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History of Afghanistan
Emblem of Afghanistan
This article is part of a series
Pre-Islamic Period
Achaemenids (550-330 BC)
Seleucids (330-150 BC)
Greco-Bactrians (256-125 BC)
Sakas (145 BC - )
Kushans (30 CE - 248 CE)
Indo-Sassanid (248 - 410)
Kidarites (320-465)
Hephthalites (410-557)
Sassanids (224-579)
Kabul Shahi (565-670)
Islamic Conquest
Umayyads (661-750)
Abbasids (750-821)
Tahirids (821-873)
Saffarids (863-900)[1]
Samanids (875-999)
Ghaznavids (963-1187)
Seljukids (1037-1194)
Khwarezmids (1077-1231)
Ghurids (1149-1212)
Ilkhanate (1258-1353)
Timurids (1370-1506)
Mughals (1501-1738)
Safavids (1510-1709)
Hotaki dynasty (1709-1738)
Afsharids (1738-1747)
Durrani Empire (1747-1823)
Emirate (1823-1926)
Kingdom (1926-1973)
Republic (1973-1978)
Democratic Republic (1978-1992)
Islamic State (1992-1996)
Islamic Emirate (1996-2001)
Islamic Republic (2001-)
Afghan Civil War

Afghanistan Portal
 v • d • e 

The detailed history of Afghanistan begins around 330 BC with the arrival of Alexander the Great (Sikandar) and his Greek army[2] although civilization had existed on the land for thousands of years.[3][4] The state of Afghanistan has been referred to by other names in the past. It is the land where many powerful kingdoms established their capitals, including the Kushan, Saffarid, Ghaznavid, Ghurid, Timurid, Mughal, Hotaki, and the Durrani Empire.[5] On many trade and migration routes, Toynbee called the area the "Central Asian roundabout" since "routes converged from the Tigris-Euphrates Basin via the Iranian Plateau, from India through the passes over the Hindu Kush, from the Far East via the Tarim Basin, and from the adjacent Eurasian Steppe."[6]

The Aryan peoples who arrived in Afghanistan left their languages (Pashto and Persian) and some culture, but it is the Middle Eastern influence (Persian and Arab invasions) that defined modern Afghanistan. Its Greek, Central Asian nomadic, and Zoroastrian/Buddhist/Hindu past have long since vanished. Local empire builders such as the Ghaznavids, Ghorids, and Timurids would continue to make Afghanistan a major medieval power as well as a center of learning that produced Ferdowsi and Al-Biruni among countless other academics and literary iconic figures.

Although it was the scene of great empires and flourishing trade for over two millennia, the area's heterogeneous groups, with Tajiks predominant in the north and Pashtuns of the south make up the Afghan identity since the modern nation-state was created in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani. In the nineteenth century, Afghanistan lay between the expanding might of the Russian and British empires until 1919 when the state declared full independence over its foreign affairs.


Prehistoric Afghanistan

Excavation of prehistoric sites by the University of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Institution and others suggests that early humans were living in what is now Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that farming communities in Afghanistan were among the earliest in the world.[4] Urbanization may have begun as early at 3,000 B.C.[7]

Before the arrival of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism predominated as the religions in the area. Hinduism, for example, may have given the city of Kandahar its name, as derived from Gandhara,[8] the name of an ancient Hindu kingdom from the Vedic period and its capital city located between the Hindukush and Sulaiman Mountains (mountains of Solomon),[9] although Kandahar in modern times and the ancient Gandhara are not geographically identical.[10][11]

The early inhabitants of Afghanistan were Aryans,[4] who were probably connected through culture and trade to neighboring civilizations like Jiroft and Tappeh Sialk and the Indus Valley Civilization. Urban civilization may have begun as early as 3000 BC, and the early city of Mundigak (near Kandahar) may have been a colony of the nearby Indus Valley Civilization.[3]

The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex became prominent in the southwest region between 2200 and 1700 BC (approximately). The city of Balkh (Bactra) was founded about this time (ca. 2000-1500 BC). It's possible that the BMAC may have been an Indo-European culture, perhaps the Proto-Indo-Aryans. The centuries following the end of the BMAC and the Aryan invasions are not well known due to a lack of source information.

Persian Empire

Medes (728 BC-550 BC)

Empire of the Medes

The Medes conquered Afghanistan.[12]


Afghanistan’s significant ancient tangible and intangible Buddhist heritage is recorded in history , with wide-ranging archeological finds including religious and artistic remnants . Buddhist doctrines are reported to have reached as far as Balkh even during the life of the Buddha (563 BCE to 483 BCE), as recorded by Husang Tsang.

