Afghanistan: a State in Limbo

Authored by: Amin Saikal

Routledge Handbook of Security Studies

Print publication date:  July  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138803930
eBook ISBN: 9781315753393
Adobe ISBN: 9781317620921


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Afghanistan has historically been characterized by weak state power in dynamic tension with a strong (but fragmented) society. Its population is composed of various ethnic, tribal, linguistic, cultural, and religious groups forming distinct micro-societies, with most of them having extensive cross-border ties with Afghanistan’s neighbours. These social and cultural divisions have traditionally played a critical role in attempts to create national unity and institutionalized processes of statebuilding in the country. Although the turbulence of the past thirty-seven years has profoundly affected Afghanistan, the country’s micro-societies have remained salient in shaping Afghan politics and society.

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