Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

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					                                                                                                         Country Risk Profile
         Rahimullah Yusufzai

         Country Risk Profile 2000

 2000 Swiss Peace Foundation ⋅ Institute for Conflict Resolution and Swiss Agency for Development and
Cooperation (SDC) ⋅ Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

                 Swiss Peace Foundation ⋅ Institute for Conflict Resolution
                 Sonnenbergstrasse 17, Postfach, CH-3000 Bern 7
                 Telefon ++41 (0)31 330 12 12, Telefax ++41 (0)31 330 12 13
R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

                   R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile


  Preface                                                           1
  1     Executive Summary                                           2
  2     Policy Options                                              5
  3     Risk Assessment                                             9
  3.1     Domestic Risk Assessment                                 10
      3.1.1   Background and historical factors                    10
      3.1.2   Environmental factors                                13
      3.1.3   Economic factors                                     15
      3.1.4   Social factors                                       17
      3.1.5   Political factors                                    17
      3.1.6   Military and security factors                        19
      3.1.7   Local actors                                         21
  3.2     International Risk Assessment                            28
  End Notes                                                        36
  Bibliography                                                     38
                    R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile


      The present series of case studies on Afghanistan, India and
Pakistan were presented and discussed at the “Second Workshop on
Conflict Dynamics in South Asia: Early Warning in Practice” in Septem-
ber 2000 in Bern, Switzerland. The workshop was organized by the Swiss
Peace Foundation's early warning unit FAST (Early Recognition of Ten-
sion and Fact Finding) and brought together scholars, local experts,
and representatives of NGOs dealing with the South Asian region.

      FAST's main objective is the early recognition of impending or
potential crisis situations for the purpose of early action towards the
prevention of armed conflict and – if given – seizing opportunities for
peace building. Combined with a collection of statistic evidence and
systematic monitoring of conflictive and cooperative events, the pre-
sent Country Risk Profile is part of FAST's early warning methodology
linking early warning and early action by relevant decision makers.
FAST is mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Coop-
eration (SDC).

      The case studies on Afghanistan (Rahimullah Yusufzai), India
(Navnita Chadha Behera) and Pakistan (I.A. Rehman) shed light on
the various political, socio-economic and demographic causes of
specific ongoing conflicts in the South Asian region.

                              R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

1 Executive Summary*
             After a generation of conflict, Afghanistan lies in ruins as the
       world's most outlawed and ostracised state. Abandoned and left
       to fend for itself against heavy odds, it has gone back in time af-
       ter serving as a battlefield for two superpowers. Out of venge-
       ance, the Soviet Union, and its successor Russia, as the defeated
       superpower never had any interest in bailing out Afghanistan
       what to speak of paying war reparations to help in its reconstruc-
       tion. The U.S. as the victorious superpower has until now acted
       more out of self-interest than as a world leader which cares for
       the 16 million Afghans. Afghanistan's neighbours, in particular
       Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China, pursue self-serving
       agendas and are concerned more in shoring up their defences
       against the fallout of the Afghan conflict than going beyond
       rhetoric to secure the future of the poverty-ridden Afghan chil-
       dren who are growing up illiterate in a culture of violence, hate
       and extremism. Outside interference continues blatantly in Af-
       ghanistan not as means of promoting peace but as a tool to ad-
       vance interests which have little concern for the hapless Afghans.

             The hope generated by the Taliban as the harbingers of
       peace when they first appeared on the scene in the autumn of
       1994 is almost extinguished because they too, like the muja-
       hideen before them, in their lust for power have become in-
       volved in the game of death and destruction which has been
       Afghanistan's fate for 22 long years. Corruption by Taliban officials
       is growing and the law and order situation, though still far better
       than during communist and mujahideen rule and once their
       proudest achievement, is deteriorating. To make matters worse,
       the Taliban are still determined to conquer the whole country
       and subjugate every Afghan in keeping with the now well-known
       dreams of their supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar. Even if
       they manage to achieve that - and their summer offensive in
       2000 in northeastern Afghanistan is an indication of their urge for
       an outright military victory over opponents instead of trying a
       peaceful political option -, there is little hope of an end to their

*The views expressed in this study are those of the author and not necessarily those of FAST and the Swiss
Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

woes as well as those of the Afghan people. There would still be
opposition to their rule, as is happening even now in Taliban-held
areas, and leading military commander Ahmad Shah Masood
would easily relocate his military bases to Iran, Tajikistan or an-
other neighbouring Central Asian country which consider Taliban
as a destabilizing force in the region. The Taliban demand that
their Mulla Omar be accepted as the country's supreme leader is
unacceptable to the opposition and, therefore, a stumbling
block in reaching a power-sharing agreement. Beside, it is highly
unlikely for Afghan combatants in view of their bitter blood-feuds
to share power with each other in a coalition or accept an infe-
rior position in a government of national reconciliation. Abandon-
ing the military option would also deprive warlords of their impor-
tance in a country where war has become big business. To ex-
pect the Taliban to step down in favour of former Afghan king
Zahir Shah and pave the way for a Loya Jirga (grand assembly)
to effect reconciliation in the country or agree to a lesser role in a
coalition government is unrealistic as it is uncommon for an Af-
ghan ruler to willingly and peacefully give up something which
he has gained by force. Despite their shortcomings and isolation,
the Taliban have shown remarkable resilience in staying in power
and holding on to places hostile to their rule like Herat, Kabul and
much of northern Afghanistan. Even though most commentators
attribute their longevity to their repressive policies, it is unlikely
that a force which is unpopular can sustain itself in power for so
long. The Afghan longing for peace after years of bloodshed and
insecurity paved the way for the rise of the Taliban and their fears
of a return to the chaos of the early 1990s seems to be influenc-
ing their acceptance of the harsh Taliban policies. The prospects
of an Afghanistan once again split among foreign-backed fac-
tions and the misery it would inflict in case of a Taliban defeat
also scares away not only the Afghan people but also the
neighbouring states.

      The fractious Northern Alliance has fared no better and is, in
fact, even less-equipped to steer Afghanistan out of its troubles in
the unlikely scenario of its comeback as a dominant military
force. Its inability to inspire the trust of the majority Pashtoon
population could raise concerns about Afghanistan's unity, a
scenario which causes alarm bells to ring in neighbouring coun-
tries which are home to some of the same Afghan ethnic groups.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

It is apparent that neither the Taliban nor the Northern Alliance
represent hope for either peace or stability. Both are holding the
Afghan people hostage and there is little progress in breaking
their stranglehold.

      First through their unwanted interference and now because
of their indifference, the world’s super, major and regional powers
have turned Afghanistan into a pariah state. The Islamist zealots
who were encouraged by the U.S. and its allies to come and fight
the Soviets in Afghanistan are now termed terrorists because their
interests clash with those of the West and their client Arab and Is-
lamic countries. For no fault of theirs, the Afghan people are pun-
ished through economic sanctions, which have mostly hurt the
poor as conceded in a recent UN report, because their rulers
happen to be Taliban. Rather than shunning the Taliban, in the
short-term efforts ought to be made to interact with them in a bid
to reduce the sufferings of the Afghan people. Experience has
shown that Taliban are amenable to reason and willing to be
pragmatic if given due importance as the country’s rulers and
once convinced of the utility of a proposal or demand. In the
long-term, one has to look beyond the Taliban and the Northern
Alliance because the Afghan conflict would only be resolved
once the country’s civil war as well as the transnational battle it
has triggered is stopped and an international campaign is
launched to revive Afghanistan’s national institutions to enable it
to emerge as a viable modern state. Otherwise, the Afghan con-
flict could spin out of control and influence more territories after
having left its impact in Algeria, Egypt and some other Arab
countries as well as in the Philippines, Chechnya, Kashmir, Tajiki-
stan, Uzbekistan and rest of the Central Asian republics.

                 R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

2 Policy Options
        1) Despite its inadequacies and past failures, the UN is still
  the most credible peacemaker in Afghanistan and its accept-
  ability ought to be strengthened to enable it to play a more ef-
  fective role in the Afghan peace process. The UN ought to have
  a defining and coordinating role in every peace initiative con-
  cerning Afghanistan as other peacemakers, whether the Organi-
  zation of Islamic Conference (OIC), Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan,
  Japan and private Afghan and non-Afghan groups and indi-
  viduals, either lack stature and influence to undertake a task of
  such magnitude or are shorn of credibility after having taken
  sides in the Afghan conflict. To start with, the UN should declare
  Afghanistan’s seat vacant instead of retaining the government of
  ousted president Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani as a member of
  the world body. The OIC has already done so and certain coun-
  tries practice the same policy of neutrality toward the Afghan
  combatants without making it public. Right now, the ruling Tali-
  ban perceive the UN as a biased body which ignores the ground
  realities and recognizes the non-existent Rabbani government as
  Afghanistan’s legitimate central authority. By derecognizing the
  Rabbani government and treating the Taliban and the Northern
  Alliance as equals the UN would loudly and effectively proclaim
  its neutrality in the Afghan conflict and become more accept-
  able not only to the Taliban but also to some of the Islamic ele-
  ments worldwide who support them. Even otherwise, no mediator
  not perceived as even-handed, such as Pakistan and Iran, can
  inspire the required confidence to be able to effect reconcilia-

         2) Since the last few years, the UN has tried to shift its
  peacemaking strategy in a bid to stop outsiders from aiding and
  abetting their favourites by focusing less on the Afghan warring
  factions and more on the countries, both Afghanistan’s
  neighbours as well as world powers like the U.S. and Russia, which
  have become entangled in the Afghan conflict. The Six Plus Two
  concept institutionalized this strategy and though it has met with
  little success there is no harm in strengthening this effort and mak-
  ing it more credible in the eyes of the Afghan combatants and

                R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

people. A recent call for an international conference on Afghani-
stan by Peter Tomsen, who served as a U.S. envoy to the Afghan
resistance during the jehad, appears to be somewhat similar, or
an elaboration, of the Six Plus Two concept. If not properly han-
dled, it could only add to the confusion and inject more com-
plexities and players into the Afghan conflict.

