By John F. Shroder

A glance on the geographic, political, financial, and social facets of Afghanistan, a rustic suffering to reconcile modernization with conventional values and methods.

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The Republic of Afghanistan was then formally established; Daoud was proclaimed president. He also assumed responsibility for defense and foreign affairs. Resistance to Daoud’s policies surfaced almost immediately. Some Kabul-based groups believed that the pace of modernization was too deliberate. More conservative groups in rural areas felt that modernization should be abandoned altogether. It was at this time that militant tribal leaders, the mujaheddin, entered Afghan politics. Armed and trained by Pakistan, a number of mujaheddin leaders attacked politically sensitive targets in an effort to undermine the Daoud government.

Purdah is a system in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of screening women from strangers. The chadri is a sacklike garment of pleated, colored silk or rayon, which covers the entire body from head to toe. An embroidered latticework covers the eyes and permits limited vision. In general, the chadri is used in urban settings by middleclass women (peasant women cannot afford either the cost or The Age of European Imperialism the inconvenience of the chadri when working in the fields). Prior to taking these steps toward modernization, the Daoud government carefully examined the Koran, the Hadith, which is the record of the sayings of Muhammad, and the Hanafi Sharia of Sunni Islam, which is a school of Islamic law.

Owing in part to the destruction of wells, karez, and storage and distribution systems, today only 12 percent of the population has access to clean drinking water. For the past decade, Afghanistan has suffered the world’s highest infant mortality rate. The lack of pure water supplies is a major factor contributing to the death of one out of every four children before the age of five. Afghanistan’s rate for death of women in childbirth is also the highest in the world. Additionally, the conflict destroyed 12,000 of the country’s 22,000 villages and some 2,000 schools.

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