There are the burned out skeletons of tanks and armoured vehicles, the ruins of homes destroyed by rockets or bombs and the pock marks where walls have been hit by bullets, to mention only the most obvious.
This is a wounded land and it bears many scars
But there are other scars too. There are scars on the minds and hearts of Afghan people from years of warfare, compounded by years of drought. Not a family is untouched by tragedy, whether the loss of a son or father in battle, the loss of a mother or wife to bombing and shelling, or the loss of a child to starvation. Afghanistan used have a population which was more than 80% rural but large numbers of people have moved off the land in response to fear, starvation and ethnic hatred. A whole generation knows nothing but the ways of war or the life of a refugee in a camp by a distant (and sometimes foreign) city.
Children in Afghanistan
Almost half of the population is under the age of 14 years. Life expectancy is presently about 45 years. Infant mortality is one of the highest rates in the world with 147 deaths per 1,000 live births. Afghanistan has the lowest literacy rate, 15%, for women in the world.
Education in Afghanistan has been severely eroded by more than two decades of war and five years of Taliban rule, during which girls over 8 were barred from school and boys were mostly taught about Islam. There are an estimated 4.4 million primary school age children in Afghanistan. Even before the Taliban took power in 1996, schools in Kabul were rarely open because of the factional fighting that began when the pro-Moscow government collapsed in 1992 and many schools in the capital were destroyed.
What does the future hold for the people of Afghanistan? There is no question that these kinds of scars and problems will take longer to heal and solve than the obvious physical needs. In the long run it is only the grace of God that can bind up the wounds and heal the land.
Pray for the Muslims in Afghanistan:
* That God’s people will commit to long term involvement in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, not just until it fades from the media spotlight.
* That Afghans who have fled to the West will return to rebuild their land.
* That those who have come to know the Lord Jesus as their saviour in the West will be moved by His compassion for their own people and also return to help, despite the risks.
* That the radio ministry of FEBA and their programme suppliers will be particularly effective in this land where less than one in five can read.
* That the believers in Afghanistan, perhaps as many as 3,000, will find ways to share their hope with those who have none.
Background on Afghanistan (World Factbook)
Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, but withdrew 10 years later under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. A civil war between mujahedin factions erupted following the 1992 fall of the Communist regime.
The Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country’s civil war and anarchy, seized Kabul in 1996 and most of the country outside of opposition Northern Alliance strongholds by 1998.
Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, a US, Allied, and Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. In late 2001, a conference in Bonn, Germany, established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution and a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. On 7 December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. The National Assembly was inaugurated on 19 December 2005. Karzai was re-elected in August 2009.
Economy of Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s economy is recovering from decades of conflict. Real GDP growth exceeded 8% in 2006. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan is extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, agriculture, and trade with neighboring countries. Expanding poppy cultivation and a growing opium trade generate roughly $3 billion in illicit economic activity and looms as one of Kabul’s most serious policy concerns.
Population: 31,108,077 (July 2013 est.) World rank #40
Life Expectancy at Birth: 50.11 years. World rank #219
Ethnic Groups: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
Religions: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi’a Muslim 19%, other 1%
Languages: Afghan Persian or Dari (official) 50%, Pashtu (official) 35%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism
Literacy: 28.1% — Male: 43.1%, Female: 12.6%
School life expectancy: 8 years — Male: 10 years, Female: 6 years