KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai is likely to keep his top technocrat ministers when his new cabinet is announced in parliament on Saturday, but some diplomats say the lineup will show Karzai is just “recycling” old names.
The lineup, leaked by parliamentary officials on Friday, will be announced in parliament at about 11 a.m. (0630 GMT), one month after President Karzai was inaugurated following his re-election in a poll marred by fraud.
The following are key facts and figures about Afghanistan:
* Afghanistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia which shares borders with Iran, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
* Hamid Karzai has led the country since 2001, when U.S.-backed Afghan forces ended the five-year rule of the austere Islamist Taliban movement.
* Afghanistan’s population is almost 30 million. Life expectancy for both men and women is about 45 years.
* Some 42 percent of Afghans are Pashtun and 27 percent are Tajik. Hazaras and Uzbeks each account for 9 percent.
* There are two national languages, Pashto and Dari. Pashto, the language of the Pashtuns, is spoken in many parts of the south and east. Dari, a Persian language, is spoken mainly in the north and center.
* Only 28 percent of Afghans are literate.
* Violence has escalated as tens of thousands of additional foreign troops, mainly Americans, have been deployed in response to an escalating Taliban insurgency which has claimed record numbers of military and civilian lives in 2009.
* A total of 1,542 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the war started in November 2001.
* The United States has lost 935 servicemen, Britain 239 and other NATO contributors 368, according to the iCasualties website (www.icasualties.org).
* August 2009 was the deadliest month for foreign troops — at least 77 were killed — driven by two major operations to secure parts of Helmand province and then voting in the presidential election on August 20. The Taliban staged hundreds of attacks in the run-up to the vote. October 2009 was the worst month of the war for U.S. troops, with at least 53 killed.
* About 800 civilians were killed between January and May this year, a 24 percent increase from the same period a year earlier, according to U.N. figures.
* There are about 110,000 foreign troops from 42 countries working under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), established in December 2001.
* The United States has by far the most troops, with 68,000, most arriving this year. About half work under the ISAF mandate, the rest under the Pentagon’s Operation Enduring Freedom, which also has a mandate to support ISAF.
* Britain, with 9,000 troops, is the second largest ISAF contributor and has deployed another 500 troops this month, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said. Germany is next with 4,365 and France with 3,095, according to the most recent NATO figures.
* A senior U.S. defense official told Reuters the United States expected allies to contribute 5,000 to 7,000 additional troops to the Afghan mission in the coming weeks on top of the 30,000 extra U.S. troops being deployed there.
* The head of NATO said he expected allies to provide at least 5,000 troops for Afghanistan, possibly a few thousand more.
* According to the United Nations Human Development rankings for 2009, Afghanistan is ranked 181st out of 182 countries.
* Devastated by 30 years of conflict, Afghanistan’s economy is dependent on foreign aid. Some 90 percent of the government budget comes from international donors.
* In 2007, about $288 million of direct foreign investment flowed into Afghanistan, according to the World Bank.
* Some analysts say Afghanistan’s economic growth has also been stunted by high levels of corruption, which prevents aid from reaching ordinary Afghans.
* Public sector corruption in Afghanistan is seen as more rampant than any other country except Somalia, according to Transparency International.
* Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium, a thick paste from poppy used to make heroin, according to the latest U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime report.
* Helmand province in southern Afghanistan produces 90 percent of Afghanistan’s opium poppy crop.
* About two thirds of the opium is turned into heroin before it leaves Afghanistan and goes on to feed some 15 million addicts, mainly in Russia, Iran and Europe.
* Opium cultivation in Afghanistan is directly linked to the Taliban insurgency. Since 2005, the Taliban have made up to $160 million a year from taxing cultivation and trade of the crop.
Sources: NATO, U.S. Forces, Reuters reports, U.N., World Bank, iCasualties.org; CIA World Fact Book, Transparency International.
(Compiled by Golnar Motevalli; Editing by Ron Popeski)
For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: here