Brief Analysis of the Map
A few international organizations and media outlets argue that the Taliban controls more than 50% of the country. However, these organizations and media outlets have not shared their resources on why they believe the country is “controlled” by the Taliban. Given our research, we at FMF, believe that the argument that the Taliban controls more than half or half the country is biased and supports the argument that the Afghan government has failed to fully control its territory. Such arguments give undue legitimacy to a group that continues to engage in the killings of innocent Afghans. It is a one sided and narrow perspective on the accomplishments made in the last 19 years in Afghanistan. Even if true, the argument only looks at the territorial distribution and not where the population is based, hence, ignoring where a majority of the Afghan people live.
The above map, researched by the staff at the Feminist Majority Foundation reveals a different reality and looks at the control of the country based on population. The major finding is that: the Afghan government is in charge of all the areas of the 34 provinces in which 76% of its population live. The map was constructed district by district and includes the population in each district. The population is based on estimates that the Afghanistan Census Office releases every year. There are 421 districts in the 34 provinces of Afghanistan in this map.
Of the 421 districts on this map, the Afghan government controls nearly 401 districts but provides services, including health and humanitarian to citizens in all areas of Afghanistan. In contrast, the Taliban is a hit and run group that terrorizes civilians and government employees. The group does not control any province or a provincial center and controls only 20 districts where 3% of the Afghanistan population resides. The remaining number of Afghans live in contested areas.
While the 3% of the population, totaling nearly a million Afghans, live under draconian Taliban regulations with limited access to education, healthcare and other services, the overwhelming majority of Afghans have increasing access to these services under the government control as well as in contested areas. In areas that the Taliban control by force and where they use civilians as a shield, they apply the same regulations they did when in power in the 90s. Women and girls still have the most restrictions: they are deprived of education, have very limited access to health services, and women mostly are confined to their houses as they were in the late 90s under the Taliban rule. Women are still stoned or otherwise murdered for violating the Taliban rules. The picture is not comparable to the areas where the Afghan government operates that cover over 76% of the population.