Afghanistan: Challenges and Options for Reconstructing a Stable and Moderate State

CRS Report for Congress
Afghanistan: Challenges and Options for
Reconstructing a Stable and Moderate State
Updated July 11, 2002
Richard P. Cronin
Specialist in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Afghanistan: Challenges and Options for
Reconstructing a Stable and Moderate Afghan State
The U.S.-led effort to end Afghanistan’s role as host to Osama bin Laden and
other anti-western Islamic terrorists requires not only the defeat of the Taliban but
also the reconstruction of a stable, effective, and ideologically moderate Afghan state.
Otherwise, the country could continue to be a potential base for terrorism and a
source of regional instability. An important milestone was achieved in June 2002
with the generally successful conclusion of an Emergency Loya Jirga (“grand
council”), which confirmed Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun member of the western
educated elite with family ties to the former king as head of a Transitional
Administration. Karzai, who previously headed an Interim Administration formed
in December 2001, is charged with organizing a government, supervising the drafting
of a constitution, and preparing for national elections to be held in December 2003.
The Loya Jirga failed to satisfy many of the participants, especially Pashtuns,
who feel under-represented in distribution of cabinet ministries, but more than 1,500
Afghans from all ethnic groups and walks of life had an opportunity to vent long pent
up feelings and engage in free flowing debate about the country’s future. Karzai has
gained the nominal support of major regional warlords, but his authority remains
dependent on support from the militarily powerful ethnic Tajik minority and his
status as a broadly acceptable figure who can attract international assistance.
The Bush Administration and the Congress have indicated strong support for
humanitarian relief and reconstruction, but the nature of the longer term U.S. role
remains to be determined. As of mid-2002, the Administration remained focused
on the military campaign and resistant to extensive participation in “nation building,”
a stance some in Congress say is too limited. In reality, U.S. forces have repeatedly
played a de facto peacekeeping role in defusing conflicts among Afghan allies, and
have sometimes become embroiled in local power struggles. Some Afghan warlords
have been accused of causing mistaken attacks on civilians or pro-Karzai groups by
providing false intelligence to American forces.
Major obstacles to the goal of a stable and ideologically moderate Afghan state
include: long-standing power aspirations of rival tribal and ethnic groups; the long-
term decline of Afghan state institutions that began with the Communist/Soviet
occupation decade of 1979-89, and accelerated under the Taliban; the recent rapid
increase in opium production and local power struggles for control of the lucrative
drug trade; and the resiliency of politicized Islam, as promoted both by the Taliban
and other radical Islamist parties, which retains appeal to many Afghans.
A stable and ideologically moderate Afghanistan is unlikely to be constructed
without significant near-term aid to reestablish security, relieve immediate economic
distress, and provide alternate employment for former combatants, and extensive and
long-term reconstruction support from bilateral and multilateral aid donors. To date,
aid actually delivered to the Kabul administration has been much less than promised.
A stable Afghanistan also require that neighboring countries play a constructive role,
or – at a minimum – avoid interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

Focus and Scope of This Report......................................1
Current Framework for the Reconstruction of a Stable and Moderate
Afghan State..................................................2
Bonn Accord of December 2001..................................3
Outcome of the June 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga.....................4
Development of the Afghan State under the
Durrani Pashtun Monarchy......................................5
Long-Standing Pattern of Violent Leadership Change.................6
Growth of National Institutions Under Zahir Shah (1933-1973).............9
Political Tensions Arising Out of Modernization.....................9
Rise of Marxist and Radical Islamist Conflict...................10
Zahir Shah’s Counterproductive Foreign Policy.....................11
Chronically Strained Relations with Pakistan...................11
Rising Soviet and Declining U.S. Influence....................11
Mohammad Daoud and the Afghan Republic, 1973-1979.............12
Destruction of the Traditional Social Fabric: PDPA Rule and Soviet
Occupation, 1978-89..........................................13
Anti-Soviet War and the Rise of Islamic Extremism......................14
Collapse of the Afghan State, 1989-1996..............................15
Failure of a U.N. Brokered Power Transfer In 1992..................15
Three-Cornered Ethnic Power Conflict in the 1992-1996 Islamic
Republic of Afghanistan...................................16
Rise and Fall of the Taliban.........................................16
Prospects for Recreating a Stable and Moderate Afghan State..............17
Past Elements of Stability and Current Status.......................17
Sources of Legitimacy.....................................17
Acceptable Ethnic Balance.................................18
Positive Center-Provincial Relations..........................19
Harmony Between the State and Islam........................20
Critical Role of Foreign Powers.............................20
Negotiating the Multi-Layered Afghan Power Matrix ................21
Ethnicity ................................................21
Regionally-Based Warlords and Commanders..................21
Ideologically-Oriented Political Party Leaders..................21
Rural-Based Leadership....................................22
Economic Interests........................................22
Dynamic Interaction of Individual Actors and Forces.................23
Potential Swing Groups....................................23
Stakes for the Participants..................................24

Four Scenarios for the Future Afghan State.............................25
Democratic Pluralism – A Necessity, Not a Luxury..................25
1. Transitional Regime Leading to Pluralistic Democracy.............26
2. Northern Alliance-Dominated State............................26
3. Disappearance of a Unified Afghan State........................27
4. Caretaker Ward of the International Community..................28
Factors Affecting the Outcome......................................29
Resolution of Disputes on Power Sharing in the Central Government....29
Results of the June 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga.................29
Economic Development and the Issue of Jobs or Guns................31
Economic Development and The Future Role Islam..................31
Issues for U.S. Policy..............................................32
1. Support for the Political Process...............................32
2. Close Engagement with Pakistan..............................32
3. Bilateral Assistance and Participation in International Assistance
and Development Efforts...................................33
Conclusion: Issues for Congressional Consideration......................34
Issues of Special Congressional Interest: Narcotics Production and
Women’s Rights.........................................34
Narcotics or Development..................................34
Future Status of Women in Afghan Society....................35
Three Policy Issues for Possible Congressional Consideration..........35
Tension between Dual U.S. Objectives........................36
Response to Calls for Expanded International Peacekeeping.......36
Possible Benefits of a More Transparent U.S. Military Role
on the Ground.......................................37
Appendix I: Bonn Agreements on Afghanistan..........................38

Afghanistan: Challenges and Options for
Reconstructing a Stable and Moderate State
Focus and Scope of This Report
The U.S.-led effort to end permanently Afghanistan’s role as a base for anti-
western Islamic terrorists requires not only the defeat of the Taliban–which has been
achieved through American, allied, and Afghan military action, but also the
reconstruction of a stable, effective and ideologically moderate Afghan state.
Otherwise, the country could again become a base for terrorism. Failure to achieve
stability in Afghanistan is also likely to have wider repercussions for the stability of
Pakistan and the Central Asian states.
Unlike 1989, when the U.S. Government closed its embassy in Kabul only ten
days after the withdrawal of the last Soviet forces, the Bush Administration has
concluded that the United States has a major stake in the creation of a stable
Afghanistan, and that it cannot be left to the armed Afghan contenders for power
alone to decide the country’s future. The Administration has not yet given a detailed
indication of what longer-term role it envisions for the United States in the political,
economic, and social reconstruction of Afghanistan beyond current plans for
emergency food and agricultural assistance, assistance in the formation of a new
national army, and anti-narcotics aid. However, both the President and the Congress
have declared that the United States will play a major role, in conjunction with
NATO allies and Japan, the United Nations, and international financial institutions,
to promote economic development and encourage political stability in Afghanistan.1
The stakes for the United States include denying sanctuary and support for Al
Qaeda terrorists, maintaining positive influence with a nuclear-armed and politically
unstable Pakistan, curtailing the massive flow of opium-based drugs from
Afghanistan, and, possibly, facilitating the creation of an alternative to Iran and
Russia as routes for the export of Central Asian oil and gas. For all of these reasons,
the future U.S. role in Afghanistan and the adjacent region is likely to be an
important focus of interaction between the Administration and Congress in
considering foreign assistance and defense budget priorities and policy issues during
the Spring of 2002.

1 Among other sources, see comments of Senators and testimony by Administration
witnesses at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, The Political Future of
Afghanistan, Dec. 6, 2001; and Situation in Afghanistan, June 26, 2002, and comments of
Members and official and unofficial witnesses at a House International Relations Committee
hearing, America’s Assistance to the Afghan People, Nov. 1, 2001.

Congress has strongly supported American involvement in supporting the
fledgling government headed by Karzai, and many of the several dozen Members of
Congress who have visited Afghanistan have advocated more U.S. aid than is
currently planned, the more prompt delivery of aid to the Karzai administration, and
an expanded U.S. role in peacekeeping. In terms of action by Congress, H.R. 3994
(Hyde), the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002, was introduced “To authorize
economic and democratic development assistance for Afghanistan and to authorize
military assistance for Afghanistan and certain other foreign countries.” The bill was
marked up by the House International Relations Committee on March 20 and
reported (amended) on April 25 (H.Rept. 107-420), addresses the overall direction
and focus of U.S. policy towards humanitarian relief and refugee repatriation,
economic reconstruction, the suppression of narcotics production, and support for a
democratic and market-oriented Afghanistan. The bill would authorize about $1.05
billion in appropriations for assistance to Afghanistan, subject to certain conditions,
from FY2002 to FY2005. A Senate version of the bill, S. 2712, was introduced by
Senator Chuck Hagel on July 9, 2002.
This report provides information on and analysis of the current situation in
Afghanistan, taking into consideration the country’s essential characteristics and
political developments since about the time of the overthrow of the last Afghan King,
Zahir Shah, in 1973, and sketches out four possible scenarios for Afghanistan’s
future. The scenarios incorporate the profound effects of the Communist coup of
1978, the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation, subsequent civil war, and the rise and fall
of the Taliban. Finally, the report identifies and analyzes factors that will influence
Afghanistan’s political future, and discusses three policy areas in particular in which
actions by the United States could be crucial, and three policy issues for
congressional consideration. An appendix contains key documents relating to the
December 2001 Bonn Agreement, which is the framework for current efforts to
create a stable and democratic Afghanistan.
This report will be updated in response to major political developments, but it
is not intended to track issues concerning Afghanistan on a regular basis. Broader
and more frequently updated coverage of issues concerning Afghanistan and U.S.
policy is contained in CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Current Issues and U.S.
Policy Concerns, by Kenneth Katzman. For information and analysis concerning
U.S. and other international humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to
Afghanistan, see CRS Report RL31355, Afghanistan’s Path to Reconstruction:
Obstacles, Challenges, and Issues for Congress, by Rhoda Margesson.
Current Framework for the Reconstruction of a
Stable and Moderate Afghan State
Achieving the goal of a stable and moderate Afghanistan depends on the
establishment of a political process that has at least the tacit support of the major
organized ethnic and tribal groups and contenders for power, as well as ordinary
Afghans who are simply seeking some kind of peace and normalcy in their lives.
After nearly three decades since the overthrow of the Afghan monarchy and the onset
of a three-cornered struggle involving the forces of moderate reform and market-

oriented economic modernization, Islamic fundamentalism, and Marxism, most of
the past elements of Afghan unity and stability have been shattered and are not even
remembered by the more than half of the current population who were born after the
overthrow of the last monarch, Zahir Shah.2
Bonn Accord of December 2001
A beginning towards the goal of reconstructing a stable and moderate
Afghanistan was made at an international conference near Bonn, Germany, during
December 2001, when representatives of various parties and ethnic groups agreed to
the creation of an Interim Administration, and a procedure, with timetables, for
drafting a new constitution and establishing, within two years, an elected
As in the case of a U.N.-backed effort in 1992, which failed, the composition
of the delegation was more representative on paper than in reality. The 23 signatories
to the December 2001 agreement represented four anti-Taliban groups: The
Northern Alliance, representing the ethnic Tajik and Uzbek forces then occupying
Kabul and other northern cities; the Rome Process, representing largely Pashtun
exile followers of former King Zahir Shah; the Cyprus Group, representing largely
Shi’a Muslim groups supported by Iran; and the Peshwar Group, consisting largely
of Pashtun exile factions with headquarters in Peshawar, Pakistan. Of these, only the
Northern Alliance, which became closely allied with U.S. forces in the campaign
against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, commanded significant military power. The
composition of the Rome and Peshawar groups was heavily tilted towards Western-
educated professionals and other members of the former urbanized Pashtun elite.3
Pashtun commanders and local shura (governing councils) in Southern Afghanistan,
the home base of the Taliban, were not directly represented.
As agreed, the parties to the negotiations inaugurated a 28-member multi-ethnic
interim Afghan administration on December 22, 2001, headed by Hamid Karzai, a
prominent Pashtun tribal leader with a modern, democratic outlook, close ties to the
former royal family and the westernized, expatriate elite, and good relations with the
Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance. The Interim Administration also included two
women, both medical doctors, who head the ministries of women’s affairs and health,
respectively. Indicative of the fragile nature of the bargaining to date, an agreed-
upon roadmap for the achievement of a democratic political structure leaves most of
the details for the future. (See Appendix I for the terms of the agreement.)

2 By one account, 48 percent of the Afghan population was below 18 years of age as of

1998, indicating that well over a majority of the population was born after 1973.

3 Bonn Talks: Who is Being Heard? BBC News (online), Nov. 28, 2001, 18:33 GMT.

Figure 1. Afghanistan
Outcome of the June 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga
Another important milestone was achieved in June 2002 with the generally
successful conclusion of an Emergency Loya Jirga (“Grand Council”), which
confirmed Karzai as head of a Transitional Administration charged with organizing
an effective government, supervising the drafting of a constitution, and preparing the
country for national elections in December 2002. The delegates to the Loya Jirga
also informally approved Karzai’s choices for the most important cabinet posts, but
not without considerable complaint from groups which felt they had received
insufficient representation in the new administration. These include members of the
various Pashtun tribes, who together constitute a plurality of 35-40 percent of the
population, and other non-Tajik ethnic groups such as the Uzbeks and Hazaras. (For
a fuller analysis of the Loya Jirga outcome see below.)

