Afghanistan – politics

Afghanistan – politics

Government sources

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan: government websites


Context Analysis / Uruzgan Province, Prepared by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan

Dutch government analysis of geographic, social and political context.


Afghanistan, Key Documents, ReliefWeb

ReliefWeb, “the world’s leading on-line gateway to information (documents and maps) on humanitarian emergencies and disasters” is administered by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Afghanistan: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, United States, Law Library of Congress

The Law Library of US Congress provides access to information on the Afghanistan Constitution, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, and its legal system.

Afghanistan – Politics,

Politics and Government, MiPAL: Afghanistan, Military Policy Awareness Links, National Defense University.

Detailed set of links.

Special Reports: Afghanistan, The Guardian Unlimited

Regularly updated website from the UK-based Guardian newspaper.

Politics of Afghanistan, Wikipedia [regularly updated]

Political parties in Afghanistan, Wikipedia

As of March 2007, well-resourced and regularly updated Wikipedia sites.

Political parties and leaders, Afghanistan, CIA World Fact Book

Accessible compendium of mainly statistical and basic factual data.

Afghanistan Reconstruction Project (ARP)

A project of the Center on International Cooperation (CIC) at New York University, led by Barnett Rubin.

Who’s who, Australia in Afghanistan

Afghan politicians, Wikipedia

Key Afghan players: Who’s who, BBC News, 4 July 2006

Afghanistan Report, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Weekly report.


Afghanistan: UN advises release of global funds, UN Press Release, 18 April 2010

The highest United Nations official in Afghanistan today recommended the release of international assistance for parliamentary elections to be held later this year, following a meeting with President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials in which new senior election commission members were appointed and a question about women candidates clarified.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate President Karzai for his wise decision to adopt the agreed election guidelines for 2010 and for ensuring more credible and transparent elections,” Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, told reporters today in Kabul.

Pressed to act, Karzai fires election monitors, Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times, 7 April 2010

Under enormous pressure from Western governments, President Hamid Karzai ousted Afghanistan’s top two elections officials, who were seen as sanctioning the widespread fraud that favored him during last year’s presidential race.

Karzai threatens to join Taliban, Laurie Graham and AP, CBC News, 5 April 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai twice threatened to quit politics and join the Taliban if the West continued to pressure him to enact reforms, legislators said Monday. Karzai issued the threat during a private meeting with Afghan lawmakers on the weekend. People at the meeting said they thought Karzai’s comments were aimed at hardline members of parliament.

Hamid Karzai accusses Western allies of electoral fraud, Amanda Hodge, The Australian, 3 April 2010

Mr Karzai saved his most scathing criticism for former UN deputy head of mission Peter Galbraith and EU Afghan chief Philippe Morillon.

He accused the two men of plotting to install a puppet Afghan government by framing his campaign workers with ballot-box stuffing, and “some embassies” of trying to bribe electoral commission members by trying to give them armoured vehicles.

In the same speech, later broadcast on state television, Mr Karzai also accused Western coalition forces fighting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan of being on the verge of becoming invaders.

“In this situation, there is a thin curtain between invasion and co-operation-assistance,” he said, adding that if the perception spread that Western forces were invaders and the Afghan government their mercenaries, the insurgency “could become a national resistance”.

Afghanistan worlords’ unwelcome return, Sally Neighbour, The Australian, 27 February 2010

THE rogues’ gallery of warlords and war criminals being courted by the Karzai government and its Western backers betrays just how desperate the dilemma of Afghanistan has become, and how treacherous the road to peace and stability that lies ahead.

President Hamid Karzai’s much vaunted new strategy of reconciliation with the militants has found his government doing deals with the same cast of villains who helped tear Afghanistan to shreds during the past 30 years of war.

Most notorious of all is the veteran jihad commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an accused terrorist, war criminal and protector of Osama bin Laden who last month held out an olive branch to Karzai and the West, claiming he is not in league with the Taliban and wants only the departure of foreign forces. Hekmatyar is being feted with offers that reportedly include ministries and governorships for his party, Hezb-e-Islami, in a future Afghan regime.

During the past three decades Hekmatyar has earned a reputation as the most ruthless, bloodthirsty, corrupt and self-serving of all the Afghan commanders. He is more hated even than the Taliban and the thought of Hekmatyar being accommodated is anathema to many Afghans. Yet the harsh reality is, as Afghan parliamentarian Abdul Jabar told The Washington Post, “If we exclude Hekmatyar from peace negotiations, there won’t be any peace in Afghanistan.”

The “warlord strategy” was profoundly destabilising, further entrenching Afghanistan’s deep ethnic and tribal divisions and rendering the Karzai government in Kabul “weak and irrelevant”, in the words of Rashid.

Ordinary Afghans were dismayed: “Although the Americans had liberated them from the evil of the Taliban, they had brought back another evil: the warlords.”

A Real ‘Winning’ Strategy in Afghanistan, Josef Storm,, 11 February 2010

The most legitimate political strategy to pursue in Afghanistan is one that the people of the region would naturally pursue… without any external interference. And what is the most likely strategy for each of these major tribes? Given the significant bad blood and hostility between tribes in this region, … naturally pursue alliances with those tribes and ethnicities that are closest to them.

As such, Tajiks, who comprise 27% of the Afghan population, would take their people and lands and align with their Tajik brethren to the north in Tajikistan, who happen to share the same tribal affiliation, customs, language, heroes, etc. The Turkmen and Uzbek tribes would naturally take their lands and people and gravitate towards their respective countries.

The only challenge would be the fates of the Pashtuns and Hazaras… bad blood between these two. The Pashtuns represent 42-43% of the Afghan population, and approximately a third of the population of Pakistan. This tribe has long sought control of all the lands within the current Afghanistan and Pakistan borders in order to create on giant “Pashtunistan”. It is this specifica objective that the Taliban used to rally support, as the Taliban are merely a militaristic faction representing a slight majority of all Pashtun tribal factions.

But the aforementioned Tajik, Uzabek, Turkmen and Hazara tribes would never accept such an overarching Pashtunistan arrangement, nor would the other two-thirds of Pakistanis. A more plausible scenario would involve the merging of the current Pashtun lands in both countries to form a new “Afghanistan”, as the term “Afghan” is merely an ancient name for Pashtuns.

The Hazaras, representing 8-9% of the population, are native Persian speakers as well as practitioners of Shiite Islam, which would make them likely candidates to merge with Iran. But they could just as easily merge with the Tajiks to the northeast due to language similarity and a mutual resentment of the Pashtuns, as both of them formed the majority of the “Northern Alliance” that fought in oppositiong of the Taliban. The Hazaras could also potentially form their own country, but upon further reflection of such a euphoric and utopian idea, they would realize that this would leave them vulnerable and highly susceptible to invasion from the Pashtuns.

30 days through Afghanistan Day 1: The Afghan people will decide who wins, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Gallahan, ISAF Joint Command Public Affairs, Department of Defense USA Live, 9 February 2010

One part really intrigues me, “the Afghan people will decide who wins this fight …” I’ve heard this a lot while on missions in Eastern and Western Afghanistan, and there are a lot of Afghans “on the fence.”

I remember one story of an Afghan family, where one son worked with the government, and another son was an insurgent. The family was “hedging” their bets.”

I’ve always thought of this scenario when I’m out and about in this country. This is more than “winning hearts and minds” of Afghans, but also about understanding them, while respecting their culture and religion.

Afghanistan: No impunity for war criminals, Amnesty International Australia, 9 February 2010

Amnesty International calls on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan Parliament to immediately suspend controversial legislation that will give immunity from prosecution for serious violations of human rights, including war crimes and crimes against humanity committed, in the past 30 years.

The legislation, the “National Stability and Reconciliation” bill, was passed by both houses of the Afghan Parliament in early 2007 and published in the official Gazette in November 2008 but, unusually, it was not publicly divulged until January 2010.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, including the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), believe that this law is an attempt to provide legal cover for ongoing impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations, including the Taleban.

“There are real doubts about the legal validity of this ‘Impunity Bill’, as no national legislation can immunize perpetrators of international crimes. Furthermore, President Karzai never signed this bill, and it was only divulged to the public almost two years after Parliament voted on it.”

Under this legislation, people who committed serious human rights violations and violations of the laws of war, including massacres, widespread enforced disappearances, and systematic use of torture, rape, public executions and other forms of ill-treatment would be immune to criminal prosecution if they pledge cooperation with the Afghan government.

It’s time to listen to the Afghan people, Nasim Fekrat, Centre for International Governance Innovation, 7 February 2010

It is also important to know that the people of Afghanistan don’t trust the government anymore. During the 2009 presidential election, voter turnout drastically decreased. Four million registered voters cast ballots in 2009 as compared to ten million in 2004. It simply shows that those Afghans who once believed the Karzai government could deliver hope and change are no longer loyal.  Now, people are in a state of shock over the possibility that the perpetrators of so many crimes in Afghanistan’s recent history may return to government.

Australia to watch direction of Afghan donation, Emma Alberici, ABC News, 29 January 2010

STEPHEN SMITH: Well I’ve made the point both before the Afghan election and after the Afghan election that whoever emerged from the Afghan election had to make substantial progress on governance, on corruption, anti-narcotics and the like.

We saw the commitment from President Karzai in his inauguration speech and we saw those commitments reaffirmed today by him and his ministers.

This is not a trust fund that will be administered personally by President Karzai. It’ll, the details will be worked through by the Government of Afghan, by President Karzai and his Ministers and his Government; oversight and involvement from the United Nations officers, from the international community.

Afghan parliament set to vote on second cabinet list, Lynne O’Donnell, The Age, 16 January 2010

Afghan lawmakers are set to vote on Saturday for President Hamid Karzai’s second list of cabinet nominees, after rejecting most of his first choices, but are again expected to veto a high number.

