- Herat Province
country = Afghanistan
name = Herat
native_name = هرات
map_caption = Map of Afghanistan with Herat highlighted
capital_lat_d = 34.0
capital_long_d = 62.0
population_as_of = 2002
population = 1182000
area = 54778
timezone = UTC+4:30
free_type = Main language
free = Persian
Herat (PerB|هرات) is one the 34
Provinces of Afghanistan; together with Badghis, Farah, and Ghor provinces, it makes up the north-western region of the country. Its primary city and administrative capital is also named Herat.
The province was one of the first major battlegrounds in the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and remained an active area of guerrilla warfare throughout, with local military commander and " mujahideen" Ismail Khanleading resistance to Sovietrule from 1979until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989(see the article on the city of Heratfor further details). When the Soviets withdrew, Ismail Khan became the governor of the province, a position he remained until the Talibantook control of the province in 1995. Following the ousting of the Taliban in 2001by the US and coalition forces as well as the Afghan Northern Alliance, Khan once again became governor of Herat. (See U.S. invasion of Afghanistan).
The province was ruled more or less autocratically by Khan, despite some attempts by the interim central government (headed by
Hamid Karzai) to weaken the power of local strongmen. Khan's rule has engendered some controversy, though Herat has remained largely free of the violence that has plagued some other regions of post-Taliban Afghanistan.
March 2003, the Endowment and Islamic Affairs Department of the provincial government began steps to restrict what it saw as un-Islamic vices, on March 1 2003banning the sale and public screening of movies and the performance of music in public, and on March 5 2003banning the viewing of movies entirely, as well as the possession and sale of satellite dishes. Radio Free Afghanistan(an extension of the United States' Radio Free Europeprogram) reported negatively on these steps, noting that the restrictions were very similar to those that had been in place under the Taliban, and portraying them as a step backwards for the province. Khan reacted angrily to these reports, as well as some citing human rights violations in the province, branding the Radio Free Afghanistan reporters (who were Afghanis) "traitors". On March 19 2003, Ahmad Behzad, one of Radio Free Afghanistan's reporters for the story, was allegedly beaten and detained on Khan's orders. On March 21 Khan issued a threatening statement, saying "those Afghans from our city, through BBCand Radio Azadi, harm the dignity of our people... I would like to tell them that just like those who served the Russiansand benefited from them, they too will meet the same end."
A verbal war of words followed, with local journalists protesting angrily at what they read as a threat to use violence against dissenting journalists. President Karzai issued several statements largely siding with the journalists and expressing concern at the situation. This culminated in Khan ordering Behzad to leave the province permanently, despite his being a native of the city of Herat. Journalists responded with a cessation of news reporting in protest, beginning on March 24 (joined by the US's Radio Free Afghanistan, the UK's BBC service,
Iran's Dari service, and a number of publishers of local newspapers and weekly news magazines). On March 28, Behzad met with President Karzai, who again expressed his support for the journalists and concern that the situation was affecting reconstruction in Herat and damaging the transitional government.
Khan backed down, claiming to have always supported journalistic freedom, and chalking the entire incident up to a misunderstanding. He released a statement saying, "the recent event that occurred was the result of a misunderstanding, and I hope it will not happen again. We are not against any Afghan or foreign journalist, and the reporters can be assured of their safety in our town, and can report on life in this country any way they wish." Behzad returned to Herat on
April 3 2003, and the local media resumed publishing.
The current governor of the province (as of January 2007) is
Sayed Hussain Anwari, a former Minister of Agriculture and governor of Kabul Province.
Chishti sharif District
Kushki Kuhna District
*Pashtun Zarghun (formerly Foshanj) District
*Shindand (formerly Sabzwar) District
Zinda Jan District
* [http://www.azadiradio.org/en/specialreports/2003/04/C749C4C9-24D9-4B1E-87AE-64D58399C4DB.ASP Radio Free Afghanistan (Azadi Radio) report on the incidents]
* [http://heratnet.info/ HeratNet latest news from Herat]
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