Evolution of Presidential Rule in Afghanistan

By-Saijeet Mohanty


The current land of Afghanistan has long been ruled by foreign conquerors and factional struggles in internal wars.

After the fall of the Afghan government, the Taliban attacked the Afghan capital. The embattled president joined the exile of his compatriots and foreigners, marking the end of a two-year, costly US rebuilding campaign. Heavily equipped Taliban fighters disseminated throughout Kabul, also entering the uninhibited presidential palace. Taliban representative and communicator Suhail Shaheen told the Associated Press that the militants can hold talks within the next few days to create an "open and comprehensive Moslem government."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani aforementioned once fleeing the country on Sunday that the Taliban had won as a result of militants entered national capital nearly twenty years once being resigned by a US-led invasion. When the insurgents approached the capital, Mr Ghani left, finally entering the city and occupying the presidential palace, achieving a national military victory in just 10 days. The Taliban carried out a sudden raid on the country. Government forces folded without the support of the military forces of the United States of America. The US military is completing its withdrawal by the August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden. The imminent takeover of power by the insurgents has caused fear and panic among Kabul residents, who fear the hardline Islamic brand imposed by the organization during its 1996-2001 rule.

A Historical Timeline of Afghanistan

Historically, government actions in Afghanistan include power struggles, coups, and unstable power transfers. The country is ruled by numerous government systems, as well as autocracy, republic, theocracy, Stalinism, and pro-communist countries. A Brief timeline of the evolution of Governments in Afghanistan are:

  • 1709 - Mirwais Hotak establishes the Hotaki family in the urban centre and declared the country independent.

  • 1747 - Ahmad Shah Durrani established the Durrani Empire and added new territories.

  • 1838 - During the first Anglo-African War, British India invaded this land and began to influence the politics of Afghanistan.

  • 1919 - After the third Anglo-Arab war, King Amanura Khan ascended the throne, and the British influence ended.

  • 1973 - Mohamed Daoud Khan, Prime Minister and member of the royal family, came to power when King Mohammed Zahir Shah visited Italy.

  • 1978 - Daoud Khan and his family were assassinated during the Saur Revolution, and the Afghan People's Democratic Communist Party (PDPA) came to power.

  • 1979 - PDPA leader President Nur Mohamed Taraki was assassinated and replaced by Hafizullah Amin. Later, Amin was assassinated and the Soviet Union invaded. Babrak Karmal was appointed as the new president.

  • 1987 - President Mohamed Najibullah replaces Kamal and the country begins to show some stability.

  • 1989 - The Soviet army withdrew all troops from the country. The U.S. Embassy is closed.

  • 1992 - President Najibullah resigned and Kabul fell into the jihadist faction. Burhanuddin Rabbani became the new leader of the Islamic State of Afghanistan and the civil war began.

  • 1996 - Muhammad Omar, the founder of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is declared commander of the faithful in Kandahar, and his Taliban army begins to conquer the northern part of the country.

  • 2001 - The United States and coalition forces invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government. Hamid Karzai became the leader of the interim government of Afghanistan at the International Conference on Afghanistan in Germany.

  • 2003 - The Loya Jirga approved a new constitution, reorganizing the government into the Islamic Republic.

  • 2004 - Hamid Karzai is elected President of Afghanistan.

  • 2014 - Ashraf Ghani is elected President of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah becomes the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the country.

  • 2021 - The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is replaced by the Taliban Leadership. President Ashraf Ghani has fled and left Afghanistan.

Evolution of Laws and regulations

The legal system in Afghanistan consists of Islam, laws, and customary rules. It has been in development for centuries and is currently changing the context of the reconstruction of the Afghan country. In addition, there is complex legislation originating from different historical periods. For example, the alleged four volumes of civil law were developed on the premise of the Egyptian model and publicized throughout the autocracy amount. different laws took impact throughout the amount of President Daoud Khan, the Democratic Republic (1978-1992), the mujahidin (1992-1996), the Taliban regime (1996-2001), and therefore the current Republic of Afghanistan.

Under the Taliban, there is no Sharia law, Afghan law, and no independent judiciary. The basic special judicial system is based on the Taliban's interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law). Some namely punishments are:

  • The murderer was to be publicly executed.

  • The thief was chopped off one or two limbs.

  • The adulterer was stoned in public.

The Taliban courts are said to hear cases in meetings that sometimes last several minutes. Prison conditions are very bad and prisoners often do not receive much food. Usually, this is the responsibility of the prisoners' relatives, who are allowed to visit once or twice a week to provide food. Those who do not have relatives must apply to the city council or depend on other prisoners.

In areas not controlled by them, solely municipal and provincial authorities place confidence in some sort of law and ancient tribal judicial codes. The application and execution of justice vary from region to region and depend on the whim of local commanders or other authorities, who can summarily execute, torture, and punish them without reference to other authorities.

