other regional and sub-regional neighbourhood. The fate of the Afghans seems bleak with no major breakthrough achieved by the US and Pakistan forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Only killings including those of the civilians multiply and the Afghan society at all level is confronted with variety of potent threats and challenges. The institutions are broken beyond repatriation unless some lasting peace obtains in the country. The local leadership has too many challenges in the way of nation building and the empowerment of Hamid Karzai’s government is not going to produce miracles when he is under the Western command.
(E) Damage to the Socio-cultural Ethos:
Like other segments of society, the Afghan culture has been a big causality during the wars. Culturally, if not ethnically, Afghanistan represents a heterogeneous whole with different social groups having different cultural traits, language, religious practices, physical appearance, attire, traditions and customs. Inter-marriages are relatively uncommon, and even the spirit of nationhood except in case of war against the foreigners, is virtually non-existed as most individuals identify themselves in relation to their qawm. Group identity usually never extends beyond the tribal or ethnic group level; hence, narrow in actual working. The solidarity at household and village levels has undoubtedly changed. Only foreign invasions can unify them for a common cause. The history of long war has been so destructive to Afghanistan that it has produced dramatic cultural and social changes. National traits, once a hallmark of Afghan society, are increasingly weakening and the society is fastly heading towards to “intolerance.” Small children know nothing accept war and trauma. The war has left terrible psychological and physical scars on their minds and bodies, which undermined syncretism that once solidified the complex multi-cultural society. The damages to social norms, values, customs and traditions are perhaps more dangerous than those to the economic structure. A state of fear and apprehension predominates every mind, even among those who fought against Soviets and stood by the Taliban. The spirit of jihad that initially sustained them as a vital animating force pushed them towards continued conflict and violence. Thus along with other sectors, Afghan society was a causality owing to wars since Soviet occupation till date. Virtually every branch of popular culture was affected over the past two decades: the art, music, architecture, customs, education, literature, etc.
The onslaught began with the Soviets who subjugated the whole set of Afghan culture to Leninism-Marxism and recognised no culture other than the one related to Communism. This is why city cinemas showed only Russian movies and films about the Second World War. Children were brought in buses from their schools to allow them watch these films. Kabul T.V. also showed weekly documentary films on “Our Great Northern Neighbour” which glorified Soviet culture. Strict censorship was imposed on press and newspapers lest they propagated anti-Russian culture. The Soviet-centric newspapers such as Yuldis (the Star), Girash (the Struggle), and Sab (the Revolution) were published in minority languages like Uzbek, Turkmen, and Baluchi, for circulation among the Afghan people to tame their minds on Soviet lines. Soviet books, pamphlets, periodicals, and posters were also distributed free through book stores to sensitise the Afghans to the Soviet contribution in Central Asia. The Soviet centres of science and culture were constructed to popularize Communist culture to the detriment of the non-atheist Afghan heritage.
Likewise, the Soviets, the Taliban also contributed to demeaning the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan. In fact, they undid whatever had slipped the Soviets, and brought to ground every such cultural reminiscence as did not fit in the Islamic framework: the destruction of Buddha’s statues at Bamiyan, offers the typical example of Taliban “vandalism.” Their rigid policies based on Shariah cut across the Afghan traditions of peaceful co-existence of otherwise divergent ethno-religious, and cultural and linguistic communities. The Taliban political agenda neglected the importance of the national ideology and forced Afghanistan to a similar direction as the Soviets had done earlier. Virtually, all secular forms of popular culture were forbidden for being un-Islamic: cinema, television, radio, music, art, photography and depictions of human images. The Taliban, being allergic to female education, sharply brought down literacy rate of the girls in Afghanistan so that by 1997 Kabul University was devoid of females students and faculty alike. Such a declining trend continued unabatedly so that female literacy rate was hardly recorded between 3 and 4% by 1999. The Taliban regime also muzzled the freedom of media. Kabul radio and television represented the voice of Shariah than popular faith. This had cascading effects on the circulation of secular literature among the nascent people. Earlier the Soviets patronised only the pro-Communist literature though the resistant groups clandestinely circulated anti-Soviet literature in and around Kabul. The similar type of conditions obtained during the Taliban. Eventually, the rich national treasure suffered by late 1990s. Over 70% of the Kabul National Museum and 100% of the objects therein were damaged and burnt down. Thus by 1995, the Mujahedin destroyed almost all priceless collections of the National Kabul Museum and partially sold in the international market. The material remains from different archeological sites were transported through Pakistan to the international markets. Noted journalist Ahmed Rashid also referred to a couple of archaeologists and historians who reported about heritage loses of different sorts. These losses included the Begram collection, one of greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century. Thus, the catastrophe of war annihilated 70 years of treasure unearthed since 1922. Several historical sites, especially in and around Kabul, were reduced to rubble during fighting. These included the mausoleum of Nadir shah, Babur’s garden, Darulaman Place, and the Victory Arch in Paghman. The sites like Herat’s fifteenth-century Timurid minarets were ignored for restoration. Bamiyan’s two colossal statues, along with others in the Foladi valley and Kakrak, were dynamited by 2000. Tepe Shutur-e-Hadda, the great Buddhist Temple, which was an immovable museum and a masterpiece of Gandahara art, was demolished and all its unique moldings were plundered. The Minaret of Chakari, one of the most important monuments of the first century AD., was destroyed for being un-Islamic. The cultural onslaught was inclusive of the damage done to precious historical sites at Herat, Maymana, Balkh, Samangan, Kunduz, Bakhshan, Takhar; Bamiyan, Yakaoling, Panjshir, Kohestan, Kapissa, Begram, Kabul, Jalriz, Maydan Shahr, Kandhar, Helmend, Seistan, Jalalabad, Kunar, Laghman, Patchir, and Agam. These sites were subjected to illegal excavations by local commanders for more than two decades.