      3) The proposal for an arms embargo to the Afghan warring
factions has been mooted from time to time but it is only now
that some interest is being shown in its practicability. More impor-
tantly, the Taliban have welcomed the proposal because their
consent as the ruling group is vital for the success of any initiative.
The Taliban believe it would help cut-off military supplies to the
Northern Alliance from Iran, Russia and Tajikistan and make it eas-
ier for them to crush the opposition. The Northern Alliance, on the
other hand, should also back the proposal as it has time and
again accused Pakistan of supplying the Taliban with not only
arms and ammunition but also manpower. To materialise an arms
embargo, the stationing of international observers and the back-
ing of neighbouring countries is essential. Unfortunately and
rather inexplicably, the deployment of UN peacekeepers or ob-
servers to help halt a conflict as old and bloody as Afghanistan
has never really been considered seriously. Such an attitude has
been lamented by common Afghans who often point how more
recent conflicts like East Timor, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and
Democratic Congo have attracted more international sympathy
and elicited quicker response both in terms of humanitarian assis-
tance and stationing of peacekeeping forces. In fact, U.S. State
department spokesman Richard Boucher said recently that
Washington was exploring further UN sanctions against the Tali-
ban including an arms embargo, a travel ban on Taliban officials
and closing of their representative offices abroad on account of
their refusal to expel Saudi militant Osama bin Laden as de-
manded by the UN Security Council resolution 1267 in October,
1999. However, imposing an arms embargo as part of sanctions
to punish the Taliban rather than as a means to restrict flow of
weapons into Afghanistan to help end the conflict would have a
negative effect. The proposed arms embargo should be en-
forced by seeking the much-needed Taliban cooperation, as well
as from their opponents, to ensure its implementation.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

      4) World and regional powers need to rethink their Afghani-
stan policies and priorities if they are really keen to help the Af-
ghan people overcome their miseries and prevent Afghanistan
from becoming an even more isolated haven for Islamic militants
and those on their wanted lists. The U.S. obsession with Bin Laden,
Russia’s fear of Chechens and Central Asian Islamists allegedly
trained and financed through an international network centred
in Afghanistan, and China’s paranoia over the separatist agenda
of Uighur Muslims in its Xianjiang province have largely influenced
the course of their policies on Afghanistan. These and other
countries are focusing on problems which, according to their un-
derstanding, emanate from Afghanistan but are unwilling to fo-
cus on the much-battered and strategically sited country and its
hapless people. Scared of militancy and eager to secure their
own interests, they talk at length about the need to stem terrorism
originating from Afghanistan, end Afghan narcotics production
and trafficking and protect human and women rights but no ini-
tiative is undertaken to restore the rights of the Afghan people to
decide their own future. Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and certain other countries, which
have been interfering in Afghanistan and have become em-
broiled in the Afghan conflict, have also pursued self-serving poli-
cies based on narrow objectives and largely oblivious to the
needs and interests of the Afghans. The outsiders have for long
dictated as to what needs to be done to recreate a peaceful
Afghanistan. It is time the Afghan people are empowered to de-
cide what suits them and how best to achieve that goal.

     5) The OIC, in keeping with its reputation of a talking-club in-
stead of becoming an assertive forum to put into practice aspira-
tions of over one billion Muslims in the world, has been unable to
play any meaningful role during all these 22 years of the Afghan
conflict. Its most recent peace effort, made possible by Iran as
the rotating chairman of the OIC in cooperation with Pakistan
and Saudi Arabia, faltered as usual when an agreement reached
on swapping of prisoners between the Taliban and Northern Alli-
ance in Jeddah couldn’t be implemented. In fact, it was bound
to fail as the proxy rather than direct talks between the Afghan
combatants didn’t focus on first achieving a ceasefire and
agreeing on other confidence-building measures and instead in
a desperate move made them agree to an exchange of prison-

              R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

ers. As past events have proved, the Afghan warring groups
swap prisoners whenever it suits them without foreign mediation.
It was only two weeks ago that a Taliban military commander
Mulla Mohammad held by the opposition was swapped for a top
Masood loyalist Abdul Saboor despite the fact that fighting was
raging between the two sides in northeastern Afghanistan. How-
ever, OIC inactivity and ineffectiveness shouldn’t be made a ba-
sis for keeping it out of Afghan peacemaking and it would be
advisable to keep it involved as a UN partner to help restore
peace in Afghanistan.

      6) Economic activity can accelerate peacemaking as more
and more people are able to give up fighting as a means of live-
lihood once they are able to secure jobs or undertake small busi-
nesses. Sadly enough, no thought has been given to this option in
context of Afghanistan on one pretext or another and big pro-
spective investors like the American Unocal and the Argentinian
Bridas had to give up plans to build gas and oil pipelines from
Turkmenistan to Pakistan and beyond via Afghanistan on ac-
count of U.S. government pressure and subsequently due to the
UN economic sanctions. This would have been the largest foreign
investment in Afghanistan’s history and would have generated
much-needed economic activity and created significant num-
ber of jobs in a country where the monthly income averages
about $ 10. Those advocating sanctions on the poverty-ridden,
drought-stricken Afghan people should instead help them to
make a living without serving as fodder for war so that they are
empowered to defy their warlords and break free of their shack-
les. Countries which sent bombs and guns to Afghanistan to help
defeat the Soviet superpower and, in the process, destroyed Af-
ghanistan’s infrastructure are now unwilling to pay for its recon-
struction. Nobody in the so-called Free World pressured the Soviet
Union or Russia to pay war reparations to Afghanistan to rebuild
its devastated infrastructure, rehabilitate its displaced people
and reassure its widows, orphans and the disabled. A coordi-
nated international effort should be launched to revive Afghani-
stan’s shattered economy as a means to serve the cause of

                 R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

3 Risk Assessment
        Afghanistan is one of the world’s longest running conflicts as
  well as one of the most ignored. Once in a while it catches atten-
  tion of the international media, that too for all the wrong and
  negative reasons. Presence of Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden
  in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and issues of terrorism ensure that
  the war-ravaged country and its long-suffering people aren’t al-
  together forgotten. Afghanistan also managed to remain rele-
  vant to the international community by becoming the world’s
  largest producer of opium in 1999 with an estimated yield of 4,600
  tonnes. The controversial Taliban policies on girls’ education and
  working women, their questionable record on human rights, and
  their strict enforcement of Shariah (Islamic law) also made them
  of interest to the media and, in the process, to the readers and

        However, the negative image of Afghanistan as a land torn
  apart by an unending civil war and yet a sanctuary of some of
  the most wanted men in the world doesn’t help to inspire much
  sympathy from international donors as well as major powers ca-
  pable of ending the Afghan conflict. The so-called “donor fa-
  tigue” in context of Afghanistan is understandable in view of
  questions often raised as to why a country and a nation should
  be helped whose self-imposed and heavily-armed leaders are
  not only bleeding it to death but also refuse to indulge in a
  meaningful peace dialogue or abide by past power-sharing
  agreements. This neglect is most visible when resource-starved
  Afghanistan is hit by natural calamities like an earthquake and a
  drought and still it doesn’t trigger an adequate outpouring of
  grief and assistance from the world at large. Rather than being
  helped, the war-weary and voiceless Afghan people are sub-
  jected to further punishment by imposing economic sanctions
  against Afghanistan on the plea that their Taliban rulers refuse to
  turn over bin Laden to the United States to face trial on terrorism
  charges. The United States-sponsored sanctions imposed by the
  United Nations Security Council last November are termed Tali-
  ban-specific but there is no evidence yet that they have hit the
  ruling Taliban more than their hapless Afghan subjects.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

3.1 Domestic Risk Assessment

3.1.1 Background and historical factors

       The conflict between the reformists and conservatives in Af-
ghanistan is quite old. It dates back to Afghan ruler Amir Amanul-
lah and even earlier to his father Amir Habibullah and grandfa-
ther Amir Abdur Rahman. Amanullah led Afghanistan to com-
plete independence from Britain by fighting the Third Anglo-
Afghan War or the War of Independence in May 1919 to become
a national hero but he soon fell foul of the powerful conservative
forces in the country by building lavishly and, more importantly,
by curtailing the power of the religious establishment, introducing
co-education and ordering the Afghan women to unveil.(1) He
was forced to abdicate in 1929 in the face of a growing revolt
but the lessons weren’t learnt and about 50 years later the Peo-
ples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), better known by
the names of its Khalq and Parcham factions, committed the
same mistake as Amanullah by forcing reforms much-too-soon on
an unwilling, deeply conservative population. The PDPA, lacking
grassroots support and largely confined to urban centres, was
also burdened by the widespread belief that it took orders from
Moscow and was committed to establishing godless communism
in Islamic Afghanistan. Well-meaning reforms such as an adult lit-
eracy programme which won appreciation from international
organizations, an end to usury and sale of women through bride-
price, and land distribution to benefit landless tenants all fell prey
to politics as overzealous Khalqis and Parchamis went about im-
plementing them without caring for the sensibilities of their sub-
jects and the clergy-led opposition began to condemn every
decision made by the communists. Before long the standard of
revolt had been raised and armed rebellions, by now made ho-
lier by calling it jehad, had erupted in eastern and southern Af-
ghanistan. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on December 27,
1979 to sustain the crumbling PDPA regime in power and install a
more pliable Babrak Karmal as the new president in place of the
unpredictable, headstrong Hafizullah Amin further fuelled the up-
rising. The jehad or holy war grew in intensity as it was now aided

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

by resistance against foreign occupation. Islam and liberation of
the homeland formed a heady combination as poorly-armed
Afghans bravely fought the mighty Red Army and eventually
forced the then Soviet Union to pullout its troops in February 1989
under the cover of the Geneva Accords. Though the feat was
accomplished with generous help from the so-called Free World
led by the U.S. and Pakistan, there was no way it could have
been achieved without the unparalleled sacrifices by the muja-
hideen and the Afghan people. The Afghan communists under
president Dr Najibullah surprisingly hung on to power for another
three years before giving up in April 1992 and hoping that a UN
peace plan would ensure a peaceful transition. However, the UN
faltered in its assessment of the situation and it could neither en-
sure a smooth transition nor save Dr Najibullah’s life.

