The Afghanistan Flag

The Afghanistan Flag
Afghanistan's flag is made from three colors: Black, Red and Green and has the Logo of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bamyan Province

Bamyan Province (Persian: بامیان) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the centre of the country. Its capital is also called Bamyan. Bamyan is the largest town in the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan, and is the cultural capital of the Hazara ethnic group that predominates in the area.
In antiquity, central Afghanistan was strategically placed to thrive from the Silk Road caravans which criss-crossed the region trading between the Roman Empire, China, Central and South Asia. Bamyan was a stopping off point for many travellers. It was here where elements of Greek, Persian and Buddhist art were combined into a unique classical style, known as Greco-Buddhist art.

Bamyan was the site of an early Buddhist monastery from which Bamyan takes its name <>

Bamyan is also known for its natural beauty. The Band-e Amir lakes in western Bamyan province continue to be a tourist destination for Afghans.

Bamyan is currently the base of operations for the New Zealand peace keeping force, a Provincial Reconstruction Team codenamed Task Group Crib, which is part of the network of Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout Afghanistan. It is recognised as one of the safest provinces in the country which has allowed for much concerntration on civil rebuilding[2]
There are currently 122 New Zealand Defence Force personnel in Bamyan. To date they have helped with reconstruction work including building bridges and schools as well as maintaining security in the region.
The New Zealand Police are also working in the region to help train the Afghan National Police (ANP). In July 2006 three Afghan women signed to join the ANP in Bamyan, the first time women have joined a police force in Afghanistan.

The current governor of the province is Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistan's first female governor. She was appointed in 2005.

Bamyan (Capital - 61,863)
Kahmard (17,643)
Panjab (47,099)
Sayghan (18,001)
Shibar (25,177)
Waras (81,787)
Yakawlang (65,573)

Logar Province

Logar (Persian: لوگر) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in the eastern zone, southeast of Kabul, and the geography of the province centers on the large Logar River which enters the province through the west and leaves to the north. Its capital is Pul-i-Alam. Logar is home to Tajiks Pashtuns and small minority of Hazaras. The exact percentage of demography is unknown as there has been no census for decades. But out of 7 districts Azra, Kharwar and Mohammad Agha District has Pashtun Majority While Baraki Barak, Khushi and Charkh district have Tajik majority. The provincial capital Pul-i-Alam has a mix population of Tajiks Pashutns and small minority of hazaras

Logar is a generally religiously conservative province, although not to the extent of its southern neighbours. The province's political history is a microcosm of Afghanistan's recent turbulent past, with portions of the province controlled by both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance previous to the American invasion of 2001. During the Jihad against Soviet occupation in the 1980s, Baraki Barak, Khushi, Charkh and Pule Alam districts were controlled by Jamiat e-Islami. Logar was known among Afghans as 'Bab al-Jihad', or 'the Gates of Jihad' because it became a fierce theatre of war between mujahideen groups and the Soviet army.
The province also was home to several Al-Qaeda training bases during that time, although the residents of the province were reportedly unfriendly to the foreign fighters. Mohamad Agha district has long been a stronghold of the Hezb-i-Islami political party, which won seats in the 2005 parliamentary election[2], although the parliamentarians are not officially affiliated with the fugitive leader of Hezb-i-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Additionally, the Northern Alliance-affiliated Jamiat-i-Islami was in control of the province for several years after the fall of the Taliban government.
The Governor of the province was Abdullah Wardak until he was assassinated by car bomb on 13 September 2008.


The main river valley in the Khoshi district of Logar, Afghanistan. Extensive irrigation and canal works, known as karez, provide water for the majority of the agriculture in southeastern Afghanistan.
Logar can be generally described as a relatively flat river valley in the north and central regions, surrounded by rugged mountains to the east, south, and southwest. The district of Azra, in the east, consists almost entirely of mountains, while travel to the Paktia province to the south is limited to the Tera Pass, a 2896m high road that was recently completed as part of the international reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.
Although the government of Afghanistan recognizes the Azra district as being in Logar, many widely-accepted maps include it in the Paktia province to the south.

Security situation
While more stable than some of its neighbouring provinces in the country, Logar sees a constant high level of anti-government activity, primarily in the form of car bombs and rocket attacks on government, military and civil targets. Unlike portions of southwest Afghanistan, poppy production is nearly non-existent, due to terrain and weather conditions. Tribal land disputes are a source of unrest, as is the case across much of the country.


Pul-i-Alam, the capital of Logar. The main road running through the city can be seen here. The mountains in the far background are the Azra district and portions of northwest Paktia.
Logar's capital is the city of Pul-i-Alam, located in the district of the same name. It sits on the main road running from Kabul south to Gardez and Khowst province, which borders Pakistan.
Pul-i-Alam has seen a significant amount of reconstruction since the fall of the Taliban. The main road to Kabul was completed in 2006, significantly reducing travel time to the national capital. Additional projects include numerous schools, radio stations, government facilities, and a major Afghan National Police base situated just south of the city.
Like most Afghan cities, there is little municipal planning or services. Electricity is provided by diesel generators, and wells are the primary source of drinking water.


Districts of Logar.
Azra District
Baraki Barak District
Charkh District
Kharwar District
Khoshi District
Mohammad Agha District

Wardak Province

Wardak (in Pashto ‎وردګ; also spelled: Wardag, Vardag, or Vardak) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the centre of the country. Its capital is Meydan Shahr.
The population, about 70,000, is a mixture of 50% Pashtuns, 40% Hazaras and 10% others.

Chaki Wardak
Day Mirdad
Hisa-I-Awali Bihsud
Da Bihsud Markaz
Maydan Shahr

Ghōr Province

Ghōr (Persian: غور), also spelled Ghowr or Ghur, is today one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in central Afghanistan, towards the north-west. The capital of Ghor is Chaghcharan.

