Everything you need to know about Afghanistan: news, reviews, in-depth analysis, opinion and more
Afghanistan Information and Profile:
Afghanistan, (which literally means Land of the Afghan or Afgan) is a mountainous and land-locked country located in Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, China in the northeast and by Pakistan in the south and east region. The Hindu-Kush Mountain ranges dominate this landlocked country with its plateaus, desert and grasslands.
Afghanistan's recent history is a story of war and civil unrest. Since centuries brutal war and civil unrest almost devastated its social, political and economic structure. In 1979, the Soviet Union (present Russia) attacked and occupied Afghanistan but the were forced to withdraw after 10 years by US-backed and trained Mujahidin forces (present-day Taliban) and supported by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others. Internal fighting continued between various Mujahidin sections, giving rise to numerous warlords that eventually engulfed the whole nation. The brutal control and social oppression of the Taliban ended when U.S. and allied military forces invaded the country shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the USA.
With the help of international aid and security forces Afghanistan is emerging from its age-old history of wars and civil unrest. These reconstruction initiatives helped Afghanistan to suppress its long political and social unrest. The coming up of new infrastructure and strategic partnerships with many countries has enhanced the social and economic standard of people.
|National Name||:||Islamic Republic of Afghanistan|
|Total area||:||6,47,500 km2|
|Population||:||32,738,376 (growth rate: 2.6%)|
|Languages||:|| Major language spoken in Afghanistan is Pashto, Pashtu or Pukhto; approximately 14 million people speak this language. And other major language is Dari (Farsi) and almost every ethnic division of Afghanistan speaks it. Other languages spoken are Balochi,
Pashayi and Eastern Farsi.
|Ethnicity/ Races||:||Pashtoons, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Numerous other minor ethnic groups (Nuristanis, Baluchis, Turkmens, etc.)|
|Religion||:||Afghans are over 99% Muslims: approximately 74-80% Sunni and 19-25% Shi'a and other are Hindu, Sikh and Jews etc.|
|Literacy Rate||:||Literacy of the entire population is 36%, the male literacy rate is 51% and female literacy is 21%. (According to government of Afghanistan. Survey in 1991).|
Geographical Information on Afghanistan:
Afghanistan is spread on both sides of northern and eastern hemisphere. It is positioned in the Middle East and located in southwestern region of Asia.
The climate of Afghanistan is continental having scorching hot summers and cold winters. Temperatures often vary greatly within a single day. Afghanistan receives most of the rainfall between the months of October and April. The deserts receive less rain whereas the mountains receive more than precipitation, mostly in the form of snow.
Culture, Cuisine and Tourists attraction of Afghanistan:
The culture of Afghanistan is largely influenced by Islam due to Arab- Muslim conquest since millennia. Different regions of Afghanistan have unique traditions that reflect multilingual and multicultural character of this country. The Islamic norms and mannerisms appear prevalent in Afghanistan and its impact can be seen in the art, music, architecture and poetry.
Afghani cuisine is famous for its spices and rich aroma and influenced by the Persian, Indian and Mongolian style of cooking. Main ingredients of enticing Afghani foods are spices, mint, meat, and the noodles/ pasta from Mongolia. Afghani cuisine is flavored with garam masala (hot spice), saffron, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, chillies, leeks, coriander, parsley, mint and black pepper. Vegetarian dishes are not so popular in Afghanistan. Due to environmental factors people take food rich in fat and protein.
There are various attractive tourist destinations in Afghanistan worth exploring and these places delighted travelers while on a tour to this exotic country. These regions are famous for their historical significance, sightseeing spots, cuisines and various other aspects. A laser illustration of Buddha has been created in place of the standing Buddha statues of Bamiyan destroyed by the Taliban.
Major Sight-seeing Places in Afghanistan include:
GARDENS OF BABUR
KABUL BALA HISAR
BOT-E-BAMIYAN (Buddha’s Statue)
BANDE AMIR LAKES
Paris, May 3 (IANS) French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande went through a fierce verbal battle in a prime-time televised debate that lasted for almost three hours Wednesday night.
Washington, May 3 (ANI): The presence of Al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens in Pakistan still remains an unresolved issue and the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a sustainable Afghanistan, according to a new Pentagon report.
Herat (Afghanistan), May 3 (Xinhua-ANI): Afghan forces have killed 20 Taliban militants in Farah province in western Afghanistan over the past three days, police said Thursday.
