Afghanistan; key historical events

Page last modified 7/12/2019


Afghanistan – if not the graveyard of empires, then at least the hazardous minefield of them.


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31/5/2017, A powerful car bomb exploded in Kabul, killing 90 and injuring a further 460.

7/12/2011, Kandahar, Afghanistan, surrendered to US forces; the Taliban fled.

23/11/2011, Kunduz, Afghanistan, surrendered to US forces without a fight.

16/11/2011, Fighting between US troops and the Taliban began near Kandahar.

14/11/2011, US troops captured Kabul.

11/11/2011, US troops defeated the Taliban at Taloqan.

10/11/2011, US troops defeated the Taliban, Afghanistan, at Mazar-e-Sharif.

19/10/2011, US troops raided Kandahar.

14/5/2011, Pakistan officially condemned the US raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed.

1/5/2011, The US announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in an military operation in Pakistan.

2005, The Taliban regrouped, exploiting popular resentment at the foreign occupation of the country and slow progress in reconstruction.

3/11/2004, Hamid Karzai became President of Afghanistan.

5/5/2002. Reports from Afghanistan suggested the Taleban were regrouping in mountain hideouts, waiting for the Afghan government to falter.

22/12/2001, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as head of the interim government in Afghanistan.

6/12/2001. Mullah Omar, the Taleban leader, surrendered Kandahar; but Osama Bin Laden had still not been found.

26/11/2001. Kunduz, last Taleban stronghold in northern Afghanistan, fell to the Northern Alliance.

13/11/2001. The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, fell to the Northern Alliance, captured from the Taleban. Despite American stipulations that a government of all Afghans should rule, the Alliance seemed in sole control.

11/11/2001. Northern Alliance forces now controlled large areas of northern Afghanistan, including the western town of Herat.

9/11/2001. Northern Alliance forces fighting the Taleban in Afghanistan were reported to have captured the town of Mazar-E-Sharif. This opened up a land route and airfield to bring in supplies to fight the Taleban on the northern front.

9/10/2001. The first daylight raids began by the USA on Afghanistan against the Taliban and Bin Laden’s supporters. This was America’s ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’.

7/10/2001. Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the USA, missile attacks began on Afghanistan, prior to US invasion. President George Bush announced the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, to root out Al Quaeda.

See USA for more events of 9 – 11 terrorist attacks

17/9/2001. Afghanistan’s Taliban regime was warned it must hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect for the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the USA.

1/3/2001, In Afghanistan the Taliban demolished ancient Buddhist statues.

27/12/1996, Taliban forces retook the important Bagram air base, consolidating their territory around Kabul.

26/9/1996. The Taleban captured Kabul. They drove out the former President, Burhanuddin Rabbani and executed Mohammad Najibullah.

23/11/1994. The Taliban captured Kandahar, Afghanistan. See 26/9/1996.

7/9/1992. The first hanging in over 20 years took place in Afghanistan, with around 3,000 spectators.

28/7/1992. Afghanistan banned women, even wearing veils, from being seen on TV.

16/4/1992, President Najibullah of Afghanistan was overthrown. Mujaheddin rebels closed in on Kabul.

2/2/1989. The last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan, ending 9 years of bitter war against the Mujaheddin rebels. 120,000 Soviet soldiers marched north along the Salang Highway, leaving behind much armament. These rebels then marched on Kabul and Jalabad and threatened President Najibulah. Najibulah imposed martial law as Mujaheddin rockets fell on Kabul.

12/10/1988. The USSR offered US$600 million reparations to Afghanistan.

15/5/1988. Soviet troops began leaving Afghanistan. On 15/4/1988 Mr Eduard Shevardnaze, the Soviet Foreign Minister set the seal on the Kremlin’s decision to withdraw more than 100,000 Soviet troops in Afghanistan, after 8 ½ years of occupation. Some 155,000 troops would be withdrawn by 15/5/1988, and the remainder, as many troops as this again, would go by 15/2/1989. But Washington said it would continue to supply arms to the Mujaheddin who were fighting the Soviet-backed government in Kabul. During the Soviet occupation, up to one million Afghans were said to have been killed and over a third of the population had fled.

14/4/1988, In the Geneva Agreement, the USSR agreed to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

7/4/1988, Gorbachev, in Geneva, signed a peace accord on Afghanistan.

