Afghanistan Table of Contents

Kabuli, is an ambiguous term which provides a sense of identity for Afghanistan's largest heterogeneous urban population without designating distinct ethnic associations. The city of Kabul has drawn members of all ethnic groups in growing numbers since 1776 when it was declared the capital in favor of Kandahar; generations of intermarriages have also taken place. Nevertheless, ethnic roots and regional links have always also remained important. This is reflected in the spatial layout of the city which, before two-thirds of the city was reduced to rubble after 1992, consisted of ethnic, geographic or religious-oriented wards and suburbs. Social stratification along occupational lines was also clear although over the past few decades lines tended to blur significantly.

A typical Kabuli speaks Dari in addition to his mother tongue and, whether male or female, is urbane, favors European fashions, is secularly educated, and most probably works as a bureaucrat, shopkeeper/owner or in the service sector. Many have had professional education or experience abroad, live in apartments or single-family dwellings, are Western-oriented in outlook and enjoy cosmopolitan lifestyles. It is this image which conservatives, especially those such as the rural Taliban find unpalatable, a symbol of moral degradation which must be eradicated if a truly Islamic state is to be established in Afghanistan.

Many Kabuli who remained in Kabul during the Soviet-Afghan War have since left because they find the attitudes of the new leadership incompatible. They are now displaced in cities inside Afghanistan, living as refugees in Pakistan or resettled abroad. Their absence will severely hinder the reestablishment of viable administrative and economic systems necessary for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress