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Home >> Travel Afghanistan >> Afghanistan History

History of Afghanistan has always been determined by Afghanistan's geographic location and ethnic population. SAARC Tourism is providing here chronological information on the country's history.

Early humans lived in what is today called Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago.
Before Islamic Conquest
Aryans invaded Afganistan around 2000 BC. Other phases of this period were Persian, Median, Greek, Mauryan and Bactrian. Greek Emperor Alexander the Great entered the Afghan territory to take hold of Bactria. Chandragupta, Maurya Emperor of India, took over Kabul valley and present Kandahar after subjugating Selecus. The Mauryans, under Ashoka, introduced Buddhism. In succeeding centuries, the territory was under the control of Indo Greeks, Scythians, Kushans, White Huns and Parthians. In first century AD, Buddhas of Bamiyan were carved out.
Post Islamic Conquest
Arabs invaded Afghanistan in 7th century and introduced Islam. The invasion was followed by several short-lived Muslim dynasties. Mahmud of Ghazni, one of these rulers, launched military attacks on several lands and brought back huge chunks of booty. Timur (late 14th century) also subjugated plenty of territories. Mughal ruler Babar used Kabul as the base camp of his military compaigns in India. In 18th century Persian ruler Nadir Shah took hold of territories north of Hindu Kush mountains. Another Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah brought most part of present day Afghanistan under his control. His dynasty was known as Durrany dyansty.
Under European Influence
Period of 1826 to 1919 is usually termed the period of European influence. This phase witnessed the conflict between the expanding British and Russian empires. The rivalry culminated in two Anglo-Afghan wars. The British succeeded in putting their puppets on Afghan throne. However, Amanullah Khan tried to break free of British control, triggering the third Anglo Afghan War. Both sides signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi in August 1919. In accordance with the treaty, the British agreed to leave control of Afghan foreign affairs.
King Amanullah: Reforms and Abdication
King Amanullah was the man of modern and secular ideas. He implemented the policy of modernisation in Afganistan. Elementary education was made compulsory. Power of religious leaders was curtailed, traditional veil for women was abolished and co-educational schools were introduced. This led to lot of resentment against the government and forced Amanullah to abdicate in 1929.
Pre Soviet Era
After the fall of Amanullah Khan, Kabul came under control of Habibullah Kalakani. However, Nadir Khan, a cousin of Amanullah, ovethrew and killed him. He assumed the title of King Nadir Shah and slowed the process of modernisation. His reign did not last long and he was assasinated by a Kabul student. He was succeeded by his son Mohammad Zahir Shah, 19-year old son of Nadir Khan. He ruled from 1933 to 1973. However actual power under him moved to the office of Prime Minister. Both Left and Right wing political groups grew under Zaheer Shah. Prime Minister Daoud Khan overthrew Zaheer Shah in a military coup in 1973. Zaheer Shah took refuge in Italy. Daoud Khan abolished monarchy, abrogated the constitution promulgated by Zaheer Shah, and declared Afghanistan a Republic. He assumed both the offfices of the President and the Prime Minister. However he failed to control political stability.
Era of Soviet Intervention
Afghan communist party, known as People's Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (PDPA), overthrew Daoud Khan on April 27, 1978 and took the reigns of the country. Acting in accordance with Marxist principles, the PDPA implemented a liberal and socialist agenda, which the traditional society of Afghanistan could not digest. The policies of the government were met with stiff resistance. The government tried to quell the resistance, but failed. It was forced to ask the Soviet Union (USSR) for military and financial help. Soviet army entered Kabul on December 25, 1979.

This was followed by 9 years of confrontation between the Soviet troops and mujahideen rebels backed by the USA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which were trying to protect their interests in the region. Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in 1989, but continued to support the government. However after the disintegration of Soviet Union, the communist government of Afghanistan could not last long and collapsed on April 18, 1992. The mujahedin took control of Kabul and declared Afghanistan an Islamic state.
Civil War
Differences between the various factions of the mujahedin surfaced after the demise of their common enemy, the communists. Fighting among rival mujahedin factions intensified. The result was anarchy and warlordism in the country. The country was torn due to internal strife. All warring groups controlled one or the other part of Afghanistan.
Rise and Fall of Taliban
Taliban, a movement of religious Islamic scholars, emerged from the southern Afghan state of Kandahar. By the end of 2000, the Taliban took approximate 90% of Afghanistan under their control and cornered the mujahedin warlords in the northern part of the country. Fearing for life, the opposition formed the Afghan Northern Alliance. Retaliating to September 11, 2007 attacks on its homeland, the United States invaded Afghanistan with its allies to topple the Taliban government. The Taliban were ousted and Hamid Karzai was elected the president in the first ever presidential elections in Afghanistan.
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