      The installation of an Afghan mujahideen government failed
to restore either peace or stability as a bloody struggle for power
ensued between the fractious armed groups. The Afghans had
lived true to their reputation - closing ranks to fight foreign ag-
gressors as they did in case of the Soviets and resuming their in-
ternal conflicts as soon as the threat from outside was removed.
A strange and flawed power-sharing formula brokered by Paki-
stan, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and known as the Peshawar Ac-
cord fanned instead of curbing the lust for power among the
claimants to the throne in Kabul. The Afghan Shiite factions were
excluded from sharing power with the more powerful Sunni group
much to the chagrin of Iran, thereby contributing to the distrust
which Tehran still harbours regarding Islamabad’s designs in Af-
ghanistan. The Peshawar Accord, and subsequently similar
power-sharing accords in Jalalabad and Islamabad primarily
mediated by Pakistan, were openly flouted and even a pledge
undertaken by the factional leaders in the holy Khana Ka’aba in
Mekkah to put an end to bloodshed was quickly forgotten. There
was much shifting of alliances by the mujahideen leaders during
this period as various and often unbelievable coalitions were
formed to capture power. Jamiat-i-Islami’s Prof Rabbani and his
military commander Ahmad Shah Masood, Hezb-i-Islami leader
Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, Ittehad-i-Islami’s Prof Abdur Rab Rasul
Sayyaf and the Shiite Hezb-i-Wahdat led by the late Abdul Ali
Mazari were the prominent actors in this unfolding drama in
which Kabul suffered more death and destruction than during

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

the war against the Soviet troops and their Afghan communist al-
lies and violations of human rights was committed with an un-
heard brutality and impunity. Uzbek warlord Abdur Rasheed Dos-
tum, who had fought against the mujahideen as part of the
communist militias, too became part of these unnatural,
shortlived alliances as he began to be courted by almost every
mujahideen leader in their bid for power.

      By the autumn of 1994, Afghanistan in general and cities like
Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad in particular had been carved
out into fiefdoms ruled by rival warlords. Though Prof Rabbani as
president and Masood as defence minister ruled the seat of cen-
tral government in Kabul, their writ was challenged even in the
capital by Hekmatyar, Dostum and Mazari. Kandahar was con-
trolled by at least four mujahideen warlords and Jalalabad by a
Shura (council) of commanders owing allegiance to the seven
jehadi groups headquartered in Peshawar during the war. It was
during this period that Afghans used to say they needed visas to
travel from one part of Kabul or Kandahar to another. The coun-
try had plunged into lawlessness and bands of mujahideen had
set up checkpoints on roads to demand illegal taxes in either
cash or kind. Stories of travellers and traders being looted and
killed and young girls and boys being kidnapped and raped
were told and retold all over Afghanistan. The mujahideen had
become so unpopular that they were now referred to as To-
pakyan (gunmen) rather than as holy warriors. The time was ripe
for a new force to emerge and fill the vacuum in the wake of the
rapid mujahideen decline. Any force, even the former commu-
nists, would have been welcomed by the Afghan people had it
dared to challenge the mujahideen. Of all the people, the lowly-
rated and humble Taliban led by Mulla Mohammad Omar ac-
cepted the challenge and took on the mujahideen first in Kan-
dahar and later in rest of southern, western and eastern Afghani-
stan. Predictably, the mujahideen failed to put up much of a fight
due to lack of popular support and even their famed military
commanders fled or surrendered to provide a walkover to the
Taliban. Almost by default, the Taliban won military victories and
the people heaved a sigh of relief as their life, honour and prop-
erty were protected, checkpoints were dismantled and roads
opened for travel and trade. The Taliban also disarmed the popu-
lation despite lack of resources to undertake a task of such mag-

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

nitude, unified divided cities, and gave the areas under their
control a single central authority by smashing different centres of
power presided by warlords like Ismail Khan in Herat, Haji Abdul
Qadeer in Jalalabad, Karim Khalili in Bamiyan and Dostum in Ma-
zar-i-Sharif. Only Masood was able to stand up to the Taliban,
primarily Sunni and ethnic Pashtoons, on account of his superior
military tactics, grassroots support in his native Panjsher valley and
other areas populated by his fellow ethnic Tajiks, and substantial
outside assistance from countries like Iran, Russia and Tajikistan.
Their battle for supremacy isn’t yet over and Masood by occupy-
ing about 10 per cent of Afghanistan remains the last remaining
hurdle for the Taliban to overcome before they can claim control
over the whole country.

3.1.2 Environmental factors

      The damage to the infrastructure due to the war in Afghani-
stan is widespread, more so in southern, eastern, western and
central Afghanistan. Northern Afghanistan has suffered relatively
less than rest of the country, a fact which prompted the muja-
hideen elsewhere to taunt their counterparts and the general
population in the north for not making enough of an effort on the
battlefield against the Red Army. However, the situation could
change if the Masood-led Northern Alliance manages to spark
more revolts against Taliban rule as they have done in provinces
like Samangan and Bamiyan. In fact, places which largely es-
caped fighting and destruction during the Soviet occupation of
Afghanistan and later during the inter-mujahideen battles were
finally engulfed by the flames of war in recent months and years.
A marked animosity was witnessed in camps for Afghan refugees
in Peshawar between those who migrated to Pakistan after the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the ones who came much
later after the withdrawal of Red Army troops from the country.
Those who were displaced in the early 1980s considered them-
selves better Muslims than the Afghans who sided with the com-
munist Afghan regime until the end or preferred to stay on in ur-
ban centres like Kabul by accepting Khalqi and Parchami rule. To
avoid clashes between them, Pakistani authorities kept the old

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

and new refugees apart in camps like Nasir Bagh, Katcha Garhi
and Akora Khattak near Peshawar. Bitterness still characterises
their interaction with each other and the old refugees, being
well-entrenched, are better-off than the new arrivals. If translated
in terms of resource distribution, the population in northern Af-
ghanistan was apparently better-off during the Soviet occupa-
tion as their towns and villages suffered less destruction com-
pared to rest of the country. However, they seem to have been
left behind in subsequent years due to frequent road blockades
which disrupted their access to markets in Pakistan, Iran and the
Gulf states and made it impossible for them to obtain a better
price for their produce, especially fresh and dry fruit, carpets and
qarakul (lambskin). The closure of the Termez-Hairatan border on
the Oxus (Amu Darya) river by Uzbekistan fearing influx of Afghan
refugees and arms has also denied northern Afghanistan a natu-
ral and accessible market for both exports and imports.

      Deforestation took place on a large-scale due to lack of
checks in absence of a strong central authority. The dense forests
in Paktia and Kunar provinces bordering Pakistan were mercilessly
denuded owing to the easy and unhindered access to busy tim-
ber markets across the Durand Line in Pakistan’s Federally Admin-
istered Tribal Areas (FATA). A ban imposed by Pakistan govern-
ment some years ago on timber exports from FATA to the down-
country has helped check the flow of Afghan wood to Pakistan
through the traditional routes and thus saved the remaining for-
ests in Paktia, Kunar and other border provinces from further de-
forestation. However, traders as always have found alternate
routes to smuggle Afghan timber to Pakistan and now heavily-
laden trucks drive from Paktia and Kunar all the way to Kabul and
Kandahar before emptying their cargo of wood at Spin Boldak
bordering Chaman in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The situa-
tion is a lot better now due to certain controls put in place by the
Taliban compared to the past when mujahideen commanders
who ruled Jalalabad before them not only encouraged smug-
gling of Afghan timber to Pakistan but also used to fly it to Dubai
and stuff the chartered aircraft on the return journey with cloth,
electronic goods and other luxury goods for sale at the lucrative
smuggled goods Pakistani markets. However, logging of timber
for profit and as a means of firewood cannot be stopped com-

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

pletely in war-ravaged Afghanistan for want of other means of

        Nature also hasn’t been kind to the Afghan people as quite
a few devastating earthquakes have hit the country in recent
years and right now a crippling drought is ravaging southern,
western and central Afghanistan. If that wasn’t enough, the
landmines have caused much damage and continue to do so in
most of Afghanistan. According to a UN official Mr K M Sharif, Af-
ghanistan is the world’s biggest minefield. “Over 1,200,000 mines,
one-third of the total mines in the world, were defused in Afghani-
stan in the past decade. But 100,000 acres of land in that country
is still mined. Beside, about 30 deminers were killed and 534 in-
jured in mine-sweeping operations in Afghanistan since 1990,” he
said. (2)

