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Historical Atlas of the Islamic World

Historical Atlas of the Islamic World

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An Afghan mujahid (warrior)

carries a shell to the front line.

Later these fighters would

receive the Stinger Surface-to-Air

missiles. This weapon, though

light and portable, contained

sophisticated target-seeking

electronics. Secretly supplied to

the mujahidin via the Pakistani

intelligence services (ISI), it had

a devastating impact on the

Soviet occupation, enabling

relatively untrained tribesmen to

bring down helicopter gunships.

A mountainous region with deep valleys,

deserts, and arid plateaus, Afghanistan has

never been a single political entity although

parts ofit were incorporated into the Pushtun

Empire founded by Ahmad Shah Durrani (r.

1747–72). The population is extremely varied,

with that largest ethnolinguistic grouping, the

Pushtuns, comprising about 47 percent. This

group is concentrated in the southern belt of

the territory that straddles the border with

Pakistan, with Tajiks, the second-largest

group (comprising 35 percent) living mainly

in the north, along with Uzbeks, Turkmen,

and Kirghiz (8 percent), and the Imami Shiite

Hazaras (7 percent).

The disintegration ofthe Durrani Empire

into fratricidal strife in the nineteenth century

opened the way for Russian and British pene-

tration. Britain’s concern to protect its empire

from Russian encroachments prompted its

two invasions ofAfghanistan in 1839–42 and

1879–80. Needing a strong central government

to consolidate Afghanistan as a buffer state

against the Russians Britain installed the

“Iron Amir,” Abd al-Rahman Khan (r.

1880–1901). He consolidated his power over

the country by waging jihad against the Shiite

and forcibly converting the indigenous non-

Muslim “infidels” ofKafiristan. Departing

with precedent he claimed to rule by divine

right rather than tribal delegation. Non-

Pushtuns were discriminated against and suf-

fered oppressive taxation.

Elements ofthe modern state, however,

were also introduced, with a centralized army

used to repress rebellious tribes and the gov-

ernment organized into separate departments

ofstate. During the reign ofAbd al-

Rahman’s son Habibullah (r. 1901–19) the

army was professionalized and modern

education introduced. Habibullah’s son

Amanullah (r. 1919–29) pushed the process of

modernization further by enacting sweeping

legislative changes, including the abolition of

slavery. He began to allow the education of

women and brought about changes in their

status including almost equal rights in mar-

riage, divorce, and inheritance. He also intro-

duced Western dress at court. The reforms

provoked a rebellion by the conservative

ulama and chieftains affiliated to the

Naqshbandi order and Amanullah was forced

into exile in 1929.

The Pushtun military leader Nadir Shah (r.

1929–33) took over from Amanullah and his

successor Zahir Shah (r. 1933–73) reinstated

the Sharia courts. He rewarded the Pushtun

tribes on which they depended by granting

their leaders government posts and allowing

rampant discrimination against non-

Pushtuns in the allocation ofresources. At

the same time the program ofmodernization

was resumed in a modified form, with the

state taking the leading part in economic

development. Under the combined strategic

pressures ofthe Cold War and the regime’s

Pushtun-oriented nationalism (which gener-

ated tensions with neighboring Pakistan) an

influential part ofthe Pushtun elite moved

closer to Moscow. This process resulted in

the ousting ofZahir Shah by his cousin and

former prime minister, Muhammad Daud,

with support from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,

and Iran. Daud abolished the monarchy and

proclaimed himselfpresident ofthe republic

ofAfghanistan. The Soviets responded by

sponsoring a coup by the communist People’s

Democratic Party ofAfghanistan (PDPA), a

move that resulted in direct Soviet interven-

tion in 1979 to prop up the Parcham (non-

156

H A of Islam Spreads 49–58 21/5/04 11:08 AM Page 156

dominated Taliban regime (supported by

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) headed by Bin

Laden’s close ally Mullah Muhammad Omar.

After taking Kabul in 1994 the Taliban barred

women from schools and other workplaces,

massacred the Shiite Hazaras, and brought

Iran to the brink ofmilitary intervention by

murdering nine ofits diplomats.

After the attacks on New York and

Washington in September 2001 by terrorists

allegedly belonging to Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda

network the Americans removed the Taliban

regime by a massive bombing campaign. The

new Pushtun leader Ahmad Karzai, installed

by the United States following an interna-

tional conference in Berlin, is a cousin of

Zahir Shah.

AFGHANISTAN 1840–2002

Pushtun) faction ofthe PDPA under Barbak

Kamal. The ensuing jihad—supported by

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United

States—attracted volunteers from many

Muslim countries, including the wealthy

Saudi Islamist Osama bin Laden. With the

help ofUS-supplied Stinger missiles, the

mujahadin forced the Soviet Union to with-

draw its troops from Afghanistan in 1989. Far

from generating a sense ofnational unity,

however, the struggle against the Soviets

served to intensify interethnic strife, as the

central institutions ofstate disintegrated.

The factional fighting that followed the

Soviet withdrawal and the collapse ofthe

Marxist regime ofGeneral Najiballah in

1992 opened the way for the radical Pushtun-

157

200 m

land over 2000m

PA

K

IST

A

N

I

R

A

N

A

F

G

H

A

N

I

S

T

A

N

T

AY

IK

IST

A

N

Quetta

Kabul

Peshawar

Lahore

Amritsar

Srinagar

Kashmir

INDIA

Dusnanbe

Samarkand

Kandahar

Bagram

Jalalabad

Ghazni

Faizabad

Kunduz

Bahlan

Termez

Mazar-i-Sharif

Maimana

Kuska

Heret

Shindand

Farah

Lashkar Gah

Gardez

Shamali eastern
offensive, 1985

Shamali Operation
Nov. 1983

Aug. 1981

Zhawar Campaign, 1986

May 1985

May 1982–
May 1984

A
irlift

Airlift

U

S

S

R

The Afghanistan War 1979–86
and Soviet Retreat 1988–89

Soviet Advance 1979

Soviet Retreat

Refugees

Soviet Campaigns 1981–86

Soviet airfields

Soviet infantry bases

Soviet airborne infantry base

Airfields constructed and
enlarged after 1980 by USSR

H A of Islam Spreads 49–58 21/5/04 11:08 AM Page 157

HISTORICAL ATLAS OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD

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