Even Afghanistan’s rich history of crafts and traditions disappeared in the wake of wars. The carpet weavers modified traditional motifs and projected ubiquitous Kalashnikov rifle in carpets. The same change and degradation was affected as regards embroidery, clothing style, carpentry, etc. The National Sport of Buzkashi, characterising polo ponies and master horsemen, had causality due to the constant wars. Due to the changing rulers, their divergent ideologies, conflict and wars, they had to carry out for their accomplishment, had an unpleasant bearing on the Afghan way of life. The massive use of force by the Soviets and the Taliban alike pre-empted such a damage to the Afghan way of life. For the same reason perhaps, one third of Afghan population was moving here and there for safety and livelihood. During the process, they lost their indigenous traits and absorbed alien influences from Pakistan and Iran in particular and other countries in general. The children in the refugees camps learnt about the culture of the host countries rather than their own country. They communicated in Pashtu and Dari which was alien to other Afghan factions in the refugee camps. Forced by conflicts and wars, thousands of Afghans migrated to European countries where they got indoctrinated with Western thought and culture. In the process, they forgot their mother tongue, Pashtu or Dari. By this migratory genocide, the socio-cultural values of Afghans were harmed to a great extent as they could not practice their own cultural traditions and values. Long years of war and conflict, large amount of displacement, deaths, and migration had a significant impact on the Afghan traditions and culture. Indeed, the massive mobolisation forced Afghanistan from a peaceful, political, and cultural life to a hostile, complex, violent, and destructive one.
(G) Damage to Human Security and Development:
(a) Health Care:
Due to continuous internecine conflict and wars the health sector was more than other sectors paralysed. The individual and collective mental health of the average Afghan was affected due to recurring deaths, injury, migration, fear, psychological scars, misery, and statelessness: health workers disappeared with out being replaced, and demand for care increased at an exponential rate. In the countryside, there were no civil servants of any kind: not an office, a doctor. High vulnerability to natural disasters, food deficit, limited safe water supply, poor standards of hygiene and sanitation, and restricted access to health care for women and girls characterised Afghanistan since the Soviet occupation till date. Even prior to wars, Afghanistan’s health care system presented a gloomy view. Thereafter, the situation worsened manifold owing to continued conflict, food insecurity, the drain of health personnel, destruction of rural health infrastructure, inadequate supplies of medicines, vaccines, equipment and fuel. However, the wide range of pharmaceutical drugs available without a doctor’s prescription from pharmacies, other retail outlets and even roadside stalls were reportedly available in the country. Many of these were nonetheless spurious, adulterated, outdated and unregistered pharmaceuticals made in India and Pakistan and illegally imported into Afghanistan. Further, while the World Health Organization (WHO) drew an ‘essential drug list’, in terms of perceived need, it was not followed by importers and distributors, even although the Taliban authorities in Kabul did a quality control check on legally imported drugs, including WHO drugs. In view of inaccessibility of estimated 6 million people to health care, Afghanistan’s health system ranked 173rd out of 191 countries in the Human Development Index in 2000. Every indicator of health status revealed the crisis. Children faced one of the worst survival rates of any country on earth. Infant mortality stood at 260 per-1,000 live births. Half of all Afghan children suffered from chronic malnutrition, and one out of every four children died before reaching the age of five. Only 35% of Afghanistan had any maternal and child care health clinics and most children died due to a variety of infectious and parasitic diseases, including acute diarrhea, respiratory infections, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, malaria, measles, and vaccine-preventable diseases, disorders allied to pregnancy and delivery. The average life expectancy rates were estimated at 45 years for men and 46 years for women, compared with 74.5 and 80 years, respectively, in the United States. On an average, there were 11 physicians, 18 nurses, and 1 dentist per-100,000 population, compared with 279,972, and 60, respectively, in the United States: all so because of out migration, and killings following decades of war and conflict. The Taliban purge of all civil servants, including physicians, on the grounds of political affiliation with the Soviets further depleted the already decimated medical and professional classes. Physician-patient ratio was sequentially estimated at 95,000-1 and that of patient-doctor at 30,000-1. In view of limited medical service provided by international relief agencies, malnutrition and lack of basic health care, contributed to the high death rates. Immunization coverage was generally low. Overall, only 35% of children had measles immunization, and 11% had polio vaccine. About half of the children below five years of age were stunted due to chronic malnutrition and up to 10% were acutely malnourished. According to WHO report 2002, 80% to 90% of women of child bearing age were anemic. Only 2% of households used iodized salt and 7.5% per-1000 population indicated visible goiter. Health care for women and girls were deficient enough due to the acute lack of female health personnel, gender segregation and restrictions on women and girls by the local traditions. The country had second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with an estimated 16,000 dying each year from pregnancy-related causes. One in twelve women died in childbirth. The maternal mortality rate in 1993 was recorded 1700 per-100,000 live births. The majority of pregnant women had no health care facility available during their delivery. Fewer than 15% of deliveries were attended by trained heath workers; however, there were mostly traditional birth attendants. In addition to this, communicable diseases, largely controlled elsewhere in the world, spanned Afghanistan to an appreciable extent. Nearly half of all premature deaths and disabilities were due to measles, influenza, typhoid, cholera and meningitis. Among swelling endemic diseases, 72,000 new cases and more than 15,000 deaths per-year were reported as a result of tuberculosis; most cases were young adults, with 70% women. Besides, over 13 million people were susceptible to malaria; cases caused by falciparum malaria shot up from 1% in 1978 to about 6% as on date.
The war and deteriorating economic, social, and physical scenario in rural and urban Afghanistan, impaired housing and environmental sanitation facilities with sinister dimensions as can be gauged from the information contained in the following table.
Measures of Human Security in Afghanistan
|Indicators||Afghanistan||South Asia||Developing Countries|
|Human Development Index Rank (Out of 174)||169||N/A||N/A|
|% with access to health care (1985-93)||29||65||79|
|Safe water (1990–95)||12||77||69|
|Daily calorie supply per-capita (1992)||1,523||2,356||2,546|
|Infant mortality per-1,000 live births (1993)||165||85||70|
|Under five mortality
Per-1,000 live births (1993)
per 100,000 live births (1993)
|Life expectancy at birth in years (1993)||44||60||62|
|Adult literacy rate (%, 1993)||28||48||68|
The table shows that despite measure of human welfare or security for life expectancy, mortality of women and children, health, literacy, access to clean water and nutrition, Afghanistan ranked near the bottom of the human family. It does not figure in the tables of the World Development Report of the United Nations Development Program because the country had no national institutions capable of compiling such data. By the end of 1996, it was estimated that 1.5 million men, women and children were physically disabled by war, injuries, including amputation, blindness, paralysis, and infectious diseases, like poliomyelitis and leprosy. Birth complications caused disabilities such as cerebral palsy and mental retardation. Another 10% of the total population from families and associates of the disabled were directly affected by these disabilities.
