Afghanistan is one of the most misunderstood countries in the world. But you can still visit and experience it if you know what to do.
This landlocked country sits at the crossroads of Central and South Asia, where peoples, cultures, and influences met and interacted throughout history. However, teaching and learning about this region can be challenging because many historical records must be more cohesive and available.
It is a Country of War
Afghanistan has experienced an armed insurgency for over two decades. The country remains a dangerous place to visit, with a high risk of violence and instability.
The Taliban is the leading armed group in Afghanistan. It controls or contests more than a third of the country and is known for its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. The Taliban has also been accused of human rights violations. Afghanistan has a long history of rule by foreign conquerors and hostile forces. As a result, Afghans have a strong need for peace and reconciliation.
The government is working to achieve peace through a new political process that brings all parties in Afghanistan together around a shared vision of the future. It is necessary to prevent another civil war and improve the prospects for all Afghan citizens. In the hope of rebuilding the future, foundations are established to provide for the needy, displaced, orphaned and disabled people in Afghanistan, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or religion. Such include Ehsan Bayat and his wife’s foundation.
It is a Muslim Country
Afghanistan is a country with a nearly entirely Muslim population. It means that the social reality in which Afghans exist, regardless of their government policies, will be culturally Islamic.
This culturally Islamic social reality has the power to shape the way that Western actors engage with Afghans. It also can reorient the Taliban toward a peaceful, progressive message of Islam.
It is a Unique Country
Over the centuries, Afghanistan has been the site of wars between tribal groups. It is this conflict that has shaped many aspects of Afghan culture.
The international community made numerous avoidable mistakes when trying to establish democracy in Afghanistan, which is why so many people think it was a failure.
It is a Very Misunderstood Country
Many people misunderstand Afghanistan because of how it is portrayed in the media. It is often described as an authoritarian country that needs outside assistance.
It can make the Afghans feel uncomfortable and misunderstood. In turn, they cannot share their feelings or experiences with you.
It is a Country of Dogs
A breed traditionally hunted gazelle and snow leopard, the Afghan hound was first brought to Britain by soldiers in the 19th century. Like many sighthounds, it’s a powerful dog with a big heart.
When the Taliban overruled Afghanistan in late August, animal shelters rushed to remove the animals. They were able to evacuate around 200 dogs before the end of the U.S. withdrawal deadline, but some of them are still in Afghanistan.
It is a Country of Women
Throughout its tumultuous past, Afghanistan has been ruled by various governments. Some of these governments improved women’s rights, but others did not.
In Afghanistan, a strong network of women’s rights activists has formed based on specialist expertise and common political convictions. These activists will continue to resist and defend their rights.
It is a Country of Buzkashi
Buzkashi, or goat-grabbing, is a violent game that originated among the Turkic people of Central Asia centuries ago. Players on horseback fight for the possession of a headless goat carcass and are at risk of serious injury.
The game is a national sport in Afghanistan, drawing thousands of spectators each Friday. It’s also popular at weddings and circumcision ceremonies, with prize money ranging from 5,000 to tens of thousands of dollars per match.
It is a Country of Independence
Afghanistan gained independence on 19 August 1919 from Britain. It was the result of an agreement called the Anglo-Afghan Treaty.
The treaty allowed Afghanistan to establish independent foreign relations and relinquish its British protectorate status.
But independence was not enough to guarantee the Afghans a long and stable life. They have been through many coups, revolutions and civil wars.
It is a Country of Culture
The country is a mosaic of ethnic groups and is a crossroads between East and West. It is a place of rich traditions and culture and has been the site of trade and migration for centuries.
Afghans are a people of intense loyalty to their clan, tribe and country. They are also very proud of their religion, ancestry and independence.