War in Afghanistan: Overthrow of the Taliban and Aftermath


throughout the country. The Pashtun are a proud people who live by a code of conduct, Pashtunwali , that emphasizes honor. The language of the Pashtun, Pashto, is widely spoken in the country. Other important ethnic groups in Afghanistan are the Tajiks, who mostly live around Herat, a provincial capital in the west, and in north- eastern Afghanistan. Uzbeks and Turkmen live in the north, while the Hazara live in Afghanistan’s central mountain ranges. Many smaller eth- nic groups can be found within the country as well. Due to Afghanistan’s ethnic diversity, it has been difficult for the coun- try to forge a national identity. The Afghan people tend to be more devot- ed to their tribe and religion than to the nation. Afghans do put aside their ethnic differences to confront outside threats, such as the Soviet invasion and occupation that began in 1979, but this unity tends to disappear once

the external threat is removed. A Country in Turmoil

Due to the recent decades of conflict in Afghanistan, today many Americans view the country as as a backwater where ethnic groups are


boycott— a punitive ban that forbids interaction with certain groups until they change their behavior. Cold War— a period of tensions between the world’s two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, that lasted from 1947 until 1991. The two countries did not fight an open conflict during the Cold War; instead, each tried influence other countries to support its goals and objectives. colonialism— a policy in which one country directly rules outlying ter- ritories and uses their labor and resources to increase its power. cosmopolitan— a society where aspects of many different cultures are blended easily together. coup d’état— a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a gov- ernment. exile— to be banned from a native country.

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