3.1.3 Economic factors

      Economically, Afghanistan is the world’s foremost outlaw
state. (3) One of its largest source of income is opium poppy
whose cultivation has spread even to those Afghan provinces
where it was never grown. The increase in area under poppies
has been matched only by the destruction of the economy due
to Afghanistan’s endless armed conflict and the resultant rise in
poverty levels. The poor poppy farmers may get only $ 30 for a
kilo of opium which when processed into heroin would fetch
prices ranging between $ 100,000 to 500,000 in the U.S. and
Europe. Drought and poor yield have also made opium poppy
less lucrative and yet it remains the major cash crop for Afghan
growers practising subsistence-level farming. The Islamic Ushar tax
on all land produce is also applicable on opium poppy and the
Taliban by receiving it in kind have attracted much criticism from
the UN and others. Lately, there has been a move by the United
Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) to ar-
range a barter deal under which Iran would provide food to the
Taliban in return for the opium collected by them as tax.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

      Another major source of earning for Afghans is smuggling
between the Persian Gulf and Central Asian countries and Paki-
stan. A booming “motor-car smuggling” of vehicles bought in
Japan and Dubai and smuggled to Pakistan via Iran, Turkmeni-
stan and Afghanistan is flourishing much to detriment of the Paki-
stani economy. The removal of the mujahideen checkpoints by
the Taliban has boosted transportation of both cargo and people
and generated some much-needed economic activity. It is thus
not surprising that traders remain the biggest supporters of the
Taliban. In fact, it were Afghan traders who helped the Taliban
get through their difficult early days by generously donating for
their cause.

     The poor state of the economy could be gauged from the
value of the Afghani, Afghanistan’s beleaguered national cur-
rency, which sells for about 60,000 to a U.S. dollar and has to be
carried in briefcases and bags to transact business. It is thus
hardly surprising that Afghans prefer to deal in the Pakistani Ru-
pee rather than own worthless currency. The Rupee has almost
become legal tender in Afghanistan and Pakistani goods, to-
gether with those from Iran, dominate the market.

      Agriculture remains the mainstay of the Afghan economy
even though the produce and yield is much below pre-war fig-
ures. The small industrial sector was destroyed by war and revival
has been slow and confined to factories producing plastic
goods, soap, matches, etc. An exception are the fertilizer and
textiles mills in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan which con-
tinued to operate during the war and are still operational. The
natural gas deposits in Shiberghan, again in the north, also con-
tinue to be exploited for industrial and domestic use. Rural areas
are in a way better-equipped to cope with poverty owing to the
gradual revival of the agricultural and irrigation system and on
account of the closely-knit tribal and family structure. The urban
centres have been turned into huge slums as households dis-
placed by war have flocked to major cities in search of shelter,
security and livelihood.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

3.1.4 Social factors

      The war damaged the existing social structures and reduced
the role and importance of tribal elders, feudals, notables and
the like. Instead, it threw up new leadership largely comprising
military commanders and the clergy. Outsiders sponsoring the
war also preferred the religious elements as they were said to be
fired with Islamic zeal in combat against the Soviet army. Funda-
mentalists and hardliners got the lion’s share in terms of arms and
money that flowed into Afghanistan from all over the world. This
explains why nationalist and liberal Afghans have become weak
compared to the clergy. The mujahideen no doubt were Islamists
but the Taliban have gone a step ahead and are determined to
establish a puritanical system of Islamic governance and justice.
Some of their edicts including those concerning personal free-
dom were also implemented by the mujahideen but the Taliban
have put them in writing and promulgated them so often that
they are now ridiculed and criticised the world over by human
rights organizations and governments. Canadian foreign minister
Mr Axworthy rather undiplomatically called them a bunch of
crooks and Mavis Leno, wife popular American television come-
dian Jay Leno and leader of a group of prominent U.S. feminists
who have been campaigning against the Taliban over women’s
issues, described them as sociopaths. This characterization obvi-
ously is of no real help to the Afghan people and nobody knows
it better than well-meaning Western aid workers but it explains
the hate for the Taliban in many Western minds. The positive as-
pects of the Taliban rule have seldom been highlighted and it is
probably due to the fact that their negative image far outweighs
whatever good they may have done. Beside, the Taliban inability
to maintain friendly relations with the media has also damaged
their cause.

3.1.5 Political factors

    There are certain universal facts with regard to Afghanistan
which could serve as an indicator for the future. First, Afghanistan
has never been colonized and at least two superpowers of their

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

era, i.e. the British Empire and the Soviet Union, have suffered at
the hands of the Afghans while unsuccessfully trying to subjugate
them. In fact, many Afghans and all the Taliban are often fond of
boasting that the U.S. too would meet a similar fate if it repeated
its August 1998 air-strikes against Afghanistan and continued to
provoke the Afghan people. “We have already buried the British
and the Russians and now we are preparing a third grave in Af-
ghanistan for the Americans,” is how a group of young Taliban
remarked while talking to me in Khost, southern Afghanistan, im-
mediately after the U.S. cruise missiles attack on nearby training
camps run by Bin Laden, Kashmiri fighters and their Pakistani and
Afghan supporters. Second, the Afghans are brave and hard-
working and are capable of rebuilding their devastated home-
land with the same vigour with which they destroyed it both while
fighting the Soviet occupation troops during 1979-89 or among
themselves afterwards. Third, all the countries whose interference
in Afghanistan has prevented a quick end to the conflict should
never hope to install and sustain a puppet government in Kabul
because all Afghan rulers ranging from Shah Shuja to Babrak
Karmal were doomed the moment they were deemed to be tak-
ing orders from abroad. Fourth, change of ruler or government in
modern Afghanistan has mostly occurred by the use of force and
it is, therefore, a bit optimistic to hope that a peaceful political
settlement could take place or a broad-based coalition of rival
factions, both armed and unarmed, may be cobbled together
for an interim period.

     Afghanistan’s prevailing political system is unique in the
sense that an all-powerful leader presides all levers of power as
the Amirul Momineen (Commander of the Faithful). Mulla Omar’s
position and authority is unchallengable and his Taliban Islamic
Movement is the only lawful political force in the country. There is
no concept of democracy and all levers of state and govern-
ment are unanswerable to Mulla Omar and his Shura (council).
The media, which comprises only radio and some newspapers
and periodicals as television is banned, is state-controlled and is
used as a vehicle of government propaganda and religious ser-
monising. Dissent is unthinkable and punishable. Neither the small
labour class nor the huge numbers of agricultural workers are or-
ganized to fight for their rights even though there is a level of
democracy at the village level while taking decisions of local im-

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

portance or working through NGOs on area development pro-

     The situation is even worse in areas under the control of
Northern Alliance as individual military commanders there still call
the shots in all conceivable matters. The alliance leaders cannot
touch them as they are indispensable as far as the war effort is
concerned. Thus commanders and fighters are allowed to do
whatever fancies them and the common people are left at their

      It also needs to be mentioned that almost all Afghan politi-
cal parties and movements, or more precisely armed groups as
that is how most of them have functioned during the past two
decades of war, lacked grassroots support and, therefore, looked
outside Afghanistan’s borders for guidance and assistance. The
PDPA was inspired by the Russian communist model and it largely
owed the survival of its shaky regime in Kabul to Moscow’s mili-
tary support. The mujahideen groups were raised and nurtured in
Pakistan or Iran and their leadership handpicked, groomed and
vested with office by non-Afghans rather than by Afghans. The
Taliban and Northern Alliance leaders too are accused of taking
orders from abroad as they allegedly owe their power and posi-
tion to outsiders. It would be expecting too much from such par-
ties and leaders whose survival depends on outside support to
protect the interest of their own people and country. Such a
weak leadership has found it to its own advantage to facilitate
foreign intervention and interference in Afghanistan.

3.1.6 Military and security factors

      Afghanistan’s national army, like so many other institutions,
no longer exists and its police now mostly comprise Taliban who
are neither trained for the job nor subject to any discipline. The
Taliban appear to have little interest in reviving a professional
army as it suits them to have an ideologically-motivated force
like they have right now to fight religious battles on their behalf.
The Afghan army had become much politicised, as was the case

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

in 1973 and 1978 when they led coups to oust King Zahir Shah
and President Sardar Daoud, respectively, and handed over
power to likeminded progressive politicians and later played a
key role in the “palace coups” which removed communist presi-
dents Nuruddin Taraki, Hafizullah Amin and Babrak Karmal from
power. The Taliban are worried that a professional Afghan army
may be tempted to overthrow their government and hastened
their fall. The fighters who make up the present Taliban army have
all been trained on the job for a duration and place of their
choice. The remnants of the Afghan Army for want of other jobs
still fight for both Taliban and the Northern Alliance and among
them are pilots, tank crews and other specialised fighters. Their
salaries are meagre but they have few choices to change ca-
reers so late in life. Both the Taliban and Northern Alliance need
many more fighters than they possess and fears of conscription
force most young men to escape to Pakistan and other coun-
tries. This is the reason for the preponderance of young, able-
bodied men in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. The exact
strength of the Taliban fighting force and the opposition isn’t
known. At one stage the Taliban army was estimated to be
about 25,000 but it would have grown by now due to induction
of mostly non-Taliban fighters for their never-ending military cam-
paigns. Prior to the recent fighting in northeastern Afghanistan,
analysts had pointed out that the Taliban had enough fighters
but lacked resources while the Northern Alliance had lot of
money and weapons but were facing a shortage of manpower.
Pakistani Taliban, estimated to be several hundred, also fight
alongside their Afghan comrades and some Arabs, stranded in
Afghanistan after the end of the jehad, occasionally take part in
battles against the Northern Alliance.

