Culture Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan
    © / Christophe_Cerisier
  • Afghanistan
    © / Christophe_Cerisier
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Afghanistan

Afghanistan : Discover the country's culture


Afghanistan - Lonely Planet Guide - ed. 2007.

Afghanistan : Discover the country's history

Historical dates

From 6th century B.C to 6th century A.D: invasion into the region by the armies of Persian king Darius the Great and later by the troops of Alexander the Great. After the settlement of the Scythians, the Parthians and the buddhist Quchans, then came the epoch of the Hephtalites (also called the white Huns).
During the 7th century, the Arabs introduced the Muslim religion in Central Asia and later on the Turks came from Asia, at the start of the 11th century.
The Mongols arrived in the 13th century led by the all-conquering Genghis Khan and ruled over this country until the end of the 14th century, followed by India and Iran in the 16th century.
During the 18th century the Persians established their authority on almost the entire country.
From 1838 to 1893: Afghanistan lived through two successive wars: one against Russia while still under British influence, as the British crown wanted to protect its lands in India.
1907: the British-Russian treaty grants autonomy for Afghanistan
1919: third Afghan War: the country acquired its independence, sealed by the treaty of "Rawal Pindi" in 1921.
From 1926 to 1945: The kingdoms' epoch. The country was successful in remaining neutral during the Second World War.
1953: Mohammed Daoud, cousin of King Zaher Shah became Prime Minister and introduced a large-scale program of economic and social modernisation with Soviet aid.
1965: establishment of the PDPA (Democratic Party of the Afghan People), pro-communist and pro-Soviet.
1973: coup d'etat by Daoud who, with Russian military help, overthrew his cousin Zaher.
1977: Daoud is elected President of the Republic. Coup d'Etat by the PDPA one year later and assassination of Daoud. A period of uncertainty and political unrest due to the Soviet occupation to the Taliban regime.
1978: In Moscow a friendship treaty was signed with the Soviet ?big brother'.
1980: Soviet troops invaded and occupied almost the entire country. Some Muslims (among which the Saudi Arabian Osama bin Laden) enter Afghanistan to start a battle against the Soviet troops. The CIA supplied them with equipment and finances.
1988: Geneva Convention signed between the government of Kabul, the USSR, Pakistan and the USA. The Afghan opposition refused to recognise these agreements.
February 1989: the Red Army is defeated by the Jihad. Start of the civil war, which fought against the Communist government and its supporters.
1990-1991: Gulf War and landing of American troops in Saudi Arabia.
1992: end of the Communist regime and start of the civil war opposing the factions of mujahids divided on religious, ethnic and regional grounds.
1992-1995: Ahmad Shah Massoud, a moderate Tajik Islamist, became the Minister of Defence but then resigned. His government was replaced by this of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a fundamentalist of Pashtun origins.
1994: the Taliban set on an offensive with the support of the Pakistani army and gradually succeeded to take over most provinces of the country, except from the Tajik recess in the north-east. Start of the fundamentalist dictatorship.
1996: Osama bin Laden, running away from Saudi Arabia, after two years of residence in Sudan, returned to Afghanistan and circulated ?a proclamation of Jihad against the Americans'.
September: taking of Kabul by the Taliban, led by Mullah Omar, a charismatic leader of the movement and often referred to as ?Commander of the Faithful'.
1997: Pakistan is the first state to recognise officially the Taliban regime. Soon thereafter recognition came also from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In July, the troops of Massoud took hold of the northern zones of Kabul.
February 1998: Bin Laden and the leaders of several small belligerent Islamic extremist groups established the ?Islamic International Front against the Jews and the Crusaders'.
April 1998: failure of the peace process as proposed by the United Nations. On the anniversary date marking the landing of American troops in the Persian Gulf, two bombing attempts were launched against the American embassies in Tanzania and in Kenya in August. Bin Laden took responsibility and was proclaimed ?Public Enemy no. 1' of Washington.
November 1999: After the return of the United Nations in Afghanistan and another unsuccessful round of peace negotiations, an embargo was established. The Security Council of the United Nations voted for imposing financial sanctions, which under pressure from the USA, were accompanied by a resolution setting the Taliban a one-month ultimatum to hand over Osama Bin Laden.
In 2000: Mullah Omar issued a decree, under international pressure, introducing an effective ban on the production of opium poppy in Afghanistan and ordering the destruction of all opium harvests. In December, the Security Council of the United Nations voted new sanctions against the Taliban regime in retaliation for their support to terrorism.
February 2001: Mullah Omar issued a decree for the demolition of all pre-Islamic statues, including the Buddha of Bamiyan. They were blasted with dynamite on the 9th March, in spite of the worldwide uproar against it.
9th September: Commander Massoud fell victim to a suicidal assassination. His duties of leadership of the United Northern Front were succeeded by his former chief of intelligence services, General Mohammad Fakhim.

After September 11
September 11: terrorist acts in the USA. Osama Bin Laden, founder of the terrorist network Al Qaeda based in Afghanistan, has taken responsibility for these acts. The Taliban regime has since remained the primary target for the USA in its fight against world terrorism.
October: bombings by American troops on the biggest towns of the Taliban and bases where terrorists have allegedly been trained. Fall of the Taliban regime in the winter. The power is seized by an interim government led by Hamid Karzaļ.
Start of 2002: deployment of international military forces set to help for the provision of the country's security (FIAS).
April: Return, yet as an ordinary citizen, of the latest king Zaher Shah in Afghanistan after 29 years of exile in Rome. Unrest across the country due to the unstable political situation.
May 2003: the governors of ten Afghan provinces and the prominent belligerent leaders agreed to respect the authority of the central government after an appeal for instituting public order by President Karzaļ.
August: NATO took over the command of the International Allied Forces deployed for the security of Afghanistan, then Eurocorps one year later, thus inaugurating its first mission outside Europe.
November 2004: Hamid Karzaļ is officially proclaimed winner in the presidential elections held on the 9th October.

Afghanistan : Stay up to date on the country's holidays and events


10 January: Festival of the Arafat Mountain
31 January: New Year
9 February: The Day of Ashura
10 February: The Day of Ashura
21 March: Nowruz
11 April: anniversary of the Prophet
28 April: Victory Day
4 May: Labour Day
19 August: Independence Day

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