Information about Afghanistan
Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-communist mujahedin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. KARZAI was re-elected in August 2009 for a second term. Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability - particularly in the south and the east - remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government.
Afghanistan's economy is recovering from decades of conflict. The economy has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 largely because of the infusion of international assistance, the recovery of the agricultural sector, and service sector growth. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs. Criminality, insecurity, weak governance, lack of infrastructure, and the Afghan Government's difficulty in extending rule of law to all parts of the country pose challenges to future economic growth. Afghanistan's living standards are among the lowest in the world. The international community remains committed to Afghanistan's development, pledging over $67 billion at nine donors' conferences between 2003-10. In July 2012, the donors at the Tokyo conference pledged an additional $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015. Despite this help, the Government of Afghanistan will need to overcome a number of challenges, including low revenue collection, anemic job creation, high levels of corruption, weak government capacity, and poor public infrastructure. Afghanistan's growth rate slowed markedly in 2013.
Issues in Afghanistan
Afghan, Coalition, and Pakistan military meet periodically to clarify the alignment of the boundary on the ground and on maps; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey; Iran protests Afghanistan's restricting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during drought; Pakistan has sent troops across and built fences along some remote tribal areas of its treaty-defined Durand Line border with Afghanistan which serve as bases for foreign terrorists and other illegal activities; Russia remains concerned about the smuggling of poppy derivatives from Afghanistan through Central Asian countries
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin):
16,825 (Pakistan) (2013)
667,158 (mostly Pashtuns and Kuchis displaced in the south and west due to drought and instability) (2014)
Trafficking in persons:
Afghanistan is a source transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, although domestic trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking; Afghan men are subjected to forced labor and debt bondage in Iran, Pakistan, Greece, Turkey, and the Gulf states; Afghan women and girls are forced into prostitution and domestic servitude in Pakistan, Iran, and India, while women and girls from the Philippines, Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and China are reportedly sexually exploited in Afghanistan; children are increasingly subjected to forced labor in carpet-making factories, domestic servitude, forced begging, and commercial sexual exploitation; some children are sold to settle debts
Tier 2 Watch List - Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons; anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts have improved, though official complicity in human trafficking remains a problem; the first known convictions were made under the government's 2008 anti-trafficking law; Afghanistan has not developed or employed systematic procedures to identify trafficking victims or refer them to protective services and continues to rely on NGOs to provide the vast majority of victim assistance; the government has not made discernible progress in preventing human trafficking or protecting victims but has adopted an anti-trafficking action plan (2013)
world's largest producer of opium; poppy cultivation increased 57 percent, from 115,000 hectares in 2011 to 180,000 hectares in 2012; despite the increase in area under cultivation, the effects of poor weather and crop disease resulted in lower yield so potential opium production remained stable at 4,300 mt in 2012 compared to 4,400 mt in 2011; the Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan; widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium; Afghanistan is also struggling to respond to a burgeoning domestic opiate addiction problem; vulnerable to drug money laundering through informal financial networks; regional source of hashish (2013)