Farah Province

Farah Province

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Farah is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan
Provinces of Afghanistan
The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions of Afghanistan. As of 2004, there are thirty-four provinces in the country. Each province is further divided into smaller districts....

. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Farah
Farah, Afghanistan
Farah is a city in western Afghanistan, situated at 650 m altitude, and located on the Farah River. It is the capital of Farah Province, and has a population of approximately 109,409....

. Farah is a spacious and sparsely populated province that lies on the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian border. The population is predominantly Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

.

Geographically the province is approximately 18000 square miles (46,619.8 km²), making it (comparatively) more than twice the size of Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, or half the size of South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

. The province is bounded on the north by Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, on the northeast by Ghor, the southeast by Helmand, the south by Nimroz, and on the west by Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. It is the fourth largest province in Afghanistan.

The province is home to a great many ruined castles including the "Castle of the Infidel" just south of Farah City.

Culture


Farah is associated with large families (families typically have a minimum of four children). The culture of Farah is patriarchal
Patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

, where the tribal leaders, almost always men, are highly respected. Family pride is strongly valued and family members are taught to respect it and ensure that it is maintained at all times.

Farah belonges culturally and historically to Sistan (Sistan and Balutschestan Province in Iran) and the Greater Khorasan. Farah shares a unique culture with the people of Iran, especially with the people of the eastern provinces of Iran (language, dialect, expressions, mythology, etc.).

Particularly the ethnic Tajiks of Farah have a huge and remarkable interaction to Iran and Iranians: This is not since the migration of people of Farah in 1979 to Iran and the eruption of soviet occupation of Farah but more prior to this time. A lot of Tajiks in Farah have family members and relatives in Iran before the existence what we call nowadays the national state of Iran and Afghanistan. Many of the Tajiks know the Iranian city of Sabol, Birjand, Mashad or Bojnourd as well as Farah because these are Persian cities in which they share the same language, dialect, Shia Islam, mythology, family members and much more. Travel between the two countries is frequent, and Iranian Persian-language media are popular in the province.

Similarly, many Pashtun people have relatives to the border area or in cities of Pakistan. The duration of such family relations between Persians from Farah to Iran or Pashutuns from Paktia to Pakistan has been as long as the exitence of the current political borders between Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Religious sites


The tomb of Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri (who claimed to be the Mahdi
Mahdi
In Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years- before the Day of Judgment and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny.In Shia Islam, the belief in the Mahdi is a "central religious...

) is in Farah and is visited every year by many people from all around the world, especially Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

Shahr-e Kohn-e or Fereydoon Shahr


Shahr-e Kohn-e ("Old City") or Fereydun Shahr ("City of Fereydoon") is located in Farah city. This ancient city is more than 3000 years old. It was one of the ancient places of the Persian kings, as Farah belonged historically to the Sistan empire. The name "Fereydun
Fereydun
Fereydūn also pronounced Farīdūn or Afrīdūn , also called Apam Napat, "Son of the Waters", is the name of an Iranian mythical king and hero who is an emblem of victory, justice and generosity in the Persian literature.-Etymology:All of the forms of...

" here refers to a hero of the Persian epic Shahnameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

.

Safavid Dynasty


Farah Province had been lost by the Safavids
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 to the Uzbeks of Transoxiana
Transoxiana
Transoxiana is the ancient name used for the portion of Central Asia corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, southern Kyrgystan and southwest Kazakhstan. Geographically, it is the region between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers...

, but was regained following a Safavid counter-offensive around 1600 CE, along with Herat and Sabzavar.

The Saur Revolution and the Soviet-Afghan War


Following the Afghan communist coup in 1978, Farah was one of the cities in which civilian massacres were carried out by the now-dominant Khalq
Khalq
Khalq was a faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Its historical leaders were Presidents Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin. It was also the name of the leftist newspaper produced by the same movement. It was supported by the USSR and was formed in 1965 when the PDPA was born...

i communists against their political, ethnic, and religious opponents. At the start of the 1980s, the majority of Farah was allied with the Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami
Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami
Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami was a traditionalist Afghan mujahedeen group fighting against Soviet forces during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi was the leader of the group. It operated Southern Afghan Provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Ghazni, Paktika, and Wardak...

 movement, but after 1981 the province split along linguistic lines, with Pashtun-speaking opponents of the communist government remaining with Harakat, and Farsi-Dari speakers moving to the Jamiat-e Islami
Jamiat-e Islami
Jamiat-e Islami , is an Islamic political party in Afghanistan along the line of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Jamiat-e Islami means "Islamic society" in the Persian language and is also known as just Jamiat for short. Jamiat is the oldest Islamic political party in Afghanistan...