      Despite opposition allegations, no evidence has yet been
provided of Pakistani soldiers or militiamen fighting on Taliban
side. Similarly, Pakistan is accused of supplying arms and ammuni-
tion to the Taliban but again a clinching evidence hasn’t yet
been made available. It is possible that Pakistan is providing
some military supplies to the Taliban but the state of the Pakistani
economy is so precarious that it cannot spare much in terms of
weapons and money to reinforce the Taliban. However, Pakistan
has assisted the Taliban with fuel and food supplies. In contrast,
military supplies destined for the anti-Taliban alliance have been

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

intercepted on at least two occasions. Once a train carrying
arms for Masood was seized in Kyrgyzstan while on the way to Ta-
jikistan for onward delivery to Afghanistan and earlier a Russian
plane bringing ammunition from Albania for Masood was force-
landed by the Taliban at Kandahar airport.

      There is no proper salary structure for Taliban soldiers though
they are now being paid after an initial period when everybody
was a volunteer. Families in Kandahar, Urozgan, Helmand, Ghazni
and other southern and western provinces where Taliban enjoy
their strongest support provide one son at a time for the army
and often different sons take turns to report at the frontlines. The
Taliban haven’t forgotten their military commanders who laid
down their lives in previous battles. Madrassas have been spe-
cially built in their memory and an exclusive cemetery in Kanda-
har set aside for their graves. Kandahar is also home to another
big cemetery where the remains of almost 4,000 Taliban allegedly
killed by Uzbek warlord General Abdul Malik and his Shiite Hazara
allies in 1997 have been buried.

       Masood’s troops are raised around a core of fighters
belonging to his native Panjsher valley. His soldiers are battle-
hardened and have always given a good account of themselves
on the battlefield. Masood himself is a shrewd military strategist
and so often in the recent past he has struck painful blows by ex-
ploiting the naivety of Taliban fighters. He is too proud to surren-
der or quit the battle against Taliban. He is thus expected to fight
till the last man.

3.1.7 Local actors

     As has been the case since the April 27, 1978 communist mili-
tary takeover, commonly called the Saur Revolution after the
month in the Afghan calendar in which it happened, events in
present-day Afghanistan are primarily being influenced by armed
groups. The most important among them are the ruling Taliban Is-
lamic Movement, which controls over 90 per cent of the country,
and the Northern Alliance, a loose coalition of opposition parties

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

having support among non-Pashtoon ethnic groups largely in-
habiting northern and central Afghanistan. The elements support-
ing former Afghan king Zahir Shah, who has been living in Rome,
Italy since his dethronement in a military-backed coup d’etat led
by his former prime minister and cousin Sardar Mohammad
Daoud in 1973, constitute the so-called third force. Unlike the Tali-
ban and the Northern Alliance, the Zahir Shah supporters don’t
have any military presence in Afghanistan and are, therefore,
unable to shape the course of events in a country which best ex-
emplifies the aptness of the saying “might is right.”

      There are also several other smaller groups and organiza-
tions which claims to speak for the voiceless Afghan people. The
PDPA, or the Watan Party as it was called during its last years in
power, had a history of factionalism almost from its inception
when it split into the Khalq and Parcham factions. It suffered fur-
ther splits before and after its ouster from power mostly on ac-
count of personality clashes or vested interest. Like all former rul-
ing parties in authoritarian societies, the PDPA was turned into a
non-entity once it was deprived of state patronage and nowa-
days its former luminaries cannot operate openly, especially in
countries like Pakistan and Iran where most of them took refuge
after losing power in Afghanistan in April 1992. The nationalist Af-
ghan Mellat, much splintered like the PDPA, strives to make its
presence felt in camps for Afghan refugees in Pakistan and in the
West among the Afghan diaspora but its appeal and reach is
confined to sections of the Pashtoon population. Former muja-
hideen parties like Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami, once a powerful
force on account of disproportionate assistance channelled to it
by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the American
CIA, a rival faction of Hezb-i-Islami led by Maulvi Younis Khalis and
Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi’s Harkat-i-Inquilab-i-Islami,
were marginalised once most of their military commanders and
fighters joined the Taliban. The moderate mujahideen groups like
Professor Sebghatullah Mojadeddi’s Afghan National Liberation
Front and Pir Sayed Ahmad Gaillani’s National Islamic Front of
Afghanistan, both of which comprise elements who are royalist
and nationalist, are struggling to maintain their existence but they
are likely to suffer attrition in their ranks once the Zahir Shah op-
tion becomes a more credible alternative. Professor Sayyaf’s Itte-
had-i-Islami has remained loyal to ousted president Prof Rabbani

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

and the Northern Alliance but it is at best a fringe player and
faces problems in adjusting itself in an alliance which also has its
bitter rival, Hezb-i-Wahdat, as a component. The Shiite Hezb-i-
Wahdat has also experienced divisions due to differences be-
tween its factional leaders Karim Khalili, who is pro-Masood, and
Ustad Akbari who has reached a compromise with the Taliban.
The smaller Shiite group, Harkat-i-Islami, is now split into two fac-
tions led by the Iran-based Sheikh Asef Mohseni and Syed Hussain
Anwari, who is pro-Masood.

       Numerous small organizations with different agendas also
mushroomed during various stages of the Afghan conflict. Former
Afghan army officers, lawyers, labourers, students, musicians and
people from various tribes and areas formed associations to pro-
tect and advance their interest. But all these bodies were formed
and run in Peshawar rather than in Afghanistan, where such ac-
tivities aren’t allowed. And then there were peace movements
which often boasted that they were capable of resolving the Af-
ghan problem by mediating between the combatants. Needless
to say that their offers of mediation evoked little response as
largely unknown tribal elders or religious figures hardly stood a
chance to end a conflict which has become transnational and
involves so many local and international actors. In fact, Afghan
peace missions at one stage in the mid-1990s became as com-
mon and fashionable as there were mujahideen commanders
during the jehad against the Soviet occupation troops. Every
fighter would proclaim himself a commander to show his impor-
tance even if he happened to command only five or ten per-
sons. In recent times, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) run
by Afghans have thrived in the same manner in which muja-
hideen commanders and peace missions once held the centre-
stage. It won’t be wrong to conclude that the mujahideen com-
manders, peace missions and NGOs have all strived hard to
make themselves eligible for outside support, whether it came
from the ISI and the CIA during the jehad or from international
donors in present times.

     The Northern Alliance is a motley collection of opposition
forces who still like to call themselves mujahideen as most of
them, except men loyal to pro-communist militia generals Rash-
eed Dostum and Abdul Malik, were members of the jehadi

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

groups which took part in the war against Soviet occupation
troops between 1979-89. Beside Dostum and Malik, other promi-
nent leaders of Northern Alliance components are Prof Rabbani
and former defence minister Masood, Prof Sayyaf, Karim Khalili,
Haji Qadeer, and a faction of Hekmatyar’s party led by his es-
tranged son-in-law Humayun Jareer. However, the real force be-
hind the alliance is Masood as the others are either inactive or
lack manpower and resources to fight the Taliban. The alliance
also props up the deposed Rabbani regime and some of the
party leaders have been assigned ministerial portfolios in a gov-
ernment which exists only in name. The alliance also suffers from
rivalries dating back to the jehad or on account of religious, sec-
tarian, ethnic and linguistic factors. Dostum and Malik became
sworn enemies when the latter revolted against the former in
Northern Afghanistan in 1997 and their enmity hasn’t gone de-
spite the best efforts of Iranian mediators as well as those of
Masood. Prof Sayyaf hates Dostum and Malik as he says he can-
not forget their communist past. As a staunch Sunni, Sayyaf is also
at loggerheads with the Shiite groups due to sectarian reasons.
The Shiites are as much divided as the Sunnis. All this makes it ex-
tremely difficult for Masood to rally the alliance behind him as he
courageously faces up to the Taliban challenge. As an ethnic Ta-
jik, Masood also is handicapped while seeking support from the
majority Pashtoon population. The dominance of non-Pashtoons
in Northern Alliance also makes it less of an attraction for Pash-
toons who don’t like the Taliban. In fact, the Pashtoon domina-
tion in Taliban ranks and the preponderance of Tajiks, Uzbeks,
Hazaras and other minorities in Northern Alliance has contributed
to the growing ethnic divide in Afghanistan and is dangerous for
the landlocked country’s unity. The only positive note in this de-
pressing situation is that the majority of common Afghans, unlike
the armed groups, still don’t think in terms of ethnicity and sec-
tarianism and would want their homeland to remain united.