Lawmakers voted against 17 of Karzai’s 24 original choices earlier this month, delivering a blow to his authority, already undermined after he was declared winner of an August election marred by massive fraud, mostly in his favour.

Suicide bomb hits Afghanistan capital, Kabul, Ian Pannell, BBC, 15 December 2009

After the meeting began with a moment’s silence, President Karzai acknowledged corruption was widespread, but warned it would be difficult to eradicate. “Every one of our police, every one of our soldiers, every one of our mayors, every one of our judges, every one of our governors can go to someone’s house knock on the door and drag a man out of that house and terrorise him. But he added: “I am a realist. I know that corruption in our government and society cannot be eliminated overnight. We cannot even eliminate it in years.”

Abdullah rules out Karzai coalition, Mark Tran,, 4 November 2009

Abdullah AbdullahHamid Karzai‘s main challenger in Afghanistan‘s disputed presidential election – has ruled himself out of the incoming government.

“A government which is derived from such an illegal decision will not be able to deliver … [It] cannot deal with all the challenges, especially the threat of terrorism, security problems, poverty, unemployment and many others.”

Caught in the crossfire: The Pashtun tribes of southeast Afghanistan, Tom Gregg, October 2009

Second, Pashtunwali, the traditional tribal customary law, is overlooked by both the international community and by some elements of the Afghan government as being out of place in a new Afghan state.

Countries ‘wasting money and blood’ in Afghanistan, Sophia Gardner, ABC News, 3 July 2009

A politician who has been described as “the bravest woman in Afghanistan” says that military intervention is not the way to find democracy in the war-torn county. Malalai Joya gained international attention for standing before Afghanistan’s constitutional grand assembly and accusing her country’s leaders of war crimes, human rights violations and supporting the Taliban.

Her remarks were met by uproar from the 300 delegates, most of them former mujaheddin commanders and ex-Taliban officials. In 2007 she was suspended from parliament for comparing it to a “stable or zoo” and later called the other members of parliament “criminals” and “drug smugglers”.

“When I got into parliament, the war lords didn’t allow me to talk. They turned off my microphone,” she said. “They beat me by throwing bottles of water at me and threatened to rape me inside the parliament. But they couldn’t make me silent.”

Since then, Ms Joya has survived several assassination attempts and spent the last five years in hiding, never spending 24 hours in the same house.

The Pessoptimist, Barnett Rubin, Informed Comment Global Affairs, 9 July 2007

On the Road to Kandahar: Travels Through Conflict in the Islamic World, Jason Burke, Thomas Dunne Books, 2007

A Long Hot Summer: Crisis and Opportunity in Afghanistan, William Maley and Daoud Yaqub, Lowy Institute, March 2007

Afghanistan 2007: Problems, Opportunities and Possible Solutions,  Peter Bergen, testimony to House Committee on Foreign Affairs, United States Congress, 15 February 2007.

Countering the Insurgency in Afghanistan: Losing Friends and Making Enemies, Senlis Council, February 2007

A Surge in Two Wars, Paul Rogers, International Security Monthly Briefings, Oxford Research Group, January 2007

Saving Afghanistan, Barnett R. Rubin, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2007

Afghanistan’s Endangered Compact, Asia Briefing N°59, International Crisis Group, 29 January 2007

Assessing ISAF: A Baseline Study of NATO’s Role in Afghanistan, Cameron Scott, British American Security Information Council, March 2007

The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, Sarah Chayes, Penguin Press, 2006

Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence, Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls, Seven Stories Press, 2006

Still Ours to Lose: Afghanistan on the Brink, Barnett R. Rubin, Prepared Testimony for the House Committee on International Relations (September 20, 2006) and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (September 21, 2006)

Rescuing Afghanistan: A Balance Sheet, William Maley, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 19, 2006

Afghanistan: On the Brink, Ahmed Rashid, New York Review of Books, Volume 53, Number 11, June 22, 2006

Security, Nation Building and Democracy: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Talk given by Ahmed Rashid, Center for Peace and Human Security April 27, 2006

Afghanistan’s Uncertain Transition From Turmoil to Normalcy, Barnett R. Rubin, Center for Preventive Action, Council On Foreign Relations, Council Special Report, No. 12, March 2006

The Prospects for Post-Conflict Afghanistan: A Call of the Sirens to the Country’s Troubled Past, Thomas H. Johnson, Strategic Insights, Volume V, Issue 2, (February 2006)

Afghanistan as an empty space, Part 1 – 4, Marc W. Herold, 26 February 2006

Karzai’s Afghanistan: Audio Slide Show, Jon Lee Anderson (text) and Samantha Appleton (photographs), The New Yorker (online only), 6 June 2005

Political Parties in Afghanistan, International Crisis Group, Asia Briefing No. 39, 2 June 2005

The Other War: Why Bush’s Afghanistan problem won’t go away, Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, 12 April 2004

Analysts’ sites

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Ronald Li
Updated: 18 April 2010