(b) Mental Health:
Due to wars and conflicts, the country was not evenly devoid of mental health related problems of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a result of wide spread displacement, cultural constraints, massive destruction of private and public property, and virtual disruption of human life, the country symbolised a horrific profile of human health. Several studies have documented high levels of depression and mental stress emanating from the country’s insecurity. One study carried out by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in 1998, noted that there were “extraordinarily high levels of mental stress and depression” in the country. 81% of participants in the PHR survey “reported a decline in their mental condition, 42% exhibited post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 97% were diagnosed with major depression, and 86% demonstrated significant symptoms of anxiety”. Over one-fifth (21%) of the participants indicated that they had suicidal thoughts ‘extremely or quite often.’ The interviews with Afghan women, carried out by PHR clearly showed that the general climate of cruelty, abuse, and tyranny has had a profound effect on women’s mental health. 35% reported their mental conditions significantly interfered with daily activities, 94% showed significant intrusive symptoms, and 95% of women expressed a decline in their mental energies. Many of them were feared by the denial of education to their girl children, unemployment and fear of the limited opportunities. About 66% of women described a decline in their own and the physical condition of their children, with an increasing rate of tuberculosis, and infectious diseases. Poor and un-educated women cherished desire in health care, schooling, and protection of human rights as a key to achieving a better future and out let from drug abuse. Disability aside, the Afghan women and children were exposed to innovational outburst following stress and abuse. Long term effects affected their emotional relationships from within the family and the community. Even some traumatic events made children to stop speaking. This is but natural in a conflict situation pre-dominated by recurring bomb blasts, and land mines leading to ever growing human loss, injury, mental stress, affecting every sector of family life in Afghanistan in the long run.
Estimates of total human resource inside Afghanistan indicated that there were about 17,600 health care providers, comprising of 3906 physicians, 2564 mid-level professionals, 4993 nurses and technicians, and 6123 community health workers and birth attendants. However, there was an urban bias with one physician to 1700 people in Kabul, but one physician to 450,000 persons in the other provinces. Existing health services were confined to limited geographical regions, if community health workers were excluded, the ratio of physicians to other categories was 1:2, indicative of the distortions in the workforce structure: physicians were more than support staff. The country had such a limited health care structure that was far below the international standards. It had, as such, only 823 health facilities centres including 17 national, 9 regional, 34 provincial, and 41 district hospitals. Besides, there were peripheral 365 basic health centres and 357 health posts in the peripheries of Afghanistan. Their major benefit was reaped by the urbanites whereas the rural folk had little of advantage on their account. Approximately 50% of the 8333 hospital beds were available in Kabul whereas the whole countryside had 0.34 beds per-1000 population, compared to an average 3 per-1000 in low-income countries: 20% of districts had no health facilities. In 1996, 8 of 14 hospitals in Kabul were non-functional because of damaged infrastructure and lack of basic medical supplies and equipment such as X-ray machines, suction and oxygen equipments, running water, medication and staff. Even then benefit had little meaning for women folk and children. An extensive survey of 160 Afghan women carried out by PHR researchers found that “71% of them had declining health, 77% had poor access to health care (20% had none), and 53% were unable to seek medical care. 27% also reported poor access to health facilities because of no chaperon, and 48% revealed that no female doctor was available.” Moreover, laboratories were few and scope of necessary tests limited.
(c) Afghan Women:
It is generally believed that the Afghan woman were always a causality. Their plight surfaced especially during the Taliban regime, which, however, is a hundred billion dollar question that can be explained only when we comprehend Afghan women in a historical perspective. Thus our study should not be guided by ideological or religious formulations but rather by historical context. To begin with two critical epochs in Afghan history: one, the reign of Amanullah Khan in 1923, characterising rapid reforms to empower women in individual and in the family. The second period pertained to the Communist-backed Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan. This leadership forced an agenda of social change including empowerment of women that ultimately fomented a decade-long war between Afghans and the Soviets, the birth of the Mujahedin, and the decline of women’s status. Despite the failure of reforms, Afghanistan was receptive of a progressive thought based on the egalitarian society, rural-urban divide aside. Nonetheless, women had no better lot to their fate, and they suffered terribly in the wake of political transition from one regime to another: they “saw their homes destroyed, sons and daughters killed, future ruined, and their dignity fading away” in the train of imperial wars and cultural onslaught. Treated as spoils of war, constant fear of being dishonoured by armed guards at will, always lurked in their minds. Confined to family life as they were, the Afghan women were debarred to move freely in public unless covered from top to bottom. Not only that, they were denied co-educational schools and genuine right to work in private and public sector for livelihood. Owing to indigence and orphanage, many were subjected to penury and prostitution. In 1997, forty to fifty thousand widows existed in the city of Kabul alone, which, however, increased alarmingly 1.5 million by 2008 without substantial support though the Taliban under Moulvi Ehsan-ullah Ehsan, claimed to had given monthly salaries to some 30,000 home-confined women. The Taliban also scaled down the incidences of rape of women though cases of molestation were not simultaneously ruled out. Despite this, the women had neither political representation nor civil rights to appeal for their mistreatment. That they had limited medical and health care facilities was complicated by the absence of their professional counterparts: female doctors, nurses and pharmacists. At the end, life expectancy for women was only 43-44 years old, nearly 20 years less than the average in developing countries partly because maternal mortality rate was 17 per-1000, and infant mortality rate was 163 per-1000, due to shortage of trained medical personnel, and access to health care and safe water. A survey of 160 Afghan women by the PHR revealed that 97% were beset with depression, 86% anxiety and 42% post-traumatic stress disorder. The vast majority of women suffer from psychic disorders, caused by loss, loneliness, or traumatic dislocation from traditional villages. Thus the transforming position of women in Afghanistan during the last three decades of history of the 20th century offers a typical illustration of their plight, destitution, backwardness and illiteracy. In 1997, Kabul University was devoid of females, who once constituted 65% of its student and teacher strength combined.
