Nurestan Province

Nurestan Province

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Encyclopedia
Nuristān also spelled Nurestān or Nooristan, is a region 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...

 embedded in the south of the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 valleys. Its administrative center is Parun
Parun, Afghanistan
Parun is a small town and administrative center of Nuristan Province and its Parun District in Afghanistan....

. It was formerly known as Kafiristan
Kafiristan
Kāfiristān or Kāfirstān was a historic name of Nurestan , a province in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, prior to 1896. This historic region lies on, and mainly comprises, basins of the rivers Alingar, Pech , Landai Sin, and Kunar, and the intervening mountain ranges...

 ("land of the unbelievers") until the inhabitants were converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in 1896, and thence the region has become known as Nuristan ("Land of Light").

Today it 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....

, formed in 1989 and officially established in 2001 from the northern parts of Laghman Province and Kunar Province
Kunar Province
Kunar is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern part of the country. Its capital is Asadabad. It is one of the four "N2KL" provinces...

. Its administrative center, Parun, is located in the Parun valley. Before 2001 its capital was situated in Laghman province due to Mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 control over Nuristan province.

The primary occupations are agriculture, animal husbandry, and day labor
Day labor
Day labor is work done where the worker is hired and paid one day at a time, with no promise that more work will be available in the future. It is a form of contingent work.-Types:Day laborers find work through three common routes....

.
Located on the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 mountains in the northeastern part of the country, Nuristan spans the basins of the Alingâr
Alingar River
The Alingar River is a river in eastern Afghanistan. It is one of the major tributaries of the Kabul River. It gives its name to Alingar District in Laghman Province and also passes through Mihtarlam in Mihtarlam District....

, Pech, Landai Sin, and Kunar
Kunar River
The Kunar River is about 480 km long, located in eastern Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan. The Kunar river system is fed from melting glaciers and snow of the Hindu Kush mountains....

 rivers. It is bordered on the north by Badakhshan Province
Badakhshan Province
Badakhshan is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, consisting of 28 districts. It is located in the north-east of the country, between the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya. It is part of the Badakhshan region.-Geography:...

, on the south by Laghman and Kunar
Kunar Province
Kunar is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern part of the country. Its capital is Asadabad. It is one of the four "N2KL" provinces...

 provinces, on the west by Panjshir Province
Panjshir Province
Panjshir is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Containing the Panjshir Valley, in April 2004 it was created from parts of Parwan Province, which now lies along its southwestern border. Panjshir's population is about 139,000 and covers an area of 3,610 square kilometers...

, and on the east by 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...

.

History


Until the 1890s, the region was known as Kafiristan
Kafiristan
Kāfiristān or Kāfirstān was a historic name of Nurestan , a province in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, prior to 1896. This historic region lies on, and mainly comprises, basins of the rivers Alingar, Pech , Landai Sin, and Kunar, and the intervening mountain ranges...

 (Persian for "Land of the non-believers") because of its inhabitants: the Nuristani
Nuristani
The Nuristani people are an ethnic group Aryan-Iranian to the Nuristan region of northeastern Iran and Afghanistan. The Nuristanis are a people whose ancestors practiced what was apparently an ancient Indo-Iranian polytheistic religion until they were conquered and converted to Islam in the late...

, an ethnically distinctive people (numbering about 60,000) who practiced animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

, polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

 and shamanism
Shamanism
Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a range of beliefs and practices regarding communication with the spiritual world. To quote Eliade: "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = technique of ecstasy." Shamanism encompasses the...

.

Advent of Islam


The region was conquered by Emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

 Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901.The third son of Mohammad Afzal Khan, and grandson of Dost Mohammad Khan, Abdur Rahman Khan was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government in Kabul after the disarray that followed the second...

 in 1895–96 and the Nuristani were then converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

.
British Missionaries wrote:
The region was renamed Nuristan, meaning Land of the Enlightened, a reflection of the "enlightening" of the pagan Nuristani by the "light-giving" of Islam.

Nuristan was once thought to have been a region through which Alexander the Great passed with a detachment of his army; thus the folk legend that the Nuristani people are direct descendants of Alexander (or "his generals").

