Excavations at Louis Dupree’s and others’ ancient sites indicate that people existed in present-day Afghanistan at least 50,000 years ago, and that agricultural settlements in the region are among the oldest in the world. Many people think that Afghanistan is comparable to Egypt’s ancient monuments in terms of historical significance.
The nation is located at a unique crossroads where many civilizations have mingled and often clashed. Throughout the centuries, it has been home to a variety of peoples, notably the ancient Iranian peoples who established the dominance of Indo-Iranian languages in the area. Large regional empires, such as the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, and the Islamic Empire, encompassed multi-point land.
Many empires and kingdoms rose to power in Afghanistan, including the Greek-Bactrian, Kushan, heftalitas, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khiljis, Kartids, Timurids, Mughals, and, finally, the Hotak and Durrani Dynasties, which formed the political foundations of the modern state.
Edictby (Greek and Aramaic) was established in the third century BC. Emperor Ashoka discovered it in the southern city of Kandahar.
Archaeological research done in the twentieth century indicates that Afghanistan’s geographical region is intimately linked to the culture and commerce of its neighbors to the east, west, and north. Typical Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron artifacts have been discovered in Afghanistan. It is thought that urban civilisation started as early as 3000 BC. C., and the ancient city of Mundigak (near Kandahar in the country’s south) may have been a colony of the neighboring Indus Valley civilization. Recent evidence indicates that the Industal civilisation spread into modern-day Afghanistan, and that the ancient civilization is now a part of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. It extended from modern-day northwestern Pakistan to northwestern India and northeastern Afghanistan. An indus valley was discovered on the Oxus River in Shortugai, northern Afghanistan. Afghanistan also has a number of smaller VCI colonies.
After the year 2000 a. D., several waves of semi-nomadic people started to migrate south through Central Asia into Afghanistan, with numerous Indo-Iranian-speaking Indo-Europeans among them. These tribes subsequently moved to South Asia, West Asia, and Europe through the region north of the Caspian Sea. Ariana was the name given to the area during the time.
Some think that the Zoroastrian religion began in Afghanistan between 1800 and 800 BC, since its founder, Zoroaster, lived and died in Balkh. Around the period of the development of Zoroastrianism, the old eastern Iranian languages were spoken in the area. The Achaemenids overthrew the Medes in the middle of the sixth century BC and included Arachosia, Aria, and Bactria into its eastern boundaries. The Kabul valley is mentioned in an inscription on Darius I of Persia’s grave as one of the 29 nations he conquered.
In 330 BC, Alexander the Great and his Macedonian soldiers arrived. After Darius III, in Afghanistan. Persia had defeated them a year before in the Battle of Gaugamela. Following Alexander’s brief tenure, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire ruled the area until 305 BC. EC, when they gave up a significant portion of it to the Maurya Empire as part of an alliance treaty. Until about 185 BC, the Maurya ruled the region south of the Hindu Kush. Were wrecked. Its downfall started 60 years after the Ashoka government fell, resulting in the Hellenistic recovery of the Greco-Bactrians. A significant portion of them split away and formed part of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Scythians conquered and banished them towards the end of the second century BC.
U. Z. conquered the Parthian area in the first century BC, but lost it to his Indo-Parthian vassals. The vast Kushan kingdom, headquartered in Afghanistan, became a significant supporter of Buddhist culture in the middle to late first century, and Buddhism flourished in the area as a result. The Kushans were defeated by the Sassans in the third century AD, although the Indo-Sassanians retained control over at least portions of the area. They were succeeded by the Kidarites, who were in turn succeeded by the Hephtalites. The descendants of Kushan and Hepthalite established the Kabul Shahi dynasty in the sixth century AD. A significant portion of the country’s northeast and south remained dominated by Buddhist culture.
Islamization and Mongol invasion
In 642, Arab Muslims introduced Islam to Herat and Zaranj and started to spread eastward; some aborigines accepted it, while others resisted. Because of its cultural ties to Greater India, the Arabs referred to the nation as al-Hind. Prior to the arrival of Islam, the majority of the inhabitants in the area were Buddhists and Zoroastrians, but there were also Surya and Nana worshippers, Jews, and others. The Zaranj Saffari Muslims defeated the Zunbils and Kabul Shahi for the first time in 870. Later, the Samanis spread Islamic influence south of the Hindu Kush. Before the Ghaznavids came to power in the 10th century, it is said that Muslims and non-Muslims coexisted in Kabul.
With the exception of Kafiristan, Mahmud de Ghazni conquered the other Hindu kings in the eleventh century and successfully Islamized the broader area. During the Islamic Golden Age, Afghanistan became one of the most significant hubs of the Muslim world. The Ghurids, who expanded into the already strong Islamic empire, overthrew the Ghaznavid dynasty.
Genghis Khan and his Mongol army attacked the area in 1219 AD. His soldiers are believed to have destroyed the Korean towns of Herat, Balkh, and Bamyan. The Mongols’ devastation drove many people to revert to a rural agricultural lifestyle. The Mongolian government maintained the Ilkhanate to the northwest, while the Afghan Khilji dynasty ruled tribal regions south of the Hindu Kush until Timur’s invasion in 1370, when he established the Timrido Empire.
Babur arrived from Fergana in the early 16th century and captured Kabul from the Arghun dynasty. In 1526, he conquered Delhi to establish the Mughal Empire in place of the Lodi dynasty. Parts of the region were controlled by the khanate of Bukhara, Safavids, and Mughals during the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Before the nineteenth century, the northern portion of Afghanistan was known as Khorasan. Afghanistan currently has two of Khorasan’s four capitals (Herat and Balkh), as well as areas of Kandahar, Zabulistan, Ghazni, and Kabulistan, as well as the boundary between Khorasan and Hindostan.
Hotak dynasty and Durrani Empire
Mirwais Hotak, a Ghilzai tribal chieftain, successfully revolted against the Safavids in 1709. He conquered Gurgin Khan and established Afghanistan as an independent country. Mirwais died of natural causes in 1715 and was replaced by his brother Abdul Aziz, who was shortly murdered for betraying his father by his son Mirwais Mahmud. In 1722, Mahmud led the Afghan army to the Persian capital of Isfahan, where he conquered the city after the Battle of Gulnabad and declared himself King of Persia. After the Battle of Damghan in 1729, Nader Shah drove the Afghan dynasty out of Persia.
In 1738, Nader Shah and his troops conquered Kandahar, the final stronghold of the Hotak, Shah Hussain Hotak, at which time Ahmad Shah Durrani, who had been imprisoned from the age of 16, was freed and made commander of an Afghan regiment. Soon after, soldiers from Persia and Afghanistan attacked India. Durrani was elected as Afghanistan’s first head of state in 1747. Durrani and his Afghan army conquered most of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Iranian regions of Khorasan and Kohistan, and the Indian city of Delhi. He fought the Maratha Empire in India, and one of his most notable wins was the Battle of Panipat in 1761.
Durrani died of natural causes in October 1772 and was buried in Kandahar, near the Capa Sanctuary. He was passed from his son, Timur Shah, who moved Afghanistan’s capital from Kandahar to Kabul following Timur’s death in 1793 in 1776, the Durrani crown to his son Zaman Shah, who was followed by Mahmud Shah, Shuja Shah, and others.
In the early nineteenth century, the Afghan Empire was challenged by the Persians in the west and the Sikh Empire in the east. Fateh Khan, the Barakzai tribe’s chief, had placed 21 of his brothers in positions of authority throughout the kingdom. Following his death, they revolted and divided the empire’s provinces among themselves. Afghanistan had several interim rulers throughout this tumultuous time until Emir Dost Mohammad Khan in 1826. Ranjit Singh, who invaded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and captured Peshawar in 1834, took over the Punjab area. Akbar Khanand’s Afghan army conquered the Jamrud Khalsa Sikh army at the Battle of Jamrud in the Khyber Pass in 1837, but Commander Hari Singh murdered Sikh Nalwa to conclude the Afghan-Sikh wars. The British pushed from the east at this time, and the first major battle started during the “Great Game.”
The British marched into Afghanistan in 1838, seized Dost Mohammad Khan (Emir of Afghanistan), banished him to India, and replaced him with previous ruler Shah Shuja. After an insurrection, the departure of British-Indian soldiers from Kabul in 1842, and the Battle of Kabul, which resulted to her recovery, the British turned over authority to Dost Mohammad Khan and withdrew their forces from Afghanistan. The views of Russian influence fought the second Anglo-Afghan war in 1878, Abdur Rahman Khan succeeded Ayub Khan, and Britain gained international relations control of Afghanistan through the Treaty of Gandamak in 1879. Mortimer Durand left Amir Abdur Rahman Khan sign a contentious deal in 1893 that separated the ethnic Pashtun and Baloise regions by the Durand Line. This was a typical strategy of British division and control, and it would cause friction, particularly with the nascent state of Pakistan.