Remains of the oldest settlements discovered by the Lithuanian archaeologists in 2007 and 2008 in Ghor date back to 5000 BC[1]. Ruins of a few castles and other defense fortifications were also discovered in the environs of Chaghcharan. A Buddhist monastery hand-carved in the bluff of the River Harirud existed in the first centuries of our era during the prevalence of Buddhism. The artificial caves revealed testimony of daily life of the Buddhist monks[2].
Ghor, which was part of Persia for many centuries in the past, was one of the regions which participated in the Persian Cultural Revival after the Arab invasion of Persia.


' The region had previously been conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni, and the population converted to Islam.

Attack by Ghazny

'In the following year AH 401 (AD 1010), Mahmood led his army towards Ghoor. The native prince of the country, Mahomed, of the Afghan tribe of Soor (the same race which gave birth to the dynasty that eventually succeeded in subverting the family of Sebüktigin), occupied an entrinched camp with 10000 men. Mahmood was repulsed in repeated assults which he made from morning till noon. Finding that the troops of Ghoor defended their entrenchments with such obstinacy, he caused his army to retreat in apparent confusion, in order to allure the enemy out of his fortified position. The Ghoorians, deceived by the stratagem, pursued the army of Ghizny; when the king, facing about, attacked and defeated them with great slaughter. Mahommed Soor, being made prisoner was brought to the king, but having taken poison, which he always kept under his ring, he died in a few hours; his country was annexed to the dominions of Ghizny. The author of the Towareekh Yumny affirms, that neither the sovereigns of Ghoor nor its inhabitants were Mahomedans till after this victory; whilst the author of the Tubkat-Nasiry, and Fukhr -ood -Deen Moobarik Shah Lody, the latter of whom wrote a history of the Kings of Ghoor in verse, both affirm, that they were converted many years before, even so early as the time of Ally

Ghor was also the centre of the Ghurid dynasty in the 12th and 13th century. The remains of their capital Firuzkuh, including UNESCO World Heritage site the Minaret of Jam, are located in the province.

'The rise to power of the Ghurids at Ghur , a small isolated area located in the mountain fastness between the ghaznavid empire and the Seljukids , was an unusual and unexpected development . The area was so remote that till the 11th century , it had remained a pagan enclave surrounded by Muslim principalities . It was converted to Islam in the early part of the 12th century after Mahmud raided it , and left teachers to instruct the Ghurids in the pricipts of Islam . Even then it is believed that paganism , ie . a variety of Mahayana Buddhism persisted in the area till the end of the century .[5]

In the 19th century, American adventurer Josiah Harlan claimed the title Prince of Ghor for himself and his descendants in perpetuity, in exchange for military aid during local factional fighting. As a result, American actor Scott Reiniger is (only theoretically) the current Prince.[6]
On June 17, 2004, hundreds of troops of Abdul Salaam Khan, who had rejected the Afghan government's plan to disarm regional militias, attacked Chaghcharan and took over the city in an afternoon-long siege. Eighteen people were killed or wounded in the fighting and province governor Mohammed Ibrahim fled. Three days later the Afghan government announced that it would not retake Chaghcharan. However, Khan and Ibrahim began negotiations soon after, but reached no agreements. Khan's troops left Chaghcharan on June 23, a day ahead of the arrival of an Afghan National Army battalion, led by Lieutenant-General Aminullah Paktiyanai, arrived with the support of about twenty U.S. soldiers.
In his 2004 travel book, The Places in Between, Rory Stewart travels by foot from Herat to Kabul and on his way, he provides a riveting portrait of Ghor Province as well as much historical information about the region.

The population of Ghor was, and is even today, predominately Tajik.

Geography & Weather
Ghor occupies the end of the Hindu Kush mountains. Ghor is 2,500m above sea level and heavy snowfalls often block many of its rugged passes from November to April. It is also a drought-prone area in the summer.


Districts of Ghor.
Chaghcharan (Capital)
Dawlat Yar
Du Layna
Lal Wa Sarjangal

The current Governor of the province is Baz Mohammad Ahmadi. A Lithuanian contingent of the ISAF force is stationed in the province.

Khost Province

Khost (Pashto: خوست) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the east of the country. Its capital is the town also called Khost. Khost province used to be part of Paktia province in the past.
The province is mountainous and borders Pakistan on the east. Khost was the first city to be liberated from communist rule during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The current Governor of the Province is Arsala Jamal. In August 2007, he narrowly escaped a suicide car bomb attack in Khost City that killed several of his bodyguards. The August attack was the fourth suicide attack Jamal has faced in his tenure in the volatile province.

Districts of Khost.
Bak District
Gurbuz District
Jaji Maydan District
Khost (Matun) District
Mando Zayi District
Musa Khel District
Nadir Shah Kot District
Qalandar District
Sabari District
Shamal District
Spera District
Tani District
Tere Zayi District

Paktia Province

Paktia (Pashto: پکتيا) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the east of the country. Its capital is Gardez.

Najibullah Ahmadzai, the former president of Afghanistan, was from Paktia province, in particular the Melan Valley area. Paktia used to be a unified province with Khost and Paktika, these three provinces are now referred to as Loya Paktia which means The Greater Paktia. Paktia came to prominence during the 1980s where a significant portion of the leftist communists came from Paktia, some of the more notable of them include: Najibullah Ahmadzai; Mohammad Aslam Watanjar; Shahnawaz Tanai; and Gulabzoy.

