|Area||9,934 km2 (3,836 sq mi)|
|Density||46.2 /km2 (120 /sq mi)|
Wardak Province (Pashto: وردګ : وردک ; also spelled: Wardag, Vardak) is one of thirty four provinces of Afghanistan located in the central east region of Afghanistan. It has a population of approximately 540,100. The capital of Wardag province is Maidan Shar. The majority of the population is Pashtun.
During the communist times, the people of Wardak never gave significant support to the communist government. Wardak Province was significant during the Civil War in Afghanistan, due to its proximity with Kabul and its agricultural lands. Hizb-e Islami, Ittehad-i Islami and Hezb-e Wahdat all had significant presence in the area. Most of the area was captured by the Taliban around winter 1995, and after the capture of Kabul, Wardak Taliban were significant in the fight for Parwan Province and Kapisa.
After the Fall of the Taliban in 2001 the area enjoyed relative peace, and starting in 2006, Turkish soldiers were heading the civilian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team. Beginning in 2003-2004 some attacks were organized in Taliban groups of 3 to 5 members. The mountainous districts such as Jaghatu were the first affected. By 2006-2007 most of the non-Hazara areas of Wardak were infiltrated by the Taliban. By 2008-2009 the government's ability to control the vital highway out of Kabul was called into question and much of the province was in Taliban control at the beginning of 2009. At this point, the Taliban had begun executing gangs and criminals, referring disputes to their own justice system and guaranteeing physical security.In September 2008, the United Nations withdrew from all areas except Behsud District, citing lawlessness.
In early 2009, Wardak and Logar province were the areas initially targeted by the surge of U.S. troops announced that spring and two battalions were sent to the province.
Wardag province is located in the Central (or Central East) region of Afghanistan; bordering Parwan to the Northeast, Kabul and Logar to the east, Ghazni to the south and Bamyan to the west. The capital of Wardag province is Maidan Shahr, which is located about 35 km from Kabul. Wardag province covers an area of 9,934 sq km. The majority of the provincial population (527,750 people) live in rural areas. The most heavily populated areas are along the Kabul – Kandahar Highway. The rest of the province is thinly populated, with villages concentrated in areas with available irrigation and water sources (CSO and UNFPA, 2003).
The provincial population is approximately 540,100. 70% are Pashtuns, the major ethnic group in the province.Pashtuns of the Wardag tribe inhabit the following districts: Chak, Sayedabad, Jaghatu and Day Mirdad (65%). Pashtuns of different tribes (Andar, Sheenzi, Autmanzi), inhabit Nirkh district. In Jalrez district about 45% of the population are Kharoti Pashtuns, and 65% of the population in the provincial capital Maidan Shar are Pashtun, the majority of which are Amarkhel.Kuchis migrate across parts of Sayadabad, Daymirdad and Nirkh between April and September. There are ongoing conflicts between settled and nomadic groups in the Behsud districts, regarding access to pastureland.
27% of the people in the province are Persian-speaking Tajiks and Hazaras.The two Behsud districts in the western part of Wardag are predominantly populated by Hazara.
The province is recognized for its strong religious sentiment. Between the 1950s-1970s over 30 study centres were active in the area, run by Deoband graduates.
The Provincial Governor, Muhammad Halim Fidai replaced Abdul Jabbar Naeemi in July 2008. He was born in Paktika province and holds a masters degree in Public Relations.
Political parties and actors
There is a wide range of political actors operating in Wardag province. The three key parties are Hezbi Islami (HiG), one faction of the former Hizb-i Wahdat, Hizb-i Wahdat-i Islami-i Mardom-i Afghanistan, and the Taliban. Government appointments were contested after the fall of the Taliban government in 2001 (see above), but have settled into a pattern in which Hezbi Islami related actors have been given significant positions in the police and governor’s office.
This is in contrast to the Hizb-i Wahdat-i Islami-i Mardom-i Afghanistan, which has done better at the ballot box and is linked to a number of the elected MPs and Provincial Councils members (though officially in both elections parties did not stand, only candidates).