In this context a legend recorded by Husang Tsang refers to the first two lay disciples of Buddha , Trapusa and Bhallika responsible for introducing Buddhism in that country . Originally these two were merchants of the kingdom of Balhika , as the name Bhalluka or Bhallika probably suggests the association of one with that country . They had gone to India for trade and had happened to be at Bodhgaya when the Buddha had just attained enlightenment[13]

Achaemenids (550 BC-330 BC)

Afghanistan then later became a part of Achaemenids[12]

Seleucid Empire (312 BC-260 BC)

Then later became part of the Seleucid Empire [14]

Mauryan and Greco-Bactrian

The Dipavamisa and the Mahavamsa speak of two Maurya princes Ashoka and Susima, also called Sumana as being entrusted during the reign of their father Bindusara with the administration of Avantirattha and Utaparttha respectively.[15]
Utharpatha included Kashmir, Punjab and Afghanistan having its capital at Taxila in Rawalpindi district.[15]

Greco-Bactria continued until ca. 130 BC, when Eucratides' son, King Heliocles I, was defeated and driven out of Bactria by the Yuezhi tribes. It is thought that his dynasty continued to rule in Kabul and Alexandria of the Caucasus until 70 BC when King Hermaeus was defeated by the Yuezhi.

One of Demetrius' successors, Menander I, brought the Indo-Greek Kingdom to its height between 165-130 BC, expanding the kingdom in India to even larger proportions than Demetrius. After Menander's death, the Indo-Greeks steadily declined and the last Indo-Greek king was defeated in ca. 10 AD.

Islamic conquest, Ghaznavids and Ghurids (642-1200)

The Afghan area during the Caliphate

In 642 AD, Arabs had conquered most of Persia and then invaded Afghanistan from the western city of Herat, introducing the religion of Islam as they entered new cities. Afghanistan at that period had a number of different independent rulers, depending on the area.

The early Arab forces did not fully explore Afghanistan due to attacks by the mountain tribes. Much of the eastern parts of the country remained independent, as part of the Turk Shahi kingdoms of Kabul and Gandhara, which lasted that way until the forces of the Muslim Saffarid dynasty followed by the Ghaznavids conquered them.

Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam came out of the west to defeat the Sasanians in 642 AD and then they marched with confidence to the east. On the western periphery of the Afghan area the princes of Herat and Seistan gave way to rule by Arab governors but in the east, in the mountains, cities submitted only to rise in revolt and the hastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies passed. The harshness and avariciousness of Arab rule produced such unrest, however, that once the waning power of the Caliphate became apparent, native rulers once again established themselves independent. Among these the Saffarids of Seistan shone briefly in the Afghan area. The fanatic founder of this dynasty, the coppersmith's apprentice Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, came forth from his capital at Zaranj in 870 AD and marched through Bost, Kandahar, Ghazni, Kabul, Bamyan, Balkh and Herat, conquering in the name of Islam.[3]
Nancy Hatch Dupree, 1971

The Shahi or Shahiya dynasties ruled portions of the Kabul Valley (in eastern Afghanistan) and the old province of Gandhara (northern Pakistan and Kashmir) from the decline of the Kushan Empire up to the early ninth century. The Shahis continued to rule eastern Afghanistan until the late 9th century till the Ghaznavid invasions.

During the eighth and ninth centuries AD the eastern parts of modern Afghanistan were still in the hands of non-muslim rulers. The Muslims tended to regard them as Indians, although many of the local rulers were apparently of Hunnish or Turkic descent. Yet, the Muslims were right in so far as the non Muslim population of Eastern Afghanistan was, culturally, strongly linked to the Indian sub-continent. Most of them were either Buddhists or they worshipped Hindu deities.[16]
Willem Vogelsang, 2002

Mahmud of Ghazni consolidated the conquests of his predecessors and turned the city of Ghazni into a great cultural center as well as a base for frequent forays into India. The Ghaznavid dynasty was defeated in 1148 by the Ghurids from Ghor, but the Ghaznavid Sultans continued to live in Ghazni as the 'Nasher' until the early 20th century. They did not regain their once vast power until about 500 years later when the Ghilzai Hotakis rose to power. Various princes and Seljuk rulers attempted to rule parts of the country until the Shah Muhammad II of the Khwarezmid Empire conquered all of Persia in 1205. By 1219, the empire had fallen to the Mongols, led by Genghis Khan.

