Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I decided that I needed to learn more about Afghanistan. I listened to President Obama's speech about sending more troops to Afghanistan and then watched a television program where the "talking heads" were discussing the speech. Apparently, the men and women on the program were experts on the subject - and none of them could totally approve or disapprove the President's decision. It appears that Afghanistan leaves a lot of questions in everyone's mind. Afghanistan, a nation of about 33 million people, is one of the least developed countries in the entire world. Approximately 82% of the people in Afghanistan live in rural areas. Most Afghan workers are farmers, and many of them use old-fashioned tools and methods. Some farmers roam the grasslands with their herds of livestock in the summers and then spend the rest of the year farming. Most of the semi-nomads live in tents made of goat hair. Most other people in Afghanistan live in homes made of sun-dried mud bricks, but some city dwellers live in modern homes and apartment buildings made of cement. "Most Afghans are a blend of many early peoples who came to the country as invaders or settlers. These groups include Aryans, Persians, Arabs, Turkish-speaking people from central Asia, people from Mongolia, and people from the Zinjiang region of western China" (Riffat Sardar, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p 93). There are about twenty different ethnic groups, most of whom "have their own language and cultural pattern. Most ethnic groups consist of several tribes, many of which speak their own dialect. Many Afghans feel greater loyalty to their ethnic group or tribe than to their country" (p 93). The Pushtuns (or Pathans) and the Tajiks are the largest ethnic groups, making about seventy-percent of the population. There are two official languages in Afghanistan, Pashto or Pushtu and Dari. Most Pushtuns live in the southeastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border and speak Pashto. Most Tajiks live in central and northeastern Afghanistan where some speak Dari. Most Afghans are Muslims. The Islam religion is the one common link among the people. Afghanistan history shows that the country was conquered by at least a dozen different armies between 1500 BC and 1747 AD when the tribes united for the first time and gained control of their country. Civil war broke out between tribes and wars continued off and on until 1919 AD when Afghanistan became fully independent. Afghanistan was still struggling to set up an operating government when Russia invaded the country in late 1979 and early 1980. Russia left Afghanistan by February 1989. Rebels overthrew the government (1992) and different factions continued to compete for power. The Taliban took control of the nation in the mid-1990s and were driven from power following September 11, 2001. Afghanistan has been at war in one way or another for the past thirty years. It is no wonder that the country is undeveloped as compared to other nations! I believe that we need to stay in Afghanistan and try to help the people there in gaining freedom.