Helmand Province

Helmand Province

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Helmand Province'
Start a new discussion about 'Helmand Province'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Helmand is one of the 34 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 Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River
Helmand River
The Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan and the primarily watershed for the endorheic Sistan Basin....

 flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation.

Helmand is the world's largest opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

-producing region, responsible for 75% of the world's total production. This is more than the whole of Burma, which is the second largest producing nation after Afghanistan. Afghan opium accounts for more than 90% of the global supply.

The Helmand valley region is mentioned by name in the Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

 (Fargard 1:13) as Haetumant, one of the early centers of the Zoroastrian faith, in pre-Islamic Afghan history. However, owing to the preponderance of non-Zoroastrians (Hindus and Buddhists), the Helmand and Kabul regions were also known as "White India" in those days. Some Vedic scholars (eg. Kochhar 1999) also believe the Helmand valley corresponds to the Sarasvati
Sarasvati River
The Sarasvati River is one of the chief Rigvedic rivers mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. The Nadistuti hymn in the Rigveda mentions the Sarasvati between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west, and later Vedic texts like Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas as well as the Mahabharata...

 area mentioned in the Rig Veda as the homeland for the Indo-Aryan migration
Indo-Aryan migration
Models of the Indo-Aryan migration discuss scenarios of prehistoric migrations of the proto-Indo-Aryans to their historically attested areas of settlement in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent...

s into India, ca. 1500 BC.

The current governor is Mohammad Golab Mangal
Mohammad Golab Mangal
Mohammad Gulab Mangal , also as Golab Mangal or Gulabuddin Mangal is the current governor of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and the former governor of Laghman and Paktika provinces. He also served as head of the Committee that drafted Afghanistan's most recent Constitution...

 (since March 2008).

Much of the fighting between NATO and Taliban forces is taking place in this province and Helmand is said to be a Taliban stronghold.

USAID programs



Helmand was the center of a U.S. development program in the 1960s
Helmand Valley Authority
The Helmand Valley Authority was an agricultural project financed by the United States of America in Afghanistan from 1949-1963 along the Helmand River and Arghandab River.-References:*...

 – it was even nicknamed "little America". The program laid out tree-lined streets in Lashkar Gah, built a network of irrigation canals and constructed a large hydroelectric dam. The program was abandoned when the communists seized power in 1978.

More recently the American USAID
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

 program has contributed to a counter-narcotics initiative called the Alternative Livelihoods Program (ALP) in the province. It pays communities to work to improve their environment and economic infrastructure as an alternative to opium poppy
Opium poppy
Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are extracted. Opium is the source of many opiates, including morphine , thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine...

 farming. The project undertakes drainage
Drainage
Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface and sub-surface water from an area. Many agricultural soils need drainage to improve production or to manage water supplies.-Early history:...

 and canal rehabilitation projects. In 2005 and 2006, there were problems in getting promised finance to communities and this is a source of considerable tension between the farmers and the Coalition forces.

Current military situation




It was announced on January 27, 2006 in the British Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 that a NATO International Security Assistance Force
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...

 (ISAF) would be replacing the U.S. troops
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 in the province as part of Operation Herrick
Operation Herrick
Operation Herrick is the codename under which all British operations in the war in Afghanistan have been conducted since 2002. It consists of the British contribution to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and support to the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom...

. The British 16 Air Assault Brigade would be the core of the force in Helmand Province. British bases are located in the towns of Sangin
Sangin
Sangin is a town in Helmand province of Afghanistan, with population of approximately 14,000 people. It is located on in the valley of the Helmand River at 888 m altitude, 95 km to the north-east of Lashkar Gah. Sangin is notorious as one of the central locations of the opium trade in the...

, Lashkar Gah and Gereshk
Gereshk
Gereshk is a town in Gerishk District in Helmand province on the Helmand River in central Afghanistan, some northwest of Kandahar at 817 m altitude. Gereshk is the centre of a rich agricultural region with the Kajakai dam upriver diverting water to the Boghra Irrigation Canal. Gereshk was...

.

As of Summer 2006, Helmand was one of the districts involved in Operation Mountain Thrust
Operation Mountain Thrust
Operation Mountain Thrust was a Canadian and Afghan-led operation in the war in Afghanistan, with more than 2,300 U.S., 3,300 British troops, 2,200 Canadian troops, about 3,500 Afghan soldiers and large air support...

, a combined NATO-Afghan mission targeted at Taliban fighters in the south of the country. In July 2006, this offensive mission essentially stalled in Helmand as NATO, primarily British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and Afghan troops were forced to take increasingly defensive positions under heavy insurgent pressure. In response, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 troop levels in the province were increased, and new encampments were established in Sangin
Sangin
Sangin is a town in Helmand province of Afghanistan, with population of approximately 14,000 people. It is located on in the valley of the Helmand River at 888 m altitude, 95 km to the north-east of Lashkar Gah. Sangin is notorious as one of the central locations of the opium trade in the...

 and Gerishk
Gereshk
Gereshk is a town in Gerishk District in Helmand province on the Helmand River in central Afghanistan, some northwest of Kandahar at 817 m altitude. Gereshk is the centre of a rich agricultural region with the Kajakai dam upriver diverting water to the Boghra Irrigation Canal. Gereshk was...

