Islam characterizes much of the culture in
Afghanistan. The finest Muslim architecture is found in
Herat. Author Khaled Hosseini made his international
breakthrough in 2003 with the novel Flyga drake. The
hand knotted Afghan rugs are world famous.
Archaeological finds carry traces of the many
cultures brought into the country by invading armies.
Muslim culture dominates strongly, but ancient Greeks
and early Indian Buddhists have also left behind
Latest population statistics of Afghanistan, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
The centuries around the beginning of our era counted
Hellenistic features from Alexander the Great's empire
with impulses from northern India in the visual arts.
Examples of this were two giant Buddha statues carved
from a mountain side in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan,
where they stood until March 2001, when the "idol
images" were blown up by the Taliban.
The finest Muslim architecture is found in Herat with
the 13th-century Masjid-i-Jami mosque and a series of
buildings from the Timurid era (under Timur Lenk's
descendants) in the 15th century. In Herat, the
miniature painting also flourished during the same era
with Behzad as the most famous name.
The 65-meter-high 12th-century minaret in Jam in Ghor
Province is regarded as a style formation for South
Asian architecture and is on the UN agency UNESCO World
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Afghanistan. Artists and albums are also included.
Afghan poetry has traditions back to the Persian
Firdawsi (c. 1000), who were active at the court. The
language used has usually been there.
Afghan novel art is a relatively recent phenomenon.
In recent years, two authors, mainly resident abroad,
have gained international attention. Khaled Hosseini has
made sales success with, among other things, the novels
Flyga drake, which has also become a movie, and
a thousand brilliant suns. Atiq Rahimi was
awarded the prestigious French Goncourt Award for the
novel Stone of Patience.
The hand-knotted Afghan rugs usually hold a deep red
tone and have geometric patterns, often eight-cornered
so-called elephant feet. The finest carpets come from
the north. Carpets made in recent years often have war
motifs, such as tanks and automatic weapons, interwoven.
Kabul's museum had priceless collections of Central
Asian art objects from prehistoric times onwards. During
the battles of the 1990s, the building was destroyed and
parts of the collections were looted. The Taliban
destroyed many statues for religious reasons. In 2003,
however, it was revealed that most of the clowns had
been hidden from the beginning of the Soviet occupation.
Among the rescued was a 2,000-year-old gold treasure
found in northern Afghanistan in 1979. The museum has
been restored with international help.
The Vice President is being investigated for violent crimes
The Prosecutor General's Office opens a criminal investigation against Vice
President Rashid Dostum, who is accused of having robbed a political rival and
subjected him to serious sexual abuse. Dostum has a past as a warlord during the
civil war in the 1990s and is notorious for his brutality. His strong position
in northwestern Afghanistan has made it impossible for democratically elected
leaders to bypass him. The EU, USA, Australia and Canada, among others, have
demanded that the charges against Dostum be investigated.
A record number of Afghans are fleeing
The fighting in Afghanistan has so far driven more than 515,000 people into
the country so far this year, the UN reports. This is more than has ever been
reported before. At the same time, more than 600,000 Afghans have more or less
been forced to return from Pakistan during the year, which puts additional
burden on the already hard-fought aid organizations. The Taliban are estimated
to control, or try to take control of, almost a third of the country.
Taliban offer protection
The Taliban offer to protect important infrastructure projects "in the
interests of the people and the country". The Islamist resistance movement says
in a statement that it is prepared, among other things, to ensure that a copper
mine in the province of Logar can start after years of delays and that a planned
international gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to India can be built through
Afghanistan. At the same time, the government says the Taliban only damaged
bridges and other multi-million dollar infrastructure over the past three
Shiite attack kills dozens
At least 30 people are killed and dozens injured when a suicide bomber
attacks a Shiite mosque in Kabul. The mosque was full of worshipers who attended
an important feast.
"Possible American war crimes"
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says that US soldiers may have committed
war crimes in Afghanistan and that she will soon decide whether a formal
investigation should be initiated. If the judges approve such, the International
Criminal Court takes another step in its development. However, it is unlikely
that the United States will cooperate on an investigation into the country's own
Parliament dismisses ministers
Despite the appeals from the country's leaders not to hurt the government in
a critical situation, Parliament votes to dismiss five ministers citing their
weak efforts. Only the Minister of Finance gets approved by those who are the
subject of a vote. Among those being kicked are the Foreign Minister and the
Minister of Education. But President Ghani immediately responds by telling the
dismissed ministers to ignore Parliament's decision and to continue working.
Suicide bombing on American airbase
Four Americans are killed and 16 Americans, as well as one pole, are injured
in a suicide attack inside the Bagram airbase north of Kabul. The one who
manages to carry out the attack inside one of the most heavily guarded military
facilities in the country is an Afghan who is employed at the base.
German consulate attacked
At least six people are killed and over 120 injured when Taliban attack
Germany's consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif. A truck full of explosives destroys the
wall around the building after which a firefight erupts in the area. The
explosion is so powerful that surrounding buildings are partially demolished and
window panes are crushed several kilometers away. No German personnel are
killed, but the German government says it will review the country's leading role
in the international operation in northern Afghanistan.
Misaligned flight fears kill civilians
In a plane attack carried out by NATO in Kunduz, at least 30 civilians were
killed, including many children, according to local sources. NATO says the
attack was carried out to support its own forces that were shelled by the
Taliban and that an investigation should be done.
More and more soldiers are being killed
Afghan Defense Force losses increase sharply in 2016, according to a US
government agency. From the turn of the year until the middle of August, 5,523
soldiers were killed, several hundred more than in the whole of 2015, which was
then considered a disastrous figure. During the same period in 2016, another
close to 10,000 soldiers were wounded. According to the same US authority, Sigar,
responsible for US reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, the Afghan state lost
control of two percent of its territory between May and August.
IS kills 30
Suspected members of the Islamic State are robbing and killing 30 people from
a village in the central province of Ghor, among others the governor of the
province. The killings raise concerns that IS will succeed in establishing
itself in other parts of the country than the easternmost provinces.
More than 350,000 returnees
The UN announces that more than 350,000 Afghan refugees have returned from
Pakistan during the year. The figure also includes persons who have not been
registered as refugees. A large majority have returned since July. The strong
influx is feared to lead to severe humanitarian distress in the war-torn and
poorly organized country.
Big losses for the army and the police
About 100 soldiers and police are reported to have been killed by Taliban as
they tried to break the siege of a village outside the provincial capital of
Lashkar Gah in Helmand. Over the course of ten days, more than 200 members of
the security forces and at least 45 civilians have been killed in fighting
around Lashkar Gah, local authorities say.
Massages on Shiites
At least 18 people are killed when some men open fire inside a Shiite mosque
in Kabul during the celebration of the important weekend ashura. About 50 people
are injured in the attack that the Islamic State claims to have carried out.
Struggles continue in Kunduz
Fighting between the Taliban and army unions continues in Kunduz for the
fifth day. Thousands of civilians are reported to have fled the city.
Opium cultivation is increasing
According to the UN, this year, opium is growing well over 200,000 hectares
of land in Afghanistan, which is the third largest area since the first such
measurements were made in 1994. The attempts to destroy crops have yielded
little results at all in 2016 according to the UN.
Continued billion support is promised
Afghanistan will continue to promise multi-billion support until 2020 at a
donor conference in Brussels involving more than 70 governments and
international organizations. EUR 1.2 billion is promised from the EU and the
total promises are $ 15.2 billion. In return, donor countries want to see that
the Afghan authorities are really making efforts to stop the corruption and the
waste of money, as well as the implementation of political reforms and the
strengthening of respect for human rights. Before the conference, Afghanistan
promises to start taking back refugees who have been denied asylum applications
in the EU. A separate readmission agreement is signed with Sweden. Among other
Save the Children is seriously considering that refugees should be able to be
forced back into a country that is still characterized by widespread violence.
New attack on Kunduz
Taliban attack the provincial capital of Kunduz, a year after the Islamist
militia took control of the city for a few days.
Peace with notorious warlord
The Afghan state makes peace with the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who during
the war against the Soviet Union and the civil war of 1992-1996 became known for
gross abuses on civilians and for breaking agreements. His notorious militia
Hezb-i-Islami has been largely inactive in recent years.
India offers billion aid
India provides Afghanistan with a billion dollars in support for education,
health care and agriculture. India is the fifth largest donor to Afghanistan.
Many Afghans return from Pakistan
According to the UNHCR UNHCR, more than 100,000 Afghan refugees have returned
from Pakistan since July. In the first half of 2016, only 7,000 returned to
Afghanistan. It is mainly hard pressure from the Pakistani authorities that
drives so many to return, although the outlook in the home country is bleak.
Three terrorist attacks within a day
At least 41 people are killed and over 100 injured when three blast attacks
are carried out in Kabul in less than a day.
American soldiers to Helmand
For the first time since most of the foreign units left Afghanistan in 2014,
US soldiers are sent to the southern province of Helmand to help the Afghan army
fight back Taliban attacks on provincial capital Lashkar Gah.
Abdullah accuses Ghani of breach of contract
Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah says that Ashraf Ghani will not serve as
President. He accuses Ghani of breaking the 2014 agreement on a two-year power
split that would be followed by a reformed electoral system and a constitutional
change that would create a real post as prime minister.
Tens of thousands fly in Helmand
A Taliban offensive in Helmand in the south drives about 30,000 villagers on
the run to mainly the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.
