Study Guide: History of Afghanistan

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Study guide:
Fall 2011

Essay questions:

When did Afghanistan become an independent state? What events prompted the declaration of independence?

Explain factional (Khalq/Parcham) divisions within the PDPA.

-The party was divided into factions, with the Khalq and Parcham being the two largest ones. The split was mainly due to ideological and economic reasons. The Khalq supporters consisted mainly of ethnic Pashtuns from rural areas, while Parcham supported consisted mainly of citizens from the urban areas. The Parchams supported social-economic reforms in the country.

According to Coll (Chapter 2) and the video showed in class, the 1979 Soviet Union military intervention in Afghanistan was a result of misperceptions of both the Soviets and the U.S. Explain.

What kind of government in Afghanistan best suits the interest of Pakistan? Tajik? Uzbek? Pashtun? Religious? Secular? Fragmented?

Identify at least two opposing groups in the 1992-1996 civil war in Afghanistan.

According to Coll (Chapter 8), what explains the fact that Islamists rather than other groups fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s benefited disproportionately from the funding coming from foreign donors?

Which foreign powers interfered with the 1992-1994 civil war in Afghanistan and for what specific reasons?

The Taliban came close to fighting a war with Iran in 1998. What course of events led to this?

-Following the emergence of the Taliban and their harsh treatments towards the Shia minority, Iran stepped up their aid to the Northern Alliance. Relations hit a climax when the Taliban seized the Iranian consulate and killed iranian diplomats. Following this incident, Iran almost went to war with the Taliban before the United Nations council and the United States intervened and prevented an Iranian invasion.

Pakistan’s economic interests to a large extent made the Taliban’s rise to a prominent political (and military) role in Afghanistan possible. How so?


Why did the Taliban, once in power, impose such strict rules on Afghan society? What was their perception of women? Discuss some of the restrictions the Taliban imposed on Afghan society? (The Petrovic book, the Taliban video, and the upcoming lecture).

-The Taliban imposed extreme restrictions on Afghan society. It was one of their ways of “cleansing” society and all the problems the state faced. They banned all DVDs, CDs, videos and audio tapes. They persecuted minorities, such as making Hindus wear yellow badges, basically branding them. Trials were conducted without lawyers, if you were accused, you were basically guilty and had to defend yourself. -In regards to women, they imposed restrictions on basically everything they were allowed to do. Women were no longer allowed to work, which put a huge strain in the progression of education for the next generation of kids, since most school teachers were women. They were not allowed to wear make up, high heels, be seen or heard in public (reason for the veil) because they drove men wild into temptation. They were basically excluded from the public eye.

What were the Taliban’s political objectives initially? How did those objectives change later and why?

-Initially, the objectives were to restore peace, disarm the population and enforce Sharia law. Return afghanistan's islamic culture. They were fighting the warlords and “cleansing” the corruption that had spread throughout the war-torn country. As the Taliban gained more power over the country, they started to enforce radical laws of Sharia.

Discuss political and military organization of the Taliban (I will go over this topic in class).

Amanullah: ruler of Afghanistan from 1919-1929. Put in the first constitution in Afghanistan. Tried implementing many pro-western policies and cultural changes in the state, such as views towards women and education. However, that inevitably led to his downfall...
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