While their plight is an admittedly reality during the Taliban regime, the post-Taliban period of Hamid Karzai brought no worthwhile respite to them: the rate of suicide and self-immolation increased alarmingly. Some women ended their lives, and those who nonetheless survived had huge burns on their faces and bodies. These cases of self immolation increased since 2003, partly because of forced marriages (60%), domestic violence (80%) and early marriages (50%). 87% complained sexual harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws. Paradoxically, in the event of non-payment of loans by many farmers the women was offered as a means to settle the debt: they were termed as “Opium Brides”. On top of it, was the tribal code based on kinship hierarchies in the rural regions which existed to the great disadvantage of women. They recognised marriages as alliances between groups. Women were, as such pawned into marriages; hence, not divorced so easily. They were perceived as the receptacles of honour; hence, subjugated to family affair with the social obligation of veil or purdah. Afghan rural women were oppressed through tribal customs and dictates, whereas the women of the reference groups, the ruling elite, had relative freedom compared to rural folk.
(d) Afghan Children:
Like other sections of society, the Afghan children suffered on account of the incessant wars and conflicts in the region. Varieties of their rights were affected in sequence: the right to life, family and community, health, development of personality, nourishment and protection. The impact varied region-wise though, yet it was not non-existent; hence, consumed the life of thousands of innocent Afghan young souls for none of their faults but that of the regional powers that ruled over their country from time to time. This was not unique to Afghanistan but to whole world. In Afghanistan, however, the impact of war and conflict was profound enough and stretched to several generations together since Anglo-Afghan Wars till US presence in the region. Among the refugees, the women and children constituted three-quarters. During the civil war following Soviet withdrawal, four hundred thousand children died and many of them lost parents or siblings. Being orphans, few of them were transported across Iran and Pakistan for sale. Their primary right to parental affection and schooling was affected in the first instances. This was accompanied by the devastating impact on their physical, emotional and mental growth. The majority of them were witness to acts of violence, destruction, and killings. Those who survived were exposed to food scarcity, absence of health care and parental affection. About four million children in Afghanistan died from malnutrition and illness, and otherwise easily treatable diseases such as diarrhea and pulmonary conditions. Many of them were forced to take up the responsibility of family breadwinner owing to the death of their fathers. Even many of them were engaged in criminal acts related to drug trafficking and smuggling. Armed groups recruited them to fight in battles, thereby turned them into perpetrators of violence. Such conditions left a permanent scar on their personality. According to medical experts, one of the greatest challenges facing war ravaged nations has been the rehabilitation of children, particularly those who saw their families destroyed before their own eyes. One report in October 1997 showed that the majority of children in Kabul suffered serious traumatic stress. Some 72% of the children experienced the death of one or the other relative between 1992 and 1996. Two thirds of them witnessed mass of dead bodies, few torn into pieces during rocket and artillery attacks. 90% of them wished for a death than the continuation of the conflict. Many found it difficult to reintegrate into society as they took the war track. They were simply nostalgic of wars; hence, devoid of affection, love and peace, and thought of nothing except hatred.
Following the Soviet withdrawal and the civil war in Afghanistan, local populations were subjected to violent retaliatory punishments by the victorious forces. Besides other gender groups, the children were the equal targets for the association of their parents with one or other rival groups. They were, at times, abducted and sexually abused by armed political groups. Young girls were abducted and detained for sexual purposes. The post-civil war scenario was not evenly redeeming. As argued above, the Taliban whatever their credits, were relatively harsh to women and children. They latter subjected the girls to a rigid social code that deprived them of the rights to free mobility, education, and employment. Notwithstanding the sanctions, the Taliban brought disproportionate suffering and impoverishment to war widows and families in Afghanistan. Food shortages and malnutrition had their biggest impact on Afghan girl children. Under these circumstances, tens of thousands of children were forced to take on the streets of Kabul for cleaning cars or shoes, and performing similar other works to make a livelihood for their worn out families. Among 28,000 children reported in Kabul city by 1999, few aged nine years only: they engaged in begging with serious social ramifications.
Thus the war-torn Afghan children present quite a pathetic scene of inhumanity. Poor as they were historically, the Afghan children were subjected to such conditions as were quite incompatible to their nature, behaviour and personality, which put them to a disadvantageous position when compared with their counterparts in the progressive and civilised world. Instead of being in the lap of their mothers and fathers, they were scattered here and there with no viable future and association with their respective family or community. Scenes of killings always haunted them and perhaps they can never imagine of a cheerful world as long as Afghanistan is engulfed by wars and conflicts.
 Dr. Imtiyz Gul Khan is a history lecturer for the Dept. of Education, Govt. of J&K.
 Andre Velter, “Lifting the Veil,” Women of Afghanistan, ed., Isabelle Delloye and Marjoljn de Jager, California: Ruminator Books, 2003, p.xi; Afghanistan: Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, Hearings, Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations United States Senate 104th Congress, Second Edition, Washington: US Government Printing Press, 1996, p.27.
 According to Paul, one Muslim doctor revealed that “he has never met a wounded or amputated man who is defeated, sad or sorry; he has never heard a woman cry, a woman shouting, and a crowd of people mourning. He has never seen anything like this”: Paul Overby, Holy Blood: An Inside View of the Afghan War, Westport CT: Praeger, 1993, p.192.
 Sir Percy Sykes, A History of Afghanistan, Vol. II, New Delhi: Macmillan, 1981, pp.55-57.
 In one of the intense battles during the Second Anglo-Afghan War some 5,000, Afghans suffered considerably, including women, and children: Conflict in Afghanistan: Studies in asymmetric warfare, p.76, 83.
 Arthur Bonner, Among the Afghans, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1987, p.337.
 Andrew J. Bacevich and Eliot A. Cohen, War over Kosovo: Politics and Strategy in a Global Age, New York: Columbia University Press, 2001, p.107.
 For airmobile operations more helicopters were introduced, and then still more air power, followed by the bombing of villages. Large areas were turned into free-fire zones, which led to the charge that the Soviets were pursuing a conscious policy of depopulation—trying to isolate the fish by draining the ocean. Significantly, American tactics in Vietnam had been described by critics in precisely the same language. Frustrated by their elusive enemy, the Soviets applied a “scorched earth policy” in rebel villages: Holy Blood: An Inside View of the Afghan War, p.64; Conflict in Afghanistan: Studies in asymmetric warfare, pp.133-134.
