Britain withdraws from India. Pakistan is carved out of Indian and Afghan lands. [2]


Prince Mohammad Daoud becomes prime minister. [2]


Afghanistan approaches the United States for military ties, but Washington considers the country too far away to be important. Afghanistan develops ties with Moscow. [2]


The purdah, the system of secluding women from the sight of men in Hindu or Muslim communities, is made optional, and women begin to enroll in university. Women enter the workforce, and the government. [2]


April - Amid unrest over a stagnant economy, Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king's nephew, seizes power while the king is away on vacation in Italy. The king stays in Italy.

July - Afghanistan's Republican government is created with Khan as the first president of Afghanistan. [2]

During the Daoud regime, Iran, encouraged by the US, seeks to replace the Soviet Union as Kabul's biggest donor with a $2 billion economic aid agreement. [31]


September - Prodded by Iran which is conditioning its aid on such policies, Daoud dismisses 40 Soviet trained military officers and moves to reduce future Afghan dependence on officer training in the USSR by initiating training arrangements with India and Egypt. Most important in Soviet eyes, Daoud gradually breaks off his alliance with the PDP. [31]


April - Pro-Soviet leftists (the PDP) stage a new coup in Afghanistan. Nur Mohammad Taraki becomes prime minister, and Babrak Karmal and Hafizullah Amin become deputy prime ministers. They win almost immediate recognition from the Soviet Union. [2] But the coup is apparently not Soviet backed. [23]

Summer - The Taraki regime announces Marxist-Leninist reforms such as the elimination of usury, equal rights for women, land reforms and administrative decrees.

Violent protests erupt over the reforms, many of which challenge Afghan cultural patterns. Taraki's political repression antagonizes others. [2]

Nevertheless the new regime is generally popular and goes on to hugely improve medical care and literacy. The gains for women are particulary marked. [23]

June - An alliance formed by a number of conservative Islamic factions is now waging a guerilla war against the government. [31]


March - Hafizullah Amin becomes prime minister but Taraki retains other high political posts. Revolts in the countryside expand, and the Afghan Army collapses. [2]

Taraki goes to Moscow to press the Soviets to send ground troops to help the Afghan army put down the Moujahedeen. He is promised military assistance, but not ground troops as the Soviets say this would give their common enemies an excuse to send armed bands into the country. [31]

April - At this time, and possibly earlier than this, US foreign service officers begin meeting with Moujahedeen leaders to determine their needs. [31]

July 3rd - President Carter signs the first directive for secret aid worth $500 million to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Zbigniew Brzezinski writes a note to the president in which he explains to him that in his opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention. [12] [23]

A US State Department Report states: "the United State's larger interests ... would be served by the demise of the Taraki-Amin regime, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan." [31]

September - A confrontation between Taraki and Amin removes Taraki from power.

October - Taraki assassinated by Amin supporters.

December - Soviet troops begin to arrive in Afghanistan. It is unclear to what degree this is at Amin's request or with his approval. [31] Zbigniew Brzezinski writes to president Carter that "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war." [12]

Amin and many of his followers are killed, most likely by Soviet troops flooding into Kabul. The Soviets throw their support behind Babrak Karmal. [2]

The US government imposes "penalties" on the Soviet Union because of its "invasion" of Afghanistan. These range from halting the delivery of grain to the Soviet Union to keeping the US team out of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. [31]

Washington begins secretly funnelling billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry into Afghanistan, with the CIA taking the lead in training and funding. Iran, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, who all wish to see a weakened USSR, supply additional military assistance. [7]


Resistance to the Soviet occupation forms within Afghanistan, and across the border in Peshawar, Pakistan. The groups call themselves "mujahideen," from the Persian word meaning "warriors." The CIA begins supporting the rebels with arms supplied through Pakistan. [2]

MI6 begins largest postwar covert operation in Afghanistan to train mojahidin groups fighting the Soviet occupation. [1]

The CIA becomes the grand coordinator: purchasing or arranging the manufacture of Soviet-style weapons from Egypt, China, Poland, Israel and elsewhere, or supplying their own; arranging for military training by Americans, Egyptians, Chinese and Iranians; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gives many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year, totaling probably more than a billion; pressuring and bribing Pakistan - with whom recent American relations had been very poor - to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary; putting the Pakistani Director of Military Operations, Brigadier Mian Mohammad Afzal, onto the CIA payroll to ensure Pakistani cooperation. Military and economic aid which had been cut off will be restored, Pakistan is told by the United States, if they will join the great crusade. Only a month before the Soviet intervention, anti-American mobs had burned and ransacked the US embassy in Islamabad and American cultural centers in two other Pakistani cities. [31]

Throughout the 1980s, the karmal and then the Najibullah regimes, despite the exigencies of the war, pursued a program of modernisation and broadening of their base: bringing electricity, health clinics, a measure of land reform, literacy....trying to carry it all out with moderation and sensitivity. [31]

As long as Soviet troops remained, the conflict in Afghanistan could be presented to the American mind as little more than a battle between Russian invaders and Afghanistan resistance/freedom fighters; as if the Afghanistan army and government didn't exist, or certainly not with a large following of people who favoured reforms and didn't want to live under a fundamentalist Islamic government, probably a majority of the population. [31]


Covert military aid to the mujahideen increases under the Reagan administration. [2]

The mujahideen also generate funds throught the drug trade. US officials refuse to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies "because US narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there." [30] [31]


February - Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev expresses pessimism about the future of the Afghan war, calling it "a bleeding wound" and declaring he would like to bring troops home "in the nearest future."

March - Margaret Thatcher welcomes Abdul Haq, an Afghan rebel leader who admitted that he had ordered the planting of a bomb at Kabul airport in 1984 which killed at least 28 people. [31]

April - President Reagan decides to supply the Afghan resistance with heat-seeking Stinger anti aircraft missiles. [2]

MI6 begins supplying Afghan mojahidin groups with ‘Blowpipe’ shoulder-launched missiles, some of which are used to shoot down passenger airliners. [1]

Mujaheddin leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is invited to London. Margaret Thatcher hails him as a "freedom fighter". He is known to have trafficked in opium and thrown acid in the face of women who refused to wear the veil. [23]

The CIA gives its backing to a plan put forward by the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI, to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. More than 100,000 Islamic militants are trained in Pakistan between 1982 and 1992. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qa'ida are recruited in an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New york and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This is called "Operation Cyclone". [23]

In Pakistan, mujaheddin training camps are run by the CIA and MI6, with the British SAS training future al-Qa'ida and Taliban fighters in bomb making and other black arts. This continues long after the Soviet army withdraws in 1989. [23]

July - The Kremlin removes Karmal in an attempt to find an internal political solution. He is replaced with Dr. Sayid Mohammad Najibullah, the former head of the secret police. [2]


July - In their first public meeting, Gorbachev tells Najibullah that Soviet troops will be out of Afghanistan in 12 months.

November - New Afghan constitution adopted. Najibullah is elected president but much of his support comes from the Soviets, and many Afghans revile him as a communist. [2]


April - The U.N.-sponsored accords on Soviet troop withdrawal are signed in Geneva by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union and the United States. Gorbachev announces the start of Soviet troop withdrawals. [2] Contrary to the agreement the USA continues to supply arms to the mojahedeen. [1]


February - Last Soviet soldiers leave Afghanistan. [2]

Gorbachev urges the US to support an embargo on arms shipments into Afghanistan and a cease-fire between the two warring sides. Both proposals are turned down by the new Bush administration. [31]

President Najibullah criticizes the American rejection of Gorbachev's proposal, offering to return the Soviet weapons if the rebels agree to lay down their weapons and negotiate. There is no reported response to this offer from the US, or from the rebels, who in the past have refused such offers. [31]

The cost of this decade of fighting is hard to calculate. Perhaps one million Afghans lost their lives and up to 5,000,000 were made refugees in a proxy war, fought at arms length, between the USSR and the USA. Many have argued that in funding and training the opposition to the Soviets, the CIA created the radical Islamists who were later to become the terrorists of September 11th. [7]


April - The rebels are reported to be so divided that they are killing more of each other more than of government forces. Meanwhile the CIA supplied arms are flooding the region as Pakistani armed forces take what they want and guerilla leaders get rich by selling arms on to criminals and the Iranian military. Estimates state that 60%-80% of the arms never make it to the intended recipients. [31]


April - Mujahideen guerrillas and other Islamic rebels move in on Kabul. President Najibullah agrees to step down, but before he can leave, Afghan rebels with the assistance of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of the government's secret police, seize the city and keep him there. [2]

An agreement on ending arms supply, reached between the United States and the Soviet Union, comes into effect. [31]

When the Mujaheddin finally capture Kabul in April 1992, fighting quickly continues as the commanders of the various factions vie for control. Anarchy ensues; tens of thousands are killed; Kabul is devastated in repeated and often random rocket attacks; and whole districts of the city are ethnically cleansed. [7] [31]

December - More than 1,300 delegates from around the country, comprising rebels, religious leaders, and intellectuals meet in Kabul to quickly form an Islamic republic. They elect Burhanuddin Rabbani as president. But the majority of the rebels boycott the meeting and the council falls apart in factional squabbling. [2]


March - Rebel groups outside Kabul designate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as their prime minister. Hekmatyar is the leader of the Hezb-i-Islami, the most favored of all the rebel factions nurtured by the CIA. [2]

Hekmatyar had rained Kabul with US supplied missiles, killing 2,000 people, until the leaders of the other factions agreed to make him Prime Minister. [23]

June - Hekmatyar is formally sworn in.

September - An interim constitution is approved with planned elections announced for 1994. [2]


From murky beginnings in 1994, instigated and controlled by Pakistani Intelligence and financed by Saudi Arabia, a group calling itself the Taliban, emerges as an alternative to self-serving, Mujaheddin in-fighting. Initially popular, they sweep to military victories across Afghanistan. [7]

November - Hekmatyar and his guerrillas move in on Kabul, seeking to oust Rabbani as president. In nearly daily fighting, the city is reduced to rubble. Meanwhile, Pakistan's ISI dumps Hekmatyar in favour of the Taliban. [2]

An estimated 25,000 people are killed in Kabul, most of them civilians, in rocket and artillery attacks, by these guerrillas who will later become part of the "Northern Alliance". [23]


March - The Taliban decimates Hekmatyar's army.

Autumn - Thousands flee Kabul amid fierce fighting between Taliban and Rabbani forces. [2]


June - Hekmatyar signs a peace pact with former enemy Rabbani becoming prime minister in Kabul. [2]

September - The Taliban take Kabul, forcing Hekmatyar, Rabbani and his military chief Ahmad Shah Massoud, the man most credited with ousting the Soviets, to flee. They take Najibullah from his refuge in a U.N. compound, torture him to death, and hang his bloated body outside the presidential palace. [2]

The Taliban are courted by the US oil lobby who want to run an oil pipeline from the Caspian basin through Afghanistan. [23]


February - A senior US diplomat explains his government's point of view: "The Taliban will probably develop like Saudi Arabia. There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that." [30]

May - Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum, the former military commander under Najibullah and the Taliban's major opposition, suffers a major blow as his second in command defects to the Taliban.

The Taliban takes control of Dostum's stronghold, the ancient northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif, marking the first time Afghanistan is largely united under one power since the Soviets left.

