Today’s Afghanistan is a combination of conservatism and liberalism with a tinge of western values
Afghanistan has historically been governed by a strong central government limited to Kabul with weak administrative control over the 80 per cent of Afghans living in rural areas. There has always been a divide between urban and rural classes.
The urban class is educated and modern while the rural class is less educated with a traditional disposition. Rural class prefers conventional customs and practices with a strong flavour of religion. The Taliban have been the representative of rural strata of Afghan society.
Since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, there has been substantial modernisation, urbanisation, institution-building and state reconstruction and development. This has stabilised Afghanistan, giving dominance to urban class over the rural.
Afghanistan today witnesses a strong civil society. Civil society strengthens with an improved record of human rights. Since 2001, despite the persistence of traditional attitudes and Islamic conservatism in numerous areas of the country, civil society has shown traces of improvement.
With the fall of the Taliban regime, the establishment of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) was a bold step in right direction. Its members are appointed by the government which makes its proceedings doubtful. Still, establishment of such institutions for a nascent state is a positive omen, keeping its track record in view. It is anticipated that with the passage of time, this institution will also become independent and safeguard interests of civil society.
There has been an increase of Afghan NGOs that work for ending human rights deficiencies. These NGOs monitor human rights practices and agitate for honouring the rights. During the Bonn Conference in 2011, different meetings took place on sidelines of the conference to help assess the progress of Afghan governance and highlight the role of civil society in governance.