Offensive against IS
The army claims to have killed about 120 members of IS in an offensive in
Nangarhar province. The ground offensive has been supported by American
Civilian victims are steadily increasing
The UN Organization for Afghanistan, Unama, reports that the number of
civilian victims of the conflict in the country is steadily increasing. During
the first half of the year, 1,601 civilians were killed and 3,556 injured.
Almost a third of the victims were children. This is an increase of four percent
compared to the same period in 2015.
Massacre on demonstrative Shi'ite Muslims
Up to 80 people are killed and 230 injured in a suicide attack in Kabul. Most
of the victims are Shi'a Muslims who take part in a demonstration for the demand
for a new international power line to be pulled through two provinces dominated
by the Shiite-dominated group of Hazarians. Islamic State (IS) says two of its
fighters carried out the attack.
The United States is slowing down the retreat
US President Barack Obama decides that 8,400 US soldiers will remain in
Afghanistan in 2017. Previously, the plan was to reduce the current 9,800 force
to 5,500 at year-end 2016-2017. Obama is referring to the sensitive security
situation in the country.
Taliban kills police cadets
Thirty people are killed and 58 injured when two suicide bombers attack a bus
column of police cadets on Kabul's western outskirts. The Taliban are taking on
Hard fighting against IS
Dozens of people are killed in fighting in the eastern province of Nangarhar
between government forces and members of the Islamic State (IS), authorities
Key entries are added
Parliament approves the persons nominated by President Ghani as Minister of
Defense and Head of the Intelligence Service; Both items have been vacant for
many months. New Defense Minister becomes General Abdullah Habibi, who has long
worked at the ministry, while Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai is given responsibility
for the security service. He has previously been one of the leaders of the
government's attempted peace talks with the Taliban.
The United States is becoming more active
The United States announces that the country will increase its efforts in
Afghanistan, not in the form of more soldiers but through more "pro-active"
support to the Afghan troops.
New Taliban leader
Haibatullah Akhundzada is appointed Taliban's new leader. He is said to have
been the head of the Sharia courts under the Taliban regime in 1996–2001 and is
considered by the judges as a unifying force.
Taliban leader killed
Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour is killed in a US drone attack in the Pakistani
province of Baluchistan.
Taliban is executed
Six prisoners with connections to the Taliban are executed. These are the
first executions approved by President Ghani since he took office in 2014.
Big attack in Kabul
Sixty-four people are killed and 347 injured in a suicide attack and
subsequent shootings in central Kabul. The Taliban take on the attack, which is
the bloodiest in the city since 2011.
More child war victims
The United Nations Organization for Afghanistan, Unama, says more and more
children are being killed by fighting in the cities. During the first three
months of the year, 161 children were killed and 449 injured, which is 29
percent more than in the first quarter of 2015.
Parliament approves appointments
Approves the appointment of former Army General Taj Muhammad Jahed as
Minister of the Interior and the former member of the Afghan Human Rights
Commission Mohammad Farid to become a new State Prosecutor;
Criticism of mild punishment for hospital bombing
Several aid and human rights organizations strongly criticize the people who
made the mistakes that led to the US fighter bombing a Kunduz hospital (see
October 2015) and killing some 40 civilians escaping with written warnings and
in some cases suspension of service.
The Taliban reject peace talks
The Taliban announce that they do not intend to participate in the peace
talks planned by the US, China and Pakistan within the next few days. A
spokesman said the Taliban did not want to negotiate with anyone until all
foreign soldiers left the country and the militia attacks ceased.
Pakistani recognition of the Taliban
For the first time, the Pakistani government recognizes that the leadership
of the Afghan Taliban lives in shelter with their families in Pakistan.
Delayed election results
More than a year and a half after the 2014 presidential election, the
Election Commission publishes what is described as the official result.
According to it, current President Ghani received 55.27 percent of the vote and
challenger Abdullah Abdullah 44.73.
More and more civilian victims
According to the UN, the number of civilian victims of the war increased by
four percent in 2015, when at least 3,545 civilians were killed and 7,457
injured. The increase was mainly due to more fighting or attacks in populated
HRW: "gross human rights violations"
Human Rights Watch writes in an annual report that the Ghani government has
not succeeded in stopping serious human rights violations. Neither torture in
prisons nor brutal abuse of women have been prevented.
Seven employees of the private TV channel Tolo are killed in a suicide attack
in Kabul. The Taliban take on the deed and say it is a revenge for the TV
Parliamentary elections are announced this fall
Parliamentary elections will be held on October 15, almost 1.5 years delayed,
the Election Commission announces. Local elections must be held at the same
Peace Process Conversation
In Islamabad, Pakistan, representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and
the United States meet to discuss the possibilities of launching a new peace
process for Afghanistan. Spokespeople say the key point is to persuade the
Taliban to think of the possibility of a peaceful solution to the conflict.