See Russia / Soviet Union for more events relating to President Gorbachev

8/2/1988, Soviet President Gorbachev announced that Russian troops were to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in May 1988.

1986, Muhammad Najibullah replaced Karmal as Head of Government.

4/5/1986, Babrak Karmal resigned as General Secretary of of the People’s Democratic (Communist) Party of Afghanistan. He was succeeded by Najibullah, former head of the secret police.

15/1/1986, Soviet President Gorbachev spoke of the continuing occupation of Afghanistan as a ‘bleeding wound’.

9/11/1982, Thousands of Soviet troops died in a fire inside the Salang Pass road tunnel, Afghanistan.

22/2/1980. In Kabul, martial law was imposed after violent anti-Soviet demonstrations.

29/1/1980, The Islamic Conference of 36 nations condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

15/1/1980. NATO and the Common Market debated whether to boycott the Moscow Olympics after the USSR had invaded Afghanistan, on 27/12/1979.

4/1/1980, Jimmy Carter proclaimed a grain embargo against the USSR, following its invasion of Afghanistan; the European Commission backed this embargo.

2/1/1980, US President Jimmy Carter told the US Senate not to ratify the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) with the USSR until Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

27/12/1979. President Hafizullah of Afghanistan was deposed and executed in a coup strongly backed by Soviet  troops. On 8/1/1980 President Carter described the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as the greatest threat to world peace since World War Two. Muslim guerrillas were active against the pro-Soviet regime, and 5,000 Soviet troops were stationed in Afghanistan. The USSR feared a spread of Muslim insurgency to the Soviet Union itself.

24/12/1979, Soviet troops began an invasion of Afghanistan.

3/7/1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed the first secret directive for aid to be given to anti-Communist opponents of the Kabul government.

27/3/1979, Hafizullah Amin became Prime Minister of Afghanistan.

14/2/1979, In Kabul, Muslim militants kidnapped the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs. He was killed the following day in a gunfight between the kidnappers and the police.

5/12/1978. The USSR signed a 20-year friendship treaty with Afghanistan. See 27/4/1978.

6/5/1978, The UK recognised the new regime in Afghanistan.

30/4/1978, The Soviet Union recognised the new regime in Afghanistan.

27/4/1978. A bloody coup overthrew the government of Afghanistan and replaced it with a pro-Soviet regime. Tanks and Mig-21 fighter planes attacked the Presidential palace in Kabul as Mohammed Daud was overthrown. The president and his family was massacred. All public meetings were banned and martial law imposed indefinitely.

17/7/1973, Daoud, supported by the Parcham Party, ousted his cousin King Mohammed Zabiur Shah, who had rued Afghanistan since 1933. Daoud proclaimed himself President of the new Republic of Afghanistan.

1965, Elections in Afghanistan; the monarchy retained power. The Marxist Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was formed and then banned. The PDPA then split into the Parcham (flag) and Khalq (masses) factions.

1964, King Zahir Shah introduced limited democratic reforms as he made the monarchy more constitutional.

1963, Daud resigned after the King rejected his proposals for democratic reforms.

24/12/1957, Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, was born.

1956, Afghanistan implemented its first Five Year Plan as the country began to modernise with Soviet aid. Daud Khan became more pro-Soviet in his policies.

1953, Mohammad Daud Khan became Prime Minister.

1946, Afghanistan joined the United Nations.

8/7/1937, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan signed a non-aggression pact in Tehran.

8/11/1933, Mohammed Nadir Shah, King of Afghanistan, was assassinated in Kabul. He was succeeded by his son, Mohammed Zahir Shah.

15/10/1929, Nadir Khan was proclaimed King of Afghanistan, after Emir Amanullah fled the country on 22/5/1929.

14/1/1929, Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan, facing revolt, abdicated and left the throne to his brother Inayatullah Khan.

1928, Amanullah Khan began to reform Afghanistan, reducing the power of the religious leaders, giving women more ffreedom,banning the veil, and ending polygamy.

22/11/1921. Britain recognised the independence of Afghanistan, under the Anglo-Afghan Treaty, signed by the Dobbs Mission in Kabul.

21/8/1919, Afghanistan became independent.

8/8/1919, The Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed. This ended the Third Afghan War, which had begun on 3/5/1919.

24/5/1919. Having defeated Afghan raiders on the Indian border, the British bombed Jalalabad and Kabul.