 Dupree coined the term “rubbleization” and “migratory genocide” to describe Soviet tactics in Afghanistan: Louis Dupree, “Afghanistan in 1982: Still No Solution’ Central Asian Survey, Vol. 23, No.2, 1982, p.135.
 Saif R. Samady, Education and Afghan Society in the twentieth century, Paris: UNESCO, 2001, pp.18-19.
 Nake M. Jamrany, “Soviet War Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.180; however Ewan, reports that there were some 35,000, villages: Conflict in Afghanistan: Studies in asymmetric warfare, pp.132-133; while another Western scholar appropriately likened the country to 25,000 village states: Anthony Arnold, The Soviet Invasion in Perspective, Stanford, CA, Hoover Institution Press, 1986, p.97.
 Gary R. Shaye, “Save the Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p. 36; Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.92; The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, pp.227-228.
 “Soviet War Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.181.
 “Civil War in Afghanistan,” Social Education, Vol. 65. Issue. 7, National Council for the Social Studies: Gale Group, 2001, p. 429.
 The Karez system in Afghanistan was developed centuries ago by the Persians. It consists of a series of holes about 50 feet apart, dug in line through an underground channel beginning on a hillside and going to a lower elevation. The lower end of the Karez is connected by a channel having a more gradual slope than the surface terrain, which results in the channels emergence from the ground: S. B. Majrooh and S. M. Y. Elmi, The Sovietazation of Afghanistan, Peshawar Pakistan: Afghan Information Centre, 1985, pp.162-163; Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.94-95.
 Education and Afghan Society in the twentieth century, p.18; for somewhat lower estimates see: Barnett Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, 2nd ed., London: Yale University Press, 2002, p.1.
 Ralph H. Magnus and Eden Naby, Afghanistan: Mullah, Marx, and Mujahid, USA: Westview Press, 2002, p.9; The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.32.
 Noor Ahmad Khalidi, “Afghanistan: Demographic Consequences of War, 1978-1987,” Central Asian Survey, Vol.10, No.3, 1991, p.106.
 Conflict in Afghanistan: Studies in asymmetric warfare, p.151; Marek Sliwinski, “Afghanistan: Decimation of a People,” Orbis, Vol. 33, No. 1, 1989, pp.39-56.
 M. Siddieq Noorzoy, “Some Observations on an Assessment of the Population in Afghanistan,” WUFA, Journal of the Writers Union of Free Afghanistan, Vol.3, No.3, 1988, pp.6-14.
 Nake M. Jamrany, “Soviet War Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.173.
 “Afghanistan: Demographic Consequences of War, 1978-1987”, Central Asian Survey, Vol.10, No.3, p.109.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.93.
 Human Rights Watch, “Fuelling Afghanistan’s War,” Human Rights Watch, New York, 15 December, 2000:Cf. http://www.hrw.org
 Maliha Zulfacar, “The Pendulum of Gender Politics in Afghanistan”, Central Asian Survey, Vol.25, March- June, 2006, p.41.
 Rais Rasul Baksh, War Without Winners, Karachi, Pakistan: Oxford Press, 1994, p.20.
 “Soviet War Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.172.
 Ahmad Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001, p.55.
 David H. Kuhns, “Doctors Without Borders,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.47.
 Gayle Mertz, “Civil War in Afghanistan,” Social Education, Vol. 65. Issue. 7, National Council for the Social Studies: Gale Group, 2001, p.429.
 “Civil War in Afghanistan,” Social Education, Vol. 65. Issue. 7, National Council for the Social Studies: Gale Group, 2001, p. 429.
 The Soviets believed that all evil comes from the villages, so they decided to cut off the town from the countryside by destroying the villages surrounding, the urban regions, and forcing the inhabitants to flee. By reducing the number of inhabitants in the rural areas, they realized that there would be less shelter and support for the resistance: The Sovietazation of Afghanistan, p.152.
 Jeffery J. Roberts, The Origins of Conflict in Afghanistan, Westport CT: Praeger, 2003, p.xi.
 These mines, often shaped to appear as toys or other innocuous items, were sown by air and whirled down to earth like maple seeds, which have maimed thousands of curious children, adults, and livestock. It is reported that 50% of Afghanistan’s total livestock (horses, cows, bulls, donkeys, goats, and lambs) have been decimated: “Soviet War Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.180; Holy Blood: An Inside View of the Afghan War, p.45; The Origins of Conflict in Afghanistan, p.xvi.
 Barnet R. Rubin, “The Fragmentation of Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, Vol.68, No.5, 1989-1990, pp.150-168; The Origins of Conflict in Afghanistan, p.xvi.
 “Doctors Without Borders,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.49.
 “Save the Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.36.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.95-96.
 Barnet R Rubin, “The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan,” World Development, Vol. 28, No.10, Great Britain: Elsevier Science Ltd. 2000, p.1795.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.96.
 “The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan,” World Development, Vol.28, No.10, Great Britain: Elsevier Science Ltd. 2000, p.1796.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.96.
 “The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan,” World Development, Vol.28, No.10, Great Britain: Elsevier Science Ltd. 2000, p.1798.
 “Save the Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.36; Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.96.
 The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.32.
 According to Paul, one of the main reasons to raise a crop of poppies was the destruction of the irrigation systems: Holy Blood: An Inside View of the Afghan War, p.184; Marvin G. Weinbaum, “Pakistan and Afghanistan: The Strategic Relationship,” Asian Survey, Vol. 31, No.6, June 1991, pp. 496-511; Ikramul Haq, “Pak-Afghan Drug Trade in Historical Perspective,” Asian Survey, Vol.36, No.10, October 1996, pp 945-963.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.98.
 “Soviet war Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan”; Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, pp.180-181; The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.227.
 The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.181.
 “Soviet war Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan”; Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, pp.180-181.
 The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.143.
 In one of the districts of Ghazni, about eight of ten villages were destroyed, however, those which survived appeared to live normally, and continued to cultivate their land: The Sovietization of Afghanistan, pp.153-155.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, pp.153-155,57.
 One Sair is about seven kilos, while as Jerib is a unit of area traditionally equal to 1,952 square meters or one fifth of a hectare, (5 Jeribs= 1Hectare=2.4709661 Acres): The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.323, 344.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, pp.168-169.