The uncertain security situation and remoteness of the province has led to many provincial Governors being appointed in the short time since the fall of the Taliban. After the assassination of Hakim Taniwal in September 2006, Rahmatullah Rahmat was appointed as provincial Governor.
Paktia has a strong Pashtun tribal identity, and Pashtun nationalists in the province have expressed a desire to reunite the province with Khost Province and Paktika province, forming an ethnic Pashtunistan.
Despite the many problems facing the province, it is one of the more stable in the southeast of the country and there has been a concerted effort to improve the civic infrastructure, giving Paktia a reasonable rate of reconstruction [1]. The first American Provincial Reconstruction Team base was established in Gardez to supply security and reconstruction, and has funded several successful projects.

Security Situation
In September 2006, Governor Hakim Taniwal was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber as he left his office in Gardez [2]. At the time, Taniwal was the highest-ranking post-Taliban official to be killed by insurgent forces in the country.
Paktia is one of the most politically complicated provinces in the country. Militia commanders are a strong presence in the province, and their shifting allegiances and violent tendencies make governance of the region problematic. The province also has the difficult mountainous and cavernous terrain typical of the Hindu Kush range, providing armed groups ample cover from which to conduct guerilla operations.
Immediately after the fall of the Taliban, Paktia was one of the most chaotic regions in the country, as a small civil war broke out between rival militia commanders for control of the province, and Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters gave occupying U.S. troops some of their heaviest losses in the cave complexes south of Gardez [3].
The security situation in Paktia has improved significantly in recent years, though isolated fighting by Taliban militants and persistent tribal conflicts in the eastern part of the province continue to challenge the government. The provincial capital, Gardez, is among the most secure in the southeastern part of the country, owing in part to a large presence by coalition and Afghan security forces.


Districts of Paktia.
Paktia borders the Pakistani-ruled tribal areas of North Waziristan and Kurram. Like most of the traditional Pashtun eastern areas of Afghanistan, the Durand Line that marks the border with Pakistan is "drawn on water", and residents move freely between the two countries.
Major tribes in the province include the Totakhil, Zazi, Mangal, Zadran, Wazir, Ahmadzai, Gurbaz, Niazi, Tanoli, and Kurram.
Paktia is made up of 12 district (District Centers are given in parentheses):
Ahmadzai District (Ahmadaba)
Chamkani District
Dand-A-Patan (Ghondai)
Gardez District (Gardez, Afghanistan)
Jani Khel District (Jani Khel)
Lazha Mangal District (Lazha)
Sayed Karam District (Seyyed Karam)
Shwak District (Shwak)
Garda Serai District
Zadran District (Waza)
Zazi (Ali Khel)
Zurmat District (Zarmal)
Important Villages of Center Gardez:
Malak Khel
Koji khel
Sar e Sang
Shakar Khel
Dawlat Zai

Improtant Villages of Chamkani District:
Star Kalai
Babo Khail
Mada Khail

Important geographical features
Shah-i-Kot Valley
Important valley Srengor valley chamkani district paktia province Mangyar Valley chamkani district paktia province Hassan Khail valley Ahmad Khail District Paktia Province this information by Himmat

Ghazni Province

Ghazni (Pashto غزنی) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the east of the country. Its capital is Ghazni City. The province lies on the important Kabul to Kandahar road, and has historically functioned as an important trade center between those two


Buddhism and Indian Influence
Ghazni was a thriving Buddhist center before and during the 7th century AD.

The two other great Buddhist centers , Fondukistan and Tepe-e-sardar (Ghazni) in its later phase are a very different matter and display another phase of influences coming from India from the seventh to eighth century . The representations show themes from Mahayana iconography and even in the case of the latter site assume Tantric aspects which had already established themselves in the large Indian monasteries like Nalanda.[1]

In 683 AD, Arab armies brought Islam to the area and attempted to conquer the capital of Ghazni but the local tribes fiercely resisted. Its resistance was so famed that Yaqub Saffari (840-879) from Zaranj made an example of Ghazni when he ranged the vast region conquering in the name of Islam. The city was completely destroyed by the Saffarids in 869.[2] A substantial portion of the local population including Hindus and Buddhists were converted to Islam by Mahmud of Ghazni

'The region had previously been conquered by Mahumad of Ghazni and the population converted to Islam.

The minaret of Ghazni, built by Bahram Shah during the Ghaznavid Empire.
After the rebuilding of the city by Yaqub’s brother, it became the dazzling capital of the Ghaznavid Empire from 994 to 1160, encompassing much of northern India, Persia and Central Asia. Many iconoclastic campaigns were launched from Ghazni into India. The Ghaznavids took Islam to India and returned with fabulous riches taken from both prince and temple god. Contemporary visitors and residents at Ghazni write with wonder of the ornateness of the buildings, the great libraries, the sumptuousness of the court ceremonies and of the wealth of precious objects owned by Ghazni’s citizens.

Attack by Mahomed Ghory
Ferishta records attacks by Mahomed Ghoory .