      The Taliban Islamic Movement is presently the most powerful
military and political force in Afghanistan. Founded in the autumn
of 1994 by Mulla Mohammad Omar, who was an unknown fighter
with Yunis Khalis’ Hezb-i-Islami during the jehad, it has over the
past six years made spectacular military gains at home but at the
same time become the world’s most controversial organization.
Its ranks have been strengthened by non-Taliban primarily due to

                R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

the fact that many Afghans have nowhere else to go and fight-
ing is the only skill that they possess. The Taliban welcome such
recruits as they have to constantly raise new fighting units and
replenish the old ones to defend newly-acquired territory. Edu-
cated in religious seminaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the
Taliban haven’t come out of the blue as some commentators
think because they have always been an essential part of the
Afghan society - living in madrassas attached to mosques, knock-
ing from door to door to collect food for their meals and entirely
dependent on the generosity of the faithful for their education
and upkeep. They had actively taken part in the Afghan jehad as
members of various mujahideen groups and most of them re-
turned to their madrassas once the Soviet troops retreated from
Afghanistan. For them the jehad ended on February 15, 1989
when the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan. Others remained in
the battlefield until the fall of Dr Najibullah’s regime in April 1992,
hoping to install a true Islamic government in Kabul. However, the
fratricidal battles which erupted soon afterwards between the
power-hungry mujahideen groups disappointed all Afghans, in-
cluding the Taliban. “I spent many agonizing days before decid-
ing to pick up the gun again, this time to fight our former com-
rade-in-arms, i.e. the mujahideen. We were forced to take this
decision as stories of mujahideen loot and plunder and moral
degradation had become unbearable. Certain commanders like
Nadir Jan, Saleh Mohammad and Daro Khan who had set up
roadblocks and bases near my village, Singesar, in Mewand dis-
trict on the Kandahar-Herat road crossed all limits when they
started abducting and raping both girls and boys. We began
fighting Muslims who had gone astray. How could we remain
quiet when we heard and saw crimes being committed against
the innocent, the poor and women?” explained Mulla Omar in
an interview in February 1995. (4)

     Omar, a crack marksman who was wounded four times dur-
ing the jehad and also lost his right eye, invited about 30 Taliban
to his modest mud-built madrassa in Singesar in September 1994
to launch the Taliban Islamic Movement. He was chosen leader
of the movement not because he was more learned or charis-
matic than the assembled Taliban but due to the simple fact that
he taken the initiative to challenge the mujahideen. In fact,
Omar was never able to complete his religious education due to

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

the war and even now he prefers to call himself a Talib, a seeker
of knowledge, rather than a Mulla, a giver of knowledge. Son of
a poor farmer, he neither owned house nor land and earned his
livelihood by working as Imam (prayer-leader) of the Singesar
mosque. But circumstances had forced him to lead a rag-tag
group of resourceless Taliban who survived on dole-outs from the
people and received their first consignment of arms from a sym-
pathetic mujahideen commander Haji Bashar Nurzai. (5)

     According to the 41-year old Omar, he never intended his
movement to capture power as its initial objective was to dis-
mantle all the mujahideen checkpoints which had become a
source of trouble for road travellers. In fact, the Taliban convened
a meeting of all the mujahideen commanders of Kandahar and
Helmand provinces and requested them to remove the check-
points as they were un-Islamic. Upon their refusal, the Taliban de-
cided to forcibly dismantle these roadblocks. (6)

     The Taliban started drawing popular support once they were
able to smash a few checkposts and defeat some mujahideen
commanders. After capturing Kandahar city without much effort,
the Taliban realized that the mujahideen could be easily de-
feated in other provinces as well and it was at this stage that they
started harbouring ambitions of extending their rule. Already,
they were getting messages of support from neighbouring prov-
inces like Urozgan, Helmand, Nimruz, Zabul and Ghazni. One after
another these and other provinces came under Taliban control
and now their four stated objectives were to disarm the armed
bands, restore peace in the country, enforce Shariah (Islamic
law) and defend the sovereignty, integrity and Islamic character
of Afghanistan. A movement which was supposed to play the
role of the referee between the Afghan combatants and was
deemed a saviour by most Afghans was now aspiring to absolute
power. Omar was later elevated to the status of Amirul Momi-
neen in the style of the early Muslim rulers by a congregation of
pro-Taliban religious scholars in Kandahar and his followers ac-
cepted him as the supreme authority. Henceforth, his word was
to be the law of the land and disobeying him a sin.

     Omar is assisted by a Shura (council) with a varying strength
of about a dozen to 30 depending on the availability of its mem-

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

bers in Kandahar, the spiritual capital of the Taliban. However,
the top decision-makers include Mulla Mohammad Rabbani, the
number two man in the Taliban Islamic Movement and a trusted
lieutenant of Omar, Kandahar governor Mulla Mohammad
Hasan, foreign minister Mulla Wakil Ahmad Mutawwakil and his
deputy Mulla Abdul Jalil, justice minister Mulla Nooruddin Turabi,
Herat governor Mulla Khairullah Khairkhwa, Nangarhar governor
Mulla Abdul Kabir, interior minister Mulla Abdur Razzaq, educa-
tion minister Mulla Amir Khan Mutaqqi, military commanders
Mulla Biradar, Mulla Fazil and the one-legged Mulla Dadullah,
and member of Kabul’s ruling council Mulla Ghayasuddin Agha.
The last-named is a Tajik from Badakhshan province and is one of
the few high-ranking non-Pashtoons among Taliban. Also the ma-
jority of the above-mentioned Taliban leaders belong to Kanda-
har where the movement originated. This causes heart-burning
even among the Pashtoons in places like Jalalabad, Khost and
Maidan-Shahr as they feel they aren’t trusted by the Kandahari
and Helmandi Pashtoons who dominate the Taliban movement.
Mulla Rabbani, who is the country’s de facto prime minister and
head of government, is suffering from cancer and is unable to
devote much time to his responsibilities. Mulla Turabi, who lost a
leg in a landmine explosion during the jehad, is the ideologue of
the movement and his inflexible views on strict enforcement of
Shariah has made him a hardliner even among the Taliban. Un-
compromising in his commitment to Shariah, here is a sample of
his views to get an insight into his thinking : “We are the only fully
Shariah country in the world. We don’t believe in doing things on
a piecemeal basis. Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries are
only partly Shariah. ….The Quran says there are specific punish-
ments for specific crimes and that is the way it has to be done -
and in public. A robber loses his hand and murder requires equal
revenge. Public executions actually protect life because they
warn public away from committing a similar crime. ….We think
women are working as they should - at home. This is what we are
taught by our culture and our faith. It is an imperative for us to
implement Islamic law, otherwise we are committing a sin. It is not
only a question of beards and veils; every vice has to be stopped
and every virtue promulgated.” (7)

     Mulla Hasan, who also lost a leg while fighting the Soviets
troops in Kandahar, along with Mulla Mutawwakil, is the liberal

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

and gentle face of the Taliban. Both have allowed themselves to
be photographed despite the Taliban ban on taking pictures of
living creatures and have no problem meeting Western and
other foreign women who come as diplomats, aid workers and
journalists. They have also been asked so often to do damage
control in situations when baton-wielding men from the Depart-
ment for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, known as
Amr Bil Ma’aruf Wa Nahi Anil Munkar, have created a crisis by of-
fending expatriates. The religious or morality police as it is com-
monly called seeks inspiration from Mulla Turabi, functions like a
parallel government and has raided private homes and offices to
break up alleged mixed gatherings and catch persons it labels as
spies. It also enforces the Taliban edicts by ordering women to
observe the hejab (veil) and requiring men to wear long, proper-
sized beards, cut their hair short and pray five times a day.

3.2 International Risk Assessment

      The UN has had the longest period of involvement in Af-
ghanistan following the eruption of the Afghan conflict in the
spring of 1978 and it has and would be expected to play the
paramount role in any settlement. There have been any number
of mediators and peacemakers, some sincere in their endeav-
ours, others involving themselves out of compulsion or because of
fears that they would lose their influence in case of a settlement
which ignores their interests in Afghanistan. The UN was the first to
undertake the peacemaking task and despite failures it remains
the best hope because it is the most acceptable to most Af-
ghans and outsiders out of all the peacemakers and has vast re-
sources at its disposal. The seven UN peace envoys todate have
come from different countries and backgrounds. Peruvian diplo-
mat Javier Perez de Cuellar, who later became the UN Secretary
General was the first one to take up the job but his one-year ten-
ure in 1981-82 passed off without much happening. Next was Ec-
uador’s Diego Cordovez, who was appointed in 1982 and stayed
the longest of all peace envoys. That could be the reason of his
relative success as he mediated the long and tortuous proxy talks

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

culminating in the Geneva Accords which facilitated the pullout
of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988-89. Then came Be-
non Sevan who negotiated the botched UN plan for transfer of
power from the communist regime of president Dr Najibullah to
an interim government. Cyprus’ Sotorious Misouris came and
went without any significant progress toward peace. Former Tuni-
sian foreign minister Mahmoud Mestiri was also tried but he was
old and frail when he got the job and, unlike a diplomat, made
some unpleasant statements about the warring Afghan factions
and neighbouring countries like Pakistan that cost him the good-
will and respect of his hosts and interlocutors. (8) Germany’s Nor-
bert Holl spoke Arabic and stood a good chance where others
failed but his temper and bluntness often made his task difficult.
(9) Lakhdar Brahimi, who had served as Algeria’s foreign minister
and had to his credit some success in peacemaking in other con-
flicts, was given an exalted status as the UN secretary general’s
special envoy. He also brought about a conceptual change in
the UN approach and priorities while tackling the Afghan prob-
lem by shifting the focus of attention from the Afghan warlords to
the countries which had become involved in the Afghan conflict.
He authored the so-called “Six Plus Two” concept, which envis-
aged seeking support of Afghanistan’s six immediate neighbours
- Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China - as
well that of Russia and the U.S. to end foreign interference and
proxy war in Afghanistan and contribute to a durable Afghan set-
tlement. It didn’t work and a frustrated Brahimi poured out his
anger at all those who torpedoed his peace mission before quit-
ting. Now a Spanish professor Francesc Vendrell has been as-
signed the job and there is little he can do if Afghanistan’s armed
factions, some of which have made war a flourishing business,
continue to defy peace moves. In a bid to succeed, the UN tried
Muslim peacemakers in the hope that the Muslim Afghans would
trust them more and a peace envoy from Germany was selected
when it was pointed out that somebody from a powerful Western
country stood a better chance of success compared to, say, Tu-
nisia, Algeria and Cyprus.