Kabul, May 3 (ANI): US Ambassador Ryan Crocker has indicated that the pact between the U.S. and Afghanistan could leave the door open for continued drone strikes against insurgent targets in Pakistan after 2014, commenting on the deal signed in Kabul overnight by U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.There is nothing in this agreement that precludes the right of self-defence for either party and if there are attacks from the territory of any state aimed at us we have the inherent right of self-defence and will employ it," The Express Tribune quoted him, as saying.
Quetta, May 3 (ANI): Thousands of people rallied in Quetta on Wednesday to pay tribute to Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden on his first death anniversary, witnesses said.
Islamabad, May 3 (IANS) Any further attempt on Pakistan's part to preserve its "so-called strategic assets" would further isolate the country and might even invite UN sanctions, warned a Pakistani daily Thursday.
Islamabad, May 3 (IANS) Pakistan has condemned the April 28 burning of copies of the Quran by US pastor Terry Jones in Florida.
Herat (Afghanistan), May 2 (Xinhua-ANI): A dozen armed Taliban militants gave up fighting and joined the government-backed peace process in Herat province 640 km west of capital Kabul on Wednesday, spokesman for the provincial government said.
Kabul, May 2 (Xinhua-ANI): Two soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) lost their lives as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off in the eastern part of militancy-plagued Afghanistan on Wednesday, a statement released by the alliance here said.
Kabul, May 2 (ANI): Secrecy around U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Afghanistan was broken after continual chatter on Twitter about his visit.
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) In a crucial step, India is likely to invite Pakistan for a regional conference of investors on Afghanistan here next month that is aimed at creating regional support for economic stability of the violence-torn country.
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) Indians working at American military bases in Afghanistan are being looked after by the US authorities, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vyalar Ravi told the Lok Sabha Wednesday.
Washington, May 2 (IANS) Indian American security expert Vikram J. Singh has been appointed to the key post of deputy assistant secretary of defence for South and Southeast Asia at the Pentagon.
Washington, May 2 (IANS) Terrorist safe havens in Pakistan pose a tough challenge, a Pentagon report said as an American official admitted that a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan may be "hard" to work due to Pakistan's discomfort with a Kabul government too closely aligned with India.
Kabul, May 2 (ANI): Religious squads in parts of remote north-east Afghanistan still exercise strict control over the population, even though the Taliban regulations were abandoned in Kabul in 2001.
Kabul, May 2 (IANS) Taliban militants carried out an audacious attack in Kabul only hours after US President Barack Obama visited the city, leaving 11 people including all five attackers dead.
Washington, May 2 (ANI): Thousands of tons of American military equipment intended for the Afghan army and police forces is stranded in Pakistan, as Islamabad refuses to reopen ground supply routes for NATO convoys despite increasing pressure from Washington, according to a new Pentagon report.
At least eight people were killed and 17 injured in a massive suicide bomb attack in the capital.
Kabul, May 2 (IANS) Eight people were killed and 17 injured in an audacious Taliban attack in the Afghan capital Wednesday, hours after US President Barack Obama's Kabul visit that came exactly a year after Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was gunned down in Pakistan.
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) Clarifying that there were no Indian casualties, India Wednesday said it was closely monitoring the situation in Kabul after eight people were killed and 17 injured in suicide bombings and a gunbattle in the Afghan capital.
Kabul, May 2 (ANI): US President Barack Obama, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan, has claimed that America's goal to defeat Al-Qaeda and deny the terror group a chance to rebuild was now 'within reach'.
Washington, May 2 (IANS) As President Barack Obama signed a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan, a senior official admitted it may be "hard" to work due to Pakistan's discomfort with a Kabul government too closely aligned with India.
Kabul, May 2 (IANS) Eight people were killed and 17 injured in suicide bombings and a gunbattle in the Afghan capital Wednesday, hours after US President Barack Obama's Kabul visit that came exactly a year after Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was gunned down in Pakistan.
Washington, May 2 (IANS) US-led coalition forces have weakened the Taliban in Afghanistan, but terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and endemic corruption still pose tough challenges, a new Pentagon report says.
Skopje, May 2 (IANS) As many as 20 people suspected of murdering five men last month near a lake close to the capital city of Skopje have been arrested, Macedonian interior ministry has said.
Kabul, May 2 (IANS) The US President Barack Obama signed a cooperation agreement with Afghanistan as he paid an unannounced visit to the war-torn country Tuesday on the first anniversary of the killing of Al Qaeda's ex-chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Kabul, May 2 (IANS) US President Barack Obama arrived in Kabul late Tuesday on an unannounced visit to meet his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, reported local media citing Afghan officials.