The Taliban exercise both military and political presence in the province. Taliban forces in Wardag have been estimated at about 800 lightly-armed men, split into dozens of different factions (Burke, 2008). However, a Taliban Commander, active in Wardag province, claimed having 6,000 fighters, and claimed that the Taliban controlled three quarters of the province. Although these figures are likely exaggerated, the Taliban are reported to have been freely moving at night, which gives the impression to local people that there is a high level of Taliban presence in the province (BBC, 2008).
The Taliban in Wardag kept a low profile during 2002, and many fled to Pakistan. By 2005, Taliban forces started to return to the province, focusing on reactivating old networks and exploiting the situation: there were a range of factors favourable to the Taliban, for example anger about civilian casualties caused by the military actions of the international forces, anger of the villagers at the corrupt government, and overall insecurity. The Taliban started preaching against the international forces, and by end of 2007 the Taliban started their recruitment process among the Wardag population (Burke, 2008). The Provincial Governor has denied that the Taliban have influence in the province, claiming that the government has absolute control and the Taliban do not have the support of the people (Leithead, 2008).
Wardag has 5 representatives in the Wolesi Jirga: two independent, two from the Hizb-i Wahdat-i Islami Mardom-i Afghanistan party, and one member is from the Hizb-i Harakat-i Islami Mardom-i Afghanistan. Interestingly, although the majority of the population of Wardag are Pashtun, three of the elected representatives from Wardag are Hazaras. The Wardag Provincial Council has nine members, eight of whom declared that they were independent. The ninth elected member is Mohammad Hussain Fahimee, who is Hazara from the Hizb-i Wahdat-i Islami Mardom-i Afghanistan party.
In the 2004 presidential elections, Hamid Karzai (Pashtun, Independent), received 60.8% of the vote of the province; Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq (Hazara, Independent) received 32.7%; and the Tajik Yonous Qanooni from Hizb-i Nihzat-i Milli Afghanistan received 2,7%. These results reflect some of the ethnic composition of Wardag. Significantly, 42% of voters in Wardag were women.
The Taliban commander as of December 2008 was Qomendan Hemmetwho took over when the previous commander died in 2005.
The security situation rapidly deteriorated in Wardak in 2008 and 2009. According to a report by Mohammad Osman Tariq Elias, both Logar and Wardak, by the end of 2008, were under de facto Taliban control.As of April 2009, the Ministry of Interior had listed the entire province except for the two Behsud districts as “High Risk.” A report from the New York Times in October had changed this to describe the entire province including Behsud as “Taliban Controlled.”
Economics & Industry
In terms of industry, one marble factory is working in the province, and there are marble mines in the provincial centre and Sayed Abad District although no mining is currently undertaken there due to the government ban. The majority of commercial activity in Wardak is related to trade in agricultural and livestock products, although stone quarrying is also a growing business in the area. The people from Wardak are also expert in karez cleaning and repair and go to other parts of the country for this purpose.
Agriculture is a major source of revenue for 43% of households in Wardak province. Four fifths (79%) of rural households own or manage agricultural land or garden plots in the province. However, nearly a quarter (24%) of households in the province derive income from trade and services, and around half (45%) of households earn some income through non-farm related labor.
The overall literacy rate in Wardak province is 25%. There are around 251 primary and secondary schools in the province catering for 105,358 students. The are 2909 teachers teaching in these schools.
|Day Mirdad||28,865||63% Pashtuns, 37% Hazaras|
|Jaghatu||46,667||Shifted from Ghazni Province in 2005|
|Maidan Shar||35,008||85% Pashtuns, 14% Tajiks, 1% Hazaras|
|Nirkh||56,354||80% Pashtuns, 15% Tajiks, 5% Hazaras|
As a demonym, the name Wardak usually denotes someone who or whose ancestors live(d) in or near Wardak province.Notable people named "Wardak" are for example:
- Abdul Ahad Wardak
- Abdul Rahim Wardak
- Abdullah Wardak
- Kamal Khan Wardak
- Ghazi Mohammad Jan Khan Wardak