 However, rural production systems from 1978 to 1992 in Afghanistan continued to support the remaining rural population under conditions of extreme difficulty. Although malnutrition and hunger were reported, this did not degenerate into the catastrophic situations. True the infrastructure developed by agricultural production systems in many areas have been degraded or destroyed, but the basic elements of land and water remained therein’: The Sovietization of Afghanistan, pp.172-173.
 Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, Agricultural Survey of Afghanistan: First Report, 17, 1987, pp.24-30: Cf. http://www.swedishcommittee.com; it is reported that by 1968, pastoralists, both settled and nomadic, herded about 21.5 million sheep, including 6.5 million Karakuls. They had 3.2 million goats, 3.6 million cattle, 1.3 million donkeys, 300,000 camels, and 400,000 horses, a total of about 30 million herd animals: Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.32.
 “Soviet war Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.180.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, pp. 173-174.
 The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, pp. 161-164.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.101.
 The Office on Drugs and Crime, The Opium Economy in Afghanistan: An International Problem, New York: United Nations, 2003, p.21.
 The Opium Economy in Afghanistan: An International Problem, p.21.
 Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, p.127.
 Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, p.127.
 M.J.Gohari, The Taliban: Ascent to power, Pakistan: Oxford University, Press, 2000, p.89.
 Barnet R Rubin, “The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan,” World Development, Vol.28, No.10, Elsevier Science Ltd. Great Britain, 2000, p.1795.
 The Opium Economy in Afghanistan: An International Problem, p.23.
 Investment in the non-tradable sector does not necessarily increase potential export earnings; rather, it is likely to increase inflation. The IMF attributes most of the growth in April 2005 to investment in telecommunications and construction: IMF, “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: Fourth Review Under the Staff-Monitored Program,” Cf: http://www.imf.org
 Among the Afghans, pp.294-295; “Civil War in Afghanistan,” Social Education, Vol. 65. Issue. 7, National Council for the Social Studies: Gale Group 2001, p. 429.
 “The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan,” World Development, Vol.28, No.10, Great Britain: Elsevier Science Ltd. 2000, p.1796; “Alarming Opium production rise in Afghanistan Worries UN,” NNI, 11 September 1999: Cf. http://www.afghan-web.com
 Adam Pain, “Understanding and Monitoring Livelihoods under Conditions of Chronic Conflict: Lessons from Afghanistan,” London: Overseas Development Institute, December 2002, pp.14-15:Cf. http://www.areu.org.af
 Bad weather limited the 1998 crop to 2,100 tons from 64,000 hectares, as compared with 3,100 tons of raw opium in 1997 and 1,230 metric tons produced in 1996 on 37,950 hectares of land: Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.101; “Civil War in Afghanistan,” Social Education, Vol. 65. Issue. 7, National Council for the Social Studies: Gale Group, 2001, p. 429.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.101-102.
 “The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan,” World Development, Vol.28, No.10, Great Britain: Elsevier Science Ltd. 2000, p.1795.
 Among the Afghans, pp.295; Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.102.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.102-103; “The Political Economy of War and Peace in Afghanistan,” World Development, Vol.28, No.10, Great Britain: Elsevier Science Ltd. 2000, p.1795.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.103.
 “Understanding and Monitoring Livelihoods under Conditions of Chronic Conflict: Lessons from Afghanistan,” London: Overseas Development Institute, December 2002, pp.7-8:Cf. http://www.areu.org.af
 Sharad Gupta, “Kabul the Sigh of the Prodigal,” The Sunday Indian, 4 Decembet-10 December, 2006, p.26.
 Ali Wardak, “Building a post-war justice system in Afghanistan,” Crime, Law & Social Change, Vol.41, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004, p.322.
 “Civil War in Afghanistan,” Social Education, Vol. 65. Issue. 7, National Council for the Social Studies: Gale Group 2001, p. 429.
 Zalmay Khalilzad “Anarchy in Afghanistan,” Journal of International Affairs, Columbia University School of International Public Affairs: Gale Group, Vol.51, Issue.1, 1997. p.37:Cf. http://www.questia.com
 During the war against Soviets, other ethnic groups such as the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras became armed and developed well-organised groups. The Pashtuns also became politically fragmented. The war also increased the influence of Arab Islamic groups who sent volunteers and money to like minded parties: Zalmay Khalilzad, “Afghanistan: The Next Phase,” Journal of International Affairs, Columbia University School of International Public Affairs: Gale Group,Vol.5, No.4, December 2000-February 2001, p.6.
 “Civil War in Afghanistan,” Social Education, Vol. 65. Issue. 7, Gale Group, National Council for the Social Studies, 2001, p. 429.
 Marvin G. Weinbaum, “Pakistan and Afghanistan: The Strategic Relationship,” Asian Survey, Vol.31, No. 6, June 1991, pp. 496-511; Ikramul Haq, “Pak-Afghan Drug Trade in Historical Perspective,” Asian Survey, Vol.36, No.10, October 1996, pp 945-963.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.97-98.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.98.
 “Anarchy in Afghanistan,” Journal of International Affairs, Columbia University School of International Public Affairs: Gale Group, Vol.51, Issue.1, 1997. p.37.
 Shah M. Tarzi, “Politics of the Afghan Resistance Movement,” Asian Survey, Vol. 31, No. 6, June 1991, p.483.
 Majrooh states, that the Mullahs were not involved in socio-political affairs, and did not participate in the deliberations of the council of village elders, their only function on such occasions was to perform the opening and concluding prayers of the Jirgah session: The Sovietization of Afghanistan, p.79; Oliver Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan, London: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed.1990, pp.150-153.
 In the Baraki Barak district of the Logar province, of the 29 heads, judges and military commanders, all were Mullahs. Of these 19 were members of moderate Islamic Revolutionary Organization, and 6 of the moderate Islamic Front; the remaining 4 were members of Islamic Association: M. Hassan Kakar, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995, pp. 130-132.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.98.
 Marvin G. Weinbaum, “The Politics of Afghan Resettlement and Rehabilitation,” Asian Survey, Vol.29, No.3, March 1989, pp. 287-307; Marvin G. Weinbaum, “Pakistan and Afghanistan: The Strategic Relationship,” Asian Survey, Vol.31, No.6, June 1991, pp. 496-511; Marvin G. Weinbaum, “War and Peace in Afghanistan: The Pakistani Role,” Middle East Journal, Vol.45, No.1, 1991, pp.71-85.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.98-99.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.126.
