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About Afghanistan

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: Politics and Current Events

Does Afghanistan have a constitution?

Yes; the new Constitution was adopted on January 4, 2004. The Constitution of Afghanistan is one of the most liberal constitutions in Asia, and provides for full protection of basic rights for all Afghans and equal rights for women.

Who is the President of Afghanistan?

After a historic election day on October 9, 2004 in which eight million people went to the polls, President Hamid Karzai became the first democratically-elected President of Afghanistan. Previously, President Karzai had been Chairman of the Transitional Administration and Interim President from 2002.

What is the structure of the government?

The executive branch of the Afghan government consists of a powerful and popularly elected President and two Vice Presidents. A National Assembly consisting of two Houses, the House of People (Wolesi Jirga) with 249 seats, and the House of Elders (Meshrano Jirga) wiyh 102 seats forms the Legislative Branch. There is an independent Judiciary branch consisting of the Supreme Court (Stera Mahkama), High Courts and Appeal Courts. The President appoints the nine members of the Supreme Court with the approval of the Wolesi Jirga.

How long has there been conflict in Afghanistan?

Due to its strategic location as a link between Central Asia the Middle East and South East Asia, the land of Afghanistan has appealed to ancient kingdoms, European empires, Cold War alliances, and contemporary world strategists. In recent decades, Afghanistan has suffered waves of violence propagated largely by external forces. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Afghan regional leaders united and successfully resisted the soviet occupation. The last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan on February 15 1989. However, this fighting prevented Afghanistan’s development and consolidation as a state. Once the Soviet Union fell in 1989, internal divisions and external pressure led to further instability, which was exploited by the Taliban. The Taliban captured Kabul in 1998 establishing their tyrannical reign throughout the country. The September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001 dramatically changed the fate of Afghanistan. With the Taliban overthrown and a new democratically elected government in place, Afghanistan has chosen to move forward as a free, democratic nation in partnership with the international community.

What is the Bonn Agreement?

Bonn Agreement was the first of a series of agreements designed to re-build the state of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. In December of 2001, Afghan and world leaders met in Bonn, Germany under United Nations auspices to design an ambitious agenda that would guide Afghanistan towards “national reconciliation, a lasting peace, stability, and respect for human rights” culminating in the establishment of a fully representative government. Many political and civil institutions have been established with the Bonn Agreement through commissions such as the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the Judicial Commission, Counter- Narcotics Directorate, and the Constitutional commission.

What happened at the London Donor Conference in February 2006?

The London Conference on Afghanistan in January 2006 aimed to launch the Afghanistan Compact, the successor to the Bonn Agreement, to present the interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy, and to ensure the Government of Afghanistan has adequate resources to meet its domestic ambitions.

What is the Afghanistan Compact?

The Afghanistan Compact marks the formal end of the Bonn Process, with completion of the Parliamentary and Provincial elections, and will establish an effective mechanism for coordinating Afghan and international efforts over the next period. The Afghanistan Compact is the result of consultation between the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations and the international community, and represents a framework for co-operation for five years. The Compact was launched on 31 January 2006.

What is the Afghanistan National Development Strategy?

The Interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy (I-ANDS) is the product of twelve-months of intensive consultations within the Afghan government and with a wide array of stakeholders including tribal and religious leaders, the private sector, NGOs, and the international community. The document outlines the government’s policy objectives and analyzes the obstacles to their achievement. It is an evolving strategy that is regularly reviewed and updated according to the needs of Afghanistan.

What achievements have been made in Afghanistan’s political development?

In 2001, Afghanistan was a state hijacked by extremism and intolerance. The Afghan people lacked almost every universal human freedom, they could not speak out against the government, listen to music, watch television or enjoy any leisure activities. Children were not free to play games or sports, and women were subject to the brutality of religious police. There was no free media and criminal punishments included amputations and public executions. During this period of cruelty and chaos, millions of Afghans fled their homeland.

Today, over 4.7 million refugees have demonstrated their vote of confidence in the political process and the Government by returning home. Afghanistan held successful Presidential elections in October 2004 (with 86% voter turnout) and successful Parliamentary elections in September 2005. Women were elected to 68 of the188 seats in the lower house of parliament. Afghans today enjoy more political, economic, and social rights than at any time in the history of the country. Free press is flourishing and more than 8 private TV stations, 78 radio stations and 300 publications have been launched in the past four years. At least 40 judicial centers have been built or rehabilitated and almost 600 judges have been trained. The days of public stoning and beating women in the streets are over. Afghanistan adopted the most enlightened democratic constitution in the region in Jan. 2004. This constitution clearly protects women’s rights.

Afghanistan has become a beacon of democracy in an often-troubled region. When 8.4 million Muslims, Afghan men and women, lined up to vote for their President and Parliament, they not only demonstrated their commitment to democracy in Afghanistan, they also sent a strong message to terrorists and extremists all over the world.

Is there international support for the mission in Afghanistan?

Today, there is strong international consensus on the need to help Afghanistan. Afghanistan is once more playing its historic role in bridging cultures, countries and civilizations. Over 60 counties are helping rebuild Afghanistan. 36 countries have troops in Afghanistan and 41 countries are helping train and equip our national army.

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