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Nuristan Province

The territory was previously known as “Kafiristan” which means “Land of the Infidels” as the main population of the region was follower of an animist religion which was a branch of ancient Hinduism with little variation. Then in 1895, the majority of the population of the region was converted into Islam forcefully after which it was labeled as “Land of Illumination” and people started calling it Nuristan.

Nuristan is located in the northeast of Afghanistan and holds a covering area of 9,225 km², it consist of 7 districts that are further divided into hundreds of villages. It expands to the basins of the Alingar, Landai Sin, Pech & Kunar River. Parun serves as the administrative capital of the province.

The approximate population of the province is 0.173 million among which the dominant is Nuristani which contributes to 63.8% of the total population, followed by Gujjars & Hazaras who are 36% and 0.2% respectively. Nuristani living in the province are then further classified into further tribes which are; Katta which is 38%, Kalasha which is 30%, Warmai is 12%, Kom is 10%, Satra is 5% and Parsoon is 4% of the total Nuristani ethnic population.

Nuristani language dominates the region and is being spoken by 90% of the population followed by Dari and Pashto which are second and third in the province.

There are a lot of ancient Buddhist artefacts and monuments around the province; it is believed that Buddhist civilisation was flourishing in the region before the invasion of Muslims. The origin of Nuristan is doubtful; some believe that it was indigenous inhabitants who didn’t surrender to Muslim invaders and then forced to flee to the region, some link it with the various ancient groups and Turk Shahi kings.

The province shares its border with other local provinces. For instance, Laghman and Kunar is located on the south, on the north is Badakhshan and Panjishir is in the west. It also shares its border with the neighbouring country Pakistan in the east by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The previous governor of the province was Jamaluddin Badar who was dismissed as he found guilty for political corruption and misuse of power. He was then replaced by Hafiz Abdul Qayyum who is the serving governor of the province. All the law enforcement activities in the province are being monitored by Afghan National Police (ANP), while the responsibility of looking after all bordering activities with neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been assigned to Afghan Border Police (ABP). Both Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan Border Police (ABP) are backed by Afghan Armed Forces and led by a provincial police chief who represents the Ministry of Interior in Kabul.

Primary source of income for majority of the population is agriculture, livestock farming and day labor.

The healthcare sector and education sector did show a slight improvement with respect to previous decades. The literacy rate of the province is 20% and the net-enrolment rate has also increase by 40%.

The province has been appeared in various movies and books; a short story of Rudyard King with the title “The man who would be King” was filmed in Nuristan. It also appeared in the Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. A British traveler and writer Eric Newby made Nuristan a subject in his book “A Short Walk in The Hindu Kush”

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