Taliban forces retreat from Mazar-i-Sharif after losing 100 men in 18 hours of fighting. This marks the first retreat in the Taliban's history. [2]


August - Taliban tries to take Mazar-I-Sharif again. They succeed, but commit what has been called the worst slaughter of civilians in the Afghan civil war. Many of the victims are Shiite Muslims; the Taliban are Sunnis. The Taliban become the de facto rulers of Afghanistan, taking control of 90 percent of the country. They continue to face opposition from a loose union of rebels called the Northern Alliance. [2]

US launches cruise missile attacks against Al Qaida training camps in Afghanistan. Britain provides strong political support. [1]


July - A briefing paper fo President Bush warns "We [the CIA and FBI] believe that OBL [Osama bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning." FBI agents had already noted suspicious people signing up for courses on big jet simulators. One had said he believed that kamikaze attacks on New York and Washington were being planned. The agents were threatened that if they went public, they would suffer under the National Security Act. [23]

September 9th - Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Masood is injured in a suicide bomb attack. He dies on Sept. 14. [2]

September 11th - Thousands are killed when hijackers commandeer four planes and crash them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. A fourth plane is apparently forced down by passengers in Pennsylvania, before it can reach its intended target. The United States quickly identifies Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban, as the prime suspect in the attacks. [2]

A few days after the attacks a special charter flight takes 11 members of the bin Laden family from Boston to Saudi Arabia. The White House official line is that the bin Ladens are above suspicion. Bush personally asks the Senate to limit the Congressional investigation into the attacks. [23]

Nearly five years later the FBI admit that they have no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to the attacks. [20]

September 16th - Five days after 9-11, the NY Times reports that Washington delivered to Pakistan a series of demands. Among then, Washington "demanded...the elimination of truck convoys that provide much of the food and other supplies to Afghanistan's civilian population." The numbers estimated to be relying on these convoys is about 5 million. [9]

Estimates of those "at grave risk of starvation" rise from 5 million before 9-11 to 7.5 million a month later. [32]

September 18th - A delegation of Pakistani officials fails to persuade Taliban officials to hand over bin Laden. [2]

September 20th - Afghan clerics recommend that the Taliban invite bin Laden to leave the country. The United States dismisses the move as inadequate. [2]

September 22nd - The United Arab Emirates severs ties with the Taliban after failing to persuade the regime to hand over bin Laden for what it calls a fair international trial. [2]

September 23rd - The Taliban says bin Laden has gone missing and they could not ask him to leave the country. [2]

September 25th - Saudi Arabia cuts all relations with the Taliban for continuing to harbor "terrorists." Pakistan remains the only country to recognize the regime, but has temporarily withdrawn all staff from its embassy in the Afghan capital for security reasons. [2]

September 30th - Afghanistan's government says its agents know bin Laden's location and that he is under their control. The Taliban says it is willing to negotiate bin Laden's surrender, if U.S. officials present evidence of his involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. [2]

October 1st - Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar says "Americans don't have the courage to come here," and repeatedly warns the United States to "think and think again before attacking Afghanistan." [2]

October 7th - The Taliban says it's ready to put bin Laden on trial for the Sept. 11 attacks. Even bin Laden approved this plan. Washington rejects the statement, saying bin Laden must be handed over. [2] [23]

Afghan opposition leader Abdul Haq urges the US not to bomb, but instead employ pyschological pressure which would quickly topple the Taliban. He claims that civilian casualties from bombing will garner support for the Taliban. [24]

Hours later, the U.S. and Britain begin massive bombing campaign against Al Qaida and Taliban regime. Civilian deaths in the war outnumber those killed on September 11th. [1]

Afghan leaders committed to overthrowing the Taliban urge the US to stop the air raids and appeal to the international media to call for an end to the "bombing of innocent people". They urge that other means be adopted to overthrow the hated Taliban regime, a goal they believe can be achieved without further death and distruction. [32]

The five weeks of ferocious aerial bombardment involve everything from precision-guided weapons to cluster bombs, B-52 carpet bombings and BLU-82 'Daisy Cutters'. When the American attacks are over, the Northern Alliance walks into Kabul to find virtually no resistance. [7]

