The Hotaki rulers continued to take lands over the next century, but also fought
amongst themselves over power, hurting the growth of the empire. This expansion
of power moved east as the empire took much of what is today Pakistan,
even getting as far as modern day India.
In the 1800s much of what is known as "The Great Game" took place on Afghan soil as the Russians
and British sought greater control in the region.
This led to a number of armed conflicts between the British and Afghan, first beginning
in 1839 then the second beginning in 1878. These battles occurred primarily due
to the Afghan people's belief that the British were attempting to take control
of the region or, at a very minimum, trying to gain greater influence in the region.
After these wars ended the British and
Russians ended their Great Game with Afghanistan's
current borders being created. The British held control in what is today
Pakistan and India, while also gaining greater control
over Afghan international affairs. The Russians remained in Central Asia, not quite
getting the foothold in Afghanistan that they had desired.
The peace between the Afghans and
British was short lived though, when, in 1919, Afghanistan attacked
India (today's Pakistan) to begin the third
Anglo-Afghan War. This war finally ended British occupation over Afghanistan's
foreign affairs, and hence gave Afghanistan complete independence. From this point
forward Afghanistan no longer had foreign influence in their borders, and had, for
the first time, established a sovereign state with their current borders.
After independence King Amanullah Khan set about a fairly rapid modernization schedule,
modeled perhaps after Turkey's. This extended women's
rights and expanded education, but it was met with fierce resistance among more
conservative tribal leaders, leading to his overthrow in 1929.
Despite the king's overthrow, his supporters soon re-took control and the wars
and battles had begun with another assassination before 19 year old Mohammad Zahir
Shah took power in 1933. During his 40 year reign the country faced difficult modernization
decisions and altering international relations. The most significant relations were
those with the Soviet Union to the north and Pakistan to
In the 1960s the king decided to introduce a representative government, however
this only magnified the country's disunity as extremist parties on all sides
developed and soon there was a growing communist movement in
Afghanistan. Amongst this growing chaos a coup ousted the king in 1973,
but the new leadership did little to improve the country's state as the economic
continued to decline.
In 1978 the government then began arrests and assassinations of opponent parties,
which led to the overthrow of this government, leading to the establishment of the
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan that same year. This
new government swung towards Communist ideologies as women were granted greater
rights, education and healthcare was encouraged, but religion was restricted, land
was taken and redistributed, and a number of laws were passed dictating how men
and women could or could not dress. This led to numerous imprisonments and deaths,
primarily in the villages among the many people who opposed these changes or had
in the past.
This new government then invited the Soviet Union into their country to improve
their infrastructure. However these changes and the Soviet involvement in the country
didn't sit well with the people and soon the people were revolting with much
international support as the Cold War was at its peak. To counter this, the Soviet
Union entered the country in 1979 in accordance to a pact the new government signed
with them. Although the government supported this move, the people did not and soon
the country was at war. Most of the people fought the government and the Soviets
as much of the Muslim world and Western Europe supported the people. The Muslim
world viewed this as defending their religion and their right to practice, while
the western countries saw it as another front of the Cold War, fighting communism.
The United States and
Saudi Arabia were the two biggest supporters of these troops.
Eventually, the Soviets gained great strides in taking Afghanistan,
but the battles and arguments never ceased as warring continued on a small scale
until 1989 when the Soviets finally withdrew their troops from the country. Despite
Soviet withdrawal, the communist-leaning party in power continued to rule the country
In 1992 nearly all the parties agreed to work together as the Islamic State of Afghanistan was created. However, there were still
critics, including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who took it upon himself and his Pakistani
supporters to regularly bomb the capital city of Kabul. Additionally, in a state
of flux, the neighboring powers, in particular Iran sent in
forces to push their objectives and politics in Afghanistan, almost guaranteeing
that the new union would fail as soon these various political parties were again
fighting each other.
In 1994, Pakistan shifted its support to the Taliban, a
small, but growing organization in southern Afghanistan
with extreme political views. This organization, led by Mullah Omar, gained much
power as rival groups fought each other. The Taliban began their attack on the capital
in 1995 and by 1996 had taken power with foreign support. Under their rule, the
country's name changed once again, this time to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The Taliban never took the entire country though as fighting never ended.
The Taliban began willing to murder any detractor and over time became more violent
as they implemented numerous laws banning the education of women and not allowing
women to leave their home without a male family member accompanying them. This was
supported by al Qaeda, which was led by Osama bin Laden and who worked through the
country with the Taliban to take and maintain power in the country.
On September 9, 2001 the leader of the Taliban resistance movement, Ahmad Shah Massoud
was assassinated and two days later al Qaeda attacked the
United States by destroying the World Trade Centers in New York City with
other attacks in Washington D.C. After the Taliban government refused to hand over
Osama bin Laden, the United States and United Kingdom
attacked the country, destroying numerous Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds, as many
of these leaders fled to Pakistan.
By December, 2001 the Taliban government had fallen and Hamid Karzai was inserted
as the new president. The United Nations also came in to secure peace, although
violence has continued on a small scale ever since this time. In May, 2011 Osama
bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, but this only encouraged
al Qaeda to target Afghan politicians in assassination
Afghanistan's future is still very uncertain as
a number of democratic institutions have been implemented, but not with full support
of the people. Additionally, due to years of violence and war, the country has very
few industries to base their economy as education lags behind other nations, their
infrastructure was destroyed during the many wars, and foreign investors are rarely
willing to put money into the country as stability is still delicate.