Space Program of Afghanistan
------The Afghanistani Space Agency------
Level = 0 Development: Very Low
What has been going on in Afghanistan?
What kind of space power do they have?
Does Afghanistan have space weapons?
What are they planning over there?
Population: 30,000,000 / Language: Pashto / GDP: $1300 / Cities: Kabul
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Landlocked and mountainous, Afghanistan has suffered from such chronic instability and conflict during its modern history that its economy and infrastructure are in ruins, and many of its people are refugees.
After the fall of the Taleban administration in 2001, adherents of the hardline Islamic movement have re-grouped and are now a resurgent force, particularly in the south and east. A fledgling democratic government faces the challenges of extending its authority beyond the capital and of forging national unity.
Its strategic position sandwiched between the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent along the ancient "Silk Route" means that Afghanistan has long been fought over - despite its rugged and forbidding terrain.
It was at the centre of the so-called "Great Game" in the 19th century when Imperial Russia and the British Empire in India vied for influence.
And it became a key Cold War battleground after thousands of Soviet troops intervened in 1979 to prop up a pro-communist regime, leading to a major confrontation that drew in the US and Afghanistan's neighbours.
But the outside world eventually lost interest after the withdrawal of Soviet forces, while the country's protracted civil war dragged on.
The emergence of the Taleban - originally a group of Islamic scholars - brought at least a measure of stability after nearly two decades of conflict.
But their extreme version of Islam attracted widespread criticism.
The Taleban - drawn from the Pashtun majority - were opposed by an alliance of factions drawn mainly from Afghanistan's minority communities and based in the north.In control of about 90% of Afghanistan until late 2001, the Taleban were recognised as the legitimate government by only three countries.
They were at loggerheads with the international community over the presence on their soil of Osama bin Laden, accused by the US of masterminding the bombing of their embassies in Africa in 1998 and the attacks on the US on 11 September 2001.
After the Taleban's refusal to hand over bin Laden, the US initiated aerial attacks in October, paving the way for opposition groups to drive them from power.
Infighting between local commanders over power and territory became a feature of the post-Taleban period. The authorities in Kabul have been able to exert little control beyond the capital and militant violence has continued.
Afghanistan's drugs industry makes up around 60% of the economy. The trade has boomed since the fall of the Taleban and the country is the world's leading producer of opium.
President: Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, who headed the provisional administration set up when the Taleban were driven from power, won a five-year term in Afghanistan's first direct presidential elections in October 2004.
He gained 55.4% of the vote. Officials said voting irregularities were not enough to affect the outcome of the poll.
The president will implement Afghanistan's new constitution, which was adopted in 2004 by the Loya Jirga - a grand assembly of tribal representatives.
The document envisaged a powerful presidency and defined Afghanistan as an Islamic republic, where men and women enjoy equal status before the law. Parliamentary and provincial elections were held in September 2005 and a new Afghan parliament held its inaugural session in December.
But the president also faces the challenges of forging national unity, disarming regional militias and tackling drug production.
Mr Karzai, a Pashtun leader, is an effective player on the world stage and enjoys strong backing from the US. In 2002 he persuaded international donors to pledge $4bn to help rebuild his country.
Born in the southern Afghan town of Kandahar in 1957, Hamid Karzai studied in India and France. Exiled in Pakistan for much of the Soviet occupation and during Taleban rule, he was chosen as post-Taleban Afghanistan's interim leader in late 2001.
The growth of private television stations has been one of the most significant developments in the Afghan media since the fall of the Taleban.
Private radio and TV outlets command large audiences; some of them rival the state broadcaster.
Press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders notes that media regulatory bodies are "under the government's thumb". Media laws prohibit material that is deemed to run counter to Islamic law and some private stations have drawn the ire of conservative religious elements.