'at the same time most of the infidels who inhabited the mountains between Ghizny and the Indus were also converted , some by force and others by persuasion

It's capital was razed in 1151 by the Ghorid Alauddin. It again flourished but only to be permanently devastated, this time in 1221 by Genghis Khan and his Mongol armies.
Ghazni is also famous for its minarets built on a stellar plan. They date from the middle of the twelfth century and are the surviving element of the mosque of Bahramshah. Their sides are decorated with geometric patterns. Upper sections of the minarets have been damaged or destroyed.
The most important mausoleum located in Ghazni is that of Sultan Mahmud's. Others include the tombs of poets and scientists, for example Al Biruni and Sanayee.
The only ruins in Old Ghazni retaining a semblance of architectural form are two towers, about 43 m (140 ft) high and some 365 m (1,200 ft) apart. According to inscriptions, the towers were constructed by Mahmud of Ghazni and his son.
In the 1960s a 15-meter female Buddha was discovered lying on its back and surrounded by empty pillars that once held rows of smaller male Buddhas. Parts of the female Buddha have been stolen. In the 1980s a mud brick shelter was created to protect the sculpture, but the wood supports were stolen for firewood and the shelter partially collapsed.
During the First Anglo-Afghan War, the Ghazni's capital city was stormed and taken over by the British forces on July 23, 1839 in the Battle of Ghazni. The Afghan Civil War and the continued conflict between the Taliban and the Afghan Northern Alliance during the 1990s put the relics of Ghazni in jeopardy. The Taliban placed Fazl Uddin in charge of protecting the artifacts.
Ghazni’s strategic position, both economically and militarily, assured its revival, albeit without its dazzling former grandeur. Through the centuries the city figures prominently as the all important key to the possession of Kabul.
Some Sikhs and Hindus also live in Ghazni province. During the Taliban regime they fled the country, but with the current administration they have returned to Ghazni city.
Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, there has been a Provincial reconstruction base and a Nato forces base. These western forces are hunting Taliban militants and al-Qaida, who are still active in the area causing deaths to Afghan government employees and local civilian population of the province as well.

Political and Security Situation
Like many southern Afghan provinces, Ghazni has a precarious security situation caused by Taliban , who are reported to control most of the rural areas outside of the capital [1], and are heavily involved in attacks on provincial schools and government infrastructure. The province has avoided the outright warfare seen in other areas of Afghanistan such as Helmand Province and Kandahar Province, but that is due more to political expediency and the tactical plans of the NATO ISAF force than the existence of a stable security situation in the province. Ex-Governor Taj Mohammad was killed by terrorists in 2006 after being appointed police chief of the province with a mandate to quell the power of the Taliban. On the same day there was an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the governor at the time, Sher Alam Ibrahimi [2]. There is an American Provincial Reconstruction Team base located in Ghazni City.
In late April 2007, news agencies reported that Taliban fighters had taken control of Giro District in the province. The Taliban reportedly killed the district administrator, chief of police (who had been on the job for only one month) and three police officers. The Taliban withdrew from the district center one day later.
In July 2007, 23 South Korean volunteers were kidnapped in the Ghazni province by the Taliban. Two of them were killed and their bodies were dumped in various places. As of August 1st, security force was planned to be deployed to secure the release of those kidnapped.

Natural Disasters
In recent years, Ghazni has been beset by droughts, heavy snow, and flooding, all at different times [3]. During the periods of drought, many parts of the province, especially Ghazni City, saw heavy building in the flood plains of the province's rivers. Flooding caused by heavy rain and snow in recent years have taken heavy tolls in property in lives in these newly constructed areas

The current Governor of the province is Sher Khostai.

Demographics and geography
Ghazni is made up of 19 districts (district capitals are given in parentheses). Note: this is the old district map.

Ghazni is made up of 19 districts (district capitals are given in parentheses). Note: this is the old district map.

Districts of Ghazni.

District name - District Center Ethnical data(%)
Ab Band - Haji Khel 100% Pashtun
Ajristan - Sangar 97% Pashtun, 3% Hazara
Andar - Miray 100% Pashtun
Dih Yak - Ramak 89% Hazara, 11% Pashtun
Gelan - Janda 100% Pashtun
Ghazni city - Ghazni 50% Tajik, 25% Pashtun, 20% Hazara and 5 % Hindu
Giro - Pana 100% Pashtun
Jaghori - Sange-e-Masha 100% Hazara
Khugiani - Khugiani 99.9% Pashtun, 0.1% Hazara, Tajik and Uzbek
Khwaja Umari - Kwaja Umari 45% Hazara, 35% Tajik and 20% Pashtun
Malistan - Malistan 100% Hazara
Muqur - Muqur 99% Pashtun, 1% Hazara and Tajik
Nawa - Nawa 100% Pashtun
Nawur - Du Abi 100% Hazara
Qarabagh - Qarabagh 55% Pashtun, 45% Hazara
Rashidan - Rashidan 96% Pashtun, 4% Hazara
Waghaz - Waghaz Mostly Pashtun
Zana Khan - Dado 100% Pashtun

Malistan, Jaghuri, Nawur, parts of Qarabagh, Dih Yak and Jaghatu are part of the Hazara area known as the Hazarajat.