Timurid dynasty (1370–1526)

The Mongols resulted in massive destruction of many cities, including Bamiyan, Herat, and Balkh, and the despoliation of fertile agricultural areas. Large number of the inhabitant were also slaughtered. All the major cities and towns became part of the massive Mongol Empire, except the isolated hidden mountainous southern regions where the mountain tribes lived. Timur (Tamerlane), incorporated what is today Afghanistan into his own vast Timurid Empire. The city of Herat became one of the capitals of his empire, and his grandson Pir Muhammad held the seat of Kandahar. Timur rebuilt most of Afghanistan's infrastructure which was destroyed by his early ancestor. The area was progressing under his rule. Timurid rule began declining in the early 1500s with the rise of a new ruler in Kabul, Babur.

Mughal Empire (1526–1738)

Afghan area during the Safavid and Moghul Empire, from the 16th century to the early 1700s.

In 1525 Babur, a descendant of Timur, rose to power and made Kabul the capital of his Moghul Empire. Timur handed over his kingdom to Babur during a ceremony. From the 16th century to the early 1700s Afghanistan was divided in to three major parts. The north was recognized as the Kingdom of Balk, which was ruled by Uzbeks Khans, the west was under Persian Safavid rule and the east belonged to the Mughals. There was constant war fought over the region Kandahar, in some occasions it was taken over by the Mughals but most of the time it was ruled by the Persians. Babur conquered most cities of Afghanistan before his campaign into India. In the city of Kandahar his personal epigraphy can be found in the Chilzina rock mountain, where it's stated that he didn't have enough time to finish it before news came about a Persian advance from the west. In hearing the news he and his army quickly left the area. Instead of looking towards Persia, the Mughal Empire was more focused on the Indian subcontinent, which included the region known as Kabulistan.

Hotaki dynasty (1709-1738)

Ruins of the citadel of Shah Husayn or Husayn Khan, the last Hotaki ruler, in the Zoar Shahar section of Kandahar City.

The Hotaki dynasty was founded in 1709 by Mirwais Khan Hotak, the chief of the Ghilzai Pashtuns of Kandahar, Afghanistan.[17][18] In April of 1709, Mirwais Khan and his Afghan followers rose against the Persian Safavids in Kandahar City and killed George XI (Gurgīn Khān), the Georgian governor of the Greater Kandahar region and the direct representative of the Persian Shah Ḥusayn. Next, Mirwais ordered the deaths of the remaining Persian military forces, who were sent by the ruthless Gurgin Khan on expeditions to crush rebel forces in the nearby region.[17] The Afghans then defeated twice a large Persian army that was dispatched from Isfahan (capital of the Persian Safavid Empire).

Several half-hearted attempts to subdue the rebellious city having failed, the Persian Government despatched Khusraw Khán, nephew of the late Gurgín Khán, with an army of 30,000 men to effect its subjugation, but in spite of an initial success, which led the Afgháns to offer to surrender on terms, his uncompromising attitude impelled them to make a fresh desperate effort, resulting in the complete defeat of the Persian army (of whom only some 700 escaped) and the death of their general. Two years later, in A.D. 1713, an­other Persian army commanded by Rustam Khán was also defeated by the rebels, who thus secured possession of the whole province of Qandahár.[17]

The Persian armies were defeated and the area of Kandahar was made into an independent local kingdom. Mirwais Khan died of a natural death in 1715 and was succeeded by his son Shah Mahmud, who led an Afghan army into Persia in 1722 and defeated the Persian army at the Battle of Gulnabad. The Afghans captured Isfahan (Safavid capital) and Mir Mahmud became the new Persian Shah.

Seven months elapsed after the battle of Gulnábád before the final pitiful surrender, with every circumstance of humiliation, of the unhappy Sháh Ḥusayn. In that battle the Persians are said to have lost all their artillery, baggage and treasure, as well as some 15,000 out of a total of 50,000 men. On March 19 Mír Maḥmúd occupied the Sháh's beloved palace and pleasure-grounds of Faraḥábád, situated only three miles from Iṣfahán, which henceforth served as his headquarters. Two days later the Afgháns, having occupied the Armenian suburb of Julfá, where they levied a tribute of money and young girls, attempted to take Iṣfahán by storm, but, having twice failed (on March 19 and 21), sat down to blockade the city. Three months later Prince Ṭahmásp Mírzá, who had been nominated to succeed his father, effected his escape from the beleaguered city to Qazwín, where he attempted, with but small success, to raise an army for the relief of the capital.[19]

Mahmud began a reign of terror against his Persian subjects and was eventually murdered in 1725 by his cousin, Ashraf Khan. Some sources say he died of madness or alzheimer's disease. Ashraf became the new Afghan Shah of Persia soon after Mahmud's death, while the home region of Kandahar was ruled by Mahmud's other brother Shah Husayn Hotak. While Ashrad was able to secure peace with the Ottoman Empire in 1727, the Russian Empire took advantage of the political unrest in Persia to seize land for themselves, limiting the amount of territory under Shah Mahmud's control.

