The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan leaves the rugged, South Asian country physically and economically ravaged, its political fu
ture uncertain and large numbers of its people scattered in safer havens.More than a third of the country's 15 million Pathans, Tajiks and people of other tribes have fled to Pakistan and Iran as fighting continues between forces of the communist government and Moslem guerrillas.
Much of the country's agricultural-based economy is in ruins. Its roads are lined with wrecked implements of war. Its lunar landscape remains littered with mines.
The ruling People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which seized power in a 1978 military coup, still sits in Kabul, but its mainly conscripted army has only tenuous control of the cities.
The mujahedeen (Islamic "holy warriors") claim to hold 90 percent of the countryside.
Their stated goal is to rout the communists and establish an Islamic republic of Afghanistan, but their myriad factions have failed repeated attempts to forge a united political front.
"It shows the futility of military solutions," said Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on a recent visit to Pakistan which, in addition to the United States, has backed the guerrillas for a decade.
In human terms, the cost is estimated at more than 1 million Afghan and 15,000 Soviet war dead.
It was the Marxist coup that set off the civil war. Soviet troops and armor intervened in December 1979 to replace one pro-Moscow government with another, but the Moslem insurgency only intensified.
Afghanistan's President Najib, who uses only one name and has shortened it from Najibullah, insists that his forces can hold Kabul, the capital, without the Red Army's help. However, the mujahedeen claim his army is demoralized and that several of its leaders are bargaining to surrender.
Even Najib's own party is divided from within between his urban Parcham (Banner) wing and the Khalq (Masses) faction, which predominates the military.
Western diplomats speculate that a great deal of terrorist bombings and gunfire in Kabul are related to this factionalism and not to the war with mujahedeen.
United Nations officials say Afghanistan will need massive reconstruction once the fighting stops. No one has been able to predict when.
Many of the country's once thriving orchards, cottonfields and vinyards have been destroyed by Soviet-Afghan carpet bombing or have grown wild for lack of care, according to U.N. estimates.
Its mineral mining industry is damaged or lies idle for lack of trained workers. Most of them either are fighting the war, living as refugees or are dead.
The United Nations is planning a $1.1 billion relief and reconstruction project named Operation Salaam, which means "peace" in Arabic. Officials say they can't begin the task until the fighting in Afghanistan stops.
"This is a very crucial time and we have to give peace a chance," said Prince Sadruddin Agha Khan, the U.N. special coordinator of the project, who has been shuttling between Islamabad, Kabul and Moscow to oversee the logistics.
The organization's High Commissionerate for Refugees has predicted that the repatriation of more than 3 million Afghan refugees from Pakistan and 2 million from Iran will be the biggest human transmigration in U.N. history.
Even if peace lures the refugees home, millions of landmines and smaller, explosive booby traps await them. Teams from the United States, France and Turkey already have begun visiting refugee camps along Pakistan's frontier to teach the Afghans how to identify the devices and defuse them.
Human costs of Afghan war
Here is a breakdown of the human costs of the Afghan war, according to Soviet and U.S. figures:
SOVIET ARMY-As many as 15,000 soldiers killed and 35,000 wouded since the Kremlin's December 1979 intervention, according to official Soviet sources.
AFGHANS-1 million people killed, encluding combatants and civilians, according to U.S. State Department estimates.
REFUGEES-About 5 million refugees, of whom about 3 million are in Pakistan and 1.9 million in Iran, according to the State Department.