The NATO military campaign led by the United States since 2001 has not wrested Afghanistan
from the control of the most prominent militant Islamist group, the Taliban. Recent research by the BBC
shows that around four percent of Afghanistan’s close to 400 districts are controlled exclusively by the Islamists, but they also have an open and active presence in another 66 percent, or 263 districts, of the Central Asian country.
Only 120 districts are said to be under the exclusive control of the central government in Kabul, or its security forces, who are still being advised and assisted by a NATO mission called “Resolute Support”.
The Taliban are known to have set up alternative taxation and judiciary systems, and in some provinces have also posted shadow governors. Even a well-functioning central government would have a hard time enforcing its presence in many parts of the country. This also goes to show, Afghanistan doesn’t care to conform to Western ideals of a fully-fledged nation state.
The idea that the in parts very secluded and mountainous country, where many different ethnicities from Uzbeks, to Hazara, to Pashtuns and many others live, could be steered remotely by politicians in Kabul has not caught on. The hierarchy of allegiance in some parts of the country is often said to still follow this pattern: family, clan, tribe.