Afghanistan I

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:04:07
Year Produced: 2010
Description:

At the crossroads of commerce and international conflict, near the heart of central Asia, is Afghanistan. It is stark, rugged, and beautiful, with untapped natural resources and a population divided internally but fiercely independent when facing outside invasion.

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Transcript

Lead: At the crossroads of commerce and international conflict, near the heart of central Asia, is Afghanistan. It is stark, rugged, and beautiful, with untapped natural resources and a population divided internally but fiercely independent when facing outside invasion.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Afghanistan is mountainous, arid and, despite being landlocked, is surrounded and attached by borders to some of the most contentious and powerful nations in the world. It is slightly smaller than the state of Texas and is rich in undeveloped natural resources including coal, copper, iron, and recently discovered natural gas and oil deposits. It is primarily an agricultural country, with grazing, grains and vegetables and, most importantly, much of the world’s supply of opium.

If there ever was a demographic melting pot, it is Afghanistan. Scythian, Turkic, Mongols Seleucids, Persians, and Arabs all settled in the region and contributed to what has become the rich variation of Afghan tribal groupings, some 400 in number that are loosely associated with the modern names of Pashtun (42%), Tajik (27%), Hazara (9%), Uzbek, Aimak, Turkman, and Baloch in descending order of size. This variation contributes to the inter-tribal rivalry and conflict and resistance to central governmental control, but does not prevent the groups from wheeling from their internecine quarreling into ferocious resistance to outside assault. Waves of invaders have washed across the region but for the most part failed to dominate it. Only Islam remains from the Arab invasion of the seventh century CE, and most Afghans adhere to the Sunni sect.

While there have been urban civilizations in the region for 5,000 years, Afghanistan did not take its modern shape until the mid-1700s when Ahmed Khan united the tribes, established his capital at Kandahar and turned restless tribal energy to military conquest--expanding borders and giving form to a great nation. He died in 1772 and is known as Ahmed the Great and Baba, “Father.”

Next time: Engagement.

Research by Nancy Waldo at the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.