     Some of the peacemakers made themselves controversial
and, therefore, became unacceptable as neutral mediators. In
fact, Vendrell who took his job as the UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan’s special representative to Afghanistan only on February 1

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

2000 has already attracted flak from the Taliban when he re-
cently accused them of initiating the latest round of fighting in
northern Afghanistan. The Taliban foreign minister, Mulla Wakil
Ahmad Mutawwakil, who has been conducting most of the
peace negotiations with Vendrell, angrily responded by advising
him to be cautious with his remarks and warning that Vendrell’s
“rash” comments could jeopardize the peace process. The UN
also courted controversy when it became a vehicle for U.S. at-
tempts to punish Taliban-ruled Afghanistan for giving sanctuary to
Bin Laden, its “public enemy number one.” The U.S.-sponsored,
UN-enforced sanctions against Afghanistan, as a recent UN sur-
vey report said, had hurt the poorest and made most Afghans
feel increasingly isolated and bitter. (10) By agreeing to impose
the sanctions and in view of reports that their scope could be ex-
tended further on the demand of the U.S. and Russia, the UN
would make itself even more unpopular among the Afghan
people and effect its peacemaking role. Compared to the UN,
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been
able to retain its good reputation through some useful humanitar-
ian work. Its officials are credited with braving it out along with
the Afghans in risky places during fighting unlike the UN staffers
who are accused of abandoning their duty-stations at the sound
of the first shot being fired. The 100-plus NGOs, whether Western,
Islamic or Afghans, have largely done a praiseworthy job in diffi-
cult circumstances even though many Islamic organizations view
their presence and agenda with suspicion. Their work has rather
generated the only significant economic and development ac-
tivity in a country whose economy is primarily kept running by
smuggling and illicit opium poppy-cultivation and is shunned by
investors because doing so would invite American wrath.

      Of the countries having a stake in Afghanistan, the Six Plus
Two states which include Afghanistan’s six neighbours - Pakistan,
Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China - and the U.S.
and Russia are more important than the rest. Pakistan has suf-
fered more than any other state due to the Afghan conflict, first
as a so-called “frontline state” which served as the headquarters
of the Afghan jehad and was often the target of acts of terrorism
and cross-border bombing and artillery raids by Soviet and Af-
ghan communist troops and now as the country of refuge for the
largest number of displaced Afghans. By the same token, its in-

                R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

volvement and interference in Afghanistan has been much more
than others because of historical, political, economic, social, reli-
gious and logistic reasons and since it shares a long and porous
border with that country. Pakistani commentators often blame
the Afghans for the so-called “drug and gun culture” now ravag-
ing Pakistan though lately articles in the media have started
praising the Taliban for establishing the rule of law with far less re-
sources than available to Pakistan’s police and other law-
enforcing agencies. (11) Pakistan’s late military dictator General
Ziaul Haq, on account of his Islamic beliefs and also to sustain
himself in power with Western and Arab backing, allowed his
country to be used as a staging-post for Afghan mujahideen and
at the same time sponsored establishment of a record number of
religious seminaries in a short period to provide motivated fighters
for the jehad. The same seminaries in due course of time pro-
duced the Taliban, both Afghan and Pakistani. The former have
already found success in Afghanistan and the Pakistani Taliban,
many of whom are fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban, are
now keen to emulate this success in Pakistan. Already small Tali-
ban movements have emerged in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier
Province neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistani Taliban have
enforced Shariah in their areas and publicly burnt television sets,
VCRs, video and audio cassettes not only in remote tribal towns
Mirali, Kelaya and Hangu but also in a cosmopolitan city like Ka-
rachi. However, the Talibanization of a nuclear Pakistan feared
by many experts cannot become a reality if the Pakistani rulers
and institutions succeed in checking the country’s drift toward
lawlessness and economic bankruptcy and the state is able to
respond to the aspirations of the people for justice, fairplay and
good governance. Fascination with other models, including the
Taliban, has grown among the people due to frustration caused
by the failure of successive Pakistani governments, both democ-
ratic and dictatorial, to come up to their expectations.

      The unaccounted Western and Arab funding for the jehad
also enabled Pakistan military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to
upgrade and extend its operations and in due course of time the
agency became so strong that it started dictating the country’s
political forces and interfered with working of organs of the state.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

      Pakistan’s role in the creation of the Taliban has been much
debated and Islamabad hasn’t done enough to clarify its posi-
tion but this author as the first journalist to visit Kandahar and re-
port about the emergence of the Taliban in 1994-95 is still of the
considered opinion that it is an indigenous movement thrown up
by circumstances prevailing in lawless Afghanistan at that time.
The timing of an experimental Pakistani trade convoy bound for
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, its seizure by mujahideen com-
manders near Kandahar and its liberation by the Taliban force
which was preparing to attack the city has contributed to
strengthening of the theory that the Taliban were a brainchild of
Pakistan. However, published material is becoming available
now which refutes this theory and claims that the Taliban
emerged as a reaction to the atrocities being committed by the
mujahideen against their own people. (12) Unlike the mujahideen
leaders who were headquartered in Peshawar and were de-
pendent on Islamabad for everything, the Taliban leadership is
based in Kandahar and Kabul and is, therefore, in a position to
exercise greater freedom while making decisions. The fact that
the Taliban have defied Pakistan on issues of Afghan Transit
Trade, presence of Pakistani criminals and terrorists in Afghani-
stan, free movement of Pakistani Taliban in and out of Afghani-
stan, and military training camps for Pakistani Sunni militants on
their soil shows to some extent the Taliban efforts to break free of
Islamabad’s influence. In a recent interview, Mulla Omar also ad-
vised Pakistan’s military ruler General Pervez Musharraf that the
Bin Laden issue was none of Islamabad’s business as it concerned
the Taliban and the U.S. (13) Pakistan on account of its bitter ri-
varly with India cannot afford to have two hostile neighbours,
hence its efforts to install a friendly government in Kabul. There is
a strong lobby in Pakistan which believes a friendly Afghanistan
would give Pakistan “strategic depth” while dealing with India
and enable it to avoid the nightmare of having to contend with
a two-front war situation on its eastern and western borders. Is-
lamabad has recognized every government which held Kabul,
including the communists and the one led by Rabbani-Masood,
and it doesn’t want to offend the Taliban despite the fact that
the Pakistani military and civil establishment is largely liberal and
secular because it would not only provoke the vocal religious
lobby in Pakistan but also provide Taliban with an excuse to cre-
ate problems for Islamabad all along their unmanned border by

                R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

sponsoring and giving refuge to criminals, smugglers and anti-
Pakistan elements.

      Shiite-ruled Iran is fearful of the Sunni Taliban due to religious
reasons while it is concerned about the designs of Afghanistan’s
Pashtoons who once captured and ruled Persia for seven years.
For long, it considered the Taliban to be a creation of the U.S.
and Saudi Arabia for the specific purpose of encircling Iran but
subsequent events and the bitter American and Saudi animosity
toward the Taliban nowadays has shown that Tehran’s fears on
this count were misplaced. The visible Iranian tilt toward Afghani-
stan’s Shiites and other non-Pashtoons has made Tehran contro-
versial and like Pakistan it is unacceptable as a neutral peace-
maker. Iranian support for Afghan Shiites has turned them into
militants and fuelled armed strife with their Pashtoon, Tajik and
Uzbeks, all Sunnis. A Shiite Hazara minority which has historically
been persecuted and surrounded on all sides by Sunnis is now
finding it difficult to co-exist with powerful neighbours and is often
at the receiving end in conflicts and on account of food block-
ades. Often it is also said that Tehran has a vested interest in
keeping Afghanistan destabilized as it offers the quickest route for
the Central Asian oil, gas and other products and goods to reach
the Arabian Sea via Pakistan and could minimise Iran’s impor-
tance as an outlet to the sea once there is an Afghan settlement.

      The Central Asian republics, especially Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,
Kyrgyzistan and Kazakhstan, are worried that their own nascent
Islamic movements are seeking inspiration and support from the
Taliban and becoming a threat to their rulers, all of whom are
former communists. Little thought is given to the fact that their
own dictatorial policies and economic problems are pushing
their people to embrace the Islamic opposition and take up arms
against the government. As media reports indicate, the Islamic
fighters are mostly based in Tajikistan and are able to freely oper-
ate from the mountains where the borders of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzis-
tan and Uzbekistan meet. It is unlilkely that they would be able to
survive in such a hostile terrain without the support of local sym-
pathizers. Russia’s pro-active policy since the election of President
Vladimir Putin and his attempts to keep Central Asia under Mos-
cow’s strategic and economic influence is bound to fuel further
Islamic militancy, as witnessed in Tajikistan where 25,000 Russian

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

troops are deployed, and destabilize the region. The mutually
beneficial relations between Turkmenistan and the Taliban and
the former’s willingness to sell fuel and other goods to Afghani-
stan, exchange visits and keep its consulate in Taliban-ruled Herat
operational could serve as an example for other Central Asian
states. Unlike Uzbekistan, Turkmen president Saparmurad Niazov
has kept his country’s borders with Afghanistan and the Taliban
until now have given him no cause to complain about the export
of Islamic militancy to Turkmenistan. By remaining neutral, he has
been able to maintain friendly ties with both the Taliban and
Northern Alliance and made Turkmenistan an ideal candidate as
a mediator in the Afghan conflict.