Following the conclusion of the third Anglo-Afghan war and the signing of the Rawalpindi Treaty on August 19, 1919, King Amanullah Khan proclaimed Afghanistan to be a sovereign and fully independent state. He attempted to break his country’s customary isolation by developing diplomatic ties with the world community and, after a trip of Europe and Turkey in 1927-28, made numerous measures to modernize his country. Mahmud Tarzi, an enthusiastic supporter of women’s education, was a major factor behind these changes. He pushed for Article 68 of Afghanistan’s 1923 Constitution, which made elementary education mandatory. In 1923, the institution of slavery was abolished.
Some of the implemented changes, such as the removal of the customary burqa for women and the establishment of many mixed schools, have rapidly alienated many tribal and religious leaders. After Kabul fell prey to the insurgents headed by Habibullah Kalakani, Amanullah Khan was compelled to resign in January 1929 in the face of overwhelming armed resistance. In November 1929, Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah’s cousin, fought and murdered Kalakani and was proclaimed King Nadir Shah. He abandoned Amanullah Khan’s reforms in favor of progressive modernisation, but was murdered in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq, a Hazara school student.
Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shah’s 19-year-old son, came to the throne and reigned from 1933 until 1973. Until 1946, Zahir Shah governed with the assistance of his uncle, who served as Prime Minister and maintained Nadir Cha’s policies. Shah Mahmud Khan, another uncle of Zahir Shah, became Prime Minister in 1946 and started an experiment that allowed for more political freedom but reversed politics when it went beyond what he anticipated. In 1953, he was succeeded by Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king’s cousin and brother-in-law. Daoud Khan desired a stronger connection with the Soviet Union while maintaining a distance from Pakistan. Afghanistan stayed neutral, without taking part in either World War II or the Cold War power blocs. He did, however, benefit from the recent competition, as the Soviet Union and the United States fought for the building of major roads, airports, and other critical infrastructure in Afghanistan. Afghanistan got the most Soviet development assistance per capita of any nation. While King Zahir Shah was on an official vacation abroad in 1973, Daoud Khan staged a bloodless coup and became Afghanistan’s first president. Meanwhile, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was in Afghanistan with neighboring Pakistan. According to some analysts, Bhutto prepared the ground for the Saur revolution in April 1978.
Marxist revolution and Soviet war
In Afghanistan’s Saur revolution, the Democratic People’s Party (PDPA) seized power in April 1978. Within months, opponents of the Communist regime began an insurrection in East Afghanistan, which soon grew into a civil war led by Mujahideen insurgents against government troops across the nation. The Pakistani government set up secret training camps for these insurgents, while the Soviet Union deployed hundreds of military advisors to help the PDPA administration. Meanwhile, rising tensions between opposing factions of the PDPA’s powerful Khalq and Parcham resulted in the removal of Cabinet members Parchami and the arrest of officers Parchami under the guise of a state Parchami.
In September 1979, Nur Muhammad Taraki was assassinated by his Khalq counterpart, Hafizullah Amin, who took over the presidency. Amin, the Soviets’ mistress, was murdered by Soviet secret troops in December 1979. The vacuum was filled by a Soviet-organized administration headed by Babrak Karmalbut Parcham, which included the two groups. Although the Soviet leadership did not anticipate to undertake the majority of the combat in Afghanistan, a significant number of Soviet soldiers were sent to stabilize Afghanistan under Karmal. As a consequence, the Soviets were now actively engaged in Afghanistan’s internal conflict. The PDPA outlawed usury, proclaimed gender equality, and allowed women to participate in politics.
Through ISI Pakistan, the US backed Afghan anti-Soviet mujahedin and foreign “Arab-Afghan” militants in mid-1979 (see CIA activities in Afghanistan). Millions of dollars in cash and weaponry, including over 2,000 FIM 92 Stinger ground-to-air missiles, were supplied to Pakistan by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
The Soviet war in Afghanistan resulted in the deaths of over a million Afghans, the majority of whom were civilians, and the formation of 6 million refugees leaving Afghanistan, mostly to Pakistan and Iran. The Soviets withdrew in 1989 in the face of mounting international criticism and many deaths, but continued to assist Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah until 1992.
From 1989 until 1992, Najibullah’s administration attempted to end the civil conflict with economic and military assistance, but without the presence of local Soviet soldiers. Najibullah sought support for his administration by presenting it as Islamic, and the nation formally became an Islamic state in the 1990 constitution, with all references to communism erased. Najibullah, on the other hand, got little backing, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, he lost international assistance. This, along with the internal breakdown of his administration, resulted in his dismissal in April 1992. Following the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992, the Peshawar Agreement, a peace and power-sharing agreement signed by all Afghan Parties in April 1992, with the exception of Pakistani support for Hezb-e Islami by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, established the Islamic state of post-communist Afghanistan. Hekmatyar launched a bombing assault on Kabul, ushering in a new chapter of the war.