The Hotaki dynasty was a troubled and violent one as internecine conflict made it difficult to establish permanent control. The dynasty lived under great turmoil due to bloody succession feuds that made their hold on power tenuous, and after the massacre of thousands of civilians in Isfahan; including more than three thousand religious scholars, nobles, and members of the Safavid family. The majority Persians rejected the Afghan regime as usurping. For the next 7 years the Hotakis became the de facto rulers of Persia, but their rule continued in the region of Afghanistan until 1738.[20]

The Ghilzai Afghans were eventually removed from power in what is now Iran by late 1729.[21] They were defeated by Nader Shah, head of the Afsharids, in the October 1729 Battle of Damghan and pushed from what is now Iran to the western Afghanistan region. The last ruler of the Hotaki dynasty, Shah Husayn Khan, ruled the area of Afghanistan until 1738 when Nader's Afsharids and the Abdali Pashtuns under Ahmad Shah Durrani defeated him at Kandahar.[20]

Durrani Empire (1747-1826)

Shah Shuja, the last Durrani King, sitting at his court inside the Bala Hissar before it was destroyed by the British Army.

In 1738, Nadir Shah and his army, which included Ahmad Khan and four thousand of his Pashtun soldiers of the Abdali tribe,[22] conquered the region of Kandahar from the Hotak Ghilzais; in the same year he occupied Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore. On June 19, 1747, Nadir Shah was assassinated by the Persians[23] and Ahmad Shah Abdali called for a loya jirga ("grand assembly") to select a leader among his people. The Afghans gathered near Kandahar in October 1747 and chose him as their new head of state. Ahmad Shah Durrani is often regarded as the founder of modern Afghanistan.[24][20][25] After the inauguration, Ahmad Shah adopted the title padshah durr-i dawran ('King, "pearl of the age")[26] and the Abdali tribe became known as the Durrani tribe there after. Ahmad Shah not only represented the Durrani but he united all the Pashtun tribes.[24][20][27][28][29][30][31]

By 1751, Ahmad Shah Durrani and his Afghan army conquered the entire present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, along with Delhi in India.[32] He defeated the Sikhs of the Maratha Empire in the Punjab region nine times, one of the biggest battles was the 1761 Battle of Panipat. In October 1772, Ahmad Shah retired to his home in Kandahar where he died peacefully and was buried there at a site that is now adjacent to the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed. He was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah Durrani, who transferred the capital of their Afghan Empire from Kandahar to Kabul. Timur died in 1793 and was finally succeeded by his son Zaman Shah Durrani.

Zaman Shah and his brothers had a weak hold on the legacy left to them by their famous ancestor. They sorted out their differences through a "round robin of expulsions, blindings and executions",[33] which resulted in the deterioration of the Afghan hold over far-flung territories, such as Attock and Kashmir. Durrani's other grandson, Shuja Shah Durrani, fled the wrath of his brother and sought refuge with the Sikhs. Not only had Durrani invaded the Punjab region many times, but had destroyed the holiest shrine of the Sikhs - the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, defiling its sarowar with the blood of cows and decapitating Baba Deep Singh in 1757. The Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, rebelled in 1809 and eventually wrest a large part of the Kingdom of Kabul (present day Pakistan, but not including Sindh) from the Afghans.[34] Hari Singh Nalwa, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh Empire along its Afghan frontier, invaded the Afghan territory as far as the city of Jalalabad.[35] In 1837, the Afghan Army descended through the Khyber Pass on Sikh forces at Jamrud.[36] The Sikhs were supported by the East India Company until they were crushed later by the British forces during the Anglo-Sikh wars.

European influence in Afghanistan (1826-1919)

Mohammad Yaqub Khan with Britain's Sir Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari on May 26, 1879, when the Treaty of Gandamak was signed.

Dost Mohammed Khan gained control in Kabul. Collision between the expanding British and Russian Empires significantly influenced Afghanistan during the 19th century in what was termed "The Great Game." British concern over Russian advances in Central Asia and growing influence in Persia culminated in two Anglo-Afghan wars and "The Siege of Herat" 1837-1838, in which Persians trying to retake Afghanistan and throw out the British and Russians sent armies into the country waging wars with the British mostly around and in the city of Herat. The first (1839–1842) resulted in the destruction of a British army; it is remembered as an example of the ferocity of Afghan resistance to foreign rule. The second Anglo-Afghan war (1878–1880) was sparked by Amir Shir Ali's refusal to accept a British mission in Kabul. This conflict brought Amir Abdur Rahman to the Afghan throne. During his reign (1880–1901), the British and Russians officially established the boundaries of what would become modern Afghanistan. The British retained effective control over Kabul's foreign affairs.