New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) A fortnight after multiple terror strikes, Afghanistan Tuesday sought India's assistance in equipping its security forces to counter the Taliban in the run-up to the 2014 withdrawal of international forces from the violence-torn country.
New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) A fortnight after multiple terror strikes, Afghanistan Tuesday sought India's assistance in equipping its security forces, indicating increased security cooperation between the two countries in the run-up to the withdrawal of international forces from the violence-torn country.
London, May 1 (IANS) Osama bin Laden was depressed because his Al Qaeda had been pounded by US forces and had developed a reputation in the Islamic world for killing Muslims. He, therefore, thought of "re-branding" the terror outfit.
New Delhi, May 1 (ANI): Foreign Ministers of India and Afghanistan met here on Tuesday and reviewed progress in bilateral ties.
Kabul, May 1 (Xinhua-ANI): Afghan police, backed by army and NATO-led coalition forces, have eliminated 19 Taliban militants during cleanup operations across the country within the past 24 hours, the Afghan Interior Ministry said on Tuesday morning. "Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan National Army, NDS or Afghan intelligence agency and Coalition Forces launched 11 joint cleanup operations in Kabul, Baghlan, Faryab, Kandahar, Helmand, Wardak, Logar, Khost, and Farah provinces over the past 24 hours," the ministry said in a statement.
London, May 1 (IANS) Four Pakistani-Britons have been charged with taking inspiration from Al Qaeda magazine Inspire, and plotting to use a toy car to attack a base of the Territorial Army in Britain's Luton town. The plot was, however, foiled.
New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) A year after Osama bin Laden was hunted down and killed at his safehouse in Pakistan's military town of Abbottabad by elite American forces, an event that made splashing headlines the world over, strategic analysts across the spectrum are agreed that little has changed and the Al Qaeda may be weakened but is still dangerous.
Kabul, May 1 (IANS) A total of 16 Taliban militants have surrendered before the Afghanistan government and joined its peace process, a government official said.
New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) Building upon their landmark strategic pact, India and Afghanistan will Tuesday hold the maiden meeting of their newly-minted partnership council and explore ways of bolstering intelligence sharing system in the wake of recent serial terror strikes in the violence-afflicted country.
London, Apr 30 (ANI): Cheryl Cole has revealed that her fractured relationship with Simon Cowell was saved after she blew up a life-size dummy of him.
Islamabad, Apr 30 (ANI): A fresh drone strike by America in Pakistan's North Waziristan Agency, which killed three suspected militants and injured two, clearly indicates that the Central Investigation Agency would press ahead with its drone strikes in that country, despite the Parliament's demand to end the attacks.
Islamabad, Apr 30(ANI): Jamaat-ud- Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has blamed both the United States and India for the recent sectarian unrest in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
Kabul, Apr 30 (Xinhua-ANI): Fourteen Taliban militants have been killed and 16 others detained during military operations conducted by Afghan forces and NATO-led coalition troops within the past 24 hours.
Washington/Islamabad, April 30 (IANS) Al Qaeda's top leaders, including its new chief Ayman al-Zawahri, continue to "burrow" in Pakistan's tribal areas, said a top US official as a Pakistani journalist warned that a dead Osama bin Laden is as dangerous as a living one.
London, Apr 30 (ANI): Leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban closely planned attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan, the Afghan Government and targets in Pakistan, a document found in Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound has revealed.
Islamabad, April 30 (IANS) A dead Osama bin Laden is as dangerous as a living one, senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir has written a year after the killing of the Al Qaeda chief.
Islamabad, April 29 (IANS) At least three people were killed and 20 others injured Sunday in a car bombing in Pakistan's northwest tribal area, a media report said.
Washington, Apr 29 (ANI): A senior American political columnist, John Avlon, has said President Barack Obama's decision to give the green signal to a Navy Seal raid that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has fundamentally altered the US political landscape.
Washington, Apr 29(ANI): Relations between Pakistan and the United States are yet to mend after one year after the killing of former Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.
Mumbai, April 29 (IANS) Afflicted by misgovernance and corruption, India's global clout has waned over the past year but could swing back if the economy regains its growth trajectory, says a geopolitical power index (GPI) report by an independent Mumbai-based think tank.
Islamabad, April 29 (IANS) US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron P. Munter has blamed the Pakistani media for "misreporting the issue of Hafiz Saeed" and said the US government did not announce any bounty "specifically" for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief.
Bangalore (Karnataka), April 29 (ANI): The Talibanisation of certain elements in Pakistan is a serious concern for Indian security as far as threats posed by its neighbours is concerned, said Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne.