Relays of foreign radio stations or stations funded from overseas are on the air in Kabul, including the BBC, Radio France Internationale, Deutsche Welle and US-funded broadcasts from Radio Free Afghanistan, which uses the name Azadi Radio, and the Voice of America, which brands its Dari and Pashto broadcasts as Radio Ashna ("Friend").
BBC World Service is also available on FM and mediumwave (AM) in other parts of Afghanistan.
Internet access is scarce and computer literacy and ownership rates are minuscule.
Afghanistan's media were seriously restricted under Taleban rule. Radio Afghanistan was renamed Radio Voice of Shariah and reflected the Islamic fundamentalist values of the Taleban. TV was seen as a source of moral corruption and was banned. Taleban radio re-emerged in April 2005; it was heard in Kandahar and was said to be using a mobile transmitter.
Afghanistan's Space Infrastructure
Afghanistan has no history of being part of any organization dealing with space, nor has launch capability.
Afghanistan lacks the industrial base, the educational base and the political foundation for a process like this to occur within it. It has no functioning university with an astrophysics or astronautics program, and marginal industry.
Afghanistan operates no satellites and, not having an orbital presence, has no space power.
The government of Afghanistan in in Kabul has no plans for attempting to further any ambition in space development or research, but may once things stabilize, if they ever do.
Timeline of Events in Afghanistan
...From the Past to the Future
1919 - Afghanistan regains independence after third war against British forces trying to bring country under their sphere of influence.
1926 - Amanullah proclaims himself king and attempts to introduce social reforms leading to opposition from conservative forces.
1929 - Amanullah flees after civil unrest over his reforms.
1933 - Zahir Shah becomes king and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next four decades.
1953 - General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister. Turns to Soviet Union for economic and military assistance. Introduces a number of social reforms, such as abolition of purdah (practice of secluding women from public view).
1963 - Mohammed Daud forced to resign as prime minister.
1964 - Constitutional monarchy introduced - but leads to political polarisation and power struggles.
1973 - Mohammed Daud seizes power in a coup and declares a republic. Tries to play off USSR against Western powers. His style alienates left-wing factions who join forces against him.
1978 - General Daud is overthrown and killed in a coup by leftist People's Democratic Party. But party's Khalq and Parcham factions fall out, leading to purging or exile of most Parcham leaders. At the same time, conservative Islamic and ethnic leaders who objected to social changes begin armed revolt in countryside.
1979 - Power struggle between leftist leaders Hafizullah Amin and Nur Mohammed Taraki in Kabul won by Amin. Revolts in countryside continue and Afghan army faces collapse. Soviet Union finally sends in troops to help remove Amin, who is executed.
1980 - Babrak Karmal, leader of the People's Democratic Party Parcham faction, is installed as ruler, backed by Soviet troops. But anti-regime resistance intensifies with various mujahedin groups fighting Soviet forces. US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms.
1985 - Mujahedin come together in Pakistan to form alliance against Soviet forces. Half of Afghan population now estimated to be displaced by war, with many fleeing to neighbouring Iran or Pakistan. New Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says he will withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
1986 - US begins supplying mujahedin with Stinger missiles, enabling them to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships. Babrak Karmal replaced by Najibullah as head of Soviet-backed regime.
1988 - Afghanistan, USSR, the US and Pakistan sign peace accords and Soviet Union begins pulling out troops.
1989 - Last Soviet troops leave, but civil war continues as mujahedin push to overthrow Najibullah.
1991 - US and USSR agree to end military aid to both sides.
1992 - Resistance closes in on Kabul and Najibullah falls from power. Rival militias vie for influence.
1993 - Mujahideen factions agree on formation of a government with ethnic Tajik, Burhanuddin Rabbani, proclaimed president.
1994 - Factional contests continue and the Pashtun-dominated Taleban emerge as major challenge to the Rabbani government.
1996 - Taleban seize control of Kabul and introduce hardline version of Islam, banning women from work, and introducing Islamic punishments, which include stoning to death and amputations. Rabbani flees to join anti-Taleban northern alliance.