Oruzgan Province

Orūzgān (Persian and Pashto: اروزگان, also spelt Oruzgan or Uruzgan) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the centre of the country, though the area is considered part of southern Afghanistan and is culturally and tribally linked to Kandahar. Its capital is Tarin Kowt. On March 28, 2004, the new Daykundi was carved out of an area in the north leaving Oruzgan with a majority Pashtun population and Daykundi with a majority of Hazaras. The map at right shows the provincial boundaries that resulted. But in May 2006, the district of Gizab was taken back from Daykundi and re-annexed to Oruzgan, becoming Oruzgan's sixth district. The map at the bottom of this page is inaccurate, as Oruzgan never included Nesh district.
Taliban leader Mullah Omar was born in Singesar village, in Oruzgan province.
Because of security concerns and the Taliban insurgency, no international aid agencies or NGOs have a permanent presence in Oruzgan. NATO's ISAF operates a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), in Tarin Kowt, transferred from US to Dutch authority as of August 2006.
From January 2002 through March 2006, the province was governed by Jan Mohammed Khan, a warlord ally of President Karzai (they are both from the Pashtun Populzai tribe). On March 18, 2006, Karzai appointed Maulavi Abdul Hakim Munib (also spelled "Monib")("Maulavi" is a religious title), a former Taliban official who had reconciled with the Government of Afghanistan, to replace Khan. Munib was a Pashtun from Paktia Province. In September 2007, President Karzai removed Munib, who had become increasingly ineffective, and replaced him as governor with Asadullah Hamdam, a native of nearby Zabul province.
In August 2006, NATO assumed authority for Oruzgan from the US-led coalition, as the Netherlands took command of the PRT from the US as Task Force Uruzgan. There is also an Australian element under the Dutch command.
In the summer of 2006, insurgents in Oruzgan were targeted by a NATO-Afghan military offensive called Operation Mountain Thrust.
The 1,400 Dutch and several hundred Australians troops in the area have secured the largest population centres in Oruzgan (Dihrawud, Chora, and Tarin Kowt towns) under the Dutch "inkspot policy". However, the force's Area of Responsibility includes the entire province, which has not been secured. This includes the Gizab district, Oruzgan's most dangerous, where there is no ISAF presence.
Oruzgan's opium poppy crop reached record levels in 2006 and 2007, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as no significant eradication efforts were carried out by the Afghan administration or Dutch forces.
From June 15 to June 19, 2007 Dutch and Afghan soldiers defended the town of Chora against an assault by Taliban combatants. Reports in the Dutch, Australian and US press indicated that the battle was one of the largest Taliban offensives of the year in Afghanistan. The fighting resulted in the deaths of a Dutch soldier, 16 Afghan policemen, an unknown number of civilians and a large number of Taliban.

Chora District
Deh Rahwod District
Gizab District
Khas Uruzgan District
Shahidi Hassas District (also called "Caher Cineh")
Tarin Kowt District

Herat Province

Herat (Persian: هرات) is one the 34 Provinces of Afghanistan; together with Badghis, Farah, and Ghor provinces, it makes up the north-western region of the country. Its primary city and administrative capital is also named Herat.

The province was one of the first major battlegrounds in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and remained an active area of guerrilla warfare throughout, with local military commander and mujahideen Ismail Khan leading resistance to Soviet rule from 1979 until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 (see the article on the city of Herat for further details). When the Soviets withdrew, Ismail Khan became the governor of the province, a position he remained until the Taliban took control of the province in 1995. Following the ousting of the Taliban in 2001 by the US and coalition forces as well as the Afghan Northern Alliance, Khan once again became governor of Herat. (See U.S. invasion of Afghanistan).
The province was ruled more or less autocratically by Khan, despite some attempts by the interim central government (headed by Hamid Karzai) to weaken the power of local strongmen. Khan's rule has engendered some controversy, though Herat has remained largely free of the violence that has plagued some other regions of post-Taliban Afghanistan.
In March 2003, the Endowment and Islamic Affairs Department of the provincial government began steps to restrict what it saw as un-Islamic vices, on March 1, 2003 banning the sale and public screening of movies and the performance of music in public, and on March 5, 2003 banning the viewing of movies entirely, as well as the possession and sale of satellite dishes.

Radio Free Afghanistan (an extension of the United States' Radio Free Europe program) reported negatively on these steps, noting that the restrictions were very similar to those that had been in place under the Taliban, and portraying them as a step backwards for the province. Khan reacted angrily to these reports, as well as some citing human rights violations in the province, branding the Radio Free Afghanistan reporters (who were Afghanis) "traitors". On March 19, 2003, Ahmad Behzad, one of Radio Free Afghanistan's reporters for the story, was allegedly beaten and detained on Khan's orders. On March 21 Khan issued a threatening statement, saying "those Afghans from our city, through BBC and Radio Azadi, harm the dignity of our people... I would like to tell them that just like those who served the Russians and benefited from them, they too will meet the same end."

The Friday Mosque in the city of Herat.
A verbal war of words followed, with local journalists protesting angrily at what they read as a threat to use violence against dissenting journalists. President Karzai issued several statements largely siding with the journalists and expressing concern at the situation. This culminated in Khan ordering Behzad to leave the province permanently, despite his being a native of the city of Herat. Journalists responded with a cessation of news reporting in protest, beginning on March 24 (joined by the US's Radio Free Afghanistan, the UK's BBC service, Iran's Dari service, and a number of publishers of local newspapers and weekly news magazines). On March 28, Behzad met with President Karzai, who again expressed his support for the journalists and concern that the situation was affecting reconstruction in Herat and damaging the transitional government.
Khan backed down, claiming to have always supported journalistic freedom, and chalking the entire incident up to a misunderstanding. He released a statement saying, "the recent event that occurred was the result of a misunderstanding, and I hope it will not happen again. We are not against any Afghan or foreign journalist, and the reporters can be assured of their safety in our town, and can report on life in this country any way they wish." Behzad returned to Herat on April 3, 2003, and the local media resumed publishing.
The current governor of the province (as of January 2007) is Sayed Hussain Anwari, a former Minister of Agriculture and governor of Kabul Province.

Adraskan District
Chishti sharif District
Farsi District
Ghoryan District
Gulran District
Guzara District
Injil District
Karukh District
Kohsan District
Kushk District
Kushki Kuhna District
Obe District
Pashtun Zarghun (formerly Foshanj) District
Shindand (formerly Sabzwar) District
Zinda Jan District

Paktika Province

Paktika (Pashto: پکتیکا) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the south-east of the country. Most of the population is conservative Sunni Pashtun people. Its capital is Sharan.