Abdul Wakil Khan Nuristani is one of the most prominent figures in Nuristan's history. He fought against the British army and drove them out of the eastern provinces of Afghanistan. His monument stands in Chahrahi Dehmazung in the capital Kabul, Afghanistan. He is buried on the same plateau where King Amanullah Khan is buried.

Nuristan was the scene of some of the heaviest guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 fighting during the 1979–89 invasion
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 and occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 forces. For a period of time during this era, the eastern area of Nuristan was a semi-autonomous region called the Islamic Revolutionary State of Afghanistan
Islamic Revolutionary State of Afghanistan
The Islamic Revolutionary State of Afghanistan was a small Salafist state established in the 1980s, located in the north of Bashgal Valley, Nuristan Province.Founded by Mawlawi Afzal, the state established consulates in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan....

, or Dawlat. It was a Wahhibist
Wahhabism
Wahhabism is a religious movement or a branch of Islam. It was developed by an 18th century Muslim theologian from Najd, Saudi Arabia. Ibn Abdul Al-Wahhab advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations...

 Islamic state run by anti-Soviet warlord Maulvi Afzal and was recognized by Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 and 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...

. The Dawlat dissolved under Taliban rule.

Nuristan is one of the poorest and most remote provinces of Afghanistan. Few NGO's operate in Nuristan because of a poor security situation and lack of infrastructure. Largely in response to a publicity campaign by Nuristan's first governor, Tamim Nuristani, roads are being built between Nangarej, Mandol and Chapa Dara to Titan Dara. Nuristani also worked on a direct road route to Laghman province, in order to reduce dependence on the road through restive Kunar
Kunar Province
Kunar is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the northeastern part of the country. Its capital is Asadabad. It is one of the four "N2KL" provinces...

 province to the rest of Afghanistan.

Since Nuristan is a highly ethnically homogeneous province, there are few incidents of inter-ethnic violence. However, there are instances of disputes between inhabitants, some of which continue for decades. Nuristan has suffered from its inaccessibility and lack of infrastructure. The government presence is under-developed, even compared to neighboring provinces. Nuristan's formal educational sector is weak, with few professional teachers. Due to its proximity to Pakistan, many of the inhabitants are actively involved in trade and commerce across the border.

Demographics


The population of around 300,000 people is 95% Nuristani and 5% 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...

/Tajik. 30% of the population speak Dari or Pashto and 90% speak the following Nuristani languages
Nuristani languages
The Nuristani languages are one of the three groups within the Indo-Iranian language family, alongside the much larger Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups. They are spoken primarily in eastern Afghanistan...

:
  • Askunu language
    Askunu language
    Askunu is a language of Afghanistan spoken by the Askunu, Sanu, and Gramsana people in the region of Pech Valley around Wama, northwest of Asadabad in Kunar province...

  • Kamkata-viri language
    Kamkata-viri language
    Kamkata-viri, the largest Nuristani language, contains the main dialects Kata-vari, Kamviri and Mumviri. Kata-vari and Kamviri are often defined as two separate languages, but according to linguist they form one language....

  • Vasi-vari language
    Vasi-vari language
    Vasi-vari is a language spoken by the Vasi in a few villages in the Prasun Valley in Afghanistan. The most used alternative names are Prasuni or Prasun, which derive from Pashto....

  • Tregami language
    Tregami language
    Tregami, Trigami or Gambiri is a language spoken by the Tregami people in the villages of Gambir and Katar in the Watapur District of Kunar Province in Afghanistan....

  • Kalasha-ala language
    Kalasha-ala language
    Waigali or Waigeli is a language spoken by the Kalasha of the Nuristan Province in a few villages in the central part of the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. The native name is Kalasa-Alâ or simply Kalasa...



Pashayi language
Pashayi language
Pashayi - also known as Pashai - is a language spoken by the Pashai people in parts of Kapisa, Laghman, Nuristan, Kunar, and Nangarhar Provinces in Northeastern Afghanistan....

 is spoken by 15% people.