 The Fragmentation of Afghanistan, p.109.
 For example, more than fifteen hundred SCUD were used in Afghanistan as compared with fewer than one hundred in the Gulf war: Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.99.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.99-100.
 In the war, all major factions have repeatedly committed serious violations of international law, including killings, indiscriminate aerial bombardment, shelling, direct attacks on civilians, summary executions, rape, persecution on the basis of religion, and the use of antipersonnel landmines. During the Taliban campaign, they also committed violations, especially summary executions and indiscriminate aerial bombardment, while the United Front has failed to hold its commanders accountable for past abuses: Human Rights Watch, “Crisis of Impurity: The Role of Pakistan, Russia, and Iran in Fueling the Civil War,” New York: HRW, 2001: Cf. http://www.hrw.org
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.100.
 This is suggested by the massacre of captured Taliban soldiers in northern Afghanistan in the fall of 1997, the retaliatory massacre of 8,000 or more ethnic minorities especially Hazara by the Taliban in north and central Afghanistan in August-November 1998, and the ethnic cleansing by the Taliban forces north of Kabul during their July- September 1999 offensives. Conflict in Afghanistan seems to have become increasingly defined in ethnic terms, which suggests that “Kalashnikovization” has contributed to ethnic cleansing and even genocide there.
 The unit of Afghan social organization is the qawm, a network of affiliations that is most intense in the family, in which are nested wider loyalties to tribe, clan, occupation, ethnic group, region and finally to the continued existence of the country itself. The degree of support and protection is greatest at the local level and becomes more attenuated in broader contexts in which boundaries between qawms shift in response of changing balances of power. Qawms are societies within a society. They have allowed Afghanistan to survive over centuries, through a common interest in local autonomy, against external threats. Their strength, fierce defense of local control is also their weakness: each qaum is suspicious of the others, and when they cannot agree, they are prone to take up arms: Michael A. Weinstein, “’Afghanistan’s Transition: Decentralization or Civil War,” PINR, August 2004: Cf. http://www.pinr.com; Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.127.
 “Soviet war Liabilities: Measuring Economic Damages in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.172.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.127.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, pp.94-95.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, p.136.
 The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, p.218.
 Ranjan Roy, “City Crackdown,” Associated Press, 9 December 1996.
 Some like former Kabul University Dean Syed Bahauddin Majrooh, were assassinated: others, like renowned poet Khalilallah Khalili, are dead from old age; but the majority are now settled abroad, unlikely ever to return: Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.129.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.129.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp. 129-130.
 Abdul Wasey Feroozi, “The Impact of War upon Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage,” National Institute of Archaeology, Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan Archaeological Institute America: San Francisco, March, 2004, p.1: Cf. http://www.apaa.info
 It is reported that a large portion of unique cultural and historical objects relating to different periods of pre- and proto-history, such as the Stone Age, Bronze age, Achamenids, Greco Bactrian, Kushan, Sassanid, Ephthalites, Hindo shahis, and Islamic, were kept in the Kabul National Museum and a number of them were preserved in the depot of the Archaeological Institute, “The Impact of War upon Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage,” p.1: Cf. http://www.apaa.info
 There were thousands of archaeological sites and historical monuments, which became a good source for looters. The priceless treasures of Mir Zaka in the Paktia Province were illegally excavated from 1993-1995 by the local people and commanders with the encouragement of Pakistanis and Afghan dealers. The finds, consisting of ornaments, coins, vessels, stamp seals, and animal figurines made of gold, silver, copper, and bronze metals weighing tons, were stolen and smuggled to Pakistan and according to a one publication, from there to Japan, London, Switzerland, Italy and the United States. Also Ai Khanum, which is a Greco-Bactrian city, was badly damaged by looters using bulldozers during illegal excavations. Likewise, the ancient sites of Tela-Tepe, Delbergin-Tepe, Sorkh-kotal, Begram, Robatak, Khamezerger, and Kharwar, did not remain intact: “The Impact of War upon Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage,” pp.1-2: Cf. http://www.apaa.info
 Ahmad Rashid, “Crime of the Century,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 21 September, 1995, pp.60- 62.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.130.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, p.139.
 A game in which teams of horsemen struggle to convey the headless car-case of a calf to a predetermined sport on a large field: Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.130-131.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, p.138.
 The Sovietization of Afghanistan, p.137.
 War over Kosovo: Politics and Strategy in a Global Age, p.107.
 The percentage of those with access to clean water is only 19% in urban areas and the 11% in rural areas. Access to any form of sanitation shows similar statistics: Horst Rutsch, “Afghanistan: On the Road to Recovery,” UN Chronicle, Vol.39. Issue.1, United Nations Publications March-May 2002, p.7: Cf. http://www.questia.com; WHO, “Reconstruction of the Afghanistan Health Sector: A Preliminary Assessment of Needs and Opportunities,” WHO-EM/EHA/003/E/G, December 2001- January 2002: Cf. http://www.who.org
 World Health Organization, Emergency and humanitarian action: baseline statistics for Afghanistan 2001,7 January 2002: Cf. http://www.who.int/disasters/stats/baseline.cfm?country; United Nations Development Program. Afghanistan recovery: some basic facts, 2001:Cf. http://www.undp.org/afghanistan
 “ Save the Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.35.
 World Health Organization, Emergency and humanitarian action: baseline statistics for Afghanistan 2001, 7 January 2002: http://www.who.int/disasters/stats/baseline.cfm?country
 Holy Blood: An Inside View of the Afghan War, p.40.
 15% of districts had no immunization programme; immunization coverage has been only about 30%. In the winter of 1999-2000, more than thousand deaths from measles were reported: WHO, “Reconstruction of the Afghanistan Health Sector: A Preliminary Assessment of Needs and Opportunities,” WHO-EM/EHA/003/E/G, December 2001- January 2002: Cf. http://www.who.org; Afghanistan, United Nations Children’s Fund, 7 January 2002: Cf. http://www.unicef.org/statis
 “Drugs and Afghanistan,” Drugs: education, prevention and policy, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2001, p.3: Cf.http://www.areu.org.af; Afghanistan, United Nations Children’s Fund, 7January 2002: Cf.http://www.unicef.org/statis; World Health Organization, Emergency and humanitarian action: baseline statistics for Afghanistan 2001, 7 January 2002: Cf. http://www.who.int/disasters/stats
 According to WHO report of 2000, it is estimated that only 30% of districts have any maternal and child health services and the country has only 30% of the traditional birth attendants that it needs: Afghanistan Health system: http://www.country-studies.com/afghanistan; it is reported that in three districts of Jawzhjan Province in northern Afghanistan, 95% of mothers delivered their babies at home, assisted by untrained birth attendants, most often in unsanitary conditions: Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.35.
