Chronography of Afghanistan

Page last modified 12 August 2023


Afghanistan � if not the graveyard of empires, then at least the hazardous minefield of them.


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US evacuation of Afghanistan, Taleban victory, 2020-21

15/8/2021, The Taleban took Jalabad in eastern Afghanistan, effectively surrounding Kabul. The US evacuated diplomats from its Embassy by helicopter, in scenes reminiscent of Vietnam 46 years earlier.

14/8/2021, The northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif fell to the Taleban, as did Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar Perovince and just 70km from Kabul.

13/8/2021, The Pentagon said Kabul was �not under immediate threat� from the Taleban.

12/8/2021, Herat, Afghanistan., fell to the Taliban.

6/8/2021, Zaranj, in southern Afghanistan, became the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban. They captured several more such cities in the following days, including Kunduz.

21 July 2021, The Taleban now controlled around half of Afghanistan�s districts.

12 July 2021, The Taliban gained territory in Afgjhanistan as US forces withdrew from the country. By this day, just 600 US personnel were left in Afghanistan, protecting the US Embassy in Kabul and the airport, and the Taliban occupied most of the countryside, poised to occupy the major cities.

2 July 2021, The US military quietly shut down the Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan,and slipped away just before dawn. Before the Afghan army even realised the US had departed, local people had looted the airfield.

22 June 2021, The Taleban opened an offensive in northern Afghanistan, far from theor traditional southern power base.

7 June 2021, 150 Afghan Government soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours, as fighting with the Taleban raged in 26 of the country�s 34 provinces.

11 May 2021, Nerkh District, just outside Kabul, fell to the Taleban.

4 May 2021, The Taleban launched a major offensive in Afghanistan in southern Helmand Province, and stepped up military action in 6 other provinces.

14 April 2021, US President Biden announced that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan would be completed by 11 November 2021.

3/2021, The US military made last ditch efforts to persuade US President Biden not to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan.

17 November 2020, The Pentagon announced that the number of US troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to 25,000.

29 February 2020, In Afghanistan, US President Trump negotiated a deal with the Taliban setting a US withdrawal date of 1 May 2021.


31 May 2017, A powerful car bomb exploded in Kabul, killing 90 and injuring a further 460.

7 December 2011, Kandahar, Afghanistan, surrendered to US forces; the Taliban fled.

23 November 2011, Kunduz, Afghanistan, surrendered to US forces without a fight.

16 November 2011, Fighting between US troops and the Taliban began near Kandahar.

14 November 2011, US troops captured Kabul.

11 November 2011, US troops defeated the Taliban at Taloqan.

10 November 2011, US troops defeated the Taliban, Afghanistan, at Mazar-e-Sharif.

19 October 2011, US troops raided Kandahar.

14 May 2011, Pakistan officially condemned the US raid in which Osama Bin Laden was killed.

1 May 2011, The US announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in an military operation in Pakistan.

2005, The Taliban regrouped, exploiting popular resentment at the foreign occupation of the country and slow progress in reconstruction.


7 December 2004, In Kabul, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as President of Afghanistan after winning the elections of 9 October 2004. 18,000 foreign troops remained stationed in the country, much of which was effectively run by local warlords.

2 April 2003, US forces launched air attacks on the Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the Tor Ghar ountains, Afghanistan, close to the Pakistan border.

5 September 2022, President Karzai of Afghanistan survived an assassination attempt when a man opened fire on his car as he travelled through central Kabul. Karzai was unharmed and the assailant was killed by security forces.

13 June 2002, The Loya Jirga (Council of Elders) elected Hamid Karzai as interim President of Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai elected


5 May 2002. Reports from Afghanistan suggested the Taleban were regrouping in mountain hideouts, waiting for the Afghan government to falter.

22 December 2001, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as head of the interim government in Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai administration began


Northern Alliamce gains against the Taleban, 2001

6 December 2001. Mullah Omar, the Taleban leader, surrendered Kandahar; but Osama Bin Laden had still not been found.

26 November 2001. Kunduz, last Taleban stronghold in northern Afghanistan, fell to the Northern Alliance.

13 November 2001. The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, fell to the Northern Alliance, captured from the Taleban. Despite American stipulations that a government of all Afghans should rule, the Alliance seemed in sole control.

11 November 2001. Northern Alliance forces now controlled large areas of northern Afghanistan, including the western town of Herat.

9 November 2001. Northern Alliance forces fighting the Taleban in Afghanistan were reported to have captured the town of Mazar-E-Sharif. This opened up a land route and airfield to bring in supplies to fight the Taleban on the northern front.

9 October 2001. The first daylight raids began by the USA on Afghanistan against the Taliban and Bin Laden�s supporters. This was America�s �Operation Enduring Freedom�.


US attacks on Afghanistan following the 9-11 Terror Attacks in the USA, 2001

7 October 2001. Following the September 11, 2001 attack on the USA, missile attacks began on Afghanistan, prior to US invasion. President George Bush announced the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, to root out Al Quaeda.

See USA for more events of 9 � 11 terrorist attacks

17 September 2001. Afghanistan�s Taliban regime was warned it must hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect for the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the USA.


15 September 2001, In Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Masoud, leader of the United Islamic Front and opponent of the Taleban, died from wounds sustained in an assassination attempt.

24 May 2000, Russia threatened airstrikes against the Taleban in Afghanistan in retaliation for their support for Chechen separatists.


Taleban victory, control over Afghanistan, 1989-2001

8 March 2001, In Afghanistan the Taliban demolished ancient Buddhist statues.

14 November 1999, The UN Security Council voted to impose sanctions on Afghanistan to force the ruling Taleban to hand over Osama bin Laden.

3/8/1998, The Taleban took Mazar-e-Sharif, the last city outside their control, previously under the Northeern League (Masoud).

16 June 1998, The Taleban closed down the last girl�s school in the territory they controlled. This territory expanded in the next 2 months.

23 February 1998, Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa from Afghanistan calling for Muslims to kill Americans anywhere, and to liberate Jerusalem from Westerners.

4 February 1998, A 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit north-east Afghanistan, killing over 5,000 people.

27 December 1996, Taliban forces retook the important Bagram air base, consolidating their territory around Kabul.

26 September 1996. The Taleban captured Kabul. They drove out the former President, Burhanuddin Rabbani and executed Mohammad Najibullah.

23 November 1994. The Taliban captured Kandahar, Afghanistan. See 26 September 1996.

1992, Drugs production in Afghanistan remained a major issue, with an estimated 2,000 tonns of opiu m produced this year. Consumption was both abroad and domestic, with an estimated 15% of all Afghan males aged 15-40 addicted to hard drugs.

7 September 1992. The first hanging in over 20 years took place in Afghanistan, with around 3,000 spectators.

28 July 1992. Afghanistan banned women, even wearing veils, from being seen on TV.

29 April 1992, New interim Government formed in Afghanistan, supposedly uniting several resistance fighter groups. However infighting continued, rendering the government ineffective.

25 April 1992, Kabul fell to Mujaheddin forces.

16 April 1992, President Najibullah of Afghanistan was overthrown. Mujaheddin rebels closed in on Kabul.

18 February 1989, In Afghanistan. President Najibullah imposed a State of Emergency to bolster his authority.


Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, 1988-89

2 February 1989. The last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan, ending 9 years of bitter war against the Mujaheddin rebels. 120,000 Soviet soldiers marched north along the Salang Highway, leaving behind much armament. These rebels then marched on Kabul and Jalabad and threatened President Najibulah. Najibulah imposed martial law as Mujaheddin rockets fell on Kabul.

12 October 1988. The USSR offered US$600 million reparations to Afghanistan.

15 May 1988. Soviet troops began leaving Afghanistan. On 15 April 1988 Mr Eduard Shevardnaze, the Soviet Foreign Minister set the seal on the Kremlin�s decision to withdraw more than 100,000 Soviet troops in Afghanistan, after 8 � years of occupation. Some 155,000 troops would be withdrawn by 15 May 1988, and the remainder, as many troops as this again, would go by 15 February 1989. But Washington said it would continue to supply arms to the Mujaheddin who were fighting the Soviet-backed government in Kabul. During the Soviet occupation, up to one million Afghans were said to have been killed and over a third of the population had fled.

14 April 1988, In the Geneva Agreement, the USSR agreed to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan.

7 April 1988, Gorbachev, in Geneva, signed a peace accord on Afghanistan.

See Russia / Soviet Union for more events relating to President Gorbachev

8 February 1988, Soviet President Gorbachev announced that Russian troops were to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in May 1988.


Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, 1979-86

1986, Muhammad Najibullah replaced Karmal as Head of Government.

4 May 1986, Babrak Karmal resigned as General Secretary of of the People�s Democratic (Communist) Party of Afghanistan. He was succeeded by Najibullah, former head of the secret police.

15 January 1986, Soviet President Gorbachev spoke of the continuing occupation of Afghanistan as a �bleeding wound�.

1984, The Afghan Army had seen so many defections that 14-year-olds were being forcibly drafted in.

9 November 1982, Thousands of Soviet troops died in a fire inside the Salang Pass road tunnel, Afghanistan.

22 February 1980. In Kabul, martial law was imposed after violent anti-Soviet demonstrations.

29 January 1980, The Islamic Conference of 36 nations condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

15 January 1980. NATO and the Common Market debated whether to boycott the Moscow Olympics after the USSR had invaded Afghanistan, on 27 December 1979.

14 January 1980, The UN passed a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

4 January 1980, Jimmy Carter proclaimed a grain embargo against the USSR, following its invasion of Afghanistan; the European Commission backed this embargo.

2 January 1980, US President Jimmy Carter told the US Senate not to ratify the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) with the USSR until Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

27 December 1979. President Hafizullah of Afghanistan was deposed and executed in a coup strongly backed by Soviettroops. On 8 January 1980 President Carter described the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as the greatest threat to world peace since World War Two. Muslim guerrillas were active against the pro-Soviet regime, and 5,000 Soviet troops were stationed in Afghanistan. The USSR feared a spread of Muslim insurgency to the Soviet Union itself.

24 December 1979, Soviet troops began an invasion of Afghanistan.


Soviet bid to control Afghanistan, as counter against Chinese-oriented Pakistan. Islamic resistance to Soviet influence, 1973-79

3 July 1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed the first secret directive for aid to be given to anti-Communist opponents of the Kabul government.

27 March 1979, Hafizullah Amin became Prime Minister of Afghanistan.

20 March 1979, After a 5-day popular uprising against the PDPA in Herat, Afghanistan, the PDPA retook the city by force. Some 20,000 civilians died in the fighting

14 February 1979, In Kabul, Muslim militants kidnapped the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs. He was killed the following day in a gunfight between the kidnappers and the police.

5 December 1978. The USSR signed a 20-year friendship treaty with Afghanistan. See 27 April 1978.

6 May 1978, The UK recognised the new regime in Afghanistan.

30 April 1978, The Soviet Union recognised the new regime in Afghanistan.

27 April 1978. A bloody coup overthrew the government of Afghanistan and replaced it with a pro-Soviet regime. Tanks and Mig-21 fighter planes attacked the Presidential palace in Kabul as Mohammed Daud was overthrown. The president and his family was massacred. All public meetings were banned and martial law imposed indefinitely.

17 July 1973, Daoud, supported by the Parcham Party, ousted his cousin King Mohammed Zabiur Shah, who had rued Afghanistan since 1933. Daoud proclaimed himself President of the new Republic of Afghanistan. The USSR now attempted to make Afghanistan a dependent State, as a buffer agaisnbt Pakistan, which had an alliance with China.


1/1965, Elections in Afghanistan; the monarchy retained power. The Marxist People�s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was formed and then banned. The PDPA then split into the Parcham (flag) and Khalq (masses) factions. The Islamic Society of Afghanistan also began organising.

1964, King Zahir Shah introduced limited democratic reforms as he made the monarchy more constitutional.

1963, Daud resigned after the King rejected his proposals for democratic reforms.

24 December 1957, Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, was born.

1956, Afghanistan implemented its first Five Year Plan as the country began to modernise with Soviet aid. Daud Khan became more pro-Soviet in his policies.

1953, Mohammad Daud Khan became Prime Minister.

1946, Afghanistan joined the United Nations.

8 July 1937, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan signed a non-aggression pact in Tehran.


Reforms of Amanullah opposed; throne passed to weak brother Anayutallah, who was deposed. Civil war. Accession of Nadir Khan 1929-33

8 November 1933, Mohammed Nadir Shah, King of Afghanistan, was assassinated in Kabul. He was succeeded by his son, Mohammed Zahir Shah.

