Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

The Forgotten Afghan Province That Is A Key Taliban Stronghold [Zabul]

< 1 min

RFE/RL, 16 December 2018

In this short portrait of Zabul province, AAN’s Ali Muhammad Sabawoon is extensively quoted about reasons for the local populations’ Taleban sympathies recorded by an Asia Foundation poll:

Ali Mohammad Sabawoon, a researcher at the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent think tank in Kabul, says there are several reasons why there is more sympathy for the Taliban in Zabul than other provinces.

Sabawoon says Zabul has historical significance for the Taliban. The province is located deep in the conservative Pushtun belt from which the Taliban first emerged to gain control of the country in the 1990s, and Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar belonged to the Hotak tribe, one of the two major tribes in Zabul.

“There are many Taliban from Zabul who are in the leadership and the rank and file of the militant group,” Sabawoon says, in contrast to the lack of Zabul natives serving as ministers in the Kabul government, or as governor or security chief of the province.

As a Taliban stronghold, Zabul has also witnessed intense fighting, Sabawoon says, and the province has been the scene of controversial U.S. and Afghan night raids and has suffered civilian casualties in NATO air strikes, creating resentment against the government and international forces. (…)

“Many people from Zabul lived in Pakistan as refugees or go to Pakistan’s Balochistan Province as migrant laborers,” Sabawoon says. “The propaganda spread by the Taliban settled in Balochistan is another factor of their sympathy for the Taliban.”