Development of the Afghan State under the
Durrani Pashtun Monarchy
One way to envision the circumstances that might support the creation of a
stable and moderate Afghan state is to consider the country’s past political history
and the factors that in the past have enhanced or undermined stability and
modernization. The establishment of Afghanistan as a nation state dates essentially
from 1747, when Ahmad Shah Durrani, a tribal Pashtun4 chief of the Sadozai line of
the Abdali tribe, gained election by his tribe as the ruler (Amir) of territories
approximating the present boundaries of Afghanistan. Under the Durrani ascendancy,
Afghanistan experienced all the vicissitudes of dynastic chance and survived as a
political entity largely as a buffer state whose northern and southern boundaries
conformed to the high water line of the expanding British and Russian empires, and
the periodically resurgent Iranian empire.
In the 20th century Afghanistan teetered between bursts of Western and Soviet-
aided modernization and recurrent reaction spearheaded by the twin sources of rural
power in the Pashtun heartland: secular leaders, including tribal chieftains, local
notables, or commanders, and Muslim clerics of various kinds, including mullahs and
influential pirs (spiritual leaders) of the mystical Sufi Islamic sects, which
predominate in Afghanistan and Southern Asia. In many respects the traditional local
power structure, outside of Kabul and a few other population centers, approximated
that in the rural, pre-industrial West, with men of property or learning exercising
governmental power and clergy providing spiritual guidance, moral authority, and
often local political influence.
In general, modernization progressed faster among two sections of the
population: Tajiks and Uzbeks in the North, who practiced settled agriculture or
carried on commerce, and the more cosmopolitan, “Persianized,” residents of Kabul
of various ethnic origins, including “detribalized” Pashtuns. The traditional Pashtun
tribes of Southern Afghanistan, many of whom are or were nomadic, have been more
resistant to centralization and modernization, but nonetheless have long thought of
themselves as the “real” Afghans.
Pashtun dominance has long been a source of resentment among Afghanistan’s
minority groups: the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras. Both the Afghan Tajiks and those
in Tajikistan have linguistic and cultural connections with Iran, but usually not
religious. In matters of religion, the Tajiks, like the Pashtuns, follow the Sunni
school of Islam, the larger of the two main Islamic divisions. The Uzbeks have
ethnic and linguistic connections to Uzbekistan and Central Asia, and are also Sunni
Muslims. The Hazaras are a Shi’a Muslim minority with ethnic ties to Central Asia
and religious ties to Iran.

4 Both of the main Afghan languages, Dari and Pashto, are written in the Arabic script, and
in many cases the sounds can only be approximated in English spelling. This creates
considerable inconsistency. Pashto often is written Pushtu, and speakers of that language
are variously identified as Pashtuns, Pushtuns or even Paktuns (mainly in the dialect of the
border region with Pakistan.) This report uses Pashto and Pashtuns, the forms most
commonly used by the U.S. and British media, including the Voice of America and the BBC

The language issue also divides the tribal Pashtuns from other Afghans. Dari,
a form of classical Persian, has long been the language of the court and of commerce.
In fact, more Afghans speak Dari than Pashto. The former is the lingua franca of the
North and West, and is spoken by about 50% of the population, including most non-
Pashtun minorities, whereas Pashto speakers account for something over one-third
of the population. Some Afghan sources claim that the former King, Zahir Shah, and
most of his relatives, cannot even speak Pashto.5
Long-Standing Pattern of Violent Leadership Change
The still-incomplete conversion of Afghanistan from a largely tribal society to
a nation state has been a process of slow advance and frequent periods of violent
traditionalist reaction. Every Afghan king during the past century was either
assassinated or deposed (Table 1). The first modernizing King, Habibullah Khan
(1901-1919), was assassinated, probably for being viewed as a tool of Britain.6 The
most ambitious modernizer, Amanullah Khan (1919-1929), was deposed. His far-
reaching economic and social modernization policies–especially the emancipation
of women–engendered a violent reaction on the part of mullahs, tribal leaders, and
tribes opposed to the dominant Durrani confederation, especially those of the
numerically larger Gilzai confederation. Among other innovations inspired by his
travel to Europe, Turkey, and Iran, Aminullah created the Afghan Royal Air Force,
outlawed polygamy, instituted compulsory education for both sexes, separated
secular and religious authority, and created the first consultative national assembly.
Durrani rule was broken briefly by a bandit Tajik interloper, Bacha-i Saqqo
(“Son of the Water Carrier”), who took power initially with support from dissident
Gilzai tribes. His rule lasted only nine months, but Pashtuns still consider the brief
rule by a Tajik as a humiliation–sentiments that have been resurrected by the
dominance of the current Transitional Administration by Tajiks.7

5 Pashtuns Marginalised (sic) at Bonn Meeting, Megastories from Outthere News, Nov. 27,

2001( ga stor attack/aip/01nov27/thenews011127.shtml ).

6 Going against popular opinion, Habibullah declined to use Britain’s preoccupation with
fighting World War I to regain control of territories lost after the Second Afghan War (1878-

1880), which now form the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan.

7 Harvey H. Smith, et al., Area Handbook for Afghanistan. Fourth Edition. U.S.
Government Printing Office. Washington, 1973. p. 50-54.

Table 1. Afghan Kings and Rulers Since 1901:
A Record of Violent Regime Change
Royalist Period
P eriod Ci rcumstances
RulerinAchievementsof Loss of
Habibullah1901-Established a Council of State toAssassinated,
Khan (Durrani1919manage tribal affairs; founded firstperhaps for
Pashtun)college; founded first militarybeing seen as
academy; coopted mullahs withtoo much under
state support and constraints;British
promoted trade.influence.
Amanullah1919-Fought Third Anglo-Afghan WarDeposed and
Khan1929(1919) ending British control overexiled, due to
(Durrani Pashtun)foreign policy. Ambitiousrevolt by
modernizer: created first nationalGilzais and
parliament; outlawed polygamy,opposition to
instituted education for both sexes;modernization.
established secular civil law
separate from Islamic law.
Bacha-i Saqqo1929Tajik interloper, took power withOverthrown
(Tajik “Son of thesupport of Gilzai Tribes, rivals ofand killed.
Water Carrier”)Durranis.
Mohammad1929-Widely regarded as a tyrant, butAssassinated
Nadir Shah1933built transportation andby relatives of
(Durrani Pashtun)communications infrastructure,an executed
suppressed uprisings, andopposition
revitalized the national army.figure.
Mohammad1933-Promulgated 1964 Constitution,Deposed and
Zahir Shah1973including reduced privileges for theexiled by his
(Durrani Pashtun)royal family, an elected, but weakcousin and
and party-less national legislature,former Prime
partly freed the press, promotedMinister (1953-
education, including for females,1963),
released women from the veil, andMohammad
obtained large-scale foreign aidDaoud.

from the U.S. and U.S.S.R., but his
rule saw growing socioeconomic
fissures and left the merging middle
class unsatisfied.

Republican/Revolutionary/Taliban Period
P eriod Ci rcumstances
RulerinAchievementsof Loss of
Mohammad1973-Dictatorial first republican rulerOverthrown
Daoud1978who seized power with leftist Armyand killed in
(Durrani Pashtun) support, promulgated one-partycoup d’état led
Constitution of 1977, promotedby leftist Army
state-centered economicofficers.
development and social reforms,
repaired relations with Pakistan and
Iran, but created bitter enemies
among leftists, Islamists, and
advocates of Pashtun irredentism
(vis-à-vis Pakistan).
Nur Mohammad1978Part of triumvirate of factionalizedKilled in
Taraki (GilzaiPeople’s Democratic Party ofshootout with
Pashtun)Afghanistan (PDPA), issuedrival faction
decrees favoring women’s rightsleader, Foreign
and land reform that antagonizedMinister
Islamists and rural leadership,Hafizullah
generating revolt.Amin.
Hafizullah Amin1978-Repressed rival “Parchimite”Overthrown
(Gilzai Pashtun)1979(“banner”) faction of PDPA andand killed by
angered Soviets by policies seen asinvading Soviet
too radically Marxist-Leninist.military forces.
Babrak Karmal1980-Embattled, beset by KalqiReplaced by
(Dari-speaking1986opposition and rising mujahidinNajibullah and
Pashtun)movement.exiled to
U.S.S.R. Died
in Moscow in


Najibullah1986-Promoted National ReconciliationOverthrown by
(Gilzai Pashtun)1992program in 1986 and promulgatedmujahidin in
quasi-parliamentary constitution in1992 and
1987, strengthened army and tribalbrutally killed
militia forces. in 1996
Mujajidin1992-Severe fighting between largelyTajik leaders
Interregnum1996Tajik and Uzbek Northern AllianceRabbani and
(Mainly Tajik)and mainly non-Durrani PashtunsMasud evicted
ended by victory of Pashtunfrom Kabul,
Taliban.retreat to

P eriod Ci rcumstances
RulerinAchievementsof Loss of
Mullah Omar1996-Repressive regime based inFled in face of
(Gilzai Pashtun2002Kandahar, with a strong streak ofU.S. bombing
but close aidesPashtun ethnic nationalism.,and attacks by
mainly Durrani-enforced puritanical version ofanti-Taliban
Pashtuns)Islam and relied on assistance fromforces.
Al Qaeda and other foreign
Growth of National Institutions Under Zahir Shah
The modern Afghan state reached its apogee, in a manner of speaking, under
Zahir Shah, who ascended the throne in 1933 following the assassination of his
father, Mohammad Nadir Shah. Mindful of the fate of his predecessors who were
perceived as having sacrificed the country’s interests to obtain foreign support, or as
having too aggressively challenged the power of the tribal chiefs and mullahs, Zahir
Shah attempted a cautious modernization program while keeping a judicious distance
(or so it seemed at the time) from both the United States and the Soviet Union, while
accepting aid from both.
Political Tensions Arising Out of Modernization8
As in the case of the former Shah of Iran, Zahir Shah’s efforts to promote
modernization inadvertently fostered the creation of new social and political forces
which ultimately undermined his rule. Zahir Shah was and remains something of an
enigma. He ascended the throne at age 19, and for thirty years largely left the
government in the hands of relatives–first by uncles until about 1953, and later by his
cousin, Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud. Perhaps too late, Zahir Shah finally took
charge of the government in 1963, after Daoud’s policy of hostility towards Pakistan
(see below) led that country to close the common border, cutting of Afghanistan’s
southern trade links and devastating the economy. Despite his effort to reduce the
role of the royal family and his promulgation of a new constitution with some limited
democratic features, notably an elected, but party-less bicameral parliament, with
limited powers to check and balance the executive authority, Zahir Shah’s
liberalization program was still-born. This outcome generally has been attributed to
the King’s lack of assertiveness and the fear of the country’s social and economic
elite of being displaced by popularly elected leaders.

8 The following account of developments during Zahir Shah’s era are drawn largely from
the Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Area Handbook series. For the latest
online version, see []. This is an incomplete update
of the 1986 edition. Unlike previous editions, it gives little coverage of U.S.-Afghan
relations during the Zahir Shah era.

Among other accomplishments, Zahir Shah and his new advisors and officials
extended the reach of the central government by expanding the army and the national
police system, enlarging the functions of the civilian bureaucracy, expanding the
national educational system, and bringing a central government presence down to the
local level. Although these developments helped to strengthen the state and weaken
tribalism, their net effect was not wholly positive. The army and police were widely
regarded as repressive, and the bureaucracy and local governmental apparatus were
said to be corrupt, grasping, incompetent, and dominated, at the upper levels, by the
King’s relatives.
The latter years of Zahir Shah’s reign brought significant economic
modernization, but not enough to take Afghanistan out of the ranks of the least
developed countries. On the positive side, the middle class in Kabul and other cities
swelled from an estimate of fewer than a thousand at the end of World War II to
almost 100,000 by the early 1970s. But public frustration grew over the fact that the
government bureaucracy was not up to the task of managing and maintaining the
economic and physical infrastructure provided by aid donors.9
Rise of Marxist and Radical Islamist Conflict. The political opening
provided by the 1964 constitution boosted the aspirations of both a small leftist
intelligentsia and radical Islamic counterparts. The Marxist People’s Democratic
Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was founded on January 1, 1965, with the explicit goal
of contesting the elections held that year under the new constitution–elections that
were officially party-less. The radical leftists tended to dominate parliamentary
proceedings, while moderates, who had more to lose, remained cowed by political
repression. Most of the major figures who later served in the Soviet-backed Marxist
regime, notably Nur Mohamad Taraki, Hafizullah Amin, and Babrak Karmal, were
active in the first elected parliament.10
The emergence of the radical left was paralleled by the growth of a radical
Islamist movement, starting with the foundation of the Organization of Muslim
Youth at Kabul University in the mid-1960s. The Islamists reacted not only to the
rise of the left but also to the long tradition of co-option of Muslim clerics by the
Soon after emerging, both the Marxists and the Islamic right split along
primarily ethnic lines. The PDPA was divided between a largely Pashtun Kalq
(“masses”) movement under Taraki and Amin, and a more urban and moderate
Parcham (“flag”) wing under Karmal. The split in the Islamist ranks was both ethnic
and generational–between the followers of Professor Burnhanuddin Rabbani, a Tajik
religious scholar who founded the Jamiat-i-Islami (Islamic Society), and those
attracted to “Engineer” Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a Pashtun Kabul University

