A river in Nuristan province
Map of Afghanistan with Nuristan highlighted
|• Governor||Hafiz Abdul Qayyum|
|ISO 3166 code||AF-NUR|
Nuristān (Persian/Pashto: نورستان), also spelled Nurestān or Nooristan, is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the eastern part of the country. It is divided into seven districts and has a population of about 130,000. Parun serves as the provincial capital.
The primary occupations are agriculture, animal husbandry, and day labor. Located on the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush mountains in the northeastern part of the country, Nuristan spans the basins of the Alingâr, Pech, Landai Sin, and Kunar rivers. It is bordered on the north by Badakhshan Province, on the south by Laghman and Kunar provinces, on the west by Panjshir province, and on the east by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
|History of Afghanistan|
The region was historically known as Kafiristan (meaning "Land of the kafirs") because of its inhabitants: the Nuristani, an ethnically distinctive people who practiced a form of ancient Hinduism. It was conquered by Emir Abdur Rahman Khan in the late 19th century and the Nuristani people began converting to Islam.
"The Kafirs are thought to be the original inhabitants of the plains country of Afghanistan in what is now Nuristan. They were driven back into the mountain areas by the arrival of Islam in the country about 700AD. They are thought to be the descendents of the old native population that used to occupy the region, and they did not convert to Islam with the rest of the population, remaining pagan for several more centuries."—Frank Clements, 2003
British Missionaries wrote:
The region was renamed Nuristan, meaning Land of the enlightened, a reflection of the "enlightening" of the pagan Nuristani by the "light-giving" of Islam.
Nuristan was once thought to have been a region through which Alexander the Great passed with a detachment of his army; thus the folk legend that the Nuristani people are descendants of Alexander (or "his generals").
Abdul Wakil Khan Nuristani is one of the most prominent figures in Nuristan's history. He fought against the British-led Punjabi army and drove them out of the eastern provinces of Afghanistan. He is buried on the same plateau where King Amanullah Khan is buried.
Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Pakistani politicians have been focusing on connecting what is now Tajikistan with Pakistan. This requires weakening Afghan rule in Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces by secretly funding anti-Afghan rebel forces, similar to Kashmir conflict with India. In the meantime, Afghan politicians (particularly Mohammed Daoud Khan) have been focusing on re-annexing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of what is now Pakistan. This has led to militancy on both sides of the Durand Line border.
Nuristan was the scene of some of the heaviest guerrilla fightings during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan. The province was influenced by Mawlawi Afzal's Islamic Revolutionary State of Afghanistan, which was supported by Pakistan nationalists and Saudi Arabia. It dissolved under the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban rule) in the late 1990s.
Nuristan is one of the poorest and most remote provinces of Afghanistan. Few NGO's operate in Nuristan because of Taliban insurgency and lack of safe roads. The United States and the Afghan government are jointly working to solve these issues. Some road construction projects were launched linking Nangarej to Mandol and Chapa Dara to Titan Dara. The Afghan government also worked on a direct road route to Laghman province, in order to reduce dependence on the road through restive Kunar province to the rest of Afghanistan. Other road projects were started aimed at improving the primitive road from Kamdesh to Bargamatal, and from Nangalam in Kunar province to the provincial center at Parun.
Since Nuristan is a highly ethnically homogeneous province, there are few incidents of inter-ethnic violence. However, there are instances of disputes among inhabitants, some of which continue for decades. Nuristan has suffered from its inaccessibility and lack of infrastructure. The government presence is under-developed, even compared to neighboring provinces. Nuristan's formal educational sector is weak, with few professional teachers. Due to its proximity to Pakistan, many of the inhabitants are actively involved in trade and commerce across the border.
A map from the Afghan Ministry of the Interior produced in 2009 showed the western region of Nuristan to be under "enemy control". There have been numerous conflicts between anti-Afghanistan militants and U.S.-led Afghan security forces. In April 2008 members of the 3rd Special Forces Group led Afghan soldiers from the Commando Brigade into the Shok valley in an unsuccessful attempt to capture warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In July 2008 approximately 200 Taliban guerrillas attacked a NATO position just south of Nuristan, near the village of Wanat in the Waygal District, killing 9 U.S. soldiers. In the following year, in early October, more than 350 anti-Afghanistan militants backed by members of the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin and other militia groups fought U.S.-led Afghan security forces in the Battle of Kamdesh at Camp Keating in Nuristan. The base was nearly overrun; more than 100 Taliban fighters, eight U.S. soldiers, and seven members of the Afghan security forces were killed during the fighting. Four days after the battle, in early October 2009, U.S. forces withdrew from their four main bases in Nuristan, as part of a plan by General Stanley McChrystal to pull troops out of small outposts and relocate them closer to major towns. The U.S. has pulled out from some areas in the past, but never from all four main bases. A month after the U.S. pullout the Taliban was governing openly in Nuristan. According to The Economist, Nuristan is "a place so tough that NATO abandoned it in 2010 after failing to subdue it."
The current governor of the province is Hafiz Abdul Qayyum. His predecessor was Jamaluddin Badar, who was sacked and convicted in Kabul for political corruption. The town of Parun serves as the capital of Nuristan province.
All law enforcement activities throughout the province are controlled by the Afghan National Police (ANP). The border with neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is monitored by the Afghan Border Police (ABP). A provincial police chief is assigned to lead both the ANP and the ABP. The Police Chief represents the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul. The ANP and ABP are backed by the Afghan Armed Forces, including the NATO-led forces.
The percentage of households with clean drinking water increased from 2% in 2005 to 12% in 2011. The percentage of births attended to by a skilled birth attendant increased from 1% in 2005 to 22% in 2011.
In 2002 the first gender assessment of women's conditions in Nuristan was completed. The overall literacy rate (6+ years of age) fell from 17.7% in 2005 to 17% in 2011. The overall net enrolment rate (6–13 years of age) increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 45% in 2011.
The main Nuristani tribes in the province are:
|Du Ab||Established in 2004, formerly part of Nuristan District and Mangol District|
|Mandol||Lost territory to Du Ab District in 2004|
|Nurgram||Established in 2004, formerly part of Nuristan District and Wama District|
|Parun||Parun||Established in 2004, formerly part of Wama District|
|Wama||Lost territory to Parun District and Nurgram District in 2004|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nuristan Province.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Nuristan.|
||Badakhshan Province||Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan|
|Laghman Province||Kunar Province|