11 Biggest Lies About Afghanistan


In this article, we'll be exploring and debunking 10 of the most common misconceptions about Afghanistan. Thanks to global media outlets, we all know how easy it can be to hear, read, or watch content about groups of people or countries around the world. Oftentimes, this information is presented or shared as fact when in reality, it is based on misinformation and misconception. 

So, today I hope to provide you with an informative and hopefully eye-opening article to help clarify and explain 11 of the most common misconceptions about Afghanistan. So, let's get started. 

1. The National of Afghanistan Is Referred To As Being Afghani 

So, this first misconception is one that, certainly provided some enlightenment as I personally have always been of the understanding that, a native or citizen of Afghanistan would be referred to as Afghani. However, through my research, I have discovered that this is a very common misconception. 

The word Afghani is actually the name used for the official currency of the country. The currency, which was relaunched in 2002, ranges between 1 Afghani coin and 1,000 Afghanis in banknotes. So, to clarify, the correct term for an Afghanistan national would be "Afghan." 

2. Afghanistan Is Located In The Middle East 

Contrary to common thought, Afghanistan is not geographically located in Middle Eastern Asia. This multi-ethnic country is actually located in the heart of South Central Asia. The country lies along important trade routes connecting Southern and Eastern Asia to Europe and the Middle East. Afghanistan is completely landlocked. 

The nearest coast lies along the Arabian sea, about 300 miles or 480 kilometers to the south. And because of both its isolation and its political history, it remains one of the most poorly surveyed areas of the world. It is bounded to the East and South by Pakistan. To the West by Iran, and to the North by the Central Asian States of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. 

3. Afghanistan Is An Arabic Speaking Nation? 

I think not! This in fact is a great misconception. In reality, the people of Afghanistan form a complex mosaic of ethnic and linguistic groups. Pashto and Persian or Dari, both Indo-European languages, are in fact the official languages of the country. And if we look a little deeper at the breakdown of the spoken languages in Afghanistan, we see that more than two-fifths of the population speak Pashto - the language of the Pashtuns, while about half speak some dialect of Persian. 

Now I found it interesting that while the Afghan dialect of Persian is locally referred to as Farsi by many, the general term Dari has been used since about 1964, and is said to be the preferred language of the government. It is also interesting to note that other than Dari, a number of other dialects are also spoken by various groups. 

4. All Afghan Women Wear a Burqa In Public 

Now, I'm going to be honest. This misconception was a little bit harder to debunk than the rest, as it seems that the cultural and legal expectations are ever-changing, depending on the political group in power. Traditionally in Afghanistan, the burka was only worn by women in some rural Pashtun villages. As a multi-ethnic country, each group of people has their own unique style of clothing, and not all groups are prescribed to wear the burqa. 

However, under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, it is said that all women were required to wear an all-covering burqa in public. Most recently, as of August 17, 2021, the same political group announced that the burqa will not be mandatory for women, but that the wearing of the hijab is to be observed by women to ensure their safety in public. Now, whether or not regulations will change again, to be either more or less strict, remains to be seen. 

6. Osama Bin Laden Was Afghan 

Well my friends, I am here to tell you that he was most definitely not an Afghan national. In fact, he was one of more than 50 children of Muhammad Bin Laden, a self-made billionaire who, after immigrating to Saudi Arabia from Yemen as a laborer, rose to direct major construction projects for the Saudi royal family. So, he was born in 1957 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was raised there and studied business administration at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. 

Now, much later, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Osama, who viewed the invasion as an act of aggression against Islam, began traveling to meet Afghan resistance leaders and raise funds for the resistance. By 1984, his activities were centered mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His involvement in these affairs was potentially the beginning of what led people to the misconception that he was Afghan. 

Interestingly, in 1994, Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship and froze his assets, forcing him to rely on outside sources for funding. This was likely in part due to his training of Islamic militants to participate in conflicts around the world, which led him to being viewed by the Saudi government as a radical and potential threat. 

He then resided in Sudan where he continued to develop his training program. However, in 1996, under heavy international pressure, Sudan expelled him and he returned to Afghanistan, where he received protection from its ruling Taliban militia. So, now while we know that he was definitely not an Afghan national, it was perhaps this welcoming and protection that he received, which led to the popular misconception that he was an Afghan national. 