.

Afghan Civil War


Following the 1992 collapse of the communist-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

, Farah Province, like Herat, Nimroz, and Badghis provinces, came under the influence of Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

-based powerbroker Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan is a politician and former mujahideen commander from Afghanistan. Born in the western Afghan city of Herat, he rose to become a powerful rebel commander during in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, and then a key member of the Northern Alliance until finally becoming the Governor of Herat...

. As the Taliban came to power, they sparred with Ismail Khan over Farah Province, as his occupation of the province and the strategic Shindand Airfield in its south stymied their efforts to seize Herat. The Taliban employed human wave tactics in an attempt to overtake the airfield. By late 1995, the stalemate broke as the Taliban counterattacked after Ismail Khan's failed drive to Kandahar, and all of Farah fell as the Taliban swept to take Herat on 5 September 1995.

Taliban era


Due to its isolation from the Taliban's area of focus, Farah exerted some small level of local control during Taliban rule. By the end of the Taliban period, there were eight United Nations Development Program (UNDP) schools, for both boys and girls, recognized and supported by the Taliban in Kandahar and Farah. UNDP noted that the local authorities in Farah were "particularly cooperative" on the subject.

Following the Coalition entry and union with the Northern Alliance following September 11, 2001, the Taliban withdrew from Farah due to the heavy Coalition aerial campaign, though ground troops were not sent to the province until some time later.

Security Situation



Farah has not seen much fighting since the US backed overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, and is peaceful, relative to many parts of the country. Although there has been sporadic heavy combat in the Bala Baluk, and Gulestan districts. However, mountainous Eastern Farah has seen at least one US offensive against Taliban forces. In February 2005, the Taliban killed an aid worker in northern Farah and there was a failed Taliban assassination attempt on the governor. Due to its proximity to the restive Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, Farah has experienced problems with roaming insurgent gangs moving through the province and occupying parts of the province for brief periods of time. Incidents of this type have increased as Taliban fighters face heavy pressure from ISAF
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 offensives in the south.

Farah Province roads have seen massive improvement since May 2005 and are still being improved to date April 2006. The education system has been greatly improved and a great number of illegal weapons have been collected and destroyed in the province as testimony to the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

In May 2009, an American airstrike in the village of Granai in Bala Buluk District occurred that killed a large number of civilians. American authorities are investigating the incident. According to the New York Times, the villagers say that 147 were killed, an independent Afghan human rights group says 117 were killed, but the American authorities are skeptical that even 100 were killed. The Americans claim the airstrike was targeting Taliban militants, but villagers say that the Taliban had left by the time the airstrike occurred. On May 19, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry
Karl Eikenberry
Karl Winfrid Eikenberry is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General and former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.-Education:Eikenberry graduated from Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1969 and then attended West Point, where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant upon...

 visited Farah town to talk with the survivors. He promised that "the United States will work tirelessly with your government, army and police to find ways to reduce the price paid by civilians, and avoid tragedies like what occurred in Bala Baluk."

Land mines


A 1995 Oxfam
Oxfam
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives...

 report lists Farah as "severely mined", and indicated that Farah was particularly problematic due to the wide variety of mine devices employed there, as well as usage of mines to deny access to irrigation systems.