The main Nuristani tribes in the province are Katta
Kata (people)
The Katir or Kator/Kata are a Nuristani tribe in Afghanistan and Pakistan.-History:In 1895, following conquest by Emir Abdur Rahman Khan, the Katir Kafir people in Afghanistan were forcibly converted to Islam. The former Kafiristan Kafiri were renamed Nuristani from the proper noun Nuristan...

 (38%), Kalasha (30%), Ashkori or Wamayee (12%), Kam
Kom (people)
The Kom or Kam or kamboj are a Nuristani tribe in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Most used alternative names are Kamozi, Kamoz/Camoze, Caumojee/Kaumoji, and Camoje The Kom or Kam or kamboj are a Nuristani tribe in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Most used alternative names are Kamozi, Kamoz/Camoze,...

 (10%), Satra (5%), and Parsoon (4%).

Districts



align=center style="background:#BFD7FF"| Districts of Nuristan Province
District Capital Population Area Notes
Bargi Matal 
Du Ab
Du Ab District
Du Ab District, Dō Āb District, Du'ab District, Doab District, is a district of Nuristan Province, in eastern Afghanistan.-History:The Taliban launched an attack on the Du Ab and Qatar Khak areas on 31 January 1997.-References:...

 
Est. 2004 formerly part of Nuristan District
Nuristan District
Nuristan District was a district in eastern Afghanistan. It was originally in Laghman Province and then was moved to the new Nuristan Province in 2001. In 2004 it was divided into Du Ab District and Nurgram District, and ceased to exist....

 and Mangol District
Kamdesh
Kamdesh District
Kamdesh District is a district of Nuristan Province in eastern Afghanistan. It was originally in Konarha Province and then was moved to the newly created Nuristan Province in 2001.-Boundaries:...

 
Kamdish
Kamdish, Nurestan
Kāmdīsh or Kāmdēsh is a village, located in the Bashgal Valley, in Nurestan Province, Afghanistan. It is the capital of the Kamdesh district....

 
Mandol
Mandol District
Mandol District is a district of Nuristan Province in eastern Afghanistan. It was originally in Laghman Province and then was moved to the newly created Nuristan Province in 2001....

 
Lost territory to Du Ab District in 2004
Nurgram  Est. 2004 formerly part of Nuristan District
Nuristan District
Nuristan District was a district in eastern Afghanistan. It was originally in Laghman Province and then was moved to the new Nuristan Province in 2001. In 2004 it was divided into Du Ab District and Nurgram District, and ceased to exist....

 and Wama District
Parun
Parun District
Parun District is a district of Nuristan Province in Afghanistan. The district centre is Parun....

 
Est. 2004 formerly part of Wama District
Wama
Wama District
Wama District is a district of Nuristan Province in Afghanistan. In the 2004 Afghanistan administrative reorganization it lost territory to the newly created Nurgram and Parun districts....

 
Lost territory to Parun District and Nurgram District in 2004
Waygal
Waygal District
Waygal District is a district of Nuristan Province in eastern Afghanistan....

 

Politics



From 2005 Mohammad Tamim Nuristani
Mohammad Tamim Nuristani
Mohammad Tamim Nuristani is a businessman and politician from Nuristan Province of Afghanistan. Mohammad Tamin is the current governor of Nuristan Province....

 was governor of Nuristan Province but was fired by Afghan president 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...

 in July 2008. His replacement as governor, Hazrat Din Noor, was killed in a car crash on September 5, 2008. The current governor is Jamaluddin Badar.

Operation Enduring Freedom


A map from the Ministry of the Interior
Interior Minister of Afghanistan
The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for Afghanistan's police forces, other internal security forces, and Afghanistan's counter-narcotics force.- Interior minister :...

 produced on August 5, 2009 showed the western region of Nuristan to be under “enemy control”. There have been numerous conflicts between the Taliban, at times in tandem with other militias, and coalition forces. On 06 April, 2008 elements of the 3rd Special Forces Group
3rd Special Forces Group (United States)
The 3rd Special Forces Group – abbreviated 3rd SFG and often called simply "3rd Group" – is a U.S. Army Special Forces unit active in the Vietnam Era and reactivated in 1990. Its area of operations is now Sub-Saharan Africa- History :- 1960s :3rd Group was first activated on 5 December 1963 at...

 led Afghan soldiers from the Commando Brigade into the Shok valley in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the leader of the insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin
Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin
The Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin is an Afghan islamist political party.The original Hezb-e-Islami was founded in 1977 by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who is now the head of HIG. The other faction is headed by Mulavi Younas Khalis who split with Hekmatyar and established his own Hezbi Islami in 1979...

, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

. On July 13, 2008 approximately 200 Taliban guerrillas attacked a NATO position
Battle of Wanat
The Battle of Wanat occurred on July 13, 2008, when about 200 Taliban guerrillas attacked NATO troops near the village of Wanat in the Waygal district in Afghanistan's far eastern province of Nuristan. The position was defended primarily by U.S...

 just south of Nuristan, near the village of Wanat in the Waygal district
Waygal District
Waygal District is a district of Nuristan Province in eastern Afghanistan....

, killing 9 coalition soldiers. In the following year, in early October, more than 350 Taliban fighters backed by members of the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin and other militia groups fought US soldiers and Afghan police in the Battle of Kamdesh
Battle of Kamdesh
The Battle of Kamdesh took place during the War in Afghanistan. It occurred on October 3, 2009, when a force of 300 Taliban assaulted the American Combat Outpost Keating near the town of Kamdesh of Nuristan province in eastern Afghanistan. The attack was the bloodiest battle for US forces since...

 at Camp Keating in Nuristan. The base was nearly overrun; more than 100 Taliban fighters, eight US soldiers, and seven Afghan security officers were killed during the fighting. Four days after the battle, in early October 2009, U.S. forces withdrew from their four main bases in Nuristan, as part of a plan by General Stanley McChrystal to pull troops out of small outposts and relocate them closer to cities. The U.S. has pulled out from some areas in the past, but never from all four main bases. A month after the U.S. pullout the Taliban was governing openly in Nuristan.

In popular culture

  • Nuristan is the subject of the book A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by the British travel writer Eric Newby
    Eric Newby
    George Eric Newby CBE MC was an English travel author. Newby's best known works include A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, The Last Grain Race, and Round Ireland in Low Gear.-Life:...

    .
  • Nuristan was the location of three of the missions in Hitman
    Hitman (computer game series)
    Hitman is a stealth game series developed by the Danish company IO Interactive. The series is available on PC as well as several video game consoles, including the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Xbox 360. The game series has since expanded into a novel, Hitman: Enemy Within written by...

     2: Silent Assassin
    .
  • Rudyard Kipling
    Rudyard Kipling
    Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

    's short story The Man Who Would Be King
    The Man Who Would Be King
    For the 1975 film based on this story, see The Man Who Would Be King "The Man Who Would Be King" is a short story by Rudyard Kipling. It is about two British adventurers in British India who become kings of Kafiristan, a remote part of Afghanistan...

    and the film
    The Man Who Would Be King (film)
    The Man Who Would Be King is a 1975 film adapted from the Rudyard Kipling short story of the same title. It was adapted and directed by John Huston and starred Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Saeed Jaffrey, and Christopher Plummer as Kipling .The film follows two rogue ex-non-commissioned officers of...

     inspired by it are set in pre-Islamic Nuristan.

External sources


Linguistics and ethnography of Nuristân and neighboring regions, collected and analyzed by Richard F. Strand

See also

  • Nuristani people
  • Nuristani languages
    Nuristani languages
    The Nuristani languages are one of the three groups within the Indo-Iranian language family, alongside the much larger Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups. They are spoken primarily in eastern Afghanistan...

  • Ashvakas
    Ashvakas
    The Aśvakas or Aśvakayanas, classically called the Assacenii/Assacani , is the Sanskrit name of a people who supposedly lived in northeastern Afghanistan and the Peshawar Valley. They are/were believed to be a sub-group of the Greater Kamboja tribe profusely referenced in ancient Sanskrit/Pali...