9 Politically, it has been said that new educated and professional classes had failed to see
that they had a stake in the reforms, having been “given too little responsibility to develop
self-discipline and too little power to be totally committed.” Nancy Peabody Newell and
Richard S. Newell, The Struggle for Afghanistan. Ithaca and London: Cornell University
Press, 1981. p. 44.
10 Ibid., p. 45.

engineering student. Hekmatyar became the leader in an even more radical
organization, the Hezb-i-Islami.(Islamic Party). Both the leftists and the Islamists
adopted similar authoritarian, Leninist-style, forms of party organization.11
Zahir Shah’s Counterproductive Foreign Policy
Afghan foreign policy under Zahir Shah was characterized by two mutually
reinforcing policy pillars that greatly influenced Afghanistan’s subsequent political
history. The first was the dogged pursuit of the cause of “Pashtunistan” (or
“Paktunistan” in the dialect of Southeast Afghanistan and among Pakistani Pashtuns),
a popular campaign for the return of ethnic Pashtun territories previously ceded to
British India. These territories became part of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier
Province after Pakistan and India gained independence in 1947, but remained loosely
tied to Afghanistan through trade, nomadic grazing, and family connections.12 The
second foreign policy pillar was the effort to reap maximum gains from the East-
West Cold War by playing one superpower off against the other.
Chronically Strained Relations with Pakistan. The Paktunistan
campaign was pursued with particular intensity during the period 1953 to 1963, when
the King’s cousin, Mohammad Daoud, served as prime minister. The diplomatic
agitation and frequent border incidents led to chronic strains in Pakistan-Afghan
relations, including periodic closures by Pakistan of the common border, driving
Afghanistan deeper into dependence on the Soviet Union for aid, trade, and military
support. Ultimately, Daoud’s policies so harmed the Afghan economy that the King
sought and received his cousin’s resignation. (A decade later Daoud would overthrow13
the monarchy and make himself President of the first Afghan republic.)
Rising Soviet and Declining U.S. Influence. The conjunction of Afghan
irredentism and the U.S. Cold War alliance with Pakistan caused friction in U.S.-
Afghan relations and led Kabul to drift into the Soviet orbit. U.S. arms assistance
to Pakistan under the Mutual Security Program of 1954, which was aimed at
checking Soviet expansion, had unintended consequences in the case of Afghanistan.
Partly to placate Islamabad, the Eisenhower Administration and its successors
rejected Kabul’s requests for military aid, causing the U.S.S.R. to become
Afghanistan’s main supplier of arms and military training. Soviet weapons and the
presence of Soviet advisors gave Moscow extensive influence within the Afghan
army and air force. The Soviets also constructed important military airfields at
Bagram, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Shindand, a gas pipeline to Soviet Central Asia, and a
network of surfaced roads linking Afghanistan to the U.S.S.R. The northern road

11 David B. Edwards, Before the Taliban: Geneologies of the Afghan Jihad (Berkeley: Univ.
of California Press, 2002), p. 177-209, 235-244.
12 Because Afghan Pashtuns regard their country as the Pustun homeland, there was no
counterpart Pashtun separatist movement within Afghanistan.
13 Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Afghanistan: A Country Study. Online
version, published in 1977 []. See Daoud as Prime
Minister, 1953-63.

network and Bagram air base played key roles in the 1979 Soviet invasion of
The United States actively contested for influence with the U.S.S.R., but was
handicapped by geography and geopolitics. Vice-President Richard M. Nixon visited
the country in 1953, at the outset of the Eisenhower Administration, and President
Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Kabul in 1959. King Zahir Shah, likewise, visited
Washington in 1963, about the time that he began taking a more active role in
governing the country. The United States continued to provide economic assistance
for projects such as the Helmand River irrigation project in southern Afghanistan,
and the construction of an international airport at Kandahar that became a classic
foreign aid “white elephant” project, but Moscow’s influence became dominant.15
Mohammad Daoud and the Afghan Republic, 1973-1979
In 1973 Daoud emerged from the political wilderness to overthrow the
monarchy and establish the Republic of Afghanistan, using younger, Soviet-trained
army officers who were members of the Parcham (“Banner”) wing of the Marxist
PDPA to carry out a relatively bloodless coup. The King, who was in Rome for
medical treatment, remained there permanently. Daoud became president of a new
Afghan Republic, with a president and a single-party legislature. The new
constitution was approved by a Loya Jirga (“Grand Council”), the traditional
mechanism for giving assent to the ruler by representatives of tribes, ethnic groups,
and other interests, in January 1977.
To the consternation of his supporters, Daoud as president reversed a number
of policies from his days as prime minister. After using leftist allies to repress
Islamic militants during the first two years of his rule, Daoud turned on them in the
mid-1970s, purging leftists from the army and cracking down on the PDPA. He also
began slowly to distance himself from the Soviet Union and cultivate relations with
the Shah of Iran and the Saudi monarchy, and improve ties with Pakistan.
On the domestic front, Daoud did little to move Afghanistan towards modernity
or democracy. Afghanistan remained one of the poorest countries in the world, with
little in the way of industry or economic infrastructure. At the same time, his
repression of both the Islamists and the leftists, his tactical withdrawal of support for

14 Nancy Peabody Newell and Richard S. Newell, The Struggle for Afghanistan. Ithaca and
London: Cornell University Press, 1981. p. 40-43.
15 Beginning in 1956,U.S. AID began construction of an “international” airport at Kandahar
for use by piston-engine planes transiting from the Indian Subcontinent to the Middle East.
The airport was completed in 1963, just in time for the introduction of long-distance jets,
causing the intended role of the Kandahar airport to fall to the international airport in
Karachi, Pakistan. During the 1960s U.S. AID also constructed regional airports in Kunduz,
Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, and Jalalabad. In addition, the U.S. Government encouraged the
former U.S. flag carrier Pan American World Airways to take a 49% share in the Afghan
government-owned Airiana Airlines, in support of which, the U.S. Export-Import Bank
financed the purchase of two Boeing 727 passenger aircraft.

Paktunistan, and disregard for parliament, created a host of enemies. The murder of
a prominent Afghan communist in early 1978, allegedly by government agents, set
in motion the April 27, 1978, coup against Daoud led by leftist army officers and the
PDPA. Daoud and his family were murdered after rebellious troops stormed the
Presidential palace, bringing to an end more than 230 years of Durrani Pashtun rule.
Destruction of the Traditional Social Fabric:
PDPA Rule and Soviet Occupation, 1978-89
Daoud’s overthrow and the Soviet invasion caused a diaspora of Afghanistan’s
small educated and professional elite and the families associated with the rule of
Zahir Shah, leading to the collapse of most vestiges of the old order. The Afghan
communists attempted a number of social changes that under other circumstances
would have been viewed as progressive, including measures to promote secular
education and liberate women, but the PDPA leaders, who came mainly from urban
areas, had little understanding of the countryside or respect for rural traditions. Their
clumsy efforts to overturn the social and political order in the tribal areas provoked
widespread rebellion. Equally important, a long-standing, bitter, and unresolvable
split between the Kalq faction of the PDPA, led by President Nur Mohammad Taraki
and Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin, and Parcham faction, led by Babrak Karmal,
a Soviet protégé, brought the government to the point of collapse.
In addition to the basic Parcham-Khalq conflict, the Afghan revolution spawned
a number of violent radical groups, both leftist and Islamist. In early 1979, under
circumstances still described as “murky” by the State Department, U.S. Ambassador
Adolph “Spike” Dubs was kidnaped by a group of men whose identities remain a
matter of speculation and dispute, but who were alleged to be Maoist opponents of
the regime. Dubs was killed in a fusillade of fire when Afghan interior ministry
forces, reportedly at the urging of Soviet advisors, stormed the building in which he
was being held.16
The more nationalistic Khalqis gained the upper hand in the summer of 1978
and sent Babrak Karmal and a number of other prominent Parchamites, who tended
to have pro-Soviet leanings, into exile as ambassadors to Soviet Bloc countries. By
early 1979 the renewed split in the PDPA and the reckless policies of Prime Minister
Amin, the most energetic of the governing duo, had sparked widespread rebellions.
Taraki visited Moscow in September 1979, where he was elaborately feted, and
returned probably with orders to get rid of Amin. In October 1979, however, Amin
moved first, organizing the murder of Taraki and seizing power.
Amin’s ruthless power grab and the emergence of an anti-Marxist tribal revolt
alarmed the Soviet Union, which feared that Amin was single-handedly destroying
the revolution. In December 1979, Leonid Brezhnev gave the fateful order for the
invasion and occupation of Afghanistan to keep PDPA government from collapsing.

16 Thomas T. Hammond, Red Flag Over Afghanistan: The Communist Coup, the Soviet
Invasion, and the Consequences. Boulder: Westview Press, 1984: 64-65.

The spearhead forces of the Soviet invasion stormed the presidential palace and
killed Amin, replacing him with Babrak Karmal, the Parcham leader who had been
in exile in Moscow.17
Anti-Soviet War and the Rise of Islamic Extremism
U.S. policymakers and supporters of the Afghan resistance movement expected
that the anti-Soviet campaign by the Afghan mujahidin would contribute to the
forging of a new sense of Afghan nationhood, but the war actually had the opposite
effect. Instead of coalescing around a common cause, the particular circumstances
of the conflict intensified the existing ethnic, tribal, religious, and ideological
divisions of the society, and intensified power rivalries among individual leaders.
Several aspects of the anti-Soviet war period were particularly divisive, and
continue to impede national reconciliation today. One was the boost given to
Islamic extremism, which developed in a context of ideological conflict with
Western-educated secularists and personal power rivalries. At bottom, the rise of
radical versions of Islam had roots in a reaction against modernization and rising
Western influences associated with what some Islamists viewed as a corrupt and
decadent monarchy, and against the Marxists.
Although the anti-Soviet mujahidin often were perceived as backward, albeit
admirably dedicated tribesmen, most of the principal Islamist political leaders in the
anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan were men of education and social position. More than
half of the seven leaders of the so-called Peshawar Alliance that was headquartered
in Peshawar, Pakistan, during the anti-Soviet conflict, were university educated.18
By and large, however, real power in the anti-Soviet resistance tended to flow to
younger leaders with an Islamist orientation but a secular background, such as
Gulbuddin Hekyatyar and Ahmad Shah Masud, who had organizational and military
skills, and who could command, or at least support, mujahidin in the field.
Last, but not least among the sources of division, and increasingly important
after the PDPA coup in 1978, was the role of a number of foreign powers, most
notably Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, each of which backed ethnic and
ideological favorites, and private promoters of radical ideologies. Pakistan favored
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Saudi Arabia backed Professor Rasul Sayyaf, and Iran
supported several small Shi’a Hazara groups. Osama bin Laden’s role dates from

17 By this point in time the Soviets already had 4,500 troops in country and controlled
Bagram Airport. Ibid., 80-101.
18 Burnhanuddin Rabbani, leader of the Jamiat-i-Islami, the political organization of the
largely Tajik Northen Alliance, earned a degree in Islamic theology at Cairo’s prestigious
Al Azhar University. Saudi Arabia’s favorite, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, with close ties to the
radical international Muslim Brotherhood, earned a Master’s Degree from Al Ahzar.
Sebghatullah Mojaddidi, head of the traditionalist Jabba-e-Nejat-e-Milli Afghanistan
(Afghan National Liberation Front), was a professor of theology and a Pir (sufi religious
leader.) Summarized from a variety of sources.

late 1980s, when he and a number of other private Saudis attempted to promote their
radical version of Sunni Islam among the Afghan mujahidin.
Collapse of the Afghan State, 1989-1996
A power struggle following the Soviet withdrawal set the stage for the rise of
the Taliban. The initial round involved rival mujahidin groups headquartered in
Peshawar, who were members of the so-called Alliance and the remaining supporters
of the communist government headed by Najibullah, including a reduced but still
intact Afghan army. Despite several promising negotiations, neither the seven
Alliance parties headquartered in Peshawar, nor the commanders in the countryside,
who met separately in a meeting organized by the late Abdul Haq, one of the most
prominent field commanders, were able to agree on a division of power.
Failure of a U.N. Brokered Power Transfer In 1992
The regional power rivalries and unbridled ambitions of the principal political
leaders and field commanders did much to turn victory over the Soviets into a new
period of misery for the country. The chain of events following the Soviet
withdrawal may provide some lessons for the present, especially the effort during
1991 and 1992 of Benon Sevan, the representative of the U.N. Secretary General, to
broker a peace settlement between the Najibullah regime in Kabul and the mujahidin.
The final version of the plan, which had been accepted by most of the parties and
commanders and their foreign backers, especially Pakistan and Iran, provided for a
peace settlement on lines very similar to the Bonn Accord of December 2001:
!the early (within weeks) formation of “pre-transition council”
!a transitional authority to govern the country, leading to
!“free and fair elections” within about two years
Sevan reportedly came close to gaining full agreement among the Afghan parties
and their international supporters on the outlines of a proposed settlement, only to
have the effort effectively torpedoed by dissension among the mujahidin parties and
the decision of Najibullah, on March 18, 1992, to retract his prior commitment to
resign the presidency as part of a settlement.
The negotiating deadlock was broken militarily by the General Dostum, an
Uzbek and former “Hero” of the Marxist government, who abandoned the Kabul
regime and joined forces with Ahmed Shah Masud, the much celebrated Tajik
commander. Militarily, Dostum’s move resolved a three-cornered power struggle
between the Tajiks under Rabbani and Masud, the Uzbeks under Dostum, and non-
mainstream Pashtuns, under Pakistan’s favorite, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, in favor of
the Tajiks. Dostum also blocked Najibullah’s attempted flight to the Soviet Union.
Instead, Najibullah fled to the United Nations compound, where he received political
asylum. (One of the first acts of the Taliban after taking Kabul in September 1996,
was to drag Najibullah from the U.N. compound and brutally execute him.)

