Afghanistan, (which literally means Land of the Afghan) is a mountainous land-locked country located in Central Asia. It has a history and culture that goes back over 5000 years. Throughout its long, splendid, and sometimes chaotic history, this area of the world has been known by various names. In ancient times, its inhabitants called the land Aryana. In the medieval era, it was called Khorasan, and in modern times, its people have decided to call it Afghanistan. The exact population of Afghanistan is unknown, however, it is estimated to be somewhere around 21-26 million.
Afghanistan is a heterogeneous nation, in which there are four major ethnic groups: Pashtoons, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Numerous other minor ethnic groups (Nuristanis, Baluchis, Turkmens, etc.) also call Afghanistan their home. While the majority of Afghans (99%) belong to the Islamic faith, there are also small pockets of Sikhs, Hindus and even some Jews. The official languages of the country are Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian)
The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul, which throughout history, was admired by many great figures, such as the great Central Asian conqueror, Zahirudeen Babur. Unfortunately, due to many years of war, this great city has been shattered and nearly destroyed.
Today, Afghanistan is on a road to recovery, however, after decades of war, the economy is still in ruin; its environment is in a state of crises. The country is riddled with landmines left from the war, which are still injuring and killing people on a daily basis.
Kabul is a city on the move. Once Afghanistan's cosmopolitan centre and a stop on the old hippy trail to India, the city was ruined in the civil war. The Soviets left the city reasonably intact in 1989, but since then Kabul has been virtually destroyed by bombardments and street battles, with an estimated loss of some 30,000 lives.
The Kabul Museum, which used to have one of the finest collections of antiquities in Asia, has had nearly three-quarters of its finest collections looted. It's still possible to see the remaining artifacts - those without any significant monetary value - but museum hours are erratic.
It was also once possible to walk the five-hour length of the crumbling walls around the ancient citadel, Bala Hissar, but they are now off limits and extremely dangerous due to unexploded bombs and landmines. The pleasant Gardens of Babur are a cool retreat near the city walls and one of the most peaceful and beautiful spots in the city.
The modern town of Ghazni is just a pale shadow of its former glory. The city is only 150km (93mi) southwest of Kabul on the road to Kandahar, but poor roads mean the trip still takes most of the day. Ghazni today is known mainly for its fine bazaar, featuring goods from Afghanistan and surrounding countries.
The carefully restored tomb of Abdul Razzak and the museum within are of interest. There are also some very fine minarets, the excavations of the Palace of Masud and, most surprisingly, a recently discovered Buddhist stupa that has survived from long before the Arab invasion of the 7th century.
Herat was once a small, provincial, relatively green, laze-about place that everyone seemed to like, an easy-going oasis after a lot of hassle and dry desert. In the 15th century, Herat was the Timurid centre of art, poetry, miniature painting and music, blending Persian, Central Asian and Afghan cultures to create one of Central Asia's cultural highlights.
The Friday Mosque (Masjid-i-Jami), is Herat's number one attraction and among the finest Islamic buildings in the world, certainly the finest in Afghanistan. It has some exquisite Timurid tilework to complement its graceful architecture. Herat's ancient citadel, or qala (1305), was once a Taliban base. The covered bazaar in Charar Su is a complex of all sorts of shops and artisans' workshops.
A short walk from the city centre, in the Musalla Complex, are the remains of an old medressa (1417), built by Queen Gowhar Shad. The wife of Timurid ruler Shah Rukh, Gowhar Shad was Timur's daughter-in-law and a remarkable woman in her own right, who kept the empire intact for many years. Her mausoleum still stands near the medressa, a carbon copy of the Gur Emir in Samarkand.
The shrine complex of Gazar Gah (1425) is about 5km (3mi) northwest of Herat. The tomb of Abdullah Ansari, a famous Sufi mystic and poet who died in Herat in 1088, is the main attraction. The Afghan King Dost Mohammed and the famous Persian poet Jami are also buried here.
The 65m-high (123ft) Minaret of Jam, in the valleys of the Koh-e Saba, 313km (194mi) from Herat and around 550km (341mi) from Kabul, is the second highest in the world, as well as one of the oldest, dating back some 800 years.
Kandahar is situated in the far south of the country, about midway between Kabul and Herat. It's the second-largest city in Afghanistan and lies at an important crossroads, where the main thoroughfare from Kabul branches northwest to Herat and southeast to Quetta in Pakistan.
Kandahar lies very much in the Pashtun heartland and gained modern significance as the power base of the Taliban militia. Kandahar's great treasure, a cloak that once belonged to the Prophet, is safely locked away from infidel eyes in the Mosque of the Sacred Cloak and known locally as Da Kherqa Sharif Ziarat.
A few kilometers from the centre of Kandahar towards Herat are the Chihil Zina (Forty Steps). They lead up to a niche carved in the rock by Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire, which is guarded by two stone lions.
Northeast of Kabul, Nuristan (Land of Light) is mountainous, remote, little-visited and of great ethnological interest - and memorably described in Eric Newby's hilarious A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush.
Shahr-i-Zohak (The Red City) enshrines the remains of an ancient citadel which guarded Bamiyan, and is about 17km (11mi) before Bamiyan itself and 180km (112mi) northwest of Kabul. This was once the centre of the Ghorid kingdom.
Bamiyan was once home to the Great Buddhas, which stood 38m (114ft) and 55m (174ft) high, and were enclosed within dramatic shrines carved from the cliff walls. Built around the 6th century, these ancient giants were destroyed by Taliban officials in 2001. Clerics interpreted Islamic law to mean that such artifacts were disrespectful to Allah, though the world begged them to reconsider. You can still visit the shrines, though little remains.
Shahr-e Gholghola is the most important ruined city in the valley. The name means 'city of screams', and climbing to the top of a dramatic nearby cliff to look across the valley at the Buddhas used to be a popular activity.
The incredible lakes of Band-e Amir (Dam of the King) boast clear, cold blue water dammed by sulphur deposits and surrounded by towering pink cliffs. Its located 75km (47mi) beyond Bamiyan.
Afghanistan is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. The highest point, at 7485m above sea level, is Nowshak. Large parts of the country are dry, and fresh water supplies are limited. Afghanistan has a land climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The country is frequently subject to earthquakes.
The major cities of Afghanistan are its capital Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e Sharif and Kandahar.
In the 1930s, Afghanistan embarked on a modest economic development program. The government founded banks; introduced paper money; established a university; expanded primary, secondary, and technical schools; and sent students abroad for education. Historically, there has been a dearth of information and reliable statistics about Afghanistan's economy. The 1979 Soviet invasion and ensuing civil war destroyed much of the country's limited infrastructure and disrupted normal patterns of economic activity. Gross domestic product fell substantially because of loss of labor and capital and disruption of trade and transport. Continuing internal strife hampered both domestic efforts at reconstruction as well as international aid efforts. However, Afghanistan's economy has grown at a fast pace since the 2001 fall of the Taliban, albeit from a low base. GDP growth exceeded 12% in 2007 and 3.4% in 2008; growth for 2009-2010 was 22.5%. Despite these increases, unemployment remains around 40% and factors such as corruption, security, and shortage of skilled workers constrains development and the conduct of business. In June 2006, Afghanistan and the International Monetary Fund agreed on a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility program for 2006-2009 that focused on maintaining macroeconomic stability, boosting growth, and reducing poverty. Afghanistan is also rebuilding its banking infrastructure through the Da Afghanistan National Central Bank.
Many of the country's historic monuments have been damaged in the wars in recent years. The two famous statues of Buddha in the Bamiyan province were destroyed by the Taliban because they were regarded as being symbols of another religion
The people of Afghanistan being renowned horsemen, the sport known as Buzkashi is popular there. Afghan hounds, running dogs, originate from Afghanistan.
Before the Taliban gained power, the city of Kabul was home to many musicians who were masters of both traditional and modern Afghan music. Kabul in the middle part of the 20th century has been likened to Vienna during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Afghanistan is endowed with natural resources, including extensive deposits of natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, and precious and semiprecious stones. Unfortunately, ongoing instability in certain areas of the country, remote and rugged terrain, and an inadequate infrastructure and transportation network have made mining these resources difficult, and there have been few serious attempts to further explore or exploit them. The first significant investment in the mining sector is expected to commence soon, with the development of the Aynak copper deposit in east-central Afghanistan. This project tender, awarded to a Chinese firm and valued at over $2.5 billion, is the largest international investment in Afghanistan to date. The Ministry of Mines also plans to move forward with oil, gas, and possibly iron ore tenders in 2010.
The most important resource has been natural gas, first tapped in 1967. At their peak during the 1980s, natural gas sales accounted for $300 million a year in export revenues (56% of the total). Ninety percent of these exports went to the Soviet Union to pay for imports and debts. However, during the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989, Afghanistan's natural gas fields were capped to prevent sabotage by the mujahidin. Restoration of gas production has been hampered by internal strife and the disruption of traditional trading relationships following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In addition, efforts are underway to create Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs). ROZs stimulate badly needed jobs in underdeveloped areas where extremists lure fighting-age young men into illicit and destabilizing activities. ROZs encourage investment by allowing duty-free access to the U.S. for certain goods produced in Afghanistan.
On October 9, 2004, Afghanistan held its first national democratic presidential election. More than 8 million Afghans voted, 41% of whom were women. Hamid Karzai was announced as the official winner on November 3 and inaugurated on December 7 for a 5-year term as Afghanistan's first democratically elected president.
An election was held on September 18, 2005 for the "Wolesi Jirga" (lower house) of Afghanistan's new bicameral National Assembly and for the country's 34 provincial councils. Turnout for the election was about 53% of the 12.5 million registered voters. The Afghan constitution provides for indirect election of the National Assembly's "Meshrano Jirga" (upper house) by the provincial councils and by reserved presidential appointments. The first democratically elected National Assembly since 1969 was inaugurated on December 19, 2005. Younus Qanooni and Sigbatullah Mojadeddi were elected Speakers of the Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga, respectively.
The second national democratic presidential and provincial council elections were held in August 2009, and National Assembly elections were held September 2010. Hamid Karzai's main competitor, Abdullah Abdullah, forced a presidential run-off to be scheduled, but then withdrew. On November 2, 2009, officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) declared Hamid Karzai President of Afghanistan for another 5-year term. Unlike previous election cycles, the elections were coordinated by the IEC, with assistance from the UN. NATO officials announced in March 2009 that 15.6 million voters had registered to vote, roughly half of the country's population, and that 35% to 38% of registered voters were women.
The government's authority is growing, although its ability to deliver necessary social services remains largely dependent on funds from the international donor community. U.S. assistance for Afghanistan's reconstruction from fiscal year 2001 to the present totals over $40 billion. Donors pledged continued assistance for the rebuilding of the country at the June 2008 international Afghanistan support conference in Paris. Overall, the international community has made multi-year reconstruction and security assistance pledges to Afghanistan totaling over $50 billion.
With international community support, including more than 40 countries participating in Operation Enduring Freedom and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the government's capacity to secure Afghanistan's borders and maintain internal order is increasing. As of January 2010, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) had reached approximately 107,000 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, and over 99,000 police, including border and civil order police, had received training. Reform of the army and police, to include training, is an extensive and ongoing process, and the U.S. is working with NATO and international partners to further develop Afghanistan's National Security Forces. As of March 2010, training and equipping programs for the ANSF remained at a steady pace to meet objectives of having 134,000 ANA and 109,000 Afghan National Police (ANP) by October 2010.
Afghanistan has made impressive advances in increasing basic education. More than 10,000 schools are providing education services to 6.3 million children, a six-fold enrollment growth since 2001. During the Taliban regime no girls were registered in schools. Today, 36.3% of the student population is girls. Similarly, the number of teachers has increased seven-fold to 142,500, of whom nearly 40,000 are women.
Adult literacy activities increased rapidly in 2009. Learning centers grew from 1,100 to 6,865, and activities expanded from 9 to 20 provinces, bringing literacy and financial services to over 169,000 beneficiaries (62% female). From a situation of total illiteracy, these learners can now read, write, form simple sentences, and do basic mathematical calculations. Ongoing support of literacy and basic education is paramount, as well as the quality and preparation of teachers in order to close the literacy gap left by 30 years of conflict.
We have been a part of Afghanistan’s hard times and war times. We have felt those turbulent times and we completely understand the needs of our local customers. ACTCO’s transport has undergone a remarkable growth irrespective of occasional disruptions due to variety of factors like the war, crisis, economic depression etc. We thrive on challenges and consistently go above and beyond for our customers. Every contract, supply chain solution, phone call and shipment is a personal relationship with our customer. Whether we are managing your entire supply chain or offering a specialized service, our ability to listen and learn before taking action is what makes us and our solutions more effective. Moreover we facilitate our clients with insurance in case of any loss. In our company, we don’t have space for third parties as we have our own trustworthy people and that is where we are different from other companies.
ACTCO is the first Afghan Freight forwarding company to become a member of FIATA in 2006 and WCA Family of Logistics- WCAPN, IGLN and CGLN. We have been a special part of some very esteemed and exalted project shipments in Afghanistan. Our company is promoted by a dedicated team of professionals who have substantial experience and strong local contacts in this trade and possess an excellent record on all the operational aspects of the cargo movement. Our Head Office in Dubai credits us by providing access to the global customers more efficiently and helps to bridge affable relationships. Living in Afghanistan, using new-fangled technology (such as blackberry) acquaints our staff with the modernized hi-tech world. ACTCO ranks third at Kabul Airport Customs for the volumes it handles and provides Door to Door Services to the US Army, NATO and varied Embassies. We have a base of a strong value system and we believe in providing authentic information to our clients. We have managed to build strong links with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Finance and US Embassy and DOD. Also we have our own trade license in Afghaistan for import / export in Dubai and India. All these links benefits our clients in obtaining ‘MafiKhat’ (Duty Exemption Certificate) and also results in avoiding port detention and container charges.
Effective communication, trustworthy and flexible service are the reasons why this company is gaining prominence for offering the highest quality services and thus, be your best option for your logistics operations. We are aware of the disrupted condition of the market of Pakistan. To avoid such situations, ACTCO’s team members are ever ready to visit any location in order to keep your cargos safe and secure. Our service is ideal to help you export, transport, sell or handle the distribution of your products in and out of Afghanistan. From the pickup of goods from the remote areas in Afghanistan, packing of fragile products, palletizing, transportation, customs tariffs classification, document processing, customs brokerage, merchandise border crossing, distribution and final delivery to the end customer, and in general every phase of the door to door supply chain management, we know how to handle it. Since the foundation of our company, we have kept close relations with local authority, such as Customs, Commodity Inspection, Shipping Agency, and harbors carriers. All of these create good surroundings for cargo transportation for the customers in home and abroad.
At ACTCO, the touchstone of our services is the highest standard of quality, which we uphold every step of the way. Throughout 38 years of profitable operations, ACTCO has developed one of the most extensive integrated logistics networks in Afghanistan for freight services and freight moving. We truly distinguish ourselves by the quality of our freight services as we can source the equipment you need, in the state or province you need it, to make sure your goods get to their destination on time.
Pakistan to Afghanistan trucking via both Spin Boldak and Torqam crossings.
Staffed offices at both borders to facilitate clearance and crossing
Inbound trucking facilities from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
Handling shipments via Mersin/Poti, Baku into Turkmanbashi into Afghanistan
Transportation: Restoration of the “Ring Road” that links Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat with the northern cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz continues. Much of the road has now been completed, including economically vital stretches linking Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat.
Landlocked Afghanistan has no functioning railways, but the Amu Darya (Oxus) River, which forms part of Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, has barge traffic. During their occupation of the country, the Soviets completed a bridge across the Amu Darya. The Shirkan Bandar bridge, reconstructed with U.S. assistance, reopened in 2007 and has opened vital trade routes between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
The Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif railway project is also in progress. The project aims to increase trade between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, reduce transport costs, increase vehicle operation savings, and create job opportunities in the project area. It will improve Hairatan's marshaling yard and railway station, construct a new single-track railway line of about 75 km from Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif, construct a new transshipment terminal facility at Mazar-e-Sharif, install signaling and telecommunication systems, install safety features for efficient operation, develop institutional capacity of the railway sector, and provide construction supervision and project management consultancy.
Afghanistan's national airline, Ariana, operates domestic and international routes, including flights to New Delhi, Islamabad, Dubai, Moscow, Istanbul, and Tehran. Civil aviation has been expanding rapidly and several private airlines now offer an alternative to Ariana and operate a domestic and international route network. The first, Kam Air, commenced domestic operations in November 2003.
Network: Following are the routings for cargo destined to various parts of Afghanistan via Karachi- Islamabad/Rawalpindi- Lahore- Peshawar- Quetta- Kabul.
There is no rail network in Afghanistan and all trade is conducted by land route from and other neighboring countries.
Carrier's Own containers (COC) are to be de-stuffed at Islamgala, Afghanistan. However, Shipper's Own Containers can be transported to any final destination in Afghanistan. All Fragile items and household goods shipment is crated and then stuffed in COC.
Following are the routings for cargo destined to various parts of Afghanistan via Karachi- Islamabad/Rawalpindi-
Lahore- Peshawar- Quetta- Kabul
The nearest Sea Port for import of Cargo into Afghanistan is Karachi, Pakistan. Pakistan is in the most advantageous position in Afghan Transit Trade, (ATT) where Port of Karachi plays a major role as hinterland port and "GATEWAY" to Afghanistan and Central Asian States, Countries. Now a days, a treaty has been signed which is called ‘THE PAKISTAN AFGHANISTAN TRADE TRANIST’.
There is no rail network in Afghanistan and all trade is conducted by land route from Pakistan and other neighboring countries. Cargo for Afghanistan in Transit via Pakistan (Karachi /Port) is exempted from Custom Duty and taxes in Pakistan. However, a Special Custom Cell processes and examines the cargo at Karachi Port.
All cargo i.e. containerized or break-bulk is forwarded by Road from Karachi to the Customs Posts at following location.
Required documentation is conceded at Custom Post, after which the cargo/container crosses into Afghanistan. Having crossed the border, the loaded trucks move forward to the Afghan Custom House at Torkham, Jalalabad, Kubul or Kandhar as the case may be. The consignee in Afghanistan arranges the unloading and custom clearance of the cargo.
TRANSIT TIME ROAD
From arrival Karachi via Peshawar up to delivery kabul 07-08 days
From arrival Karachi via Chaman up to delivery Kandahar 03-04 days
Karachi - Peshawar - Kabul Sector
Maximum weight per container 30 M. Tons
Karachi - Chaman - Kandahar Sector
Distance from Karachi
Kabul via Peshawar 2,015 Kilo Meters
Kandahar via Chaman 917 Kilo Meters
Jalalabad via Peshawar 1,840 Kilo Meters
For your information there are 6 customs border as follows: