Selective Approval: Taliban Weapons Controls in Afghanistan’s Balkh Province

Justine Fleischner and Habib Khan
Situation Update

Situation Update: Balkh Province, Afghanistan

Located in the north-east of Afghanistan and sharing borders with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Balkh province hosts ethnically diverse populations, and power in the province has historically rested with non-Pashtun communities, particularly Tajiks and Uzbeks. While the Taliban has attempted to regulate arms possession and seize stocks of non-Taliban-aligned elements in the province, weapons markets in Balkh, Chamtal, and Kaldar districts, as well as in Mazar-i-Shariff, continue to operate, and former power brokers retain their hidden stocks. Despite this situation, there is little evidence of cross-border trafficking from Balkh to Uzbekistan. 

Selective Approval: Taliban Weapons Controls in Afghanistan’s Balkh Provincea new Situation Update co-authored by the Small Arms Survey and Afghan Peace Watch—examines the latest findings from fieldwork conducted in the province in November 2023, covering the prices of benchmark weapons for sale in arms markets in the province, licensing rules for businesses and other commercial entities, and the Taliban’s selective efforts to clamp down on civilian weapons in northern Afghanistan.

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Key findings


Weapons markets, prices, and permits in Balkh



This Situation Update was funded by a grant from the German Federal Foreign Office. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated herein are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of the German Federal Foreign Office. 

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Keywords: Afghanistan Arms control Illicit trade Stockpiles