Three-Cornered Ethnic Power Conflict in the 1992-1996
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
With Hekmatyar on the outside – literally and figuratively – the new Islamic
Republic of Afghanistan, like the current Transitional Administration, was largely
a non-Pashtun affair. The original plan was that the presidency would rotate among
the mujahidin leadership, but after the first president, Sibghatullah Mojadedi, a
moderate Islamist with no significant military forces, gave way to Rabbani, the latter
refused to give it up. The right to control Kabul became the object of a new free-for-
all among the well-armed, ethnically-aligned factions. The Uzbek Dostum switched
sides once more, aligning with the Pashtun Hekmatyar against the Tajiks led by
Rabbani and Masud. During 1993 and 1994 Hekmatyar’s forces pounded much of
Kabul to rubble with rockets, reducing the population from about 2 million at the end
of the Soviet occupation period to less than 500,000. In May 1996 Rabbani and
Masud made a deal with Hekmatyar, giving him the presidency, but all of them were
routed by the Taliban in September 1996. Hekmatyar fled ultimately to Iran, and
Rabbani and Masud to their redoubt in the Panjsher Valley, where they were
sustained by limited assistance from their old enemy, Russia. Rabbani, who in the
interim had reclaimed the presidency, took the credentials of the internationally19
recognized Afghan Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with him.
Rise and Fall of the Taliban
The story of the rise of the Taliban (plural of Talib, an Islamic student) has been
well covered in the press and other media since the terrorist attacks of September 11
and the onset of the anti-terrorist war in Afghanistan. Several aspects of the
Taliban’s rise to power have continuing relevance as cautionaries to the United States
and other international supporters of the Interim Administration under Mohammad
!First, the Taliban were widely welcomed, especially in the Pashtun
areas, for putting an end to endemic petty warfare and disorder,
including especially the disruption of trade and commerce. This is
still a goal of great importance to commercial interests as well as
ordinary Afghans.
!Second, the Taliban recruited and coopted numerous tribal leaders
who were motivated mainly by self-interest–the maintenance of their
personal power–rather than ideology. Many of these same leaders
and their followers continue to be a major factor in the Pashtun
!Third, the Taliban represented a Pashtun resurgence in the reaction
to the rising power of the non-Pashtun minorities, and completed the

19 Afghanistan: Events of 1994. Book of the Year, 1994. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1994.
[ h t t p : / / www.j a a f ml ]

near total polarization of the country on Pashtun/non-Pashtun lines.
This conflict is by no means resolved, as evident by the bad feeling
expressed by many Pashtuns at the June 2002 Emergency Loya
!Finally, the preference of the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad
Omar, to rule from his southern home base of Kandahar, symbolized
starkly the cultural alienation of Pashtun conservatives from the
Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance, which had controlled Kabul,
Bagram, and adjacent areas during the period 1992-1996, and had
earned a reputation, especially among Pashtuns, for oppression and
Prospects for Recreating a Stable and
Moderate Afghan State
Achieving the goal of the United States, its allies, and the international
community of a stable and moderate Afghan state will depend on many factors, both
internal and external. Most of these factors cannot now be predicted with any
certainty, but if past is prologue, it may be possible to achieve a rough understanding
of the requirements for ending Afghanistan’s steady disintegration and reconstructing
a stable and moderate state. The following section evaluates the prospects of
achieving this goal by considering the main contributing factors in past periods of
comparative stability, the status of these factors at present, the comparative strength
of various claimants to power, and four possible scenarios that might result from the
actions of internal forces and external actors.
Past Elements of Stability and Current Status
Although many Afghans now tend to look back to the rein of Zahir Shah with
somewhat rose colored lenses, Afghanistan did in fact enjoy a kind of stability during
most of the reign of Zahir Shah (1933-1973). Even if the conditions that facilitated
past stability cannot be recreated, it is useful to understand what they were, if only
as an indicator of their presence or absence in the current situation. Also, the factors
that allowed stability under Zahir Shah proved temporary, and ultimately led to
political instability and the overthrow of the monarchy. After three decades of brutal
civil war, Afghanistan today retains few of its characteristics under the Afghan
monarchy or even under Daoud’s Republic.
Sources of Legitimacy. In modern times the king and most senior officials
have been members of the Durani Pashtun tribe. The 1964 constitution, which
imposed some formal limits on royal authority, nonetheless provided that the
succession “shall continue in the House of His Majesty Mohammad Nadir Shah.”20
For most of his reign, Zahir Shah’s legitimacy was perhaps accepted by most of the

20 The “House” refers to the Mohammadzai line within the Barakzai branch of the Durani
confederation. Smith, et al., Area Handbook for Afghanistan, op. cit., p. 66-67, 194.

Pashtuns and others who counted politically, both in Kabul and in the countryside.
By the end of his reign, however, the legitimacy of the King and his officials was
increasingly contested by university students both on the left and the Islamic right,
and by members of the growing middle and professional classes, who were frustrated
at being denied a meaningful role in national affairs. Since the overthrow of Zahir
Shah, each turn of the political wheel has reduced the legitimacy of the state.
Currently, the main sources of legitimacy of the Transitional Administration
with ordinary Afghans are Karzai’s personal acceptability to disparate elements, his
ability to attract international support, and the promise of a future democratic
political order. Opponents of the current government, especially current or former
Taliban, radical Islamists, and warlords, do not accept its legitimacy, though they
may cooperate or avoid openly challenging it out of self-interest. Karzai’s
connection to the former royal family does not by itself convey legitimacy, but may
appeal to some Afghans, especially Kabul residents and Pashtuns in southern
Afghanistan, who remember better times past. Among many Pashtun royalists, he
is regarded as a turncoat.
Acceptable Ethnic Balance. Ethnic and tribal conflict has long been the
bane of Afghanistan. The main fault line has been between the Pashtuns, who form
a plurality of something less than 40 percent of the population, and the minority
Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, and others. In the best of times the ethnic balance was
preserved through a kind of informal social compact that provided for Pashtun
control over the main levers of power but left considerable space for the Tajiks, and
to a lesser extent the Uzbeks, to participate in the middle levels of the administration
and the army, and to dominate the commercial life of Kabul and other cities.

Figure 2. Ethnic Groups in Afghanistan
The benefits of the arrangement generally did not extend to the Hazaras, who
generally faced considerable discrimination and geographical isolation in their
mountainous homeland around Bamiyan and elsewhere in the Central Hazarajat, or
other minorities. During the past two decades the Hazaras have become armed and
mobilized, but still lack power to decide their own future. The Uzbeks, who occupy
relatively prosperous lands around Mazar-i-Sharif, recently have gained in economic
and military strength vis-a-vis the Tajiks in the North, but dominance of the area
remains contested.
Positive Center-Provincial Relations. The third element in past periods
of stability has been comparative harmony between the state, whose officials staffed
the central government ministries and the provincial administrations, and the tribal
leaders, Muslim clerics, and other notables who constituted the local power centers
outside the capital. This relationship was aided by the fact that relatively few
demands were imposed by the central government, which carried out limited
functions. Relations between the state and local forces had become progressively
more difficult with the increase of modernization and economic development. The
complete breakdown of any semblance of a functioning administration, starting with
the Marxist coup in 1978, including the destruction of the central bureaucracy and
the complete disappearance of the Kabul’s involvement in provincial affairs, will
make it very difficult to reestablish the structure of a functioning nation state.

Harmony Between the State and Islam. Last, but not least, past stability
depended heavily on the maintenance of a balance between the spheres of the state
and Islam. For much of the country’s history, the state managed provincial and tribal
affairs through the agency of the mullahs and other clerics, who also enjoyed state
patronage. By the 1970s, these relations had become strained owing to the rise of
various ideologically Islamist movements and parties. The Taliban successfully
avoided this conundrum by creating a theocratic system that largely eliminated the
apparatus of the state. Resistance from the Islamists and traditionalists could create
a serious challenge to the objectives of the United States, the United Nations, and the
international community, all of which support in one way or another a modernist
development agenda, including emphasis on matters such as women’s rights and
universal secular education.
Critical Role of Foreign Powers. Interaction with foreign powers has been
a critical dimension of Afghan history. In the distant past, Afghanistan was both a
well-spring of empires and a corridor through which conquerors passed to the richer
lands of what are now India and Pakistan. The Afghan Lodhi Dynasty ruled parts of
what is now Pakistan and northern India from the mid-tenth century until being
displaced by the Moghul Empire in the mid-16th century–a muticultural construction
which included a large admixture of Afghans in the military ranks. In modern times
Afghanistan has generally been the object of foreign conquest–especially by Persia,
British India, and Russia. The Durrani Dynasty established and maintained its
dominance by fighting off British and Russian incursions. The collapse of Durrani
rule led to extreme foreign intervention in the form of invasion and occupation by the
Soviet Union and support to the anti-Soviet resistance by a host of powers, including
especially the United States, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The Taliban came to
power with critical Pakistani and Saudi Arabian support, while Russia and Iran
sought to bolster the Alliance forces of Rabbani and Masud.
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the effort to get rid of the
Taliban brought the United States, Russia, Uzbekistan and other former Soviet
Central Asian republics into an uneasy common cause. The anti-Taliban campaign
appeared initially to draw Iran into a more cooperative relationship with the United
States, albeit only tacitly, but Tehran’s objectives became less clear with the defeat
of the Taliban and the growing presence of U.S. and other Western military forces
in the country. Iran’s reported reinvolvement in Afghan affairs, including alleged
support to both Ismail Khan in Herat and the Uzbek leader, General Dostum, in
Mazar-i-Sharif, have troubled U.S. and allied officials.21 Since the collapse of the
Taliban, Pakistan appears, at least for the time being, largely to have lost its former
ability to influence Afghanistan by manipulating the Pashtuns and supporting Islamic

21 John F. Burns, Moscow Stakes Claim to Afghan Role with High-Level Visit. New York
Times, Feb. 5, 2002: A13; Peter Baker, Warlord Gets Money, Arms from Iran, Afghan Aides
Say. Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2002: A9.

Negotiating the Multi-Layered Afghan Power Matrix
Resolving the ethnic problems and constructing a government with recognized
legitimacy will be a daunting task that requires reconciling a wide array of competing
interests and personalities. Rather than a two-dimensional schematic the Afghan
political matrix has the appearance of a Rubik’s Cube, with numerous layers of
independent actors, many of whom have the potential to interact with each other in
various combinations.
Ethnicity. The country’s ethnic divisions lie at heart of the problem of
achieving national unity, and constitute the first layer. Even personal ambition, the
most overt driving force of disunity, operates within an ethnic context. Since the
Soviet withdrawal in 1989 ethnicity has been the main common denominator of civil
strife. At present, Tajik-Pashtun rivalry is the core issue affecting Afghan politics,
with the Pashtuns viewing the Interim Administration as Tajik-dominated.
Regionally-Based Warlords and Commanders. The second layer
consists of warlords and commanders, whose ranks include the Panjsheri Tajik
commanders of the of the Northern Alliance, such as General Mohammad Fahim;
the Uzbek strongman General Rashid Dostum, who holds the nominal post of
Deputy Defense Minister in the Interim Administration; Ismail Khan, a Tajik leader
who controls four provinces in the area around Herat who often acts independently
from the Northern Alliance, with whom he is affiliated; and numerous rival tribal
leaders and warlords of the Pashtun belt, such as Kandahar Governor Gul Agha
Shirzai, a Durrani Pashtun, and various commanders among the Eastern Shura
(“governing council”), an influential body centered around Nangahar Province, which
includes Jalalabad. Until recently Nangahar Province had been under the control of
an ethnic Pashtun ally of the Northern Alliance, Haji Abdul Qadir, elder brother of
Abdul Haq, who was killed by the Taliban last October in a vain attempt to generate
a uprising by local Pashtun tribes. Haji Qadir was murdered by unknown assassins
outside his office in Kabul in early July 2002, a few days after accepting the post of
vice-president (one of three so-designated). Last but not least are remnants of the
Taliban who are more known for their role as tribal leaders and commanders, rather
than Islamic zealots, who appear to retain local support, if not strength, in many parts
of the Pashtun South.
Ideologically-Oriented Political Party Leaders. These leaders constitute
a third layer. They range from a few modernist politicians affiliated with ex-King
Zahir Shah, such as Sayyid Ahmad Gailani, an urbane hereditary leader (pir) of the
moderate sufi Islamic sect, through “moderate Islamists” like Cairo-educated
Sabghatullah Mojadiddi, and a range of Islamic radicals.
The more intensely anti-Western political aspirants include, most notably,
Burnhanuddin Rabbani and his predominantly Tajik Jamiat-i-Islami (“Islamic
Society”), and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hezb-i-Islami), once the favorite of
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and reportedly the largest recipient of CIA
arms and assistance during the anti-Soviet war. The New York Times reported on
May 9, 2002, that the CIA targeted Hekmatyar in an attack on a convoy near Kabul
in order to preempt anticipated attacks on U.S., coalition, and Afghan government