After the fall of the Taliban regime, the Afghan judicial system was fragmented, and central agencies such as the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Attorney General clashed. In addition, the infrastructure of the judicial system has been destroyed; the lack of adequate judicial or ministry facilities, basic office furniture, and minimal supplies hinders substantial progress. There are also tensions between religious and secular legal training in the appointment of new judicial personnel. Before Afghanistan adopted the new constitution in 2004[1], the country’s basic legal framework included the 1964 constitution[2] and current laws and regulations, as long as they comply with the 2001 Bonn Agreement and the international treaties that Afghanistan complies with a party. The Ministry of Justice is accountable for assembling Afghan laws and assessing their compatibility with international standards, however, there's even no Afghan legal text, that is essentially inaccessible even among lawyers, judges, law professors, and government agencies. During the period in power, the Taliban burned down the law books.

The 2004 Constitution recognized an autonomous judiciary under the Islamic Republic. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the local and district courts. The Supreme Court consists of nine members appointed by the President for a ten-year term (not re-elected) and approved by the People’s Court. The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review. The lower courts apply Shiite laws in cases involving the personal affairs of Shiite followers.

Crimes in Afghanistan include drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and black-market transactions. The Afghan version of the National Security Service (NDS) of the Department of Homeland Security has been accused of running its prison, torturing suspects, and harassing journalists, exacerbating the human rights controversy in the country.

The copyright law of Afghanistan has not been recognized by the United States since 2005. The last court is the Supreme Court of Afghanistan, which was approved in 2004 and headed by the Chief Justice of Afghanistan. The judiciary is still under work.

Women’s law: will there be equality?

The rights of Afghan women have varied throughout history. The 1964 Constitution officially granted women equal rights. However, during the civil war, these rights were revoked by various temporary rulers such as the Taliban in the 1990s. Especially throughout the latter’s rule, girls had very little or no freedom, particularly in terms of civil liberties. Since the overthrow of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001, women's rights in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have gradually improved. According to the 2004 Constitution, which was heavily dependent on 1964, women are once again legally equal to men. However, due to the reactionary views of women in certain schools, especially in rural cities, their rights are still complicated, which continues to attract international attention. When the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan in 2021, concerns grew about the future of women in the country.

Many women in Afghanistan have experienced at least one form of abuse. In 2015, the World Health Organization reported[3] that 90% of women in Afghanistan had experienced at least one form of domestic violence. Violence against women is widely tolerated in the community and is also widespread in Afghanistan. Violence against women in Afghanistan ranges from verbal and psychological abuse to physical abuse and illegal killing.

From childhood, girls and women have been under the authority of their fathers or husbands. Their freedom of movement is restricted because they are still children and their choice of husbands is also restricted. Women and girls are deprived of education and economic freedom. In their premarital and post-marital relationships, their ability to maintain economic and social independence is restricted by their families. Most married Afghan women face the harsh reality that they are forced to endure abuse. If they try to escape from the situation of abuse, they will always face social stigma, social isolation, persecution by the authorities for leaving their homes, and honor killings of their relatives. The general scenario of Afghan women has improved over the past decade, particularly in major urban areas, however, girls living in rural areas of the country still face several issues.

Despite the bad history of how women were treated under the Taliban, At the first press conference since the organization took control of the country, a spokesperson said that women can work freely, but did not reveal details of other rules and restrictions. When militant groups controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they introduced or supported punishment based on their strict interpretation of the Islamic legal system and Sharia law. Also stating Women must wear a long burqa and the Taliban also oppose girls over 10 years of age going to school, further raising the Human rights organization's concerns about women's freedom which may be undermined under the Taliban rule.

At a press conference later, Zabiullah Mujahid, an official spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan answered several questions raised by the international media about what women’s rights under the leadership of the Taliban government might look like. He stated that they will allow women to work and study within their framework and promised that Women will be very active in society. But when asked about the dress code and the role women can play in the country's workforce, he did not expand.


For Afghanistan to obtain any long-term prosperity and opportunities for sustainable economic development, it must maintain the stability of the political system. Therefore, it is important to determine whether the governance system and the distribution of power resulting from the relationship between constitutional procedures and their implementation will contribute to future political stability.

Afghanistan has a path to political peace but desperately needs a major course correction. Because of what is happening in Afghanistan, the likelihood that a reformist and transformative government will act on the hopes of the Afghan people is diminishing. More attention must be paid to the local situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s regional political institutions have such a strong and clear foothold but have been cut off from the national government due to the ongoing war. The government must include them in its plans.

[1] The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2004 [2] The Constitution of Afghanistan,1964 [3] Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Afghanistan, (last visited Oct. 6, 2008).

Author: Saijeet Mohanty

Course: BBA-LLB, 2nd year,

College: Xavier Institute of Management University

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