. Fighting has been particularly heavy in the towns of Sangin
Sangin
Sangin is a town in Helmand province of Afghanistan, with population of approximately 14,000 people. It is located on in the valley of the Helmand River at 888 m altitude, 95 km to the north-east of Lashkar Gah. Sangin is notorious as one of the central locations of the opium trade in the...

, Naway, Nawzad
Nawzad, Afghanistan
Nawzad is a small town, the centre of Nawzad District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It is located at at an altitude of 1221 metres ASL.-Conflict:...

 and Garmsir
Garmsir
The village of Garmsir is the center of Garmsir District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It is situated on the East bank of Helmand River on at 714 m altitude and 63 km South-West of Lashkar Gah. The major road at Garmsir is Route 605...

. There are reports that the Taliban see Helmand province as a key testing area for their ability to take and hold Afghan territory from NATO and Afghan National Army
Afghan National Army
The Afghan National Army is a service branch of the military of Afghanistan, which is currently trained by the coalition forces to ultimately take the role in land-based military operations in Afghanistan. , the Afghan National Army is divided into seven regional Corps. The strength of the Afghan...

 troops. Commanders on the ground have described the situation as the most brutal conflict the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 has been involved in since the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

.

In Autumn 2006, British troops started to reach "cessation of hostilities" agreements with local Taliban forces around the district centres where they had been stationed earlier in the summer. Under the terms of the agreement, both sets of forces will withdraw from the conflict zone. This agreement from the British forces implies that the strategy of holding key bases in the district, as requested by Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

, is essentially untenable with the current levels of British troop deployment. The agreement is also a setback for Taliban fighters, who were desperate to consolidate their gains in the province, but are under heavy pressure from various NATO offensives.

News reports identified the insurgents involved in the fighting as a mix of Taliban fighters and warring tribal groups who are heavily involved in the province's lucrative opium trade.

Fighting continued throughout the winter, with British and allied troops taking a more pro-active stance against the Taliban. Several operations were launched including the more recent Operation Silicone at the start of spring. On May 12, 2007, Mullah
Mullah
Mullah is generally used to refer to a Muslim man, educated in Islamic theology and sacred law. The title, given to some Islamic clergy, is derived from the Arabic word مَوْلَى mawlā , meaning "vicar", "master" and "guardian"...

 Dadullah, one of the Taliban's top commanders, along with 11 of his men were killed by NATO and Afghan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 forces in Helmand.

In April 2008, 1,500 2nd Battalion 7th Marines
2nd Battalion 7th Marines
The 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines is a light infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. They are based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and consist of approximately 800 Marines and Sailors...

 occupied over 300 square miles (777 km²) of Helmand River valley and the Farah province. The operation was to set up forward operation bases and train the Afghan police forces in an area with little or no outside support.

In July 2009, 4,000 U.S. Marines pushed into the Helmand River valley in a major offensive to liberate the area from Taliban combatants. The operation, dubbed Operation Khanjar, is the first major push since President Obama's request for 21,000 additional soldiers in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, targeting the Taliban rebels.

In June 2009 Panther's Claw was launched with the stated aim of securing control of various canal and river crossings and establishing a lasting ISAF presence in an area described by Lt Col Richardson as "one of the main Taliban strongholds" ahead of the 2009 Afghan presidential election.

Border with Pakistan


Helmand has a southern border with the Balochistan
Balochistan (Pakistan)
Balochistan is one of the four provinces or federating units of Pakistan. With an area of 134,051 mi2 or , it is the largest province of Pakistan, constituting approximately 44% of the total land mass of Pakistan. According to the 1998 population census, Balochistan had a population of...

 province of 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...

. Many domestic and international observers have criticized Pakistan's efforts towards securing the border against Taliban insurgents.

Cities


  • Lashkar Gah
  • Sangin
    Sangin
    Sangin is a town in Helmand province of Afghanistan, with population of approximately 14,000 people. It is located on in the valley of the Helmand River at 888 m altitude, 95 km to the north-east of Lashkar Gah. Sangin is notorious as one of the central locations of the opium trade in the...

  • Musa Qala
    Musa Qala
    Musa Qala is a town and the district center of Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, at and at 1043 m altitude in the valley of Musa Qala River in the central western part of the district. Its population has been reported in the British press to be both 2,000 and 20,000...