3/5/1919. Fighting broke out between Britain and Afghanistan, The Third Afghan War, see 8/8/1919.

1919, Habibullah was assassinated. His successor Amanullah, attempted to free the country from British influence, and attacked India. This started a brief Third Afghan War which ended when the British bombed Kabul and Jalalabad; the War was ended with the Treaty of Rawalpindi.

13/8/1907, An Anglo-Russian agreement recognised Afghanistan as an independent Kingdom; a Republic since 1973.

1904, Afghanistan’s western border with Persia was formally defined.

1901, Habibullah became Emir of Afghanistan.

20/10/1897, The British put down a rebellion by Afghan tribes at the Battle of Durgai.

1895, Britain and Russia created the Wakhan Corridoor, a sliver of land running east-west as far as China, which they attached to Afghanistan, keeping the rival British and Russian Empires apart.

1893, Britain established the Durand Line setting the border British India and Afghanistan with Emir Abdul Rahman. This split Pashtun lands in two.

The Second Afghan War

1881, End of the Second Afghan War.This had started in 1878, due to Afghanistan ceding some territories to Russia, alarming the British, who then sought to gain control over Afghanistan’s foreign policy.

1/9/1880, The British were defeated at the Battle of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

1/8/1880. The British lifted the siege of Kandahar, where a British garrison had been besieged by Afghan rebels. A 10,000 strong relief force had marched 313 miles, under General Sir Frederick Roberts, in just 23 days.

27/7/1880, Battle of Maiwand, Second Afghan War.

19/10/1879, Afghan Emir Yakub was forced to abdicate. He was replaced by his cousin, Adb-er-Rahman.

12/10/1879, British forces captured Kabul.

6/10/1879, Battle of Charasiab, Second Afghan War. British defeated the Afghans.

3/9/1879, Afghan rebellion against the British. British envoy Sir Louis Cavagnari was assassinated.

21/11/1878, The British Army advanced into Afghanistan from India.

4/3/1857, By the Treaty of Paris, Afghanistan’s independence was recognised by Britain and France, and forced upon Persia.

11/1856, The Shah of Persia seized Herat, a city in NW Afghanistan. In January 1857 the British under James Outram sent a military force to oust the Persian occupiers.

30/3/1855, Afghan leader Dost Mohammed signed a peace treaty ending 12 years of hostility with Britain. This agreement, the Treaty of Peshawar, was intended to thwart a Persian occupation of Afghanistan.

6/1/1842. A 16,500-strong Anglo-Indian force under Lord Auckland was massacred in Afghanistan whilst retreating from Kabul.

1839, Start of First Afghan War (1839-42). This War arose from the failure of a British mission to Kabul led by Captain Alexander Burnes in 1837. The aim of this mission was to overthrow Dost Mohammed and replace him with a predecessor leader. Dost Mohammed was indeed overthrown but then restored following a revolt in Kabul.

1823, The last Durrani Emir died. No new ruler emerged until 1826 when Dost Mohammed became Emir. Britain and Russia began to compete for influence in the region, during the so-called Great Game.

1809, Afghan leader Shah Shoja signed a Treaty of Friendship with Britain. The Shah promised to oppose the passage of foreign (i.e. Russian) troops through his territory.

1747, The modern nation of Afghanistan was formed under Ahmad Shah Durrani, a warlord who secured the independence of the country from Iran. Ahmad Shah ruled until 1773.

1530, On the death of Babur, Afghanistan was divided between an Uzbek north, a Mughal east, and a Persian west.

1504, The Moghuls took Afghanistan. Babur, a descendant of Genghiz Khan, made Kabul the capital, and then went on to establish the Mughal Empire in India.

1369, Timur (Tamerlane) invaded the Afghanistan region, incorporating it into his Timurid Empire.

1219, Genghis Khan invaded and laid waste the north and west of Afghanistan.

997, Mahmud of Ghanzni became ruler, and extended his power as far as the Punjab in India.

962, Alptigin, a Turkish warrior-slave, captured the Afghan fortress of Ghazni, and founded the Ghaznavid Dynasty.

652, Arab armies invaded the Afghanistan region, introducing Islam.

250, Afghanostan became part of the Persian Sassanid Empire.

50 CE, Afghanistan became part of the Kushan Empire.

327 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered the Afghanistan region.

530 BCE, Cyrus the Great made Afghanistan part of the Persian Empire.


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