forces and figures, including interim leader Karzai. Hekmatyar is said to have
survived a strike on his convoy by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone
reconnaissance aircraft.
Rabbani, a native of Badakhshan Province in the extreme Northeast, is more of
a traditionalist than a radical, but has shown strong hostility to Western influence and
secularization. Ideologically, the closest Pashtun counterpart to Rabbani may be
Yunis Khalis, who heads a different faction of the Hezb-i-Islami than the one headed
by Hekmatyar, and was one of the few mujahidin political leaders to lead men in
combat. A remarkably vigorous 87 year old who reportedly once exercised influence
over Mullah Omar before breaking with the Taliban, Khalis still enjoys support
among the Eastern Pashtun tribes in the region around Jalalabad.
Rabbani, still viewed as the political “Godfather” of the Northern Alliance, now
finds his authority challenged by younger leaders of his party, General Mohammad
Fahim and Younis Qanooni (who are also military commanders, as noted above)
and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who is of mixed Tajik-Pashtun ancestry. This
“Panjsheri Tajik triumvirate” overrode his objections and assumed the key ministries
of defense, interior, and foreign affairs. Rabbani may still may wield considerable
influence with the rank and file of the party.
The most pan-Islamic members of the ideological layer (and hence most
inclined towards cooperation with Islamic terrorists) include Saudi-backed Abdul
Rasoon Sayyaf and his Ittehad-e-Islami, and the aforementioned Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar Both have been mentioned in an alleged plot against the Interim
Administration that resulted in hundreds of arrests in Kabul early April 2002.22
Hekmatyar, a consummate power-seeker who reportedly enjoys qualified support
from Iran, recently has sought to make common cause with former Taliban
Rural-Based Leadership. The patchwork of local tribal headers, mullahs,
educated notables, and large landowners constitutes a fourth layer. This group has
multiple sources of connection to higher layers. After almost three decades of
conflict which has steadily destroyed the basic social, political, and economic
structure of the country, many analysts question whether traditional leaders are
capable of regaining influence via the respect customarily given to age, lineage, and
education. In the absence of a firm Afghan government or international peacekeeper
presence, the new forces of local power–the commanders and militia leaders–are
likely to engage in endless maneuvering for local dominance and control sources of
revenue, such as “tax” collections on roads and the opium trade.
Economic Interests. Layer Five is composed of a variety of economic
interests with countrywide influence, most notably the “transport mafia”, drug

22 Pamela Constable, Afghans Arrest Hundreds, Citing Threat of Plots. Washington Post,
Feb. 25, 2002: A9.
23 Reportedly, Hekmatyar is the force behind an alleged plot to carry out a dramatic series
of bombings in Kabul in early April 2002. Dexter Filkins, Afghan Officials Arrest
Hundreds in Bombing Plot. New York Times, April 4, 2002 (internet edition).

kingpins, and smugglers, many of whom appear to play all three roles. A more
positive component of this economic interest layer would include exiles, ranging
from businessmen, technocrats, and former civil servants, most of whose ties are to
Kabul and a few other cities.
Dynamic Interaction of Individual Actors and Forces
These individual actors and forces are capable of considerable flexibility of
alignment; the strongest operate across multiple layers. The Tajik component of the
Northern Alliance is the strongest, but the organization also enjoys opportunistic
support from the Uzbeks and Hazaras, and even some Pashtuns. The Northern
Alliance has the most effective military forces and a political-ideological party
structure in the form of Rabbani’s Jamiat-i-Islami. Finally, the Northern Alliance
benefits from having powerful foreign patrons–Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan, and, more
recently, the United States. The Uzbek warlord, General Dostum, controls a vital
road connection with Central Asia and has made and broken several different
governments and alliances, and has no apparent Uzbek rivals. The Pashtuns, on the
contrary, are divided by tribal and personal loyalties, and weakened by the historical
divisions among the Durrani Confederation and Gilzais, in the west, and between the
Western Pashtuns as a group and the more independent and unaffiliated Eastern
Pashtun tribal groupings. The Hazaras, a long repressed Shi’a minority of mongol
stock, have gained in assertiveness as a consequence of their role in the anti-Soviet
campaign and their struggle against ethnic cleansing by the Taliban. Organized under
the banner of the Hizb-e-Wahadat, and led by Karim Khalili, the Hazaras are not
strong enough to bid for power in their own right, but they will fight for their
autonomy if they feel threatened.24 During the June 2002 Loya Jirga President Karzai
named Khalili as one of three vice-presidents, with unspecified powers.
Potential Swing Groups. The muddled matrix is complicated further by the
unpredictable behavior of “swing” groups who historically have played the spoiler’s
role. In addition to Dostum, noted above, these include particularly independent-
minded tribes in southeastern Afghanistan, especially the Shinwaris who inhabit
Nangahar Province and other areas around Jalalabad and the Kyber Pass.
Traditionally the Shinwaris and other eastern Pashtun tribes have engaged in drug
production and smuggling, and preyed on Khyber Pass goods traffic. Valuing their
independence, they rejected the Durrani supremacy. The Eastern Pashtun tribes
often have allied with Tajik and dissident Pashtun challengers to Durrani rule.
During the anti-Soviet war, the Shinwaris and other eastern Pashtuns provided the
main base of support for competing radical mujahidin groups led by Yunis Khalis
and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, both of whom belong to non-mainstream Pashtun tribes.
These are the tribes who assisted U.S. forces in the assault on the Tora Bora, some25
of whom also may have facilitated the escape of Al Qaeda forces. Because

24 The plight of the Hazaras at the hands of the Taliban is best illustrated by massacres and
the deliberate destruction of the giant statues of the Buddha in Bamiyan. Pamela Constable,
Return to a Battered Homeland. Washington Post, April 10, 2002: A14, A19.
25 Barton Gellman and Thomas E. Ricks, U.S. Concludes Bin Laden Escaped at Tora Bora
Fight. The Washington Post, April 17, 2002: Al, A10; Philip Smucker, After Tora Bora, US
Hunts Alone. Christian Science Monitor (internet edition), January 28, 2002

Nangarhar Province is one of the most productive opium growing regions and
commands one of the main land routes to Pakistan and the West, internecine conflict
among a handful of powerful commanders and tribal leaders has greatly intensified
in the post-Taliban era.26
It was largely because of the potential swing value of the Shinwaris and other
Eastern Pashtun tribes that Karzai and senior Tajik leaders in the Northern Alliance-
dominated Interim Administration had appointed the late Haji Abdul Qadir as
governor of Nangahar Province, and also why he was made a vice-president after the
June 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga. Qadir, who was head of one of the wealthiest
families in the region, was a former mujahidin commander who held the same
governorship during 1992-1995.
Stakes for the Participants. The participants in the current power struggle
are driven by a variety of largely negative motives–especially ethnic nationalism,
personal power aspirations, vanity, and greed. Principal among the more concrete
stakes is control and taxation of transportation routes and nodal points, and control
of the drug trade.
Several contenting impulses and aspirations currently dominate the struggle to
define the future of Afghanistan. Most of these tendencies have both positive and
negative aspects:
!despite the depth of ethnic and tribal divisions, all of the contenders
for power continue to regard themselves as Afghans, but Pashtun-
Tajik antipathy remains high, and Pashtuns are especially angry that
Tajiks hold most of the power in Kabul;
!as it did with the Taliban, the powerful transportation mafia will
strongly support the establishment of a government that can secure
the highways and confine the collection of taxes and customs duties
to the border crossings; but the government currently has no power
to provide security, and cannot do so until basic power issues are
!the prospect of $10-15 billion in international aid provides
substantial incentives for Afghans to cooperate, at least minimally,
with the Interim Administration, but concrete aid has been very slow
in arriving and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
international donor organizations are unable to deliver assistance to
much of the countryside due to ongoing power struggles;
!finally, awareness among the current contenders for power,
especially within the ranks of the Tajiks of the Northern Alliance, of
the costs of the internecine conflict that followed the Soviet
withdrawal is evident, and most of the main figures in the
Transitional Administration appear to be eager not to repeat the

[ h t t p : / / www.csmoni t o r . com/ 2002/ 0128/ ml ] .
26 Paul Harris, Victorious Warlords Set to Open the Opium Floodgates. The Observer, Nov.

25, 2001, and Luftullah Mashal and Philip Smucker, Afghan Puzzle: Who Shot Qadir?

Christian Science Monitor, July 8, 2002.

mistakes of the past. However, as suggested by the conflict between
Uzbek and Tajik forces for the control of Mazar-i-Sharif and the
assassination of Haji Qadir, what some call the 23-year-old civil war
has not ended, and many Afghans are not ready to put aside past
quarrels or give up their personal power aspirations.
Four Scenarios for the Future Afghan State
Because more than two decades of conflict have largely destroyed the old
Afghan polity and economy, the past offers no reliable “roadmap” to constructing a
politically stable and economically viable Afghan state. This conclusion is strongly
suggested by two particular developments of the past two decades–the collapse of the
Durrani ascendancy, which started with Daoud’s coup in 1973, and the rise of Tajik
power and, to a lesser extent, that of other ethnic minorities. Durrani political
dominance is not likely to be reestablished because of the scattering of the Afghan
elite numbering perhaps 100,000, largely to North America and Europe, and the
polarization of Pashtun society by internal conflict and the rise of the predominantly
Pashtun Taliban. The return of King Zahir Shah to his country after more than 30
years of exile, may lend some support to the political process but cannot restore the
previous status quo–nor is it intended to under the Bonn Accord. A bid by relatives
of the king and their supporters to give the king–and, hence, themselves–a direct role
in the governance of the country was checked by the exercise of forceful influence
by Karzai, the Panjsheri Tajik leaders of the Northern Alliance, and, reportedly, the
United States.
For better or worse, the Tajiks, who are less divided than the Pashtuns, now
appear firmly established in Kabul and the Northeast, and Ismail Khan, another Tajik,
who styles himself “Emir” (an Arabic word equivalent to prince or ruler) and acts
independently of the his former Northern Alliance colleagues, has largely
uncontested control of Herat. General Dostum’s control of Mazar-i-Sharif is being
contested, but seems insured for the time being. On the other hand, Kandahar,
Jalalabad, and other important population centers in the Pashtun South and Southeast
show no similar coalescence under one leader or group of leaders.
Democratic Pluralism – A Necessity, Not a Luxury
The breakdown of the royalist governing structure and the subsequent inability
of either the mujahidin or the Taliban to establish a stable government suggests
strongly that both at the provincial and central levels, stability, if it is possible, seems
most likely to come from some form of democratic process. After decades of civil
war with a high level of involvement by nearly the entire society, many more
Afghans have been politically mobilized than ever in the past. The idea of returning
to a traditional autocratic system, even a benign one, seems likely to be rejected by
most Afghans. As discussed below, a situation involving a largely powerless
government in Kabul, coupled with control of the rest of the country by self-
appointed regional warlords, might provide some temporary stability but would
involve the de facto dissolution of the Afghan state–not a prescription for stability
and moderation. These goals are far more likely to be achieved if the various

competing groups can agree on a workable constitutional model that provides all of
the main ethnic and other interests with fair representation and at least the
opportunity to cooperate across ethnic, tribal, and ideological lines to seek to
participate in a governing majority.
The future of the Afghan state, whether pluralistic or not, depends on a number
of factors, especially the actions of the main Afghan contenders for power, the
policies of neighboring countries with the capacity to intervene in Afghan affairs, and
those of the United States and the international community. At present, several
different outcomes can be envisioned. Four of the more plausible ones are described
below, in descending order of desirability for the Afghans and for U.S. interests.
1. Transitional Regime Leading to Pluralistic Democracy
Under present circumstances the most desirable outcome would be the
successful formation of a broadly representative transitional authority leading
ultimately to the establishment of a pluralistic democracy, as envisioned by the
agreement reached at Bonn in early December 2001. Although the June 2002
Emergency Loya Jirga appeared to move the political process in the direction
outlined by the Bonn agreement, a number of basic question marks remain about the
nature and effectiveness of the Transitional Administration and the outlines of the
future constitution and political system.
Both the negative lessons of recent history and the attraction of major
international aid may constitute sufficient incentives for cooperation among the
current members of the Transitional Administration in Kabul, but it is questionable
whether these negative and positive incentives will be enough to gain the cooperation
of warlords and commanders in the main cities and the provinces. Likewise, an
important obstacle to ethnic harmony–the collapse of Pashtun political cohesiveness
and the related sense of being dispossessed–is unlikely to be solved by the adjustment
of cabinet posts, since the Tajiks will not willingly give up effective control of the key
ministries concerned with defense, internal security, and foreign affairs.27 The best
chance of creating a government with a broadly accepted claim to legitimacy would
be one that rests on the foundation of a representative legislature.
2. Northern Alliance-Dominated State
The most obvious consequence of the rise and fall of the Taliban is the stronger
position of the minority ethnic groups of the Northern Alliance. Controlling Kabul,
Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, and Herat, the constituent elements of the Northern Alliance
effectively hold sway over more than half of the country and all its six international
borders except the one with Pakistan. Whether the main Alliance ethnic
components–Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras – have adequately absorbed the lesson of

27 Few if any observers believe that the appointment of an aged expatriate Pashtun, Taj
Mohammad Wardak, as Interior Minister to replace Yunis Qanooni, a Tajik, represented a
real power shift. Reportedly, Wardak was initially blocked from entering the ministry by
police and other ministry employees. Afghan Police Block New Minister, BBC News, June

20, 2002.

their previous internecine conflict and self-serving opportunism remains doubtful at
this point. Some Alliance leaders clearly understand that the revival of Pashtun
power under the banner of the Taliban occurred because of past Alliance excesses.
Others, notably General Dostum and Ismail Khan, still appear to seek to create a local
fiefdoms, and will cooperate with the other Alliance components only to the extent
that it serves their personal power interests.
The Panjsheri Tajiks retained their primacy in the June 2002 Northern Alliance,
especially Marshal Fahim, who was continued as Defense Minister and who has been
characterized by a senior U.S. official as one of the “winners” coming out of the
conclave.28 The replacement of Yunis Qanooni as interior minister by Taj
Muhammad Wardak is not viewed as a significant reduction of Tajik control,
especially since Qanooni was given a new post as “Security Advisor” in addition to
heading the education ministry.29 It remains to be seen whether non-Tajiks appointed
to other ministries will actually become a part of the governing power structure. The
Karzai administration thus remains at risk of being perceived as simply a cover for
Tajik dominance at the center. Since the former Northern Alliance still stands little
chance of establishing effective sway over the southern Pashtun heartland, the end
result could be a de facto partition, along the lines of the third scenario, below.
3. Disappearance of a Unified Afghan State
The complete disappearance of an Afghan state, which still seems unlikely,
could occur if current divisions become unresolvable. The regional consequences
would be severe. It is doubtful whether neighboring countries would be able to avoid
competing for control or influence over adjacent areas on the Afghan side of the
border. Among other considerations, countries challenged by Islamic extremism or
ethnic revolts, such as in the case of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, would not want to
allow a “no man’s land” on their borders. Russia would have a similar interest, i.e.,
to prevent the overthrow of friendly central Asian states or the establishment of
havens for Chechens and other armed independence movements. In addition, if the
prospects for Afghan unity were to recede, Russia could decide to give the de facto
partition a push to enhance the prospects that the oil and gas of Central Asia exits
through Russia and the loose successor to the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS).
Afghanistan’s western and southern neighbors have a particularly strong
traditional interest in influencing Afghan affairs. Iran would be tempted to extend
its influence over vast parts of western Afghanistan that had historically been part of
the Persian empire, and also to protect the interests of co-religionists in the central
Hazarajat. Already ties between Iran and the four western border provinces
commanded by Ismail Khan are close and apparently growing.