Demographics


The population is 1,441,769 and the area is 58,584 square kilometres. Pashtuns
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...

 are the majority estimated at 92% of the population, and there are also 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....

 who are concentrated in the south, as well as smaller minorities of Hazara, Brahui
Brahui people
The Brahui or Brohi are ethnic Baloch group of about 2.2 million people with the majority found in Kalat, Baluchistan, Pakistan, but they are also found in smaller numbers in neighboring Afghanistan and Iran. The Brahuis are almost entirely Sunni Muslims.-Origins:The ethnonym "Brahui" is a very...

 and Tajik, who live mostly in Lashkar Gah.

Districts

align=center style="background:#BFD7FF"| Districts of Helmand Province
District Capital Population Area Notes
Baghran
Baghran District
Baghran is the northernmost district in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is 90% Pashtun and 10% Hazara, was estimated at 82,018 in 2002...

 
129,947
Dishu
Dishu District
Dishu is a district in the south of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan. Its population, which is 58% Pashtun and 42% Baloch, was estimated at 20,600 in 2002. The district centre is the village of Dishu; most of the settlements in the district are along the Helmand River.-References:*...

 
29,005
Garmsir
Garmsir District
Garmsir District is located in the southern part of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The district is large, but all the villages are along the Helmand River. The rest is a desert. The district capital - Garmsir is located in the northwestern part of the district on the east bank of Helmand River. The...

 
107,153
Gerishk
Gerishk District
Gereshk District , also called Nahri Saraj, takes the name from its principal municipality of Gereshk town in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan.-Demography:The ethnic composition is predominantly Pashtun....

 
166,827 also known as Nahri Saraj
Kajaki
Kajaki District
Kajaki is a district in the east of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Its population is by a vast majority Pashtun, and stood at 60,700 in 2005. The district centre is the village of Kajaki.-References:* , dated 2002-12-31, accessed 2006-08-03 ....

 
119,023
Khanashin (Reg)
Khanashin District
Reg District is situated in the southeastern part of Helmand Province, Afghanistan along the Helmand River on its western bank. The population is 22,400 . The main village is Khanashin....

 
17,333
Lashkargah
Lashkargah District
Lashkar Gah is a district in the east of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, surrounding the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. Its population is 45% Pashtun and 20% Baluch, with ca. 30% Tajiks, 5% are Hindus and Hazara; the population was estimated at 85,800 in 2005...

 
201,546
Musa Qala
Musa Qala District
Musa Qala is a district in the north of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.Its population, which is 97% Pashtun, was 50,300 in 2005. The district centre is the village of Musa Qala; there are 19 other large villages and 200 smaller settlements, mostly along the Musa Qala River.In an effort to shoot at...

 
Musa Qala
Musa Qala
Musa Qala is a town and the district center of Musa Qala District in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, at and at 1043 m altitude in the valley of Musa Qala River in the central western part of the district. Its population has been reported in the British press to be both 2,000 and 20,000...

 
138,896
Nad Ali
Nad Ali District
-References:* , dated 2002-12-31, accessed 2006-08-03 .-External links:*...

 
235,590
Nawa-I-Barakzayi
Nawa-I-Barakzayi District
Nāwa-I-Barakzāyi District is an administrative district in Helmand Province, Afghanistan located south of the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah along the Helmand River. It is bordered by the districts of Lashkar Gah, Nad Ali, Garmsir, and Rig, as well as the provinces of Nimruz and Kandahar...

 
89,814
Nawzad
Nawzad District
Nawzad is a district in the north of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is 100% Pashtun, was estimated at 51,170 in 2002. The district centre is the village of Nawzad; there are 14 other large villages and over 100 smaller settlements....

 
108,258
Sangin
Sangin District
Sangin is a district in the east of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is 100% Pashtun, was 50,900 in 2005. The district centre is the town of Sangin.-References:* , dated 2002-12-01, accessed 2006-08-04 .-External links:*...

 
Sangin
Sangin
Sangin is a town in Helmand province of Afghanistan, with population of approximately 14,000 people. It is located on in the valley of the Helmand River at 888 m altitude, 95 km to the north-east of Lashkar Gah. Sangin is notorious as one of the central locations of the opium trade in the...

 
213,901
Washir
Washir District
Washir is a district in the west of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Its population, which is 100% Pashtun and Noorzai tribe, was 13,300 in 2005...

 
31,476

Politicians

  • Asadullah Wafa
  • Dad Mohammad Khan
    Dad Mohammad Khan
    Dad Mohammad Khan, locally known as Amir Dado, is a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Afghanistan representing the Helmand province...

  • Sher Mohammed Akhundzada
    Sher Mohammed Akhundzada
    Sher Mohammed Akhundzada is a tribal leader who was the governor of Helmand Province in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2005.- Background :...

  • Engineer Mohammad Daoud
    Engineer Mohammad Daoud
    Engineer Mohammad Daoud was the governor of Helmand province in Afghanistan.Daoud was appointed in December 2005, and replaced in December 2006.-Appointment as Governor of Helmand:...


External links