More than 22,000 weapons are dropped in the first six months, one in four of which miss their target. [1]

A quarter of a million people flee to Iran and Pakistan a further 200,000 people are are internally displaced. Thy have no external aid since the humanitarian efforts have been stopped by the bombing. [1]

There are many reports of deliberate US attacks on civilians and soldiers who have surrendered. A Red Cross compound is also bombed. [1]

The civilian infrastructure is deliberately targeted, destroying the main telephone exchange in Kabul, the electrical grid in Kandahar, the largest hydro-electric power station, religous schools, TV and radio stations. [1]

The Northern Alliance, the Afghan allies of the US, are later accused of attrocities. [6]

November - British Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon tells parliament, 'The use of cluster bombs [in Afghanistan] is entirely appropriate. Against certain targets they are the best and most effective weapons we have.' [23]

By the end of the month an estimated 70,000 US cluster bomblets lie unexploded in Afghanistan. Their effect is no different from land mines. [23]

The savagery displayed by the US and British supported Northern Alliance troops is terrible. In Kunduz Taliban prisoners had oil poured over them and were set alight, or were shot in the back, or were packed into steel containers and left to die in the heat. Up to 4,000 were killed in this way. [23]

The British and US media support their governments' actions throughout, voicing only minor concern over some of the tactics used, but almost never criticising the war itself. [1]

December 10th - Zabul, the last Taliban-controlled province in Afghanistan, falls, consigning the reign of the fundamentalist Islamic group to history. The remnants of the regime flee to the Tora Bora complex, east of Kabul, where they are besieged by U.S. and opposition forces. [2]


The first group of prisoners lands at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on January 11th.

A U.S. plane attacks a wedding party in Uruzgan province, killing 48 and injuring 120. [2]

May - The head of the FBI concedes in Senate testimony 8 months after 9-11 that after the most intensive international investigation in history, the FBI could only report that it "believed" the plot might have been hatched in Afghanistan but that it was implemented in Europe and the UAE, all US allies. [9]

A Guardian investigation concludes that between 10,000 and 20,000 people have died as an indirect result of US bombing. [1]

June - Reports by Human Rights Watch note that the warlords now in control of much of rural Afghanistan are terrorising the populace, with women being particularly under threat. [1]

July - Professor Marc Herald, University of New Hampshire, estimates that between 3,125 and 3,620 Afghan civilians have been killed by US bombing up to now. [1]

November - The UN estimates that 50 to 100 people are killed every week by unexploded bombs and landmines. [23]


The security situation in Afghanistan is now worse than it was under Taliban rule. Opium production has soared; Afghans, especially women suffer deprivation from the warlords armed by the US; the US forces are also accused of many violations of international law. [3] [4] [5]


Conditions in Afghanistan remain terrible, the government has little sway outside the capital and the UN ranks the country as the sixth worse off on Earth. The USA maintains 14 bases around the country and is widely accused of prisoner abuses, notably at Bagram air base. [8]


January - A US airstrike on a Pakistani village near the Afghan border kills at least 18 people including women and children. [10]

Insurgent attacks increase. The rule of law has collapsed. Britain is soon to send in another 3,500 troops. [11]

May - Charity Save the Children ranks Afghanistan's newborn mortality rate as second highest in the world. [13]

Taliban resistance increases in southern Afghanistan, as do US airstrikes. [14] [15] [16] [19] [21]

June-July - A UN report comes to light which documents some current Afghan MPs as being responsible for torture and massacres. [17]

A US army report shows that the torture of detainees in Afghanistan and elsewhere has been covered up. [18]

Journalists in Afghanistan are told what they should and shouldn't report. Notably they are asked not to criticise foreign troops or interview Taliban leaders. [22]

Fighting between Afghan "militants" and US led coalition forces continues, with heavy loss of life, including civilians. [25] [26] [27] [28]

Nato forces led by the UK and Canada formally take control of military operations in southern Afghanistan. [29]