28 Testimony by Deputy Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, June 26, 2002.
29 Karzai reportedly responded to doubts about Wardak’s ability by saying “He is a man who
has experience of provincial matters, who has governed before. Lets give him a chance.”
Carlotto Gall and James Dao, A Bouyant Karzai Is Sworn In as Afghanistan’s Leader. New
York Times, June 20, 2002: A14.

Pakistan has foresworn any intent to interfere in Afghan affairs as part of its
current cooperation with the United States, but if chaos should ensue, Islamabad
likely would once again deem it necessary to find and support Afghan allies who
might be able to stabilize the Pashtun belt and contest for power in Kabul with the
Northern Alliance. Such potential allies are not now apparent, but could emerge out
current leaders affiliated with Karzai, remnants of the Taliban or–less likely at this
point–the old protege of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization,
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Many analysts and observers are concerned the current situation looks much like
the most benign form of disintegration–i.e., the appearance of a unified government,
but with little real power or resources at its command. In addition to regional
warlords, a number of areas are effectively under the authority of regional or local
shuras (councils of commanders, mullahs, and elders). From one point of view,
these bodies represent a rough kind of tribal democracy, but in many cases they are
dominated by rich families and/or those with the most men under arms. One
particular problem arising out of disintegration is that very little of Afghanistan is
without significant numbers of minorities. Hence, “ethnic cleansing” and voluntary
population realignments could create a major humanitarian crisis. Some human
rights abuses have already been inflicted on Pashtuns living in Tajik-majority areas
of the North, creating thousands of additional internally displaced persons (IDPs) in
refugee camps for internal refugees.30 The temptation of neighbors to secure their
borders and promote the interests of ethnic and religious counterparts would be
The descent of Afghanistan into chaos once again would jeopardize a number
of important U.S. interests. These include access to the oil and gas resources of
Central Asia, instability that could spread to the Persian Gulf, a further expansion of
opium production in Afghanistan, and the continued use of Afghan territory by
terrorist groups. The already difficult task of maintaining Pakistani cooperation
against terrorism might become impossible.
4. Caretaker Ward of the International Community
The potential negative consequences of failure to recreate a stable Afghanistan
could conceivably impel the United States, its allies, important neighbors such as
Russia, and the international community, to seek to set up an Afghan-staffed
caretaker government backed with foreign advisors and enough international
peacekeepers to maintain security in Kabul and other cities. This approach, by which
international peacekeeping and nation-building would become quasi-permanent,
rather than transitional, could only work if the Afghans themselves–and the warlords
in particular–decided that accepting such an effort by the international community
was preferable to unending civil strife or undesired political outcomes. In theory, if
basic security, services, and reconstruction could be provided to more densely
populated areas, Afghans outside the reach of the immediate caretaker authority
would gravitate to secure areas to seek the benefits of international support.

30 Briefing by international agency personnel, April 4, 2002, for House International
Relations Committee Staff.

This scenario likely would require an interim government composed of figures
who are acceptable to the major ethnic and other interest groups but who would not
themselves be contenders for power.31 The most acceptable candidates are likely to
be found among the ranks of Afghans with technocratic qualifications, including
former senior civil servants, Afghan nationals currently or previously with
multilateral banks, and other professionals–including current exiles. Some of these
are already in the transitional cabinet. Undoubtedly the government would benefit
from the assistance of foreign advisors, either from donor governments or
international organizations. Especially weighing against this option is that given
Afghanistan’s history and current situation, such a prolonged foreign role could
easily become a military and political quagmire.
Factors Affecting the Outcome
Which, if any, of these scenarios prevails likely will be determined by a number
of key factors. Some of these are susceptible to external influence, others can only
be decided by the Afghans themselves.
Resolution of Disputes on Power Sharing in the Central
Little progress can be achieved on other necessary steps until the parties and
groups that have the ability to disrupt the process agree on how to share power. As
of mid-2002 it still is not clear that those with the power to disrupt the interim
government will cooperate. Even if a stable power balance is achieved at the national
level, the basic instinct of most of the Afghan leaders and warlords still is to compete
for “turf” and the opportunities to extract cash from the population in the form of
taxes and other levies. This will make it very hard to establish effective centralized
institutions and extend the reach of the government into the countryside.
Results of the June 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga. Given the
circumstances and obstacles, observers generally regard the Emergency Loya Jirga
that took place in mid-June 2002 as substantially a success. Despite the fact that the
sessions were divisive and sometimes chaotic, and failed to resolve a number of
issues concerning power-sharing in a way that is likely to promote peace and
reconciliation, there were a number of positive aspects to the conclave:
!the assembly easily confirmed Karzai as head of the new
Transitional Administration, a significant vote of confidence in his
performance to date and tacitly a victory for the United States and
the international community.

31 One model could be the caretaker administration in Pakistan during 1993, headed by a
respected Pakistani World Bank economist. The administration headed by Moeen Qureshi
restored stability and prepared the country for new elections after the army had forced the
resignation of the President and Prime Minister, owing to a power struggle that had created
a deadlocked government. Once normal politics resumed so did instability, however,
leading, eventually, to military takeover led by General Pervez Musharraf.

!a bid by relatives of Zahir Shah and royalist supporters to drop
Karzai and promote the candidacy of the ex-King as President, rather
than just a figurehead, was defeated with apparent assistance from
U.S. officials.32
!the delegates engaged in a remarkably free and often unruly debate
that seems to have brought some degree of satisfaction even to those
who saw themselves on the losing end of the outcome.
!Islamic extremists evidenced little influence and did not obtain
significant cabinet representation, although the delegates voted to
declare the country an Islamic republic.
!despite the presence of numerous regional commanders with retinues
of armed followers, the conclave featured a war of words rather than
!some 160 appointed women not only participated but were heard
frequently in the debates.
!Karzai dropped from his cabinet Amanullah Zadran, a Pashtun,
formerly Minister of Tribal Affairs, whose brother Bacha Khan
Zadran, a notorious warlord, has challenged Kabul’s authority in
Paktia Province.
The limitations of the meeting also are readily apparent:
!the process for selecting 1,501 delegates representing 32 provinces
and several interest groups and communities was highly uneven and
in a number of provinces locally powerful warlords reportedly used
coercion and even murder to influence delegate selection.
!the outcome reflected continuing domination of the government by
two groups who have formed an alliance of convenience–Panjshiri
Tajiks of the Northern Alliance and Afghans who are associated
with the so-called “Afghan diaspora” and who enjoy western
support. Although many of these are de-tribalized Pashtuns with
professional backgrounds, they are just as divided as their tribal
cousins, and neither groups of Pushtuns have been able to coalesce
in a way that would give them a meaningful share of power.
!Karzai’s strategy to coopt regional warlords by appointing them as
vice-presidents appears to have failed, and might even have
backfired in the case of Haji Qadir’s assassination. The rejection of
the offered posts by Ismail Khan and General Dostum implies their
continuing intention to maintain their regional autonomy.
!importantly, the delegates failed to reach agreement on any specific
plan for creating a legislature, or deciding whether the country
needed a true legislature with powers to make law and approve a
budget, or some form of advisory council. Failing to resolve this

32 Zahir Shah took himself out of contention on June 10, 2002, a day before the opening of
the Loya Jirga. His decision was announced by an aid as the ex-King sat flanked by Karzai,
foreign minister Abdullah, a Panjsheri Tajik leader from the Northern Alliance, and U.S.
envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad. Carlotta Gall, Former King Rules Out All but a
Symbolic Role. New York Times, June 11, 2002: A10.

issue, Karzai proposed that 45 members of the Loya Jirga remain
behind as a council to come up with a proposal.33
Economic Development and the Issue of Jobs or Guns
Up to a certain point the reestablishment of normal life could allow armed
fighters to return to peaceful civilian pursuits, but a resurrected traditional economy
cannot provide enough jobs or the right kinds of jobs to fully absorb the ranks of the
former combatants of whatever stripe. Without jobs, and without a public
educational system, young Afghan men are likely to gravitate to the service of
warlords and/or to study in the Islamic madrassas, both in Afghanistan and
Pakistan.34 One significant problem is that the families of Afghan emigres have
grown in the intervening years, and in many cases will be too large to be supported
by the family farmstead, even if it is reclaimed and brought back into production.
Some level of industrial development, even rudimentary activities such as food
processing, textile manufacturing, and the production of basic farm and household
implements, would appear necessary to absorb surplus workers and farm labor.
Economic Development and The Future Role Islam
Because most of the Afghan combatants have mobilized on the basis of an
appeal to Islamic sentiment, often of a radical fundamentalist nature, progress
towards economic modernization is likely to encounter strong resistance, especially
with regard to education and the employment of women in the workforce.
Nonetheless, reconstruction based on the revitalization and modernization of the
Afghan economy may be the only way to overcome tendencies towards internecine
warfare and chaos.
Unless the economy becomes more dynamic, politicized Islam is likely to
remain the single most powerful ideological force, even if radical fundamentalism
does not appeal to the majority of Afghans. Assuming that the Taliban remain
dispersed and do not play a visible political role, and that other Islamist forces remain
marginalized, religion may not necessarily reemerge as the main rallying cry of anti-
government forces. These are big “ifs,” however. The central government may face
difficult choices in attempting to promote modernization and development along
secular lines, while not stirring up an Islamist reaction.

33 Pamela Constable, Karzai Sworn In Amid Grumbling. Washington Post, June 19, 2002.
34 In the words of a noted expert on the Taliban, young men who had grew up in the camps
and war zones “admired war because it was the only occupation they could possibly adapt
to. Their simple belief in messianic, puritan Islam which had been drummed into them by
simple village mullahs, was the only prop they could held [sic] on to, and which gave their
lives some meaning.” Rashid, Taliban, op. cit., p. 32.

Issues for U.S. Policy
Inevitably U.S. policy will have a significant influence on the outcome of the
current effort to reconstruct a stable Afghan state. In addition to playing a key role
in driving the Taliban from power, in concert with Afghan forces on the ground, the
United States has been the largest donor by far to the feeding programs of the United
Nations World Food Program (WFP), and it is certain to be the among the leading
contributors to economic reconstruction.
For the future, three roles on the part of the United States would appear
extremely critical, over and above humanitarian assistance:
1. Support for the Political Process
The creation of a moderate Afghan state requires the establishment of a stable
political order, the creation of effective state institutions, and the reconstruction of
the country’s economic infrastructure and rural economy. Many other countries and
international organizations can provide aid, technical assistance, and even security
for Kabul and other important cities, but most observers believe that only the United
States has the international prestige and influence, the logistical capabilities, and the
military power to influence decisively the internal Afghan political process. The
inability of the United Nations and humanitarian NGOs to stave off Afghanistan’s
descent into chaos after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union, makes clear that the
reconstruction of a moderate Afghan state cannot be accomplished without strong
U.S. engagement.
By most accounts the United States played a strong behind-the-scenes role at the
June 2002 Loya Jirga in supporting Karzai and short-circuiting a bid by Pushtun
supporters of the ex-king, Zahir Shah, to elect him head of state. Unfortunately, the
picture of the ex-king, sitting in a chair flanked by Karzai and U.S. special
representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and declaring–through a statement
read by his aid–that he would not be a candidate, tended to reinforced the impression
of American interference. On the other hand, the bid by relatives and supporters of
the ex-king to make elect him head of state was widely viewed as a transparent ploy
by individuals who are widely regarded as corrupt and out of touch with current
Afghan realities.
2. Close Engagement with Pakistan
Close U.S. engagement with Pakistan, the country with the greatest capacity for
good or ill, will also be critical to the creation of a stable Afghanistan. Pakistan,
which by far has the greatest capacity to influence developments in the Pashtun
South, is also the country whose perceived interests are the most threatened by the
collapse of the Taliban and the rising power of the Tajik and Uzbek-dominated
Northern Alliance. Islamabad sees several potential sources of danger, the primary
ones being the possibility of ongoing conflict and chaos in the Pashtun belt and
heightened Indian, Russian, and Iranian influence in Kabul.

