Sunday, 10 March 2013


Afghanistan has always been a war prone region. Analysts have argued about its geostrategic location that makes it a war prone to gain access or control over Central and South East Asia including the Indian Subcontinent, this landlocked country that is part of Central and Western Asia, is strategically located. This is particularly true of the olden ages when the Khyber pass was so very important to the invaders and for conquests. Archeologists have found evidence of human civilisation in this region from the Middle Paleolithic era and as early as the BC, there have been wars fought on these soils and conquests have been made. I am not an economic or political analyst nor a historian, which restricts my better understanding or deciphering of an issue of such enduring and colossal magnitude, particularly limited by my knowledge and critical thinking in the issues.  But as a lay-person and with humanitarian interests, I found this rich, fertile and beautiful region that experienced traipsing havoc for years, very heart-breaking.  Historically as I looked into the chronology of events, my heart felt for the region. Peace, and our hearts with all the negotiators and peace-makers.  Here is  a very brief account of Afghanistan through the ages.
     The Macedonian army of Alexander arrived here in 330BC, having defeated Darius III of Persia a year earlier.  Prior to this, Afghanistan was under the control of Medes and the Aryans till around 500BC and thereafter, Darius, who established the Zoroastrain Archemenid Empire. Alexander the Great established the Greco-Bactrian Empire. The Greco-Bactrian Empire continued till around 150BC. There were some areas during this time, which was ruled by the Maurya Empire of the Indian Subcontinent.  The Mauryan Empire ‘s language was Greek and Aramais and inscriptions by Ashoka, the Great of the Mauryan Empire, have been found in the now Afghanistan. In the rest of the Indian Subcontinent Prakrit was the language used. This era was very important as Ashoka, the Great tried to spread peace and ruled for several years in this region. One of this renowned eddicts : Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of) Piety  to men; and from this moment he has made men more pious, and everything thrives throughout the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing) living beings, and other men and those who (are) huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they have ceased from their intemperance as was in their power; and obedient to their father and mother and to the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future, by so acting on every occasion, they will live better and more happily."After the reign of the Mauryas arrived nomadic tribes, the Parthians, from Iran and they established the Kushan Empire. Their rule continued till 350AD. Between 350-650 AD, when the Kushans disintegrated into independent kingdoms, another Iranian dynasty gained control. Gradually there was Islamic conquest of Afghanistan and in the 13th century, invasion by the Mongol Empire. In this time there were both the Mughals and the Durranis who ruled the region, one losing control and the other gaining control, over and over again. There were many many many wars fought in this beautiful land during the Mughal and Durrani rules!  This turbulent time ended by the 18th century. The region was very unstable and finally paved the way for the modern Afghan wars. There first came the 3 Anglo Afghan wars in succession. The First war in modern times was with the British East India Company with the warring Afghan tribal fighters.  The East India Company lost the war, with thousands and thousands of deaths of British and Indian people.  The second led to a peace treaty and the third, sovereignty of the Afghan people in 1919.  The third was won by the British and led to the formation of the Durrand line and established the political boundary between Afghanistan and British India. The final trek into a period of instability, conflicts and wars began in 1978 with the Soviet war in Afghanistan that lasted for 9 years. The Soviet led Afghans fought bloody battles against insurgent troops and in 1989, with the collapse of the Government, began the Afghan civil war, with the Taliban Period starting from 1996-2001. And in 2001, began the war in Afghanistan with the armed forces of USA, UK, France, Canada, Australia and the Afghan United Front launching the Operation Enduring Freedom following the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the US.  Following the death of Osama Bin Laden, and with the very minor withdrawal of troops, the final plans are in place for finally the nation to return to its stability, peace and sovereign when the final withdrawal of all troops take place by the end of 2014.
    As I wrote but just a chronology of the wars in this beautiful land of milk and honey, of the wondrous piquant mimosa and the camel thorn and of birds and animals and mountains and valleys, I was left feeling deeply saddened and unhappy that man has to suffer this.

Dr Anusmita Baruah

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