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Afghanistan, "Terrorism" and Blowback: A Chronology
by
Janette Rainwater, Ph.D.

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September 27, 1962    President Kennedy meets with Afghanistan's Foreign Minister, Prince Naim, and tells him "the United States is a long way off [from Afghanistan] and even though it is very anxious to help it can at best play a limited role." Anshutz, J. Bruce, Afghanistan: The First Five Years of Soviet Occupation (1986), p. 28.

1963    King Zahir Shah takes control of the government and institutes a parliamentary democracy in Afghanistan. Women are given equal rights, including the right to vote and the right to an education. Wearing of the veil is discretionary. There is partial freedom of the press; the country's infrastructure is transformed thanks to the influx of foreign aid. Griffin, pp. 64, 88; Richter, "Revolutionary Afghan Women", zmag.org; Cooley, p. 11.

1972    Drought and famine cause the deaths of over 100,000 Afghanis. Relief funds from abroad are mishandled by the king's son-in-law, General Abdul Wali. Cooley, p. 11.

July, 1973    While King Zahir Shah is abroad in Italy on one of his many vacations, he is deposed by a military coup. The new leader, Daoud Khan, a cousin and brother-in-law of the king and the former prime minister, abolishes the monarchy and rules the country with an iron fist, eliminating Parliament and some of the democratic reforms. The Afghan army and the Parcham (the flag) wing of the Afghan communist party were behind the coup; King Zahir Shah was not unhappy to be able to remain in Rome where he became a pensioner of some unnamed Arab state. Relations with Pakistan suffered further when Daoud pursued the Pashtunistan issue. His administration and the army squelched a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement whose leaders fled to Pakistan. There they were supported by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and encouraged to continue the fight against Daoud. These men --- Gulbuddin Hekmetyar, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Ahmad Shah Massoud --- would later be major leaders of the mujaheddin. Rashid, Ahmed, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (2000), pp. 12-13; Griffin, pp. 17, 88; Cooley, pp. 11-12.

Late 1977    As part of a worldwide review of Embassy categories, the United States downgrades its embassy in Kabul to the lowest category of mission, Class 4. [Obviously the State Department felt that Afghanistan was a country of little relevance to US interests. Amstutz, p. 29.]

April 26, 1978    In reaction to a huge funeral procession for an assassinated leader of the PDPA (Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan) the Daoud government arrests most of the remaining leadership of the party.

April 27, 1978    Afghani soldiers sympathetic to the Khalq (the masses) faction of the Afghani communist party overthrow the government and release the arrested PDPA members. Daoud and his family are killed resisting the coup. Nur Muhammad Taraki is installed as president; his two principal deputies are the Columbia University Ph.D. politician, Hafizullah Amin, and Babrak Karmal. The Soviets are alarmed by Amin's extreme Pashtu nationalism and they suspect him of being pro-USA. [The PDPA quickly instituted a number of reforms: the mortgage debts of the peasants were canceled; a major literacy program began in Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi. (The illiteracy rate for rural inhabitants was 90.5%; for women, 96.3%.) Bride-price was prohibited and women were given freedom of choice in marriage. Many hospitals were built (an 80% increase by 1985) and health services were provided to the peasants for the first time. Cooley, p. 12; US Army, Afghanistan- a Country Study, 1986; Rashid, p. 13; Workers World, October 10, 1996.]

Summer, 1978    There are violent protests over some of the reforms which challenge Afghan cultural patterns.

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This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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