The Bush Administration and the Congress appear to recognize that Pakistan’s
military president, General Musharraf, has crossed the Rubicon in committing to
cooperate closely in the U.S.-led anti-terrorist campaign. The decision, which was
largely dictated by extreme U.S. pressure, was not without a number of benefits for
Pakistan, dramatically displayed during Musharraf’s February 2002 visit to
Washington. Apart from various kinds of new assistance and debt relief, Musharraf’s
crackdown on his own Islamic radicals showed that these groups generally lacked
strong public support, and strengthened his hold on power. On the other hand,
increasing tensions with India over Kashmir, fueled by Pakistan’s own alleged
support of local terrorist groups, has intensified Islamabad’s perception of being
squeezed between a potentially hostile or unstable Afghanistan and a demonstrably
hostile India.
Especially because of the possession of nuclear weapons by both India and
Pakistan, the United States has a compelling interest in pressuring both Pakistan and
India to act responsibly on the Kashmir issue, as was demonstrated during a tense
standoff in mid-2002, while also making sure that Pakistan continues to play a
positive role in Afghanistan and in the anti-terrorist fight. The twin American stakes
in cooperation with Islamabad and preventing an Indian-Pakistan appear to mandate
the continuing close engagement with Pakistan, including efforts to promote support
for U.S. viewpoints among parties and leaders who are likely to influence Pakistani
policies if and when military rule gives way to elections and the restoration of
civilian government.
3. Bilateral Assistance and Participation in International
Assistance and Development Efforts
Both the Bush Administration and the Congress have made clear their intention
to provide substantial aid to Afghanistan, but the actual amount and kind of
assistance that the United States provides could prove highly important to the
prospects for recreating a stable Afghan government. The Tokyo meeting of aid
donors in January 2002, which was co-hosted by Japan, the United States, the
European Union, and Saudi Arabia, generated nearly $1.5 billion in near-term aid35
pledges, including a U.S. commitment of $296 million. The Bush Administration
has allocated about $311.3 million for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan for FY36

2002, which began October 1, 2001.

U.S. aid provided through the WFP and NGOs will continue to be important in
preventing famine, reconstructing agriculture, and restoring basic infrastructure, but
visible bilateral American aid would also appear to be critical to influencing U.S.-
desired political outcomes. In this respect, many argue that if the Bonn process is to
be viable, warlords and others who are calculating whether to cooperate with the
Bonn process or carve out permanent fiefdoms arguably need to see that the Interim

35 CNN,, Nations Pledge Billions to Rebuild Afghanistan. January 21, 2002.
36 For more information on the U.S. humanitarian role, see CRS Report RL31355,
Afghanistan’s Path to Reconstruction: Obstacles, Challenges, and Issues for Congress, by
Rhoda Margesson.

Administration, and the arrangements for creating a new, pluralistic democratic order
have the backing of the United States and other aid donors. Observers also note,
however, that it is critical that U.S. support is seen as bringing concrete benefits for
the country and not just influence over the Karzai administration.
Conclusion: Issues for
Congressional Consideration
A number of assassinations and other incidents of political violence both before
and after the Emergency Loya Jirga underscore that events in Afghanistan may be
coming to a head sooner rather than later. As of July 2002, positive developments
appear in many cases to be offset by negative ones, and the overall state of progress
becomes a matter of individual judgment or perspective.
Issues of Special Congressional Interest: Narcotics
Production and Women’s Rights
In hearing statements, speeches, and in proposed legislation, Members of
Congress have stressed their concerns particularly about Afghanistan’s status as a
major opium production area and about the status of women. Both of these are
extremely complicated issues given Afghanistan’s social and economic traditions.
Progress on both issues, if it is to occur, clearly depends on fundamental economic
and social modernization, which is most likely to occur under a government that has
both a progressive outlook and popular support based on participatory politics.
Narcotics or Development. The U.S. stake in economic development in
Afghanistan is even more clear with regard to Afghan’s status as the world’s leading
producer of opium. Many of the poppy-growing areas are the fiefdoms of tribal
leaders whose tribes which have for centuries depended on illicit sources of income,
including drugs and smuggling. In the recent past, before the Taliban takeover,
international agencies reportedly had some success in gaining cuts in poppy
production in Nangahar and other poppy-growing areas of southeastern Afghanistan,
in exchange for economic assistance, but such gains tended to be inconsistent, at best.
The Karzai administration has announced an ambitious U.S.-backed program
to make one-time payments to farmers to destroy their opium crops or face
destruction by government agents without compensation. The payments are said to
amount to something more than for a wheat crop, but much less than the value of an
opium crop. Reportedly, the United States, the U.K., and other Western countries
have agreed to finance the program, but U.S. officials are also said to despair of
having any major impact for three major reasons: (1) the Kabul government simply
does not have the staff or reach to have an impact on many of the most important
producing areas; (2) the crop is nearly ready for harvest; and (3) the poppy growers
and their affiliated smugglers and warlords will likely fight against any effort to
forcefully destroy the crops. A decree signed by Chairman Karzai on behalf of the
interim government, which would make illegal the collection of loans to opium

growers, is widely viewed as unenforceable.37 Some observers speculate that
malfeasance in the anti-narcotics program in Nangahar Province, and/or the
opposition by drug lords, may lie at the root of Haji Qadir’s assassination in early
July 2002.38
Future Status of Women in Afghan Society. The issue of the rights of
women in Afghan society has been at the center of the struggle between
modernization and tradition. The same political conditions that have created support
for reactionary religious ideas have fostered retrogression in the status of women.
Both in the refugee camps and in conflict areas, young men were separated from the
company of even their female relatives. Some analysts believe the lack of ordinary
contact with women in the refugee camps across the border in Pakistan has
heightened sex discrimination in Afghanistan beyond traditional levels. Also,
because of the concerns of women about their safety in a male-dominated society,39
they sometimes themselves embrace the veil and burka out of self-protection.
The picture is not uniformly negative, however. Especially in urban areas, even
socially conservative Afghans have recognized the importance of female education.
Young women have flocked enthusiastically to Kabul University and other
educational institutions since they have reopened. Two regional warlords, General
Dostum in the North and Ismail Khan in the West support and fund female education.
The real rate of progress in this area, however, probably will depend on the pace of
economic revival and modernization.
Women’s organizations and other observers regard the outcome of the Loya
Jirga as mixed. On the one hand, women actively participated and their often
eloquent speeches received a respectful hearing. A woman even ran for
president–coming in a distant second in a three cornered race. On the other hand, a
conservative Islamic reaction against the participation of women in the
cabinet–including a negative opinion from Karzai’s appointee as Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, an Islamic conservative–caused the President not to re-appoint a
woman, Dr. Sima Samar, as the Minister of Women’s Affairs. He appointed her as40
head of the Human Rights Commission, instead.
Three Policy Issues for Possible
Congressional Consideration
Congress may wish to consider several issues in particular that bear on the
ability of the United States to provide timely and effective assistance and support to
the interim government and the Bonn process. The first is the reported inability of
U.S. representatives in Kabul to provide reliable expectations regarding the deliveries

37 Dexter Filkins, Afghanistan to Pay Farmers for Uprooted Poppies. New York Times, April

5, 2002: A13.

38 Dexter Filkins, Afghan Killing May Be Linked to Drug Trade. New York Times, July 8,


39 Rashid, Taliban, op. cit., p. 105-114.
40 Relief Web (British Agencies Afghanistan Group), July 4, 2002.

of various forms of assistance. One source of delay in the delivery of U.S. support
to the Transitional Administration is that funding is scattered over at least six
different departments and agencies, all of which have their own bureaucratic
procedures. These bottlenecks have been a persistent problem in a number of
situations, including U.S. assistance to Bosnia.41 It may be possible to bring more
order and cohesion to this process without altering basic lines of department and
agency authority and responsibility, which have evolved over a long period of time
and would be difficult to change.
Tension between Dual U.S. Objectives. From the point of view of
Afghan politics, an even more important issue may be a significant level of tension
between the objectives of U.S. military operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda
remnants and the goal of bolstering the power of the Kabul administration vis-à-vis
regional warlords. By nearly all accounts, U.S. military forces made brilliant use of
local Afghan militias and other irregular forces, thereby advancing the date for the
replacement of the Taliban government by the Interim Administration, as well as
saving many lives–American, allied, and Afghan. Unfortunately, U.S. military
strategy, including on-going operations, inadvertently has tended to bolster the power
of some warlords who are resisting the imposition of Kabul’s authority, and also
increased the possibility that any renewal of internal conflict will be more intense and
deadly. A start was made in resolving this contradiction by the recent “graduation”
of the first contingent of a new, multi-ethnic national army, but as noted above, this
will long remain a negligible force when compared to those of the regional warlords
– even those in Kabul itself.
The mistaken air attacks on four villages in Uruzgan Province in the early hours
of July 2, 2002, have generated a number of calls for a reconsideration of U.S.
strategy, especially the heavy use of air power based on intelligence information
provided by local Afghan militias and warlords. Several serious mistaken attacks on
civilians, including reported Karzai supporters and villages friendly to the
government, have been blamed at least in part on bad intelligence supplied by local
allies of U.S. and other western military forces. Some suspect that several of these
incidents may be the result of deliberate actions by Afghan warlords and militia
leaders to exact revenge on rivals.
Clearly the U.S. and its western allies cannot operate without intelligence
provided by local Afghan forces, but the use of extremely lethal ordnance makes any
error highly costly in human life. Some analysts and even Afghan victims of U.S. air
attacks have suggested that too much reliance is being put on stand-off air attacks and
not enough on using ground troops to reconnoiter or engage suspected targets and
verify them before initiating devastating air attacks. Because of these incidents, some
observers warn that the policies of the United States, and to a lesser extent its western
European allies, are resting on shifting sands.
Response to Calls for Expanded International Peacekeeping.
Especially because U.S. forces are already engaged as de facto arbiters and

41 See CRS Report RL30831, Balkan Conflicts: U.S. Humanitarian Assistance and Issues
for Congress, by Rhoda Margesson.

peacekeepers, often at risk to the forces themselves, a number of Members of
Congress have called on the Bush Administration to reconsider its opposition to
increasing the numbers and dispersion of international peacekeepers, possibly
including U.S. forces.42 The Defense Department has argued that the presence of
international peacekeeping forces could complicate the coordination of their ongoing
military operations, and that other countries are not eager to fill this role. Critics
respond that gaining additional allied participation in peacekeeping requires U.S.
leadership and participation.43
International aid agencies and aid workers are almost universal in declaring that
they cannot function without the security provided by international peacekeepers.
Also, aid agencies note that international peacekeepers have been a “draw” factor in
attracting hundreds of thousands of refugees back to their homes, but thus far mainly
in the neighborhood of Kabul. International relief officials argue that much more
rapid progress could be made in returning both external and internal refugees to their
homes if the size of the peacekeeping force could be enlarged and deployed to other
population centers.
Possible Benefits of a More Transparent U.S. Military Role on the
Ground. Bush Administration officials say that the military phase of the war is all
but over, but that U.S. troops will remain for a long time in order to keep Al Qaeda
and the Taliban off balance and prevent them from regaining the initiative. Under
these circumstances, one potential benefit of making the current U.S. role more
transparent would be to defuse Afghan suspicions that the United States is seeking
to convert the ongoing hunt for Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants into an indefinite
military occupation. Afghanistan has a history of reacting harshly to the presence of
foreign military forces and interference in Afghan politics. Every local conflict that
U.S. forces may defuse has the potential for creating enemies. This is an inevitable
consequence of peacekeeping, but since many ordinary Afghans welcome an
international presence and the security it provides, operating under U.N. or other
international auspices may provoke less of a backlash. Given many indications from
American officials that substantial U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan for a long
time to come, Congress may wish to consider further the nature and modalities of the
U.S. military role, including the relationship of U.S. forces to ISFA.

42 James Dao, Top Lawmakers Urge Bush to Expand Afghan Force Beyond Kabul. New
York Times, June 27, 2002. The article is based on a Senate Foreign Relations Committee
hearing on June 26 featuring Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant
Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and witnesses.
43 Ibid.