Afghanistan remained neutral during World War I, despite German encouragement of anti-British feelings and Afghan rebellion along the borders of British India. The Afghan king's policy of neutrality was not universally popular within the country, however.

Habibullah, Abdur Rahman's son and successor, was assassinated in 1919, possibly by family members opposed to British influence. His third son, Amanullah, regained control of Afghanistan's foreign policy after launching the Third Anglo-Afghan war with an attack on India in the same year. During the ensuing conflict, the war-weary British relinquished their control over Afghan foreign affairs by signing the Treaty of Rawalpindi in August 1919. In commemoration of this event, Afghans celebrate August 19 as their Independence Day.

Reforms of Amanullah Khan (1919-1929)

King Amanullah moved to end his country's traditional isolation in the years following the Third Anglo-Afghan war. He established diplomatic relations with most major countries and, following a 1927 tour of Europe and Turkey (during which he noted the modernization and secularization advanced by Atatürk), introduced several reforms intended to modernize Afghanistan. A key force behind these reforms was Mahmud Tarzi, Amanullah Khan's Foreign Minister and father-in-law — and an ardent supporter of the education of women. He fought for Article 68 of Afghanistan's first constitution (declared through a Loya Jirga), which made elementary education compulsory.[37] Some of the reforms that were actually put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional Muslim veil for women and the opening of a number of co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders. Faced with overwhelming armed opposition, Amanullah was forced to abdicate in January 1929 after Kabul fell to forces led by Habibullah Kalakani.

Reigns of Nadir Shah and Zahir Shah (1929-1973)

Prince Mohammed Nadir Khan, a cousin of Amanullah's, in turn defeated and killed Habibullah Kalakani in October of the same year, and with considerable Pashtun tribal support he was declared King Nadir Shah. He began consolidating power and regenerating the country. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favour of a more gradual approach to modernisation. In 1933, however, he was assassinated in a revenge killing by a Kabul student.

Mohammad Zahir Shah, Nadir Khan's 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973. Until 1946 Zahir Shah ruled with the assistance of his uncle Sardar Mohammad Hashim Khan, who held the post of Prime Minister and continued the policies of Nadir Shah. In 1946, another of Zahir Shah's uncles, Sardar Shah Mahmud Khan, became Prime Minister and began an experiment allowing greater political freedom, but reversed the policy when it went further than he expected. In 1953, he was replaced as Prime Minister by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king's cousin and brother-in-law. Daoud sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union and a more distant one towards Pakistan. However, disputes with Pakistan led to an economic crisis and he was asked to resign in 1963. From 1963 until 1973, Zahir Shah took a more active role.

In 1964, King Zahir Shah promulgated a liberal constitution providing for a bicameral legislature to which the king appointed one-third of the deputies. The people elected another third, and the remainder were selected indirectly by provincial assemblies. Although Zahir's "experiment in democracy" produced few lasting reforms, it permitted the growth of unofficial extremist parties on both the left and the right. These included the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), which had close ideological ties to the Soviet Union. In 1967, the PDPA split into two major rival factions: the Khalq (Masses) was headed by Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin who were supported by elements within the military, and the Parcham (Banner) led by Babrak Karmal.

Republic of Afghanistan (1973-1978)

Amid charges of corruption and malfeasance against the royal family and poor economic conditions created by the severe 1971-72 drought, former Prime Minister Mohammad Sardar Daoud Khan seized power in a non-violent coup on July 17, 1973 while Zahir Shah was receiving treatment for eye problems and therapy for lumbago in Italy.[38] Daoud abolished the monarchy, abrogated the 1964 constitution, and declared Afghanistan a republic with himself as its first President and Prime Minister. His attempts to carry out badly needed economic and social reforms met with little success, and the new constitution promulgated in February 1977 failed to quell chronic political instability.

As disillusionment set in, in 1978 a prominent member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), Mir Akbar Khyber (or "Kaibar"), was killed by the government. The leaders of PDPA apparently feared that Daoud was planning to exterminate them all, especially since most of them were arrested by the government shortly after. Hafizullah Amin and a number of military wing officers of the PDPA's Khalq faction (more independent of Moscow than the Parcham faction) managed to remain at large and organized an uprising.

Afghan Civil War

The civil war in Afghanistan started when an insurgency broke out against the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which had taken power in the Saur Revolution on 27 April 1978. This event led indirectly to the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan (1979-1989), the collapse of the communist government (1989-1992), anarchy from 1992 till 1996, Taliban take-over until 2001, and finally NATO/ISAF intervention until present.

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1978-1992)

April 28, 1978, the day after the Saur Revolution in Kabul

On 27 April 1978, the PDPA, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal and Amin Taha overthrew the regime of Mohammad Daoud, who was assassinated along with all his family members. The uprising was known as the Saur Revolution. On 1 May, Taraki became President, Prime Minister and General Secretary of the PDPA. The country was then renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), and the PDPA regime lasted, in some form or another, until April 1992.

Once in power, the PDPA implemented a liberal and socialist agenda. It moved to replace religious and traditional laws with secular and Marxist ones. Men were obliged to cut their beards, women couldn't wear a burqa, and mosques were placed off limits. It carried out an ambitious land reform, waiving farmers' debts countrywide and banning usury.

The government also made a number of decrees on women's rights, banning forced marriages, giving state recognition of women's right to vote, and introducing women to political life. A prominent example was Anahita Ratebzad, who was a major Marxist leader and a member of the Revolutionary Council. Ratebzad wrote the famous New Kabul Times editorial (May 28, 1978) which declared: "Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country ... Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention."

The PDPA invited the Soviet Union to assist in modernizing its economic infrastructure (predominantly its exploration and mining of rare minerals and natural gas). The USSR also sent contractors to build roads, hospitals and schools and to drill water wells; they also trained and equipped the Afghan army. Upon the PDPA's ascension to power, and the establishment of the DRA, the Soviet Union promised monetary aid amounting to at least $1.262 billion.

The majority of people in the cities including Kabul either welcomed or were ambivalent to these policies. However, the secular nature of the government made it unpopular with conservative Afghans in the villages and the countryside, who favoured traditionalist 'Islamic' restrictions on women's rights and in daily life. Many groups — partly led by members of the traditional establishment who lost their privileges in the land reform — were formed in an attempt to reverse dependence on the Soviet Union, some resorting to violence and sabotage of the country's industry and infrastructure. The government responded with heavy-handed military reprisals and arrested, exiled and executed many Mujahideen "holy Muslim warriors". The Mujahideen belonged to various different factions, but all shared, to varying degrees, a similarly conservative 'Islamic' ideology.

The United States saw the situation as a prime opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union. As part of a Cold War strategy, in 1979 the United States government (under President Jimmy Carter and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski) began to covertly fund and train anti-government Mujahideen forces through the Pakistani secret service known as Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), with the intention of provoking Soviet intervention, (according to Brzezinski).

In March 1979 Hafizullah Amin took over as prime minister, retaining the position of field marshal and becoming vice-president of the Supreme Defence Council. Taraki remained President and in control of the Army. On 14 September, Amin overthrew Taraki, who died or was killed.

Soviet invasion

Soviet troops withdrawing from Afghanistan in 1988.

In 1979, with the Afghan army unable to cope with the large number of violent incidents, the Soviet Union sent troops to crush the uprising, support the government. On December 25, 1979, the Soviet army entered Kabul. This was the starting point of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Soviet war in Afghanistan, which ended only in 1989 with a full withdrawal of Soviet troops under the Geneva Accords reached in 1988 between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For over nine years, the Soviet Army conducted military operations against the Afghan mujahideen. The American CIA, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia assisted in the financing of the resistance because of their anti-communist stance.

Among the foreign participants in the war was Osama bin Laden, whose Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) (Office of Order) organization trained a small number of mujahideen and provided some arms and funds to fight the Soviets. Bin Laden played only a limited part in this conflict and, in 1988, he broke away from the MAK to form Al-Qaida, in order to expand the anti-Soviet resistance effort into a worldwide Islamic movement.

The Soviet Union withdrew its troops in February 1989, but continued to aid the government, led by Mohammed Najibullah. Massive amounts of aid from the CIA and Saudi Arabia to the mujahideen also continued.

Civil war of 1990s

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Najibullah government was overthrown on April 18, 1992 when Abdul Rashid Dostum mutinied, and allied himself with Ahmed Shah Massoud, to take control of Kabul and declare the Islamic State of Afghanistan. When the victorious mujahideen entered Kabul to assume control over the city and the central government, internecine fighting began between the various militias, which had coexisted only uneasily during the Soviet occupation. With the demise of their common enemy, the militias' ethnic, clan, religious, and personality differences surfaced, and civil war continued.

An interim Islamic Jihad Council was put in place, first led by Sibghatullah Mojadeddi for two months, then by Burhanuddin Rabbani. Fighting among rival factions intensified. In reaction to the anarchy and warlordism prevalent in the country, and the lack of Pashtun representation in the Kabul government, the Taliban, a movement of religious scholars and former mujahideen, emerged from the southern province of Kandahar. These Taliban took control of approximately 95% of the country by the end of 2000, limiting the opposition mostly to a small corner in the northeast. The opposition formed the Afghan Northern Alliance, which continued to receive diplomatic recognition in the United Nations as the government of Afghanistan.

United States and NATO involvement

In response to the Taliban's refusal to hand over Al Qaida operatives without the provision of tangible evidence linking Al Qaida to the September 11, 2001 attacks and the Taliban's refusal to assist the U.S. in prosecuting Al Qaida, the United States and its coalition allies launched an invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban government. Although they succeeded in taking control of Kabul, the war continues to this day and the complete defeat of the Taliban still looks a remote possibility as of October 2009. Sponsored by the UN, Afghan factions met in Bonn, Germany and chose a 30 member interim authority led by Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun from Kandahar[citation needed]. After governing for 6 months, former King Zahir Shah convened a Loya Jirga, which elected Karzai as president and gave him authority to govern for two more years[citation needed]. On October 9, 2004, Karzai was elected as president of Afghanistan in the country's first ever presidential election. Karzai ran for re-election in 2009. Early in his presidency, United States President Barack Obama moved to bolster troop strength in Afghanistan.


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. ^ "Afghanistan, Crossroads of History". CNN. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b c Nancy Hatch Dupree: An Historical Guide To Afghanistan, 2. Edition, Afghan Tourist Organization 1977, Chapter 3 Sites in Perspective
  4. ^ a b c John Ford Shroder, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. Regents Professor of Ge\Encyclopedia 2006 - "Afghanistan". Archived 2009-10-31.
  5. ^ Library of Congress - A Country Study: Afghanistan
  6. ^ Toynbee, Arnold J. and Somervell, D.C. (1987) A Study of History, Volume 2: Abridgement of Volumes VII-X Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, page 125, ISBN 0-19-500199-0
  7. ^ Baxter, Craig (1995) "Historical Setting" pp. 90-120, page 91, In Gladstone, Cary (2001) Afghanistan revisited Nova Science Publications, New York, ISBN 1-59033-421-3
  8. ^ Hobson Jobson Dictionary
  9. ^ Gandara...Link
  10. ^ W. Vogelsang, "Gandahar", in The Circle Of Ancient Iranian Studies
  11. ^ E. Herzfeld, "The Persian Empire: Studies on Geography and Ethnography of the Ancient Near East", ed. G. Walser, Wiesbaden 1968, pp. 279, 293-94, 336-38, 345
  12. ^ a b "The history of Afghanistan — Google Books". Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  13. ^ Buddhism in Central Asia By Baij Nath Puri Page 90
  14. ^ "The history of Afghanistan — Google Books". Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  15. ^ a b Ancient India, History and Archaeology By Dilip Kumar Ganguly.,M1. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  16. ^ The Afghans (2002). By Willem Vogelsang Edition: illustrated Published by Wiley-Blackwell, 2002 Page 188
  17. ^ a b c Packard Humanities Institute - Persian Literature in Translation - Chapter IV: An Outline Of The History Of Persia During The Last Two Centuries... page 29
  18. ^ See Malleson, George Bruce (1879) "Chapter 7: The Ghilzai Rule" History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878 W.H. Allen & Co., London, OCLC 4219393, limited view at Google Books, for details on the origins of Mir Wais, chief of the Ghilzai tribe.
  19. ^ Packard Humanities Institute - Persian Literature in Translation - Chapter IV: An Outline Of The History Of Persia During The Last Two Centuries... page 30
  20. ^ a b c d Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 Oct. 2009. Last Afghan empire.
  21. ^ Prof. D. Balland, "Ašraf Ghilzai", in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition 2006, (LINK)
  22. ^ The Durrani dynasty, in "Afghanistan", Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  23. ^ The Afghans (2002) By Willem Vogelsang. Page 228.
  24. ^ a b CIA World Factbook - "Afghanistan"
  25. ^ An Historical Guide To Afghanistan by Nancy H. Dupree
  26. ^ The Afghans (2002) By Willem Vogelsang. Page 229.
  27. ^ Nancy H. Dupree: An Historical Guide To Afghanistan, 2. Edition, Afghan Tourist Organization 1977, Chapter 16 The South
  28. ^ Columbia Encyclopedia - "Afghanistan: History"
  29. ^ History Of Nations - History of Afghanistan
  30. ^ Afghanistan Online - Biography (Ahmad Shah Abdali)
  31. ^ Britannica Student Encyclopedia - "Government and History (from Afghanistan)"
  32. ^ MECW Volume 18, p. 40; by Frederick Engels. July and the first 10 days of August 1857.
  33. ^ Dupree, L. (1973) Afghanistan, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.343-61
  34. ^ Nalwa, V. (2009), Hari Singh Nalwa - Champion of the Khalsaji, New Delhi: Manohar, p. 18, ISBN 8173047855.
  35. ^ "Hari Singh Nalwa Foundation Trust". Retrieved 2009-12-29. 
  36. ^ Nalwa, V. (2009), Hari Singh Nalwa - Champion of the Khalsaji, New Delhi: Manohar, p. 198, ISBN 8173047855.
  37. ^ "Education in Afghanistan", published in Encyclopaedia Iranica, volume VIII - pp. 237-241
  38. ^ Barry Bearak, Former King of Afghanistan Dies at 92, The New York Times, July 23, 2007.

Further reading

  • Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul (2008). Eds., Friedrik Hiebert and Pierre Cambon. National Geographic, Washington, D.C. ISBN 978-1-4262-0374-9.
  • Anthony Arnold, Afghanistan's Two-Party Communism
  • Henry S. Bradsher, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union
  • David B. Edwards, Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad
  • Louis Dupree, Afghanistan
  • DeSpain, Dori. A Brief History of Afghanistan. School Journal. Volume 53. Issue 9 (2007)
  • Arnold Charles Fletcher, Afghanistan: Highway of Conquest
  • Vartan Gregorian, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization, 1840–1946
  • Kawun Kakar Hasan, Government and Society in Afghanistan: The Reign of Amin 'Abdal-Rahman Khan
  • W. Kerr Fraser-Tytler, Afghanistan: A Study of Political Developments in Central and Southern Asia
  • Raiz Muhammad Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot: Negotiating the Soviet Withdrawal
  • Richard S. Newell, The Politics of Afghanistan
  • Elliot, Sir H. M., Edited by Dowson, John. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; published by London Trubner Company 1867–1877. (Online Copy: The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; by Sir H. M. Elliot; Edited by John Dowson; London Trubner Company 1867–1877 - This online Copy has been posted by: The Packard Humanities Institute; Persian Texts in Translation; Also find other historical books: Author List and Title List)
  • Leon B. Poullada, Reform and Rebellion in Afghanistan, 1919–1929
  • Olivier Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan
  • Barnett Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System
  • Bernard, P. 1994. "The Greek Kingdoms of Central Asia." In: History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume II. The development of sedentary and nomadic civilizations: 700 B.C. to A.D. 250. Harmatta, János, ed., 1994. Paris: UNESCO Publishing., pp. 99–129.
  • Hill, John E. 2003. "Annotated Translation of the Chapter on the Western Regions according to the Hou Hanshu." 2nd Draft Edition."The Han Histories". Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West from the Weilue 魏略 by Yu Huan 魚豢: A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 AD. Draft annotated English translation."Weilue: The Peoples of the West". 2004-05-23. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  • Rashid, Ahmed, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. Yale University Press, 2001, 294 pages. ISBN 0-300-08902-3
  • Sarianidi, Viktor I. 1971. "The Lapis Lazuli Route in the Ancient East." V. I. Sarianidi. Archaeology Magazine, January 1971, pp. 12–15.
  • Sarianidi, Viktor I. 1985. The Golden Hoard of Bactria: From the Tillya-tepe Excavations in Northern Afghanistan. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York.
  • Sarianidi, Viktor. 1989. "Early Kushan Jeweller's Art." International Association for the Study of the Cultures of Central Asia Information Bulletin, Issue 15. Moscow, Nauka Publishers, pp. 124–134.
  • Sarianidi, Viktor 1990-1992 "Tilya Tepe: The Burial of a Noble Warrior." PERSICA XIV, 1990–1992, pp. 103–130.
  • Vogelsang, Willem. 2002. The Afghans. Blackwell Publishers. Oxford. ISBN 0-631-19841-5.
  • Watson, Burton. Trans. 1961. Records of the Grand Historian of China: Translated from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Chap. 123. The Account of Ta-yüan. Columbia University Press.
  • Wood, John. 1872. A Journey to the Source of the River Oxus. New Edition, edited by his son, with an essay on the "Geography of the Valley of the Oxus" by Henry Yule. John Murray, London.
  • Afghanistan. The Encyclopædia Britannica. 15th Edition. 2005.
  • AFGHAN SMART Book-1-.pdf

External links

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