Constitutional & Legal Foundations
In 2000 Afghanistan did not have a constitution, legislative branch, or legal system. The loosely organized political factions tacitly agreed that they would follow Islamic law through local Shari'a (Islamic) courts. The country's 29 provincial governments bore the brunt of responsibility for maintaining and delivering the limited governmental services intermittently available during war years. Afghanistan's lack of central government and related infrastructure at the beginning of 2001 could be traced to the Taliban's keenly agile response to Russia's folly.
To begin with, Russia's ten-year attempt (1979-1989) at dominating Afghanistan was trouble-filled not only because most Afghans opposed any foreign nonIslamic control but also because Afghanistan society was so loosely knit. Centralized governments are easier to topple than scattered governing councils who are able to put forth new leaders almost at will. Afghan freedom fighters—with weapons and training supplied by the United States and other countries—were able to rally the country's many political parties into an allied resistance against the Russian supported Karmal. In 1986 Muhammad Najibullah, the former head of the Afghan secret police, replaced Karmal. But, Najibullah's administration also depended upon Russian support and could not broaden its base of support into Afghanistan society. By 1988 the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the United States and the Soviet Union serving as guarantors, signed an agreement that settled disagreements between the neighboring countries. The agreement also included the full withdrawal of Russian troops by February 1989 and noninterference in Afghanistan's internal affairs by either Russia or the United States.
The Afghan freedom fighters were not parties to the international agreement, so they refused to accept its terms. War between Afghan factions escalated but Najibullah remained in control until March 1992 when his general, Abdul Rashid Dostman, and Uzbek militia defected. Subsequently, Afghan freedom fighter groups agreed to establish an "Islamic Interim Government" to assume power under the leadership of Professor Sibghatullah Mojaddedi of the Afghanistan National Liberation Front political party for three months. Then, a ten-member leadership council was to be formed under the Islamic Society political party's leader, Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, for another three months after which time a grand council of Afghan elders and leaders was to convene to designate an interim administration to hold power for up to one year pending elections. When Rabbani prematurely formed his leadership council, Mojaddedi surrendered. Rabbani was elected president of the new leadership council, but fighting between the various political factions continued. In 1993 two accords, the Islamabad naming Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as prime minister and the Jalalabad calling for disarmament, were signed but both failed to bring lasting peace.
In 1994 an unknown fundamentalist Islamic group, the Taliban (Religious Students Movement), most of whom had been exiled, educated and trained in Pakistan, appeared in the southeastern city of Kandahar. The Taliban movement spread rapidly throughout southern Afghanistan and gathered steam when oppositional groups surrendered their arms. In fact, entire provinces surrendered to the movement with very little resistance. By 1995 the majority of the country, including the capital city of Kabul were under Taliban control. In 1996 the Taliban declared itself the legitimate government. At that time the Taliban renamed the country the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan."
According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report, Afghans supported the Taliban because they appeared to offer freedom from the war-ravaged years of fighting between the various freedom fighter power factions. But, apparent disillusionment with the Taliban set in as their severe interpretation of Islamic law; strict enforcement of keeping women in seclusion and restrictions on female education and employment became more widely apparent. Consequently, the Taliban were unable to firmly establish centralized government controlling all provincial areas of the country. The UN continued to recognize Burhanuddin Rabbani as president and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as prime minister of Afghanistan in 2000. Also, the Organization of the Islamic Conference left Afghanistan's seat vacant until the legitimacy of its government could be resolved through negotiations among the warring parties.
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