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History of Afghanistan

After the assassination of his father, Nadir shah, in November 1933, Zahir shah succeeded his throne at the age 19. The next 40 years had seen Afghanistan transformed from a feudal age to the modern nation but the frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan imposed by British colonial power remained contested because the most important ethnic group of Afghanistan, Pashtuns are living on the both side of frontier.

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In 1953, a cousin of Zahir shah, Muhammad Daoud was appointed prim minister. During his prim ministership (1953-1963), Daoud carried out many social reforms such as making optional veils for women. He was in a warm relation with USSR while the relation with USA was chilly.

Due to his hard stance on the border issue with Pakistan, Afghanistan was on the verge of a war. Zahir shah ought to ask a resignation of Daoud from the prim ministership in 1963 and Muhammad Yusof became a prim minister.

Thanks to the constitution promulgated in 1964 that guaranteed a free election and a freedom of speech, Afghanistan became a democratic country but on university campus, a bitter political fight broke out between pro communist and pro Islamic students.

In 1965, pro Moscow Afghan communist party, PDPA (People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan) was founded by Babrak Karmal and Muhammad Taraki but split soon to 2 factions, Parcham (flag) led by Taraki and Khalq (people) led by Karmal.

Unhappy with his forced retirement, ex prim minister, Daoud staged a coup with a complicity of communist officers in July 1973 during King's visit in Europe. Republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed and Daoud became the president. Many communists entered his cabinet.

Daoud carried on the modernization of Afghanistan and banned Islamic parties that fiercely opposed it. Many Islamic leaders such as Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masoud of Jamiat-i-Islami fled to Peshawar in Pakistan to organize a resistance.

After the elimination of Islamic parties by Daoud, the communists began to fear their tour. The assassination of Mir Akbar Khyber, an important figure of PDPA provoked a popular riot in April 1978 and communist militaries recruited by Hafizullah Amin encircled the presidential palace. It was the famous Saur revolution (Saur means April in Afghan). Daoud was killed with his entourage and Democratic republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed.

Initially both Khalq and Parcham factions, which had been reconciled some years ago by a Moscow's initiative, were present in the government but soon Khalaq's boss and the president of revolutionary council, Taraki purged all the members of Parcham faction such as Babrak Karmal from the cabinet and the party organ.

The communist policies such as women's emancipation and land reforms, which ignored totally Afghan rural traditions, provoked many popular riots and they were subdued each time with bloodshed. During this confusing period, in February 1979, US Ambassador Adolph Dubs was assassinated by an unidentified person.

This anarchy provoked a disputed between supporters of Taraki and his prim minister Amin. Alarmed by Taraki's plot to eliminate him, Amin counter attacked in July 1979 by a bloody shooting at the presidential palace. Amin became the president of Afghanistan and Taraki was secretly executed.

The elimination of Taraki without consent angered Brezhnev and he ordered to invade Afghanistan with 80,000 men in December 1979, by giving an excuse to save Afghan communist revolution. Amin was assassinated and Parcham faction chief Karmal was appointed the president by USSR, by returning back from the exile.

In spite of a huge Soviet aid to PDPA, Mujahideen resistance was increasingly stronger because they began to receive sophisticated materials such as handy surface to air missiles, stingers, from USA while Pakistan offered training grounds for Islamic fighters and Saudi Arabia, money. Jihad (holly war) was launched.

Unsatisfied with the result of Karmal, USSR dismissed him and replaced in May 1986 by the chief of Afghan secret police, Ahmadzai Najibullah. He reverted the country's name to Republic of Afghanistan in order to show his willingness to negotiate with Mujahideen but the combat continued.

Before a huge loss (13,000 soldiers killed), Gorbachev ordered a withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in May 1988 and Najibullah tried to form a coalition government through Geneva accord signed in April but his tentative remained totally ignored.

In April 1992, Kabul fell to the hands of Mujahideen and Najibullah fled to an UN compound. Islamic republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed and Sibghatullah Mujadedi then Burhanuddin Rabbani became its president while Gulbuddin Hekmatyar of Hezb-e-Islami, refusing the post of prim minister, entered a conflict against Rabbani.

Soon, each Mujahideen faction began to fight one against another and many of them became bandits: arbitrary passage fees, smuggling, kidnapping etc. Appeared in the late 1994 at Kandahar, Taliban guided by an Islamic teacher, Mullah Mohammad Omar, successfully captured most of Afghanistan thanks to a support of the local population who had got enough with Mujahideen.

In September 1996, Kabul fell to the hands of Taliban and Najibullah was executed by hanging. Alarmed, most of Mujahideen factions, who fought beforehand one against another such as Abdul Dostam of Jumbish-i-Milli, decided to unify under the banner of the president Rabbani to fight against Taliban and formed so called "northern alliance".

After the attack of World Trade Center in September 2001, US has formed a large coalition against Taliban which would harbor Osama bin Laden and pressed Pakistan to stop to support Taliban regime. Before a refusal of Mullah Omar to hand over Bin Laden, USA has entered a war by bombing their military facilities.

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For more than 20 years, Afghanistan has been at war. Now American bombings on Afghanistan may provoke a massive refugee exodus and famine. By purchasing post cards of Afghanistan from a charitable organization, you can contribute to save those Afghan children and women from famine and persecution.

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Learn Arabic language

Afghanistan has been strongly influenced by the Arabic culture like any other Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Iran. Click here to find more detailed description and screen shots on the Arabic tutorial program "Free Light Arabic" and possibly download a free demo version.
Last update: October 10, 2007
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