AREU Synthesis Paper Series
Table 1. Provincial profiles*
Number of MPs
Number of PC Members
Ustad Atta Noor
Gul Agha Sherzai
Gen. Mohmmad Musa
Ghulum Destagir Azad
Population statistics are estimates and notoriously variable. These are official Central Statistics Organization (CSO) figures published
for 2010-11 (“Estimated Population of Afghanistan 2010/11,” [Kabul: CSO, 2011]). As an example, other figures cited for the population of Nimroz include 118,000 (Government of Afghanistan, “Provincial Development Plan: Nimroz Provincial Profile” [Kabul: Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, 2008], 1) and 272,000 (Relief International, “Relief International Nimroz Office: Rapid Rural Appraisal Report,” [Nimroz: RI, 2009]). The variance in this case could be largely the result of refugee movement across the Afghan-Iranian border.
at the time of writing—Engineer Mohammad Younus Nawandesh—is a recent appointment who has instigated the long-overdue repaving of the city’s streets. This has quickly earned him the respect of many, who compare him favourably to his apparently corrupt predecessor. The main source of power and patronage in Kabul, however, is the central government, and the personalities within
the executive in particular.
Balkh Province is located in the north of Afghanistan, bordering Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north across the Amu Darya River. Home to the growing and modern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the province is composed mainly of Tajik and Arab42 ethnic groups along with a sizeable Hazara, Uzbek and Turkmen population. A number of Pashtun communities also exist, primarily as a result of the relocation of government officials and redistribution of land over the course of the early- to mid-twentieth century.43 Despite some tensions, ethnic groups in Balkh have generally co-existed peacefully since 2001.
Due to the presence of such a large urban centre, Balkh Province has a high literacy rate. Mazar City competes with Kabul in terms of the public and private educational facilities available for its inhabitants (including Balkh University) along with other services such as paved roads and health facilities. Reliable electricity is available to most city residents and also to those living in districts close to the urban centre. In the last five years, the city has seen huge development in terms of construction, road-paving and the provision of modern facilities, largely due to the interventions of the Provincial Governor, Atta Mohammad Noor. Representing a significant investment in the renovation of the city, these interventions have made a considerable difference to the lives of many city residents. Such improvements were evident in the data collected, which reflected a generally educated demographic who were largely aware of political events occurring in both Mazar and Kabul. However, while many urban interviewees had access to television and radio, this was not the case in the rural study district, where there was less information available about
events outside the province.
42 The term “Arab” refers here to groups descent from the Prophet Muhammad and who “Arabs,” but who do not speak Arabic.
of Afghans who claim refer to themselves as
With thanks to Mohammad Muneer Salamzai for his contribution to
Security in the province is generally good, although recent reports suggest that violence in neighbouring Kunduz is starting to spill over into
this historical perspective.