Afghanistan is divided into 34 velayat (provinces). Place names in the vernacular are written in Arabic characters. There are various methods for transliteration from Arabic to Latin alphabets, producing fairly predictable variant names. Thus Baghlan is also known as Baglan and Bughlan (variant); as well as Kataghan (an obsolete term formerly applied to a larger area containing the province).
Considered less zealous than other Afghan Muslims, Ismaili are seen to follow their leaders uncritically. The pir or leader of Afghan Ismailis comes from the Sayyid family of Kayan, located near Doshi, a small town at the northern foot of the Salang Pass, in western Baghlan Province. During the Soviet-Afghan War this family acquired considerable political power.
Ismailis in Afghanistan are generally regarded with suspicion by other ethnic groups and for the most part their economic status is very poor. Although Ismaili in other areas such as the northern areas of Pakistan operate well-organized social welfare programs including schools, hospitals and cooperatives, little has been done among Afghan Ismaili communities.
The Ismaili Shia are also known as Seveners because in the eighth century their leaders rejected the heir designated by the sixth Imam, Jafar al Sadiq (d.765), whom the Imami accepted. The new group instead chose to recognize Jafar's eldest son, Ismail, as the seventh Imam and the Shia community split into two branches.
Ismaili communities in Afghanistan are less populous than the Imami who consider the Ismailis heretical. They are found primarily in and near the eastern Hazarajat, in the Baghlan area north of the Hindu Kush, among the mountain Tajik of Badakhshan, and amongst the Wakhi in the Wakhan Corridor. Said Jaffer Nadiri, the Commander and Governor of Baglan province in the mid-1990s, was educated in the UK and US. This Ismaili warlord was famous for his bizarre quirks. He was also famous for keeping his forces intact and keeping his economy functioning, which were rare in Afghanistan.
The Northern Alliance's recapture of Mazar-e Sharif in October 2001, cut off land supply routes to the nearby cities of Taloqan, Kundoz and Baglan, all under Taliban control. On 04 December 2001 Baglan and Balkh were noted as a pockets of resistance to the US assault, with up to 3,500 Taliban militiamen.
On March 26, 2002 a 5.9-magnitude earthquake devastated villages in the Hindu Kush mountains of northern Afghanistan. Afghan officials initially estimated that 1,800 people had died and thousands more were injured in a region already afflicted by drought, war and food shortages. General Haider Khan, the military commander of Baglan region, said 20,000 mud-brick houses had collapsed, saying that the death toll could rise to 2,000.
By mid-2005 Syed Nadir Kayan, leader of the Ismaili tribe in Baglan, was attempting to unsettle the Tajik governor General Hisamuddin, a supporter of the interim government. Syed Nadir Kayan was thought to be seeking the support of Rabbani's Jamat-e-Islami (JeI), and return might assist the JeI's effort to regain control of Kunduz and Samangan from the interim government.
By 2005 the Baglan Sugar Factory (BSF) in Afghanistan was being rehabilitated by a consortium which includes the Ministry of Light Industries and Foodstuff (MLIF), the German Society for Investments and Development (DEG), the German private firm KWS SAAT AG and three private investors from Afghanistan. FAO is providing technical and managerial expertise to support the organization and initial operation of the BSF supply chain. These activities will be instrumental in setting up the general organizational framework for the existence of a reliable source of raw materials to BSF, at the same time benefiting the local rural population through agricultural diversification, enhanced incomes and the creation of on and off-farm employment opportunities.
Baglan Provincial Reconstruction Team [PRT]
The mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, currently led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is to maintain a safe environment for the country's elections, for the spread of rule of law and for reconstruction projects. As part of the Stage I expansion in the north, NATO added 4 other Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in addition to the PRT in Konduz. These included 3 new PRTs at Maimana, Feyzabad, and Baglan.
PRTs are an initiative whose stated objectives include extending the influence of the Afghan government outside Kabul, encouraging international and non-governmental organizations to operate in rural areas outside of Kabul, and facilitating reconstruction.
On August 9, 2004, the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded a $219,550 grant to the Ministry of Communications of Afghanistan to fund technical assistance related to the deployment of a fiber optic backbone network. As conceived, the fiber optic ring would connect Afghanistan's major cities of Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar e Sharif, and Baglan, paralleling the national roadway network wherever possible. When complete, the 2,476 km fiber optic ring would be capable of serving as a telecommunications backbone for approximately 90% of Afghanistan's population.
The deployment of six Dutch Apache helicopters in 2004, embedded in ISAF, was an operational success and this mission had been extended for six months until 31 March 2005. In addition to this, the Netherlands deployed, for at least one year (three years for planning), a PRT in Baghlan. This team reached interim operational capability as of 01 October 2004 and full operational capability in November 2004.
USAID/OTI's main implementing partners in Afghanistan are the International Organization for Migration - Afghanistan Transition Initiative (IOM-ATI), Ronco, and Internews. Through IOM-ATI, USAID/OTI funds or is planning projects in 31 provinces: Badakshan, Baghdis, Baglan, Balkh, Bamyan, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Herat, Hilmand, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangahar, Nimroz, Nangahar, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktya, Par-wan, Samangan, Sari Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, and Zabul.
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