Appendix I: Bonn Agreements on Afghanistan
The participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan,
In the presence of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for
Determined to end the tragic conflict in Afghanistan and promote national
reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights in the country,
Reaffirming the independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of
Acknowledging the right of the people of Afghanistan to freely determine their
own political future in accordance with the principles of Islam, democracy, pluralism
and social justice,
Expressing their appreciation to the Afghan mujahidin who, over the years, have
defended the independence, territorial integrity and national unity of the country and
have played a major role in the struggle against terrorism and oppression, and whose
sacrifice has now made them both heroes of jihad and champions of peace, stability
and reconstruction of their beloved homeland, Afghanistan,
Aware that the unstable situation in Afghanistan requires the implementation
of emergency interim arrangements and expressing their deep appreciation to His
Excellency Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani for his readiness to transfer power to an
interim authority which is to be established pursuant to this agreement,
Recognizing the need to ensure broad representation in these interim
arrangements of all segments of the Afghan population, including groups that have
not been adequately represented at the UN Talks on Afghanistan,
Noting that these interim arrangements are intended as a first step toward the
establishment of a broad-based, gender-sensitive, multi-ethnic and fully
representative government, and are not intended to remain in place beyond the
specified period of time,
Recognizing that some time may be required for a new Afghan security force
to be fully constituted and functional and that therefore other security provisions
detailed in Annex I to this agreement must meanwhile be put in place,
Considering that the United Nations, as the internationally recognized impartial
institution, has a particularly important role to play, detailed in Annex II to this

agreement, in the period prior to the establishment of permanent institutions in
Have agreed as follows:
I. General provisions
1) An Interim Authority shall be established upon the official transfer of power
on 22 December 2001.
2) The Interim Authority shall consist of an Interim Administration presided
over by a Chairman, a Special Independent Commission for the Convening of the
Emergency Loya Jirga, and a Supreme Court of Afghanistan, as well as such other
courts as may be established by the Interim Administration. The composition,
functions and governing procedures for the Interim Administration and the Special
Independent Commission are set forth in this agreement.
3) Upon the official transfer of power, the Interim Authority shall be the
repository of Afghan sovereignty, with immediate effect. As such, it shall, throughout
the interim period, represent Afghanistan in its external relations and shall occupy the
seat of Afghanistan at the United Nations and in its specialized agencies, as well as
in other international institutions and conferences.
4) An Emergency Loya Jirga shall be convened within six months of the
establishment of the Interim Authority. The Emergency Loya Jirga will be opened
by His Majesty Mohammed Zaher [sic], the former King of Afghanistan. The
Emergency Loya Jirga shall decide on a Transitional Authority, including a
broad-based transitional administration, to lead Afghanistan until such time as a fully
representative government can be elected through free and fair elections to be held
no later than two years from the date of the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.
5) The Interim Authority shall cease to exist once the Transitional Authority has
been established by the Emergency Loya Jirga.
6) A Constitutional Loya Jirga shall be convened within eighteen months of the
establishment of the Transitional Authority, in order to adopt a new constitution for
Afghanistan. In order to assist the Constitutional Loya Jirga prepare the proposed
Constitution, the Transitional Administration shall, within two months of its
commencement and with the assistance of the United Nations, establish a
Constitutional Commission.
II. Legal framework and judicial system
1) The following legal framework shall be applicable on an interim basis until
the adoption of the new Constitution referred to above:

i) The Constitution of 1964, a/ to the extent that its provisions are not
inconsistent with those contained in this agreement, and b/ with the
exception of those provisions relating to the monarchy and to the executive
and legislative bodies provided in the Constitution; and
ii) existing laws and regulations, to the extent that they are not inconsistent
with this agreement or with international legal obligations to which
Afghanistan is a party, or with those applicable provisions contained in the
Constitution of 1964, provided that the Interim Authority shall have the
power to repeal or amend those laws and regulations.
2) The judicial power of Afghanistan shall be independent and shall be vested
in a Supreme Court of Afghanistan, and such other courts as may be established by
the Interim Administration. The Interim Administration shall establish, with the
assistance of the United Nations, a Judicial Commission to rebuild the domestic
justice system in accordance with Islamic principles, international standards, the rule
of law and Afghan legal traditions.
III. Interim Administration
A. Composition
1) The Interim Administration shall be composed of a Chairman, five Vice
Chairmen and 24 other members. Each member, except the Chairman, may head a
department of the Interim Administration.
2) The participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan have invited His Majesty
Mohammed Zaher [sic], the former King of Afghanistan, to chair the Interim
Administration. His Majesty has indicated that he would prefer that a suitable
candidate acceptable to the participants be selected as the Chair of the Interim
3) The Chairman, the Vice Chairmen and other members of the Interim
Administration have been selected by the participants in the UN Talks on
Afghanistan, as listed in Annex IV to this agreement. The selection has been made
on the basis of professional competence and personal integrity from lists submitted
by the participants in the UN Talks, with due regard to the ethnic, geographic and
religious composition of Afghanistan and to the importance of the participation of
4) No person serving as a member of the Interim Administration may
simultaneously hold membership of the Special Independent Commission for the
Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.
B. Procedures
1) The Chairman of the Interim Administration, or in his/her absence one of the
Vice Chairmen, shall call and chair meetings and propose the agenda for these

2) The Interim Administration shall endeavour to reach its decisions by
consensus. In order for any decision to be taken, at least 22 members must be in
attendance. If a vote becomes necessary, decisions shall be taken by a majority of the
members present and voting, unless otherwise stipulated in this agreement. The
Chairman shall cast the deciding vote in the event that the members are divided
C. Functions
1) The Interim Administration shall be entrusted with the day-to-day conduct
of the affairs of state, and shall have the right to issue decrees for the peace, order and
good government of Afghanistan.
2) The Chairman of the Interim Administration or, in his/her absence, one of the
Vice Chairmen, shall represent the Interim Administration as appropriate.
3) Those members responsible for the administration of individual departments
shall also be responsible for implementing the policies of the Interim Administration
within their areas of responsibility.
4) Upon the official transfer of power, the Interim Administration shall have full
jurisdiction over the printing and delivery of the national currency and special
drawing rights from international financial institutions. The Interim Administration
shall establish, with the assistance of the United Nations, a Central Bank of
Afghanistan that will regulate the money supply of the country through transparent
and accountable procedures.
5) The Interim Administration shall establish, with the assistance of the United
Nations, an independent Civil Service Commission to provide the Interim Authority
and the future Transitional Authority with shortlists of candidates for key posts in the
administrative departments, as well as those of governors and uluswals, in order to
ensure their competence and integrity.

6) The Interim Administration shall, with the assistance of the United Nations,

establish an independent Human Rights Commission, whose responsibilities will
include human rights monitoring, investigation of violations of human rights, and
development of domestic human rights institutions. The Interim Administration may,
with the assistance of the United Nations, also establish any other commissions to
review matters not covered in this agreement.
7) The members of the Interim Administration shall abide by a Code of Conduct
elaborated in accordance with international standards.
8) Failure by a member of the Interim Administration to abide by the provisions
of the Code of Conduct shall lead to his/her suspension from that body. The decision
to suspend a member shall be taken by a two-thirds majority of the membership of
the Interim Administration on the proposal of its Chairman or any of its Vice

9) The functions and powers of members of the Interim Administration will be
further elaborated, as appropriate, with th assistance of the United Nations.
IV. The Special Independent Commission for the Convening of the Emergency
Loya Jirga
1) The Special Independent Commission for the Convening of the Emergency
Loya Jirga shall be established within one month of the establishment of the Interim
Authority. The Special Independent Commission will consist of twenty-one
members, a number of whom should have expertise in constitutional or customary
law. The members will be selected from lists of candidates submitted by participants
in the UN Talks on Afghanistan as well as Afghan professional and civil society
groups. The United Nations will assist with the establishment and functioning of the
commission and of a substantial secretariat.
2) The Special Independent Commission will have the final authority for
determining the procedures for and the number of people who will participate in the
Emergency Loya Jirga. The Special Independent Commission will draft rules and
procedures specifying (i) criteria for allocation of seats to the settled and nomadic
population residing in the country; (ii) criteria for allocation of seats to the Afghan
refugees living in Iran, Pakistan, and elsewhere, and Afghans from the diaspora; (iii)
criteria for inclusion of civil society organizations and prominent individuals,
including Islamic scholars, intellectuals, and traders, both within the country and in
the diaspora. The Special Independent Commission will ensure that due attention is
paid to the representation in the Emergency Loya Jirga of a significant number of
women as well as all other segments of the Afghan population.
3) The Special Independent Commission will publish and disseminate the rules
and procedures for the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga at least ten weeks
before the Emergency Loya Jirga convenes, together with the date for its
commencement and its suggested location and duration.
4) The Special Independent Commission will adopt and implement procedures
for monitoring the process of nomination of individuals to the Emergency Loya Jirga
to ensure that the process of indirect election or selection is transparent and fair. To
pre-empt conflict over nominations, the Special Independent Commission will
specify mechanisms for filing of grievances and rules for arbitration of disputes.
5) The Emergency Loya Jirga will elect a Head of the State for the Transitional
Administration and will approve proposals for the structure and key personnel of the
Transitional Administration.
V. Final provisions
1) Upon the official transfer of power, all mujahidin, Afghan armed forces and
armed groups in the country shall come under the command and control of the
Interim Authority, and be reorganized according to the requirements of the new
Afghan security and armed forces.

2) The Interim Authority and the Emergency Loya Jirga shall act in accordance
with basic principles and provisions contained in international instruments on human
rights and international humanitarian law to which Afghanistan is a party.
3) The Interim Authority shall cooperate with the international community in
the fight against terrorism, drugs and organized crime. It shall commit itself to
respect international law and maintain peaceful and friendly relations with
neighbouring countries and the rest of the international community.
4) The Interim Authority and the Special Independent Commission for the
Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga will ensure the participation of women as
well as the equitable representation of all ethnic and religious communities in the
Interim Administration and the Emergency Loya Jirga.
5) All actions taken by the Interim Authority shall be consistent with Security
Council resolution 1378 (14 November 2001) and other relevant Security Council
resolutions relating to Afghanistan.
6) Rules of procedure for the organs established under the Interim Authority will
be elaborated as appropriate with the assistance of the United Nations.
This agreement, of which the annexes constitute an integral part, done in Bonn
on this 5th day of December 2001 in the English language, shall be the authentic text,
in a single copy which shall remain deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
Official texts shall be provided in Dari and Pashto, and such other languages as the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General may designate. The Special
Representative of the Secretary-General shall send certified copies in English, Dari
and Pashto to each of the participants.
For the participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan:
Ms. Amena Afzali
Mr. S. Hussain Anwari
Mr. Hedayat Amin Arsala
Mr. Sayed Hamed Gailani
Mr. Rahmatullah Musa Ghazi
Eng. Abdul Hakim
Mr. Houmayoun Jareer
Mr. Abbas Karimi
Mr. Mustafa Kazimi
Dr. Azizullah Ludin
Mr. Ahmad Wali Massoud
Mr. Hafizullah Asif Mohseni
Prof. Mohammad Ishaq Nadiri
Mr. Mohammad Natiqi
Mr. Yunus Qanooni
Dr. Zalmai Rassoul
Mr. H. Mirwais Sadeq
Dr. Mohammad Jalil Shams
Prof. Abdul Sattar Sirat

Mr. Humayun Tandar
Mrs. Sima Wali
General Abdul Rahim Wardak
Mr. Pacha Khan Zadran
Witnessed for the United Nations by:
Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan

1. The participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan recognize that the
responsibility for providing security and law and order throughout the country resides
with the Afghans themselves. To this end, they pledge their commitment to do all
within their means and influence to ensure such security, including for all United
Nations and other personnel of international governmental and non-governmental
organizations deployed in Afghanistan.
2. With this objective in mind, the participants request the assistance of the
international community in helping the new Afghan authorities in the establishment
and training of new Afghan security and armed forces.
3. Conscious that some time may be required for the new Afghan security and
armed forces to be fully constituted and functioning, the participants in the UN Talks
on Afghanistan request the United Nations Security Council to consider authorizing
the early deployment to Afghanistan of a United Nations mandated force. This force
will assist in the maintenance of security for Kabul and its surrounding areas. Such
a force could, as appropriate, be progressively expanded to other urban centres and
other areas.
4. The participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan pledge to withdraw all
military units from Kabul and other urban centers or other areas in which the UN
mandated force is deployed. It would also be desirable if such a force were to assist
in the rehabilitation of Afghanistan’s infrastructure.

1. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General will be responsible for
all aspects of the United Nations’ work in Afghanistan.
2. The Special Representative shall monitor and assist in the implementation of
all aspects of this agreement.
3. The United Nations shall advise the Interim Authority in establishing a
politically neutral environment conducive to the holding of the Emergency Loya
Jirga in free and fair conditions. The United Nations shall pay special attention to the
conduct of those bodies and administrative departments which could directly
influence the convening and outcome of the Emergency Loya Jirga.
4. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General or his/her delegate may
be invited to attend the meetings of the Interim Administration and the Special
Independent Commission on the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.
5. If for whatever reason the Interim Administration or the Special Independent
Commission were actively prevented from meeting or unable to reach a decision on
a matter related to the convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga, the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General shall, taking into account the views
expressed in the Interim Administration or in the Special Independent Commission,
use his/her good offices with a view to facilitating a resolution to the impasse or a
6. The United Nations shall have the right to investigate human rights violations
and, where necessary, recommend corrective action. It will also be responsible for the
development and implementation of a programme of human rights education to
promote respect for and understanding of human rights.

The participants in the UN Talks on Afghanistan hereby
1. Request that the United Nations and the international community take the
necessary measures to guarantee the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and
unity of Afghanistan as well as the non-interference by foreign countries in
Afghanistan’s internal affairs;
2. Urge the United Nations, the international community, particularly donor
countries and multilateral institutions, to reaffirm, strengthen and implement their
commitment to assist with the rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction of
Afghanistan, in coordination with the Interim Authority;
3. Request the United Nations to conduct as soon as possible (i) a registration
of voters in advance of the general elections that will be held upon the adoption of
the new constitution by the constitutional Loya Jirga and (ii) a census of the
population of Afghanistan.
4. Urge the United Nations and the international community, in recognition of
the heroic role played by the mujahidin in protecting the independence of
Afghanistan and the dignity of its people, to take the necessary measures, in
coordination with the Interim Authority, to assist in the reintegration of the mujahidin
into the new Afghan security and armed forces;
5. Invite the United Nations and the international community to create a fund
to assist the families and other dependents of martyrs and victims of the war, as well
as the war disabled;
6. Strongly urge that the United Nations, the international community and
regional organizations cooperate with the Interim Authority to combat international
terrorism, cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs and provide Afghan farmers with
financial, material and technical resources for alternative crop production.