Taleban under pressure
1997 - Taleban recognised as legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Most other countries continue to regard Rabbani as head of state. Taleban now control about two-thirds of country.
1998 - Earthquakes kill thousands of people. US launches missile strikes at suspected bases of militant Osama bin Laden, accused of bombing US embassies in Africa.
1999 - UN imposes an air embargo and financial sanctions to force Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden for trial.
2001 January - UN imposes further sanctions on Taleban to force them to hand over Osama bin Laden.
2001 March - Taleban blow up giant Buddha statues in defiance of international efforts to save them.
2001 April - Mullah Mohammad Rabbani, the second most powerful Taleban leader after the supreme commander Mullah Mohammad Omar, dies of liver cancer.
2001 May - Taleban order religious minorities to wear tags identifying themselves as non-Muslims, and Hindu women to veil themselves like other Afghan women.
2001 September - Eight foreign aid workers on trial in the Supreme Court for promoting Christianity. This follows months of tension between Taleban and aid agencies.
2001 - Ahmad Shah Masood, legendary guerrilla and leader of the main opposition to the Taleban, is killed, apparently by assassins posing as journalists.
2001 October - US, Britain launch air strikes against Afghanistan after Taleban refuse to hand over Osama bin Laden, held responsible for the September 11 attacks on America.
2001 November - Opposition forces seize Mazar-e Sharif and within days march into Kabul and other key cities.
2001 5 December - Afghan groups agree deal in Bonn for interim government.
2001 7 December - Taleban finally give up last stronghold of Kandahar, but Mullah Omar remains at large.
2001 22 December - Pashtun royalist Hamid Karzai is sworn in as head of a 30-member interim power-sharing government.
2002 January - First contingent of foreign peacekeepers in place.
2002 April - Former king Zahir Shah returns, but says he makes no claim to the throne.
2002 May - UN Security Council extends mandate of International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) until December 2002.
Allied forces continue their military campaign to find remnants of al-Qaeda and Taleban forces in the south-east.
2002 June - Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects Hamid Karzai as interim head of state. Karzai picks members of his administration which is to serve until 2004.
2002 July - Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir is assassinated by gunmen in Kabul.
2002 September - Karzai narrowly escapes an assassination attempt in Kandahar, his home town.
2002 December - President Karzai and Pakistani, Turkmen leaders sign deal to build gas pipeline through Afghanistan, carrying Turkmen gas to Pakistan.
2003 August - Nato takes control of security in Kabul, its first-ever operational commitment outside Europe.
2004 January - Grand assembly - or Loya Jirga - adopts new constitution which provides for strong presidency.
2004 March - Afghanistan secures $8.2bn (£4.5bn) in aid over three years.
2004 September - Rocket fired at helicopter carrying President Karzai misses its target; it is the most serious attempt on his life since September 2002.
2004 October-November - Presidential elections: Hamid Karzai is declared the winner, with 55% of the vote. He is sworn in, amid tight security, in December.
2005 February - Several hundred people are killed in the harshest winter weather in a decade.
2005 May - Details emerge of alleged prisoner abuse by US forces at detention centres.
2005 September - First parliamentary and provincial elections in more than 30 years.
2005 December - New parliament holds its inaugural session.
2006 February - International donors meeting in London pledge more than $10bn (£5.7bn) in reconstruction aid over five years.
2006 May - Violent anti-US protests in Kabul, the worst since the fall of the Taleban in 2001, erupt after a US military vehicle crashes and kills several people.
2006 May-June - Scores of people are killed in battles between Taleban fighters and Afghan and coalition forces in the south during an offensive known as Operation Mountain Thrust.
2006 July onwards - Nato troops take over the leadership of military operations in the south. Fierce fighting ensues as the forces try to extend government control in areas where Taleban influence is strong.
2006 October - NATO assumes responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan, taking command in the east of the country from a US-led coalition force.
TODAY AND INTO THE FUTURE