Saudi Arabia and Iran backed different Afghan militias, resulting in fast destabilization. The dispute between the two groups quickly escalated into a full-fledged war.
Because of the abrupt commencement of the conflict, the functioning government offices, police units, and a system of justice and accountability for the newly formed Islamic State of Afghanistan did not have time to train. Individuals from different armed organizations perpetrated the crimes as Kabul descended into lawlessness and mayhem. Because of the turmoil, certain leaders gained increasing influence over their (sub)commanders. There was minimal protection for people from murder, rape, and extortion. During the time of severe bombardment by Hezb-i Islami troops of Hekmatyar and Junbish-i Milli forces of Abdul Rashid Dostum, who had established an alliance with Hekmatyar in 1994, an estimated 25,000 people perished, and half a million people left Afghanistan.
Local leaders such as Gul Agha Sherzai and others ruled the south and east of Afghanistan. The Taliban (a movement founded in 1994 by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a network of religious schools for Afghan refugees in Pakistan) emerged as a political-religious force in Afghanistan. In 1994, the Taliban took control of southern Afghanistan for the first time, compelling hundreds of local Pashtun leaders to surrender.
Ahmad Shah Massud’s troops clung to Kabul in late 1994. Rabbani’s administration has taken steps to reopen courts, restore law and order, and launch a national political process aiming at national consolidation and democratic elections. Massoud asked Taliban commanders to participate in the process, but they declined.
Taliban Emirate and Northern Alliance
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, Massoud and Dostum established the Northern Alliance. During the Battles of Mazar-i-Sharif, the Taliban defeated Dostum’s troops (1997-98). Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s Chief of Staff, started deploying thousands of Pakistanis to assist the Taliban in defeating the Northern Alliance. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-al Zawahiri’s Qaeda network was also active in Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. This, along with the fact that over one million Afghans were internally displaced, caused the US to be concerned. Between 1990 and September 2001, about 400 thousand Afghans were killed in mini-internal conflicts.
Massoud was murdered by two Arab suicide bombers in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province on September 9, 2001. The September 11 attacks in the United States occurred two days later. The US administration accused Osama bin Laden of being the mastermind behind the attacks and requested that the Taliban give him up. After refusing to cooperate, the United States began Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001. During the first assault, US and UK troops attacked al Qaeda training sites. The US started collaborating with the Northern Alliance to remove the Taliban from power.
Recent history (2002–present)
The UN Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in December 2001, after the fall of the Taliban regime and the formation of the new Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai, to assist the Karzai administration and provide basic security. Taliban fighters regrouped in Pakistan, while other coalition forces invaded Afghanistan and started reconstructing the war-torn nation.
Shortly after losing power, the Taliban launched an insurgency to retake control of Afghanistan. Over the following decade, the ISAF and Afghan forces launched several offensives against the Taliban, but they were unable to fully destroy them. Due to a lack of foreign investment, government corruption, and the Taliban insurgency, Afghanistan remains one of the poorest nations in the world.
Meanwhile, the Afghan government succeeded in establishing certain democratic institutions, and the nation was renamed the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Attempts were often made, with the assistance of foreign donor nations, to improve the country’s economy, health, education, transportation, and agriculture. ISAF troops have also begun training the Afghan National Security Forces. More than five million Afghans were returned in the decade after 2002, including those who were officially deported from Western nations.
In 2009, portions of the nation saw the formation of a grim government headed by the Taliban. President Karzai attempted to hold peace talks with Taliban officials in 2010, but the insurgent organization refused to engage until mid-2015, when the Taliban’s top commander finally agreed to support the peace talks.
Many important Afghan personalities were assassinated in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan in May 2011. The fighting on the Afghan-Pakistan border escalated, and several large-scale strikes against the Haqqani network, which is headquartered in Pakistan, happened throughout Afghanistan. The increasing assaults were blamed on dishonest individuals inside Pakistan’s leadership, according to the US. Over a 15-year period, the US government spent tens of billions of dollars on development assistance and more than a trillion dollars on military expenditures. Corruption among Western and Afghan-affiliated military and development contractors reached unparalleled proportions in a country with a national GDP that was just a tiny fraction of the US government’s yearly expenditure for the war.
President Karzai resigned after the 2014 presidential election, and Ashraf Ghani took over as president in September 2014. The United States’ war in Afghanistan (America’s longest conflict) came to an end on December 28, 2014. Thousands of NATO troops, headed by the United States, stayed in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan government forces. More than 90,000 people died directly as a consequence of the current conflict in 2001, including militants, Afghan civilians, and government troops. Over a hundred thousand people were wounded.