Lahore, Apr 29(ANI): U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter has said that only Afghan leadership can resolve the Afghanistan issue and added that Pakistan and the United States can only give Kabul a helping hand.
Islamabad, Apr 29(ANI): The Afghan Taliban has rejected the trilateral forum agreement in Islamabad that had agreed to give a safe passage to moderate elements of the Taliban, who are willing to talk to the Afghan government.
Kabul, April 29 (IANS) A soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) died Saturday in Afghanistan, a statement said.
Kabul, April 28 (IANS) At least two Taliban militants and two policemen were killed when the rebels Saturday attacked the office of the governor of Kandahar province in Afghanistan, Xinhua reported.
New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) Afghanistan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul will arrive here Monday on a three-day visit to India during which the two sides will discuss the future of their bilateral relations.
Islamabad, Apr 28 (ANI): The latest talks on ending a diplomatic deadlock between the United States and Pakistan ended in failure on Friday over Pakistan's demands for an unconditional apology from the United States for the deadly airstrike by NATO craft in its territory.
Kabul, Apr 28 (Xinhua-ANI): Two local Haqqani leaders were detained Saturday in eastern Afghan province of Khost, the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces said.
Islamabad, Apr 28 (ANI): Ex Al-Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden resorted to viagra and hair dye in his desperation to cling on to his youth to keep up with his three wives.
Islamabad, Apr 28(ANI): Pakistan, US and Afghanistan have agreed to provide a 'safe passage' to Taliban militants willing to join the reconciliation talks and set up a working group to settle modalities for their unhindered movement.
Washington, Apr 28 (ANI): The United States said it continues to work with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and believes he remains the leader of Pakistan's democratic government.
Kabul, April 28 (IANS) A NATO soldier was killed Friday in a Taliban attack in southern Afghanistan.
Islamabad, April 27 (IANS) Terming the US drone strikes inside Pakistani territory as "useless" and "counter-productive", Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari Friday told a visiting US diplomat that building mutual trust between the two countries was the key to success in counter-terrorism operations.
New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) In the backdrop of recent terror attacks in Afghanistan, United National Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday described the situation there as a source of "a strong sense of alarm and concern" and called for the international security force there to strengthen the Afghan forces to take charge in 2014 when they withdraw.
Islamabad, April 27 (IANS) Top Pakistani, Afghan and US officials Friday agreed to form a group at the UN to coordinate activities in New York and accelerate the process of reconciliation in war-torn Afghanistan.
New Delhi, Apr 27(ANI): Four Indian state-owned entities are on a short list to bid for copper and gold projects in Afghanistan.
Kabul, April 27 (IANS) An Afghan soldier opened fire at NATO forces in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, killing a US serviceman and an Afghan interpreter, a media report said Friday.
Washington, Apr 27 (ANI): The United States has voiced hope that Pakistan would resolve the political crisis surrounding Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, which has heated up just as both nations look to repair an uneasy partnership.
Kabul, April 27 (ANI): The Taliban has closed down about 50 schools in southeastern Afghanistan, while the Afghan Government has banned the use of motorcycles in the southern districts of Ghazni Province.
Washington, Apr 27(ANI): A military court has refused to reject a charge that former US army private first class, Bradley Manning aided Al-Qaeda by leaking thousands of files to the whistle-blower website, WikiLeaks.
Kandahar (Afghanistan), April 26 (Xinhua-ANI): Eight Taliban militants were killed during an operation in southern Afghan province of Kandahar, provincial police chief said on Thursday.
Washington, Apr 26(ANI): The US "wants to hear the Pakistani Government's presentation of where it thinks the bilateral relationship needs to go," before it conveys its reaction to the parliamentary review, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland has said.
Moscow, April 26 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The terms and goals of the projected US presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 need to be clarified, the Russian foreign ministry said Thursday.
Kabul, April 26 (IANS) Two groups of Taliban - comprising 33 and 10 rebels - Thursday gave up arms and joined the peace process in Afghanistan, officials said.
New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) India said Thursday it has almost finalised the transit fee with Afghanistan and Pakistan for import of gas from Turkmenistan through a pipeline that will pass through these two countries.
Islamabad, April 25 (IANS) The Pakistan Air Force Wednesday forced a Russian-made cargo plane belonging to a foreign military to land at the Karachi airport after it violated Pakistani airspace, media reports said.
Islamabad, Apr 25 (ANI): An editorial in a Pakistan daily has said the country should support the reconciliation process between the militants and the governments in Kabul and Washington, instead of following the so-called policy of strategic depth, which has only brought about severe political, social and economic damage to the country.
