10 The U.S. Embassy in Kabul was closed for security reasons from January 1989 until Decem-
ber 17, 2001. Information on the human rights situation was therefore limited. The report is
largely focused on the human rights practices of the Taliban, which controlled over 90 percent
of the country for most of the year.
Afghanistan has experienced civil war and political instability for 22 years. There
was no functioning central government, until December 22, 2001 when the Afghan
Interim Administration (AIA) took office. During most of the year, the Taliban, a
Pashtun-dominated ultra-conservative Islamic movement, controlled approximately
90 percent of the country, including the capital of Kabul, and all major urban areas,
except Faizabad. In 1997 the Taliban issued an edict renaming the country the Is-
lamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and named its leader, Mullah Omar, Head of State
and Commander of the Faithful, granting him ultimate authority.
Omar headed the inner Shura (Council), located in the southern city of Kandahar.
The Taliban’s power structure reportedly narrowed during the year, and its prin-
cipal consultative bodies, the Shuras, reportedly no longer functioned. Until October
7, a rival regime, the Islamic State of Afghanistan (generally known as the North-
ern Alliance or United Front), which nominally was headed by former Afghanistan
President Burhanuddin Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, controlled about 10 percent of the
country. Rabbani and his chief military commander, Ahmed Shah Masood, for most
of the year, controlled the majority Tajik areas in the country’s extreme northeast.
The Rabbani regime controlled most of the country’s embassies and retained Af-
ghanistan’s U.N. seat after the U.N. General Assembly again deferred a decision on
Afghanistan’s credentials. A number of provincial administrations maintained lim-
ited functions, but civil institutions were rudimentary. There was no countrywide
recognized constitution, rule of law, or independent judiciary. In 1999 the Ta