AREU Synthesis Paper Series
Balkh’s northern Turkmen districts.44 In general, however, Governor Atta maintains a tight control over the majority of the province. His policy of incorporating most ethnic leaders and area commanders into his system of governing has minimised ethnic tensions, and for the most part he controls a monopoly of violence in the region. His dominance of political and economic networks is also pervasive—large contracts for construction and other projects are largely restricted to his affiliates, and all the current MPs are said to be connected to varying degrees either to him or to his party Jamiat-i-Islami.
Parwan is located to the north of Kabul Province, stretching across the plains that link Kabul with Panjshir Province and the Salang Pass across the Hindu Kush Mountains. Its population is majority Tajik, with a number of Pashtun and Hazara communities.Trade activity occurs for the most part in the provincial centre of Charikar, and along the main road which runs through the district centre and forms part of the central trade route from Kabul to Mazar. Charikar is situated approximately one hours’ drive from Kabul a number of residents commute regularly to the city. The proximity to the Kabul also allows Parwan MPs, for example, to live there and return to their constituency on a regular basis. Services are limited, with less than half of 6-13 year-olds attending school.45 Many residents of Charikar complain bitterly about the lack of electricity and water provision, claiming that the recently installed pylons in the area carry electricity to Kabul but do not provide connections to a power source for Parwan.46
Due to its strategic location between Panjshir and Kabul, Parwan was at the forefront of Soviet-Afghan War as well as the resistance against the Taliban.
Interviews among the Turkmen community for the AREU research
project on parliamentary Balkh Province.
Sogol Zand, “The Impact of Microfinance Programmes on Women’s
Lives: A Case Study in Parwan province” (Kabul: AREU, 2010), 7.
Interviews, residents of Charikar.
Security in the current context is variable, and largely depends on the often unstable relationship between the province’s two leading commanders. The province also plays host to the well-known US air base and detention centre at Bagram. In general, Parwan has a religious history and was home to a famous Sunni Imam, Abu Hanifa. As such, the main powerholders in the area are largely religious figures, with the ulema shura controlling much of the decision-making authority in the province.47
Nangarhar is one of Afghanistan’s most populous provinces due to the presence of the rapidly expanding city of Jalalabad and the fertile land surrounding it. Situated approximately three hours’ drive east of Kabul and bordering Pakistan, the province is also well-positioned in terms of water supply and trade. Largely Pashtun in ethnicity, minorities include Tajik, Arab, Pashai, Sikh and Hindu. In general there is a good relationship between the majority Pashtun community and other groups. The provincial capital of Jalalabad City is the eastern economic centre of Afghanistan. It is generally well-developed, offering some of the best hospitals and one of the best universities in the country. Access to schools and other services such as electricity in the city and surrounding districts is widespread, as is the availability of TV, radio and other media. However, population pressure is putting increasing strain on the urban infrastructure, and modernisation efforts are significantly behind those in Mazar.
Like Balkh, however, Nangarhar cannot be assessed without considering the figure of its Governor, Gul Agha Sherzai. Sherzai was appointed 2005 after serving three years as Governor of Kandahar. As in Kandahar, he has been able assert control over the border crossings, levying customs taxes to put toward the “Sherzai Reconstruction Fund” (as one respondent put it) for the rebuilding of Jalalabad City. Sherzai’s activities are a source of significant resentment. While this is largely due to suspicions
Information for this section was updated with the assistance of Dr
Abdul Mateen Imran, Senior Research Assistant, AREU. It also draws on
information compiled by the research team for this project in 2009.