      As stated elsewhere in this paper, the U.S., Russian and Chi-
nese policies in context of Afghanistan are driven primarily by
their concern over the spread of terrorism and extremism as a re-
sult of the Taliban factor. India on the other hand is a marginal
player in Afghanistan. Its major objective would obviously be
Pakistan’s containment in the region, more so in context of the
nexus between Afghan and Kashmiri militants. Saudi Arabia has
seen active involvement in Afghanistan by serving, along with
the U.S., as a paymaster to the Afghan mujahideen. The Bin
Laden factor caused its estrangement with the Taliban even
though it remains one of the three countries, along with Pakistan
and the United Arab Emirates, to have recognized the Taliban-
led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

                     R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

End Notes
        1. Dupree, Nancy Hatch (1970), An Historical Guide to Afghanistan, Ka-
  bul, Afghan Tourist Organization, page 68.

        2. The News, Islamabad, “Afghanistan is world’s biggest minefield : UN,”
  August 6, page 12.

        3. Wright, Robin (2000) : “The Final Humiliation : Afghan Children Are Ig-
  nored,” Los Angeles Times, April 30.

        4. Yusufzai, Rahimullah (1995) : “The third force to the rescue?,” The
  News, Islamabad, March 3, Page 10 (Special Report).

        5. Taimuri, Mohammad Hasan (2000) : Da Afghanistan Tareekh (The His-
  tory of Afghanistan) in Pashto language, Quetta, Baryalai Composing, Quetta,
  page 36.

        6. ibid., page 36.

        7. The interview with Taliban justice minister Mulla Nooruddin Turabi, his
  first one with foreign journalists, was done by Time’s New Delhi-based South
  Asia bureau chief Michael Fathers and Rahimullah Yusufzai and first carried by
  the Time magazine website in March 2000.

        8. A joke often told by Afghans after Mestiri’s appointment was that a
  mestri (meaning mason in local languages like Pashto and Dari) had been
  summoned to help achieve an Afghan settlement after the failure of all the
  “engineers” (which was a reference to mujahideen leaders like Ahmad Shah
  Masood, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, etc who claimed to
  be qualified engineers even though none of them was able to complete his
  education or practice his skills.

        9. According to a Western journalist, Norbert Holl was sometimes referred
  to as Little Napoleon by his staff on account of his hot temper.

        10. An Associated Press story published in the Pakistani daily, The News,
  Islamabad, on August 23, 2000 and captioned, “UN Afghan sanctions hurt the
  poor : report.”

                   R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

      11. Chaudhry, Javed (2000), “Police Reforms or Taliban,” Urdu language
daily Jang, Islamabad, August 24, page B. The author narrates the story of a
Pakistani businessman who got his stolen motor car traced and recovered in
two days by the Taliban in Afghanistan unlike the Pakistani police which spent
months investigating the case and finally closed it after allegedly taking bribe
from the accused person. The author argues that Pakistanis cannot be
blamed if they express a growing fondness for the Taliban and their quick and
effective system of justice due to the poor performance of their own police,
judiciary, parliament and other institutions.

      12. Taimuri (2000), pp 30-56.

      13. Yusufzai, Rahimullah (2000) : “Osama is US-Afghan issue : Mulla
Omar,” The News, Islamabad, July 15, page 1.

                 R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile



       Arghandawi, Abdul Ali (1989) : British Imperialism and Af-
  ghanistan’s Struggle for Independence 1914-21, New Delhi, Mun-
  shiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.

       Arnold, Anthony (1983) : Afghanistan’s Two-Party Commu-
  nism : Khalq and Parcham, California, Standford University Press.

      Bradsher, Henry S. (1985) : Afghanistan and the Soviet Union,
  Durham, Duke University Press.

       Caroe, Olaf (1958) : : The Pathans : 550 B C - A D 1957, Lon-
  don, MacMillan and Co., Ltd.

        Dupree, Louis (1980) : Afghanistan, Princeton, Princeton Uni-
  versity Press.

      Dupree, Nancy Hatch (1977) : An Historical Guide to Af-
  ghanistan, Kabul, Afghan Tourist Organization.

      Maley, William (editor), (1998) : Fundamentalism Reborn : Af-
  ghanistan and the Taliban, Lahore, Vanguard Books.

      Marsden, Peter (1998) : The Taliban : War, religion and the
  new order in Afghanistan, London & New York, Zed Books.

       Newell, Nancy Peabody, and Newell, Richard S., (1981) : The
  Struggle for Afghanistan, Ithaca and London, Cornell University

       Taimuri, Mohammad Hasan (2000) : Da Afghanistan Tareekh
  (Pashto) (History of Afghanistan from Zahir Shah to Taliban),
  Quetta, Baryalai Composing.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile


     Afghanistan: Monthly magazine of the Afghan Information
Center, Peshawar published quite regularly in Pashto and Persian
(Dari) since 1981.

     Afghanistan Outlook (Volume 1 and 2, June and December
1999) : Published by United Nations Special Mission to Afghani-
stan, World Bank and Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghani-
stan, Islamabad.

    Aina (Spring 1999) : UN Afghanistan Magazine, Islamabad.

     Amnesty International’s six briefing papers issued in London
in 1999 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Af-
ghanistan and the ensuing 20 years of war. The papers are titled
Women in Afghanistan : Pawns in men’s power struggles; Human
Rights Defenders in Afghanistan : Civil society destroyed; Children
Devastated by War : Afghanistan’s lost generations; Afghanistan :
The human rights of minorities; Afghanistan : Cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment; and Refugees from Afghani-
stan : The world’s largest single refugee group.

     Islamic Emirate (August 2000) : a new monthly magazine
published by the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in
English and Arabic from Kandahar.

    Refugees (Number 117, 1999) : Published by the Public In-
formation Section of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland.

     Saur Revolution (1978) : An account of the April 27, 1978
communist revolution in Pashto and Persian (Dari) reportedly
penned by Hafizullah Amin, one of the coup leaders who later
ousted and replaced the first communist president Nur
Mohammad Tarakki. Amin was killed on December 27, 1979 when
the Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan and installed Babrak Kar-
mal as president.

              R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

    Shah, Maulana Dr Sher Ali (1996) : Taliban - Lashkar-i-
Mohammadi, Miramshah, North Waziristan Agency, Pakistan,
Jamia Manba-i-Uloom.

     SPACH Newsletter (May 2000) : Published by the Society for
Preservation of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage (SPACH) in Is-

     WUFA - a quarterly academic, socio-political and literary
magazine published by the Writers Union of Free Afghanistan
from Peshawar since 1989.

     U.S. State Department’s special yearly reports on Afghani-
stan published in Washington.


    Kabul Times, Kabul.

    Dawn, Karachi.

    The Frontier Post, Peshawar.

    The Muslim, Islamabad.

    The Nation, Lahore.

    The News, Islamabad.

    Pashto language dailies Anis and Hewad, Kabul; Sahar,
Shahadat and Wahdat, Peshawar; Shariat and Tulo-i-Afghan,

   Urdu language dailies Aaj, Ausaf, Jang, Khabrain, Mashriq,
Nawai Waqt and Pakistan.

   Monitoring reports compiled by the Information department,
Government of Pakistan, of the BBC and VOA.

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

     Publications of various Mujahideen groups during the Af-
ghan war and those published now by the Taliban and the
United Front or Northern Alliance.

      Films and documentaries made by the American Broadcast-
ing Corporation (ABC) News, Australian Broadcasting Corpora-
tion (ABC), BBC TV, and several other television companies which
I assisted as a consultant, producer and translator. It includes
several films and reports on Afghan fighting, economy, politics
and culture. It also includes interviews with most Afghan leaders
and people like Osama bin Laden.



     Barker, Paul (1999) : Principled Engagement : Making a Dif-
ference for Afghan Women, Aina, Spring 1999, pages 3-4. The ar-
gues that there is hope and a way forward through principled
engagement in Afghanistan as it provides an interface with Tali-
ban authorities as well as direct contact with the Afghan people.
“One unintended yet positive contribution of the Taliban is that it
had made the world aware of the brutal and oppressive nature
of many traditional gender practices in Afghanistan, which pre-
date and will outlive the Taliban. The suffering of Afghan women
demands our attention and action. But the gala of the Feminist
Majority last week in Hollywood is unlikely to bring any more
changes in the lives of the Afghan women than did the previous
year’s “A Flower for the Women of Kabul” campaign. Real
change for Afghan women will come through icremental
changes in the minds and attitudes of both the oppressors and
the oppressed. These minds will not change when confronted
with distant threats or foreign agendas. They can only change
when they understand and accept the implications of their poli-
cies and when they understand that there are alternative policies
that do not threaten their core values,” writes Paul Barker of CARE

               R. Yusufzai: Afghanistan Country Risk Profile

     Frahi, Bernard (1999) : Drugs in Afghanistan : The New Deal,
Aina, Spring 1999, pages 11-12. Frahi, who is the representative of
the United Nations International Drug Control Programme
(UNDCP) for Afghanistan and Pakistan, in this article also calls for
a dialogue with the Taliban. Writing about ways and means to
eliminate drug trafficking, he writes : “It is not the farmers of Ar-
kansas, Surrey, Punjab or Lombardia who arrest drug traffickers or
dismantle drug processing laboratories. In all countries around
the world this is the task of drug law enforcement agencies be-
longing to the state authority. In Afghanistan the international
community cannot do away with pursuing a dialogue with the
local authorities.”

      Le Duc, Carol A and Sabri, Homa (1996) : Room to Manoeu-
ver : Study on Women’s Programming in Afghanistan, UNDP Ka-
bul-Islamabad, July-September.

    Rubin, Barnett R, (1999) : Conflict and peace in Afghanistan,
Afghanistan Outlook, Volume No 2), pages 6-12.


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