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Culture

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 memories.

  • Countryaah: 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 Heritage List.

  • Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Afghanistan. Artists and albums are also included.

Culture of AfghanistanAfghan 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.

2016

December

The Vice President is being investigated for violent crimes

December 17

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.

November

A record number of Afghans are fleeing

November 30

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

November 29th

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 months.

Shiite attack kills dozens

November 21st

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"

November 14

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 soldiers.

Parliament dismisses ministers

November 13

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

November 12

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

November 10

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

November 3

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.

October

More and more soldiers are being killed

October 30th

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

October 26th

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

October 18

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

October 11

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

October 11

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

October 7

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

October 5

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

October 5

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

October 3

Taliban attack the provincial capital of Kunduz, a year after the Islamist militia took control of the city for a few days.

September

Peace with notorious warlord

September 22

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

September 14

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

September 8

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

September 5

At least 41 people are killed and over 100 injured when three blast attacks are carried out in Kabul in less than a day.

August

American soldiers to Helmand

August 23rd

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

August 11th

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

10th August

A Taliban offensive in Helmand in the south drives about 30,000 villagers on the run to mainly the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.

July

Offensive against IS

July 26

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 aviation.

Civilian victims are steadily increasing

July 25

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

23 July

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

July 6

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.

June

Taliban kills police cadets

June 30th

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 the deed.

Hard fighting against IS

June 26

Dozens of people are killed in fighting in the eastern province of Nangarhar between government forces and members of the Islamic State (IS), authorities say.

Key entries are added

June 20

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

June 11

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.

May

New Taliban leader

May 25

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

May 22

Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour is killed in a US drone attack in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

Taliban is executed

May 8

Six prisoners with connections to the Taliban are executed. These are the first executions approved by President Ghani since he took office in 2014.

April

Big attack in Kabul

April 19

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

April 17

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

April 9

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;

March

Criticism of mild punishment for hospital bombing

March 18th

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

March 5th

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

March 2

For the first time, the Pakistani government recognizes that the leadership of the Afghan Taliban lives in shelter with their families in Pakistan.

February

Delayed election results

February 24th

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

February 14th

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 areas.

January

HRW: "gross human rights violations"

January 27

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.

Journalists murdered

January 20th

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 station's "propaganda".

Parliamentary elections are announced this fall

January 20th

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 time.

Peace Process Conversation

January 11

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.

 

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