7. Afghanistan Is a Vast Desert 

So the idea that Afghanistan is one big desert cannot be farther from the truth. Afghanistan is actually well known for its mountainous terrain. The huge Hindu Kush mountains form a barrier between the northern provinces and the rest of the country. Interestingly, this mountain range has also divided Afghanistan into three very distinct geographic regions known as the Central Highlands, the Northern Plains and the Southwestern Plateau. 

The altitude, climate, and soil conditions in Afghanistan vary greatly on where in the country you are. Now, the Central Highlands have deep narrow valleys as well as high mountains, which have proven to be historically important to the defense of the country. The Southern Plateau is made up of high plateaus and sandy desert. 

The soil here is very infertile except along the rivers in the Southwest. This desolate region covers about 50,000 square miles, and is crossed by several large rivers, including the Helmand. So as you can see, some of the country is covered in desert, but not all. 

And lastly, in the northern plains, it covers about 40, 000 square miles of extremely fertile foothills and plains. A tremendous amount of the country's agriculture thrives here, and this region also possesses a vast amount of mineral deposits and natural gas. 

8. Weather 

Afghanistan is an extremely hot country year round or is it?? Now, this is a common misconception - that all countries with deserts must have extremely hot and dry climates all year round. However, this proves to be false. In general, Afghanistan has extremely cold winters and hot summers, while the mountain regions of the Northeast have a subarctic climate, with dry cold winters. 

The mountainous areas on the border of Pakistan, are influenced by the Indian monsoons, usually coming between July and September. And they bring maritime tropical air masses with humidity and rain. In addition, strong winds blow almost daily in the Southwest during the summer. The weather in winter and early spring is strongly influenced by cold air masses from the North and the Atlantic Low from the Northwest. 

These two air masses bring snowfall and severe cold in the highlands, and rain in the lower elevations. Temperatures also vary widely in Afghanistan. Daytime highs over 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius occur in the drought-ridden Southwestern Plateau region. In Jalalabad, one of the hottest localities in the country, the highest temperature recorded was 120 Fahrenheit or 49 degrees Celsius. In the mountains, the temperature can drop below negative 15 degrees Celsius and negative 24 degrees Fahrenheit. And, 31 degrees Celsius was actually recorded at one point in Kabul. 

9. Afghans Are Primarily Guerrilla Fighters Waging War Against Themselves And Others 

This is, unfortunately, a preconception that ultimately displaces reality. Sadly, there is a tendency in the west to caricature the Afghan people as lawless tribes of men with beards and turbans, who carry weapons. However, in reality, the vast majority of Afghans are not warlords, terrorists, or fanatics, as people in the Western world are led to believe. 

Instead, they are farmers, merchants, teachers, and students who have simply endured many years of civil war and drought. In fact, you might be surprised to know that a large number of Afghans have been forced to flee into Pakistan as refugees, where they live in camps near the border, waiting to go home. 

Of course, we know that there are political groups to blame for the control and policies enforced in most of the country's territory and institutions, but it would be wrong to say that they represent the majority of the population. Ultimately, this misconception is rooted in a stereotype that can be traced back to the frontier mythology of the British Empire, and it is completely rooted in colonial prejudice. 

10. Afghans All Have Dark Skin, Dark Hair And Dark Eyes 

Now, once again, this is very much false, as a multi-ethnic country with heavy Indo-European influence , the people of Afghanistan are quite diverse. While in general, many nationals have fair to olive skin tones and may possess darker hair and eye color, there are also many who have very pale skin, lighter hair colors, and light eye color. 

11. All Afghans Hate Americans 

Alright, let's be realistic here. It would be impossible and absolutely incorrect to argue that all and I mean all afghans hate Americans. This is just as incorrect as someone saying that all Muslims are terrorists, which of course, any sane minded person would know to be completely untrue and an unjust assumption. 

At the end of the day, how any world citizen feels about another person or group of people is really up to the personal opinions, experiences, and level of awareness of each individual person. 

Now I don't know about you, but I certainly hope that what we can learn from this grave misconception, is that as a global community we should never allow ourselves to generalize entire nations or groups of people based on biased misinformation, or the heinous actions or beliefs of extremists. 

So, that brings us to the end of this article debunking 11 misconceptions about Afghanistan. I hope you enjoyed this article, and that it helped clear up a few things for you. I know I certainly feel a lot more informed and aware after this. And, as always, we want to know what you think. Leave your comments down below. 

Source : FTD Facts 


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