 UNDP, United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report 1996, 1997: Cf. http://www.undo.org; UNICEF, State of the World’s Children Report 1996: Cf.http://www.unicef.org; World Health Organization study, 1996: Cf. http://www.who.org
 A survey of Afghan women was carried out by the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) during a 3-month period in early 1998. The study involved written surveys of 160 Afghan women, plus interviews with 52 humanitarian assistance workers. The survey focused on physical and mental health, war-related trauma, and the incidence of abuse: Physicians for Human Rights: Cf. http://www.phrusa.org
 The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked, p.33.
 John J. Schulz, and Linda Schulz, “The Darkest of Ages: Afghan Women Under the Taliban”, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Vol.5, No.3, 1999, p.249.
 “The Darkest of Ages: Afghan Women Under the Taliban”, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, p.249.
 The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked, p.33.
 It is reported that young boys were recruited from within the Refugee Camp at Peshawar, Pakistan to fight with the Mujahedin: Gary R. Shaye, “Climate of Conflict: Impact on Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.37.
 “Climate of Conflict: Impact on Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, pp.36-37.
 According to one analysis, the number of expected health facilities for a population of 25 million is 6522, including health posts, basic health centres, and district, provincial, regional, and national hospitals.
 John J. Schulz, and Linda Schulz, “The Darkest of Ages: Afghan Women Under the Taliban”, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Vol.5, No.3, 1999, pp.245-246.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.119.
 Caitriona Palmer, “The Taliban’s War on Women,” Lancet, Vol. 352, No.9129, 29 August 1998, pp.734-735.
 IRIN News, “Bleak Prospects for estimated 1.5 Million Widows in Afghanistan, January 30, 2008.
 The Taliban: Ascent to power p. 109.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.119.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, p.119.
 Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, p.107.
 “The Darkest of Ages: Afghan Women Under the Taliban”, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Vol.5, No.3, 1999, p.240.
 Before this period, half of government jobs were held by women, and 15% of doctors were women. There were female members of parliament and cabinet ministers, and 65% of the teachers were women. Moreover, 65% of the students at Kabul University were women. Women were allowed to work outside of the house, and girls had access to education: Sima Samar, Afghanistan’s Reform Agenda: Four Perspectives, New York: Asia Society Bookstore, 2002, p.8.
 “Afghanistan: Violence Against Women Almost Doubles,” Spero News, 9 March, 2008: Cf. http:// www.spero.org
 Terri Judd, “Afghanistan: Women’s Lives Worse than Ever, The Independent, February 25, 2008: Cf. http://news.independent.co.uk
 RAWA reports that in Herat 22 year old Fatima’s husband cut her toes, pulled her hair out, poured hot water on her and shot her. Other young women like Nafisa, suffered an equally horrendous fate. Besides, in Mazar-i-Sharif a man killed his two wives in February 2008, with an axe: RAWA News, “Husband cuts toes of his wife, pours hot water on her,” RAWA News, February 15, 2008; February 18, 2008; February 26, 2008: Cf. http://www.rawa.org
 Emerging Afghanistan in the Third Millennium, pp.43-44.
 T Kumar, “Asia Amnesty international,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.27.
 In the past two decades, around the globe, children have fought in wars in different countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Liberia, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and South America. In the last decade alone, war has consumed more than 2 million lives of children, rendered 5 million with permanent disabilities, forced 5 million into refugee camps, left more than 12 million homeless, and an untold number numbed and traumatized beyond words: Janardhan Roye, “Children of Conflict,” The Hindu, Young World, Tuesday, March 31, 2009, p.2.
 Afghanistan: Inside a Rebel Stronghold, Journeys with the Mujahedin, p.47.
 “Asia Amnesty international,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p. 29.
 “Climate of Conflict: Impact on Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.37.
 WHO, “Reconstruction of the Afghanistan Health Sector: A Preliminary Assessment of Needs and Opportunities,” WHO-EM/EHA/003/E/G, December 2001-January 2002: Cf. http://www.who.org ; United Nations Children’s Fund, Afghanistan, 7 January 2002: Cf. http://www.unicef.org/statis
 According to Amnesty International, the fighting between the Taliban and the Anti-Taliban alliance involved an increasing number of boys under the age of 18, with some as young as 14, Online Documentation Archive, “Afghanistan: Children Devastated by War,”: Cf. http://www.amnesty.org
 Young World “Children of Conflict,” The Hindu, Tuesday, March 31, 2009, p.2.
 Young World, “Children of Conflict,” The Hindu, Tuesday, March 31, 2009, p.2.
 Afghanistan’s Endless War: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban, pp.74-75.
 Amnesty International reports that in November 1993, three children of a family of the Hazara minority were arrested in Karte Seh in Kabul. The head of the family had worked as a carpenter for several foreign embassies in the past. On 20 November 1993, his house was raided by a group reportedly belonging to the Jamiat-e Islami. He resisted and was beaten unconscious; his son Rahmatullah, aged 15, had been abducted. Two days later in a similar raid, two other sons, Ahmadreza aged 13 and Mustafa aged 11 was abducted. After negotiations with the abductors about the release of the children broke down, the family fled Kabul. However, the children’s whereabouts remain unknown: Online Documentation Archive, “Afghanistan: Children Devastated by War,” AI Index: ASA 11/013/1999, November 1999: Cf. http://www.amnesty.org
 In March 1994, a 15-year girl was repeatedly raped in her house in Kabul’s Chel Sotoon district after armed Mujahedin guards entered the house and killed her father for allowing her to go to school”: Online Documentation Archive, “Afghanistan: Children Devastated by War,” AI Index: ASA 11/013/1999,November 1999: Cf. http://www.amnesty.org
 “Save the Children,” Afghanistan: Is There Hope for Peace, p.35.