Political and military situation
As one of the most remote provinces in Afghanistan, and in an area that saw much devastation in previous years, Paktika suffers from a severe lack of critical infrastructure. Reconstruction in the province after the fall of the Taliban has been slow in comparison to that in nearby provinces such as Khost and Zabul. This is primarily due to the remoteness of the region and repeated attacks on aid workers. In June 2004, members of the Utah and Iowa National Guard helped Army Reserve Civil Affairs Soldiers from Oregon establish a Provincial Reconstruction Team base in Sharana, capital of the province, to lead the development effort. The first full contingent of eight Civil Affairs Soldiers, from Maryland, arrived in September 2004.
While the province hasn't witnessed the outright fighting in the last few years that has affected provinces like Helmand, there is a constant low level of tribal violence accompanied by criminal and Taliban activity. The last serious fighting in the province took place in 2004, amid reports that then-Governor Muhammad Ali Jalali was collaborating with Taliban forces, and that the Taliban had effectively annexed eastern portions of the province. Jalali, and many of his allied officials, were replaced, U.S. Special Forces were dispatched to fight the Taliban while the Pakistan forces fought with the Taliban's allies in neighbouring South Waziristan .
On 1 November 2004, a civil affairs convoy was ambushed near Sarobi, between Shkin firebase and Orgun-E. U.S. Army Spc. James Kearney, a turret gunner, died of a head shot from a sniper, which initiated the ambush. After countless RPGs, PKM rounds and an IED, two vehicles were destroyed and three other Soldiers were wounded. The Provincial Reconstruction Team base was named Camp Kearney on 21 November 2004 to honor the sacrifice of Spc. James Kearney.[
Kearney Base became the nucleus of what was to become Forward Operating Base Sharana, now the major U.S. military base in the region.

The current Governor of the province is Akram Khpalwak. In 2006, a previous Governor of the province, Muhammad Ali Jalali, was killed by Taliban millitants while driving in neighbouring Ghazni Province [4]. In 2004, Ghulabuddin Mangal was appointed Governor of Paktika Province replacing Muhammad Ali Jalali who left the governor's compound as ordered, but only after firing two rockets at it as a goodbye present.

Paktika was once part of a greater province Paktia, that has itself now further split into Khost province. The province was the site of many battles during the Soviet occupation of the country and the lawless years that followed.

Paktika is bordered on the north by Paktia Province and Khost Province, and by North Waziristan and South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan to the east. The western border is shared with Ghazni Province and Zabul Province, while Balochistan, Pakistan is on its southern flank.
Like many areas of the country, Paktika has been heavily deforested. This has been one of the causes of devastating flooding in recent years [5].

Barmal District
Dila District
Gayan District
Gomal District
Mata Khan District
Nika District
Omna District
Sar Hawza District
Sarobi District
Sharan District
Urgun District
Waza Khwa District (alternate spelling: Wazi Khwa
Wor Mamay District
Zarghun Shahr District
Ziruk District

Orgun is the main market town and biggest city, while Sharan is the capital.

Zabul Province

Zabul (Pashto: زابل) is a historic province of Afghanistan. Zabul became an independent province from neighbouring Kandahar in 1963, with Qalat being named the provincial capital. It should not be confused with a new small city Zabol in Irani Afghan border.

Political and security situation.
With its sparse population, insecure border with Pakistan and little central authority, Zabul is a fertile ground for insurgents fighting against the current Afghan government, although the province is considered more secure than some of its southern neighbours [1]. The province has especially struggled with retaining NGO's and teachers in the face of Taliban attacks and threats. Until 2006, the only major international presence was an American Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) based in Qalat 32°07′47″N 066°55′41″E / 32.12972, 66.92806, when it was joined by a UNAMA branch.
The current governor of the province is Del Bar Jan Arman.

Geography and population
The population of the province was reported to be 365,920 in 2004, and the province covers an area of 6,590 square miles.

Argahandab District
Atghar District
Dey Chopan District
Mizan District
Qalat District
Shahjoy District
Shamulzayi District
Shinkay District
Tarnak Wa Jaldak District


Farah Province

Farah (Persian: فراه) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the west of the country. Its capital is Farah. Farah is a spacious and sparsely populated province that lies on the Iranian border.
Geographically the province is approximately 18,000 square miles, making it (comparatively) more than twice the size of Maryland, or half the size of South Korea. The province is bounded on the north by Herat, on the northeast by Ghor, the southeast by Helmand, the south by Nimroz, and on the west by Iran. It is the fourth largest province in Afghanistan.
The province is home to a great many ruined castles including the "Castle of the Infidel" just south of Farah City.

The people of Farah have a reputation for being very courageous and hard working and being interested in land and money, the latter mainly due to the deprivation Farah has been historically subjected to.[citation needed]
Farah is associated with such diverse phenomena as dried meat, bigamy (among the less educated)[citation needed] and large families (families typically have a minimum of four children). Ethnically, Farah Province has a Pashtun majority. There is a Persian-speaking region around the capital city (Yazdi in Farah: people from Yazd in Iran migrated to Farah and called a small part of the capital Yazdi). There are also a couple of areas where Aimaks predominate.
The culture of Farah is patriarchal, where the tribal leaders, almost always men, are highly respected. Family pride is strongly valued and family members are taught to respect it and ensure that it is maintained at all times.
The tomb of Muhammad Jaunpuri (who claimed to be the Mahdi) is in Farah and is visited every year by many people from all around the world, especially Pakistan and India.