Demographics


Farah province has a Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 majority of 80%. Tajiks or better to say Persian (Fars) live around the capital city and are 14% of the population, while more than 50-56%% of the population speak Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 (also known as Dari Persian) as mother tongue. Balochs
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

 are concentrated in the south of the province. There are also some Aimak
Aimak
Aymāq , also transliterated as Aimak or Aimaq, are a collection of Persian-speaking nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes. They are found throughout the north and northwest highlands of Afghanistan, immediately to the north of Herat, and in the Khorasan Province of Iran...

s and Hazaras. The originally nomadic Aimaks are considered as the indigenous population of the region, having occupied the area prior to the Muslim conquest
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, but much of their history has been lost especially during the Mongol conquest
Mongol Conquests
Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

. During the mid of the 19th century, many Pashtun tribes, mostly Abdali (Durrani) ones moved through Kandahar to Farah and settled there and became persianized
Persianization
Persianization or Persianisation is a sociological process of cultural change in which something non-Persian becomes Persianate. It is a specific form of cultural assimilation that often includes linguistic assimilation...

.

Pashtun tribes


The primary Pashtun tribes in Farah Province are the Noorzai
Noorzai
SHARIEF KHAN NOORZAI IS ONE OF THE MOST POWERFULL PASHTONS LEADER IN THE WHOLE AFGHANISTAN AND HE IS FROM THE THE TRIBE 'Noorzai or Nurzai and are one of the biggest tribes of the Pushtoon, with a population of roughly 4.5 million in Afghanistan. They are an influential tribe in southern and...

 (tribe), Barakzai
Barakzai
- History :Barakzai is a common ethnic name among the Pashtuns of Afghanistan/Pakistan and it means . Barakzai is also a Pashtun tribe in Pakistan, and more predominantly, in Afghanistan...

, and Alizay
Alizay
Alizay is a commune in the Eure department in Haute-Normandie in northern France.-Population:-References:*...

.

Districts



style="text-align:center; background:#bfd7ff;"| Districts of Farah Province
District Capital Population Area Notes
Anar Dara
Anar Dara District
Anar Dara is a district in Farah Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is approximately 70% Tajik with a Pashtun minority, was estimated at 30,000 in January 2005. The capital town, Anar Dara, is situated at 801 m altitude, with a population of about 13,300 people.-References:* , compiled...

 
24,782 70% Tajik, 30% Pashtun
Bakwa
Bakwa District
Bakwa is a district in Farah Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is entirely Pashtun, was estimated at 79,529 in November 2004. The district center is Sultani Bakwa. It is situated at 726 m altitude.-References:...

 
39,871 100% Pashtun
Bala Buluk  72,465 95% Pashtun, 5% Tajik
Farah
Farah City District
Farah City District is a district in Farah Province, Afghanistan, containing the main city of Farah. Its population was estimated at 159,310 in 2004, composed of 85% Pashtun and 10% Tajik, along with other minor ethnic groups.-Popular perceptions:...

 
Farah
Farah, Afghanistan
Farah is a city in western Afghanistan, situated at 650 m altitude, and located on the Farah River. It is the capital of Farah Province, and has a population of approximately 109,409....

109,409 85% Pashtun, 10% Tajik, 5% other
Gulistan
Gulistan District
Gulistan, also transliterated as Golestan , is a district in Farah Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is approximately 80% Pashtun with a Tajik minority, was estimated at 53,780 in October 2004. The main village, also called Gulistan, is situated at 1434 m altitude in the mountainous part...

 
49,774 80% Pashtun, 20% Tajik
Khaki Safed  34,600 99% Pashtun, 1% Tajik
Lash Wa Juwayn  20,499 50% Pashtun, 50% Tajik
Pur Chaman  51,626 95% Tajik, 5% Pashtun
Pusht Rod  36,315 99% Pashtun, 1% Tajik
Qala-I-Kah
Qala i Kah District
Qala i Kah district is located in the western part of Farah Province, in western Afghanistan. Its western border is with Iran. The population is more than 21,000. The main town Qala i Kah is situated at 612 m altitude....

 
30,653 70% Pashtun, 30% Tajik
Shib Koh
Shib Koh District
Shib Koh is a district in Farah Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is 70% Pashtun and 15% Tajik, along with other ethnic groups, was estimated at 328,000 in January 2005.-References:...

 
23,013 70% Pashtun, 15% Tajik, 15% other

Further reading

  • Words in the Dust (fiction), by author Trent Reedy who was one of the first American soldiers to enter Farah in 2004.