Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming part of Central Asia, South Asia, and Greater Middle East.
Afghanistan is at a unique nexus point where numerous civilizations have interacted and often fought. It has been home to various peoples through the ages, among them the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominant role of Indo-Iranian languages in the region. At multiple points, the land has been incorporated within large regional empires, among them the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, the Islamic Empire and the Sassanid Empire.
Southern and eastern Afghanistan was under the control of local commanders such as Gul Agha Sherzai and others. In 1994, the Taliban (a movement originating from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-run religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) also developed in Afghanistan as a politico-religious force. The Taliban’s early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of defeats that resulted in heavy losses which led analysts to believe the Taliban movement had run its course. But Pakistan provided increased support to the Taliban.
While the Taliban began regrouping inside Pakistan, more coalition troops entered the escalating US-led war. Meanwhile, the rebuilding of war-torn Afghanistan kicked off in 2002.
United States Special Forces, working with troops from Afghanistan’s minority ethnic groups, quickly routed the Taliban, the extremist Islamic government that had given refuge to Al Qaeda. After a new government was installed, however, American resources were diverted to prepare for what became the war in Iraq. Working from safe havens in Pakistan, the Taliban rebounded, and by 2008 controlled major areas of Afghanistan and was terrorizing others. Some NATO troops are going home sooner than others; France’s new president, François Hollande, said that he would withdraw French troops by the end of this year, in a recognition of public weariness with the war in the United States and Europe. British actor Jude Law is visiting Afghanistan to promote peace in the war-ravaged country. Together with director Jeremy Gilley, the Oscar-nominated Law has returned to Afghanistan to help maintain momentum for Peace Day — an annual day on Sept. 21 urging a global cease-fire and nonviolence. The United Nations General Assembly adopted Peace Day in 2001, after a lobbying campaign by Gilley that he documented in the film “Peace One Day.” “When I left Kabul last year, I was hugely moved not by the conflict that I have read so much about, but by the people’s courage and the people’s sense of hope,” Law told reporters Monday in Kabul. Afghanistan has stepped back from a tipping point. At the cost of taking and inflicting more casualties than in any year since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 (and four times as many as in 2005), NATO troops turned back a frontal offensive by the Taliban last summer. The insurgents aimed to capture a district west of Kandahar, hoping to take that key city and precipitate a crisis in Kabul, the capital. Despite this setback, however, the Taliban-led insurgency is still active on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, and the frontier region has once again become a refuge for what President George W. Bush once called the main threat to the United States — “terrorist groups of global reach.” Insurgents in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have imported suicide bombing, improvised explosive technology, and global communications strategies from Iraq; in the south, attacks have closed 35 percent of the schools. Even with opium production at record levels, slowing economic growth is failing to satisfy the population’s most basic needs, and many community leaders accuse the government itself of being the main source of abuse and insecurity.