Security Situation
Despite having a majority-Pashtun population, Farah has not seen much fighting since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and is peaceful, relative to many parts of the country. However, mountainous Eastern Farah has seen at least one US offensive against Taliban forces. In February 2005, the Taliban killed an aid worker in northern Farah and there was a failed Taliban assassination attempt on the governor. Due to its proximity to the restive Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, Farah has experienced problems with roaming insurgent gangs moving through the province and occupying parts of the province for brief periods of time [1]. Incidents of this type have increased as Taliban fighters face heavy pressure from ISAF offensives in the south.
American and NATO troops jointly run a Provincial Reconstruction Team base out of Farah. The American soldiers at the base were, until October 2006 when ISAF Stage 4 started, the only ones in the country that were under ISAF authority.
Farah Province roads have seen massive improvement since May 2005 and are still being improved to date April 2006. The education system has been greatly improved and a great number of illegal weapons have been collected and destroyed in the province as testimony to the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

Anar Dara
Bala Buluk
Khaki Safed
Lash wa Juwayn
Qala i Kah
Pur Chaman
Pusht Rod
Shib Koh

Kandahar Province

Kandahar or Qandahar (Pashto: کندھار, Persian: قندهار) is one of the largest of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in southern Afghanistan, between Helmand, Oruzgan and Zabul provinces. Its capital is the city of Kandahar, which is located on the Arghandab River. The province has a population of nearly 890,000, with over 300,000 living in its capital city. The main inhabitants of Kandahar province are the Pashtuns.

There is speculation about the origin of the name "Kandahar". It is believed that "Kandahar" may derive its name from Gandhara, an ancient kingdom along the modern Kashmir and Afghanistan border and former satrapy of the Persian Empire. It is suggested that people of Gandhara migrated south to Arachosia and transferred the name with them.Alternatively, it is also believed that Kandahar bears Alexander's name from the Arabic and Persian rendering of "Alexander", which derives from Iskandariya for Alexandria. A temple to the deified Alexander as well as an inscription in Greek and Aramaic by the emperor Ashoka, who lived a few decades later, have been discovered in the old citadel.

For a more comprehensive history of the Kandahar Province, see the Kandahar City.
Kandahar, the city and province, dates back to the time of the Mahabharata, which dates back to 3,120BC Indo-Aryan era. Kandahar City was founded in the 4th century BC by Alexander III of Macedon[citation needed], near the ancient city of Mundigak.[citation needed] The city has been a frequent target for conquest because of its strategic location in Asia, which connects Southern, Central and Southwest Asia. It was part of the Persian Achaemenid empire before the Greek invasion in 330 B.C. It came under the influence of the Indian emperor Ashoka who erected a pillar there with a bilingual inscription in Greek and Aramaic.

The army of the Indus entering Kandahar City during the first Anglo-Afghan war in 1839.
Under the Abbasids and later Turkic invaders, Kandahar converted to Islam. Kandahar would go on to be conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century, Turkic Ghaznavids in the 10th century, and Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Ahmad Shah Durrani, the founder of Afghanistan, gained control of the city and province in 1747 and made it the capital of his new Afghan Kingdom. In the 1770s, the capital was transferred to Kabul. Ahmad Shah Durrani's mausoleum is located somewhere in the center of the city.
British-Indians forces occupied the province during the First Anglo-Afghan War from 1832 to 1842. They also occupied the city during the Second Anglo-Afghan War from 1878 to 1880. It remained peaceful for about 100 years until the late 1970s.
During the Soviet occupation of 1979 to 1989, Kandahar province witnessed many fighting between Soviet and local Mujahideen rebels. After the Soviet withdrawal the city fell to Gul Agha Sherzai, who became a powerful warlord and controlled the province.
At the end of 1994, the Taliban emerged from the area and set out to conquer the rest of the country. Since the removal of the Taliban in late 2001, Kandahar again came under the control of Gul Agha Sherzai. He was replaced in 2003 by Yousef Pashtun followed by Asadullah Khalid taking the post in 2005. The province is currently occupied by NATO forces, mostly by Canadians.

Government and administration
Gul Agha Sherzai was Governor of the province before and after the Taliban regime, until early 2004, when mounting criticism of his efforts led President Hamid Karzai to remove him from the post. He was replaced by Asadullah Khalid, who governed the province until the appointment of Rahmatullah Raufi in August 2008. For the last 250 years, mostly Pashtuns have been ruling Afghanistan. History shows that many Afghan rulers were from Kandahar, such as Ahmad Shah Durrani, Abdur Rahman Khan, Nadir Khan, Zahir Shah, Hamid Karzai, etc. Kandahar province is made up of 17 districts, and each district has its own Chief. The current Governor of the Kandahar Province is Rahmatullah Raufi.
The following is a list of the Districts of Kandahar Province:
Arghandab, Arghistan, Daman, Ghorak, Kandahar (capital) Khakrez, Maruf, Maywand Miyannasheen, Naish, Panjwai, Reg Shah, Wali Kot, Shorabak, Spin Boldak and Zhari

Kandahar had well-irrigated gardens and orchards and was famous for its grapes, melons, and pomegranates, but these were made inaccessible by land mines or destroyed outright in the conflict between the Soviets and the mujahideen, Islamic guerrilla fighters during the Soviet occupation. The city is of significant strategic importance in the region due to the major airport built in the early 1970s with development funding from the United States. The main source of trade is to Pakistan, Iran, and the United States. Kandahar is an agricultural state.

Kandahar International Airport
Kandahar International Airport serves the population of southern Afghanistan, especially the Kandahar region, as a method of traveling to other domestic cities by air or to a number of nearby countries. The airport was built in the 1960s with US financial and technical assistance under the United States Agency for International Development program. Kandahar International Airport has been used by the NATO forces to deliver troops and humanitarian supplies since late 2001. The airport was severely damaged during the Soviet attacks on the city during 1979-89 and again during the US raids in late 2001. Repairs and upgrades also occurred during that period; the airport re-opened for civilian use in late 2006.[9]
Kandahar province has bus services to major towns or village headquarters. It's capital, Kandahar, has a public bus system that take commuters on daily routes to many destinations throughout the city. Besides the buses, there are yellow and white taxicabs that provides transportation service inside the city as well as throughout the province. Other traditional methods of ground transportation are also used. Private vehicles are on the rise in Kandahar, with large show rooms selling new or second hand vehicles imported from the United Arab Emirate. More people are buying new cars as the roads and highways are being improved.

