Ethnicity will be a factor in the formation of the new Afghan government
Several ethnic minorities, who refuse subordination to the Pashtuns and Taliban, would like fair representation.
However, the Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group and also the main support base for the Taliban, should once again have the upper hand in the new scheme of things.
They have traditionally dominated Afghan politics since the 18th century. Even the two presidents of previous US-backed governments – Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani – were Pashtuns.
The Tajiks are the second largest ethnic group and speak a dialect of Farsi called Dari, also the lingua franca of Afghanistan.
Although not politically dominant, a number of prominent Tajik leaders have emerged in recent decades.
Burhanuddin Rabbani, a Tajik, was President of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996 before Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Abdullah Abdullah, former chief executive and main peace negotiator of the previous Afghan regime, is of mixed Pashtun-Tajik ethnicity but is widely regarded as the latter.
The Hazaras are mainly based in central Afghanistan. They speak a Dari dialect and are predominantly Shia Muslims.
Mostly Shia, they are often targeted for their religious beliefs.
They have also suffered massacres in various Afghan governments in recent decades, but especially under the extremist Sunni Muslim Taliban who have generally termed Shiite heretics.
Afghan Uzbeks are a Turkish people and predominantly Sunni Muslims.
The most famous and notorious Afghan Uzbek is warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, who fought with the Soviets against the insurgents before switching sides and effectively establishing his own stronghold centered on the northern city of Mazar- i-Sharif.
He was a leading figure in the Northern Alliance which helped end the Taliban regime after the 2001 US invasion, and then joined the Ghani administration as first vice president.
The Afghan constitution of 2004 officially recognized more than a dozen ethnicities. Besides the four largest groups, Aimaq nomads, Turkmens and Baluchis were also listed.
The Nuristani people of northeastern Afghanistan, who were forcibly converted to Islam in the 19th century, were also included.
(With contributions from the agency)