Islamabad, April 25 (IANS) The Pakistan Air Force Wednesday forced a Russia-made cargo plane belonging to a foreign military to land at the Karachi airport after it violated Pakistani airspace, a media report said.
Islamabad, April 25 (IANS) Top Pakistani, Afghan and US diplomats will meet in Islamabad April 26-27 to review the peace process in Afghanistan, the Pakistani foreign ministry said Wednesday.
London, Apr 25 (ANI): The UK should not 'rush for the exits' in Afghanistan, a commander of a British army brigade in the war-torn nation has warned.
Washington, Apr 25 (ANI): A key US General has said American commanders have come to accept that Pakistani leaders are willing to take only limited steps toward halting the flow of drugs and bomb-making materials to Afghanistan.
Islamabad, Apr 25 (ANI): The U.S. Embassy has said that the country is ready to discuss parliamentary recommendations with Pakistan, and is just waiting for a schedule for formal talks.
Islamabad, Apr 25 (ANI): Top diplomats from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S. will meet in Islamabad on April 27 to discuss "obstacles" to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, announced Omar Daudzai, the country's ambassador in Pakistan.
New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Warning that developments in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and China's strategic rivalry with India and Japan will have security implications for Asia, Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday said that these threats and future challenges cannot be appreciated by other nations from outside the region.
Kabul, April 24 (IANS) At least 20 Taliban militants, including four commanders, have been killed in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Xinhua reported Tuesday.
Kabul, Apr 24 (Xinhua-ANI): Eight Taliban militants have been killed and 15 suspects arrested during cleanup operations in different Afghan provinces within the past 24 hours, the country's.
Islamabad, Apr 24 (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday said that all issues with India, including the withdrawal of troops from Siachen and the Kashmir dispute, must be resolved through dialogue.
London, April 24 (ANI): Osama Bin Laden believed that coordinated shoe-bomb attacks on US-bound jetliners after 9/11 would have demoralized the West and destroyed the U.S. economy, according to a court testimony.
London, April 24 (ANI): Osama Bin Laden believed that coordinated shoe-bomb attacks on US-bound jetliners after 9/11 would have demoralized the West and destroyed the U.S. economy, according to a court testimony.
Washington, Apr 24 (ANI): US Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has said that he was barred from entering into Afghanistan because of his critical views over that country's government.
Washington, Apr 24 (ANI): United States Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has dismissed Iran's claims that it had hacked software of an advanced American spy drone that was brought down on its territory last year, and is now building its own copies of the aircraft.
New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) With long years of conflict reducing the area under irrigation, Afghanistan is looking for assistance from India and other "friendly countries" in building its water infrastructure and management, says visiting Energy and Water Minister Alhaj M. Ismail.
London, April 23 (ANI): The UK Border Agency, the organisation responsible for policing immigration law, could land in problems after figures revealed that less than one in three illegal immigrants caught last year had been deported.
Washington, Apr 23 (ANI): US and Afghan negotiators have finalized a strategic partnership agreement outlining American support for the war-torn nation following the withdrawal of NATO troops at the end of 2014.
Tehran, Apr 23 (ANI): Iran has reportedly hacked the software of an advanced US spy drone, which came down its territory last year and has started building its own copies of the aircraft.
Kabul, April 23 (IANS) Two NATO soldiers died in a blast in eastern Afghanistan, the military alliance said Monday.
Karachi, Apr 22(ANI): Former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz has said the Bangladesh Cricket Board's decision to postpone its tour of Pakistan was not based purely based on security reasons and believes some political pressure may have played a role.
Washington, Apr 22 (ANI): U.S. Senator John Kerry's spokesperson Jodi Seth has rejected news reports regarding the senator's visit to Pakistan on President Obama's directive, claiming that no such visit is scheduled.
Washington, Apr 22(ANI): The United States and Pakistan will begin high-level talks in Islamabad next week and Afghanistan will join them later for a key meeting of the trilateral core group on April 26, official sources have said.
Canberra, April 21 (ANI): Australian service women serving at the borders live under constant fear of being raped or tortured if captured, according to a study.
Washington, April 21 (ANI): Fake websites and Facebook accounts of two USA Today journalists, Tom Vanden Brook and Ray Locker, have been set up accusing them of being backed by the Taliban.
Islamabad, Apr 21(ANI): Pakistan Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain has said that India, Afghanistan and his country have decided to set 49.5cents as the transit fee for the 7.6 billion dollar Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.