Efforts to improve education in Afghanistan are severely hampered without books, which are in short supply. Lack of funding and political will has led to only small gains since the fall of the Taliban. Education has moved somewhat upward in the rest of the country, but southern states, like Kandahar, have seen slow to no progress because of the continued fighting and instability of the region. In 2006 alone, almost 150 educational institutes have closed in Kandahar province alone, according to the education ministry. Regionally more than 50 schools have been attacked this year. Over 60,000 students cannot attend school because of the risk of attack.[10]
Kandahar University is the largest college or university in the province. In partnership with the Asia Foundation, the Kandahar University conducted a pilot project that provided female high school graduates with a four-month refresher course to prepare for the college entrance examination. Kandahar University, for example, currently has an enrollment of six women and 1,094 men.[11] All of the 24 women who sat for the exam passed and have been admitted to universities to study medicine, engineering, economics, law, and agriculture. The university is only one of two universities in Kandahar that serve all of southern Afghanistan. The conditions in the university are extremely poor, with no water, limited power, and a closed library. The structures of the University are very weak and unsafe. The university is far behind the universities of the North because of the violence, the two universities in southern Afghanistan also receive very limited funding.

Helmand Province

Helmand (Pashto: هلمند) is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the south-west of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation.
The population is 740,000 and the surface area is 58,584 square kilometres. The population is largely Pashtun, with Baloch Brahui and Tajik minorities who are primarily resident in Lashkar Gah .
Helmand is the world's largest opium-producing region, responsible for 42% of the world's supply. This is more than the whole of Myanmar, which is the second largest producing nation after Afghanistan.
The current governor is Gulab Mangal (since March 2008).

USAID programmes:
Helmand was the center of a U.S. development program in the 1960s - it was even nicknamed "little America". The program laid out tree-lined streets in Lashkar Gah, built a network of irrigation canals and constructed a large hydroelectric dam. The program was abandoned when the communists seized power in 1978.
More recently the American USAID program has contributed to a counter-narcotics initiative called the Alternative Livelihoods Program (ALP) in the province. It pays communities to work to improve their environment and economic infrastructure as an alternative to Opium poppy farming. The project undertakes drainage and canal rehabilitation projects. In 2005 and 2006 there have been problems in getting promised finance to communities and this is a source of considerable tension between the farmers and the Coalition forces.
Current military situation
It was announced on January 27, 2006 in the British Parliament that a NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would be replacing the US troops in the province as part of Operation Herrick. The British 16th Air Assault Brigade would be the core of the force in Helmand Province. British bases are located in the towns of Sangin, Lashkar Gah and Gerishk.
As of Summer 2006, Helmand was one of the districts involved in Operation Mountain Thrust, a combined NATO-Afghan mission targeted at Taliban fighters in the south of the country. In July 2006, this offensive mission essentially stalled in Helmand as NATO, primarily British, and Afghan troops were forced to take increasingly defensive positions under heavy insurgent pressure. In response, British troop levels in the province were increased, and new encampments were established in Sangin and Gerishk. Fighting has been particularly heavy in the towns of Sangin, Naway, Nawsad and Garmser. There are reports that the Taliban see Helmand province as a key testing area for their ability to take and hold Afghan territory from NATO and Afghan National Army troops [2]. Commanders on the ground have described the situation as the most brutal conflict the British army has been involved in since the Korean war.
In Autumn 2006, British troops started to reach "cessation of hostilities" agreements with local Taliban forces around the district centres where they had been stationed earlier in the summer [3]. Under the terms of the agreement, both sets of forces will withdraw from the conflict zone. This agreement from the British forces implies that the strategy of holding key bases in the district, as requested by Hamid Karzai, is essentially untenable with the current levels of British troop deployment. The agreement is also a setback for Taliban fighters, who were desperate to consolidate their gains in the province, but are under heavy pressure from various NATO offensives.
News reports identified the insurgents involved in the fighting as a mix of Taliban fighters and warring tribal groups, primarily the Ishakzai and Alikozai, who are heavily involved in the province's lucrative opium trade [4].
Fighting continued throughout the winter, with British and allied troops taking a more pro-active stance against the Taliban. Several operations were launched including the more recent Operation Silicone at the start of spring. On May 12, 2007, Mullah Dadullah, one of the Taliban's top commanders, along with 11 of his men were killed by NATO and Afghan forces in Helmand.
On May 8, 2007, between 21 and 40 civilians were killed by U.S. air strikes in Heratyan village, Sangin District.[5]

Border with Pakistan
Helmand has a southern border with the Balochistan province of Pakistan. Many domestic and international observers have criticized Pakistan's efforts towards securing the border against Taliban insurgents, who are reported to use Balochistan as a training and staging area.[citation needed] Some reports cite the political alliance of Pakistan's military government with Balochistan's pro-Taliban Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam party as the reason for Pakistan's reluctance to commit to greater security measures.[citation needed]


Lashkar Gah

Lashkargah (Center)
Musa Qala
Nad Ali

Nimroz Province

Nimruz (Pashto: نیمروز) is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the south-west of the country on the borders of Iran and Baluchistan. Nimruz covers 41,000 km² and has a population of 149,000 (2002 estimate). It is the most sparsely populated province in the country. The largest group in the province are the Baloch followed closely by Pashtuns. A substantial part of the province is the desert area of Dashti Margo.


Zaranj (capital city)
Chahar Burjak District
Chakhansur District
Kang District
Khash Rod District