15 October 1929, Amanullah�s cousin General Muhammad Nadir Khan (1880-1933) returned to Afghanistan from Europe and defeated Habibullah. Habibullah was captured and executed. Nadir Khan was now proclaimed King of Afghanistan,

2/1929, Oulawforces begin open rebellion in Afghan provinces, their leader captured Kabul and proclaimed himself Emir Habibullah Ghazi. Amanullah assembled an army at Kandahar amnd attempted to regain the throne from, but was unsuccesfuol, and he fled Afghanistan.

25 February 1929, All Embassy staff had now evacuated Afghanistan as the situation grew more tense.

14 January 1929, Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan, facing revolt, abdicated and left the throne to his older brother Anayatullah Khan. However Anayatullah was a weak ruler, and fled the country on 22 May 1929, amidst general civil war.

23 December 1928, An evacuation of all women and children from foreign Legations in Kabul began as unrest intensified.

1928, Amanullah Khan began to reform Afghanistan, reducing the power of the religious leaders, giving women more ffreedom,banning the veil, and ending polygamy. However in 11/1928 there was widespread civildisorder against his reforms.


22 November 1921. Britain recognised the independence of Afghanistan, under the Anglo-Afghan Treaty, signed by the Dobbs Mission in Kabul.

21/8/1919, Afghanistan became independent.

8/8/1919, The Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed. This ended the Third Afghan War, which had begun on 3 May 1919.

24 May 1919. Having defeated Afghan raiders on the Indian border, the British bombed Jalalabad and Kabul.

3 May 1919. Fighting broke out between Britain and Afghanistan, The Third Afghan War, see 8/8/1919.

1919, Habibullah was assassinated. His successor Amanullah, attempted to free the country from British influence, and attacked India. This started a brief Third Afghan War which ended when the British bombed Kabul and Jalalabad; the War was ended with the Treaty of Rawalpindi.

13/8/1907, An Anglo-Russian agreement recognised Afghanistan as an independent Kingdom; a Republic since 1973.

1904, Afghanistan�s western border with Persia was formally defined.

1 October 1901, Abdurrahman Khan, Amir of Kabul, died and was succeeded by his son Habibula.

20 October 1897, The British put down a rebellion by Afghan tribes at the Battle of Durgai.

1895, Britain and Russia created the Wakhan Corridoor, a sliver of land running east-west as far as China, which they attached to Afghanistan, keeping the rival British and Russian Empires apart.

1893, Britain established the Durand Line setting the border British India and Afghanistan with Emir Abdul Rahman Khan. This split Pashtun lands in two.


The Second Afghan War

1881, End of the Second Afghan War.This had started in 1878, due to Afghanistan ceding some territories to Russia, alarming the British, who then sought to gain control over Afghanistan�s foreign policy.

1 September 1880, The British were defeated at the Battle of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

1/8/1880. The British lifted the siege of Kandahar, where a British garrison had been besieged by Afghan rebels. A 10,000 strong relief force had marched 313 miles, under General Sir Frederick Roberts, in just 23 days.

27 July 1880, Battle of Maiwand, Second Afghan War.

22 July 1880, Abd-er-Rahman was officially installed as Emir of Afghanistan.

19 October 1879, Afghan Emir Yakub was forced to abdicate. He was replaced by his cousin, Abd-er-Rahman. Rahman succeeded in diplomatically balancing competing Britain and Russian competing pressures in Afghanistan.

12 October 1879, British forces captured Kabul.

6 October 1879, Battle of Charasiab, Second Afghan War. British defeated the Afghans.

3 September 1879, Afghan rebellion against the British. British envoy Sir Louis Cavagnari was assassinated.

26 May 1879, Following the death of Sher Ali, his son Mohammed Yakub was forced by Britain to accept the Treaty of Gandamak this day, intended to end the Second Afghan War. Under this Treaty, Britain occupied the Khyber Pass, close to the NW border of India, in return for an annual payment to the Emir. However the Afghans rebelled against this Treaty, see 3 September 1879.

21 November 1878, The British Army advanced into Afghanistan from India. They had been alarmed by Sher Ali, ruler of Afghanistan, negotiating with the Russians whilst declining to receive a British mission


4 March 1857, By the Treaty of Paris, Afghanistan�s independence was recognised by Britain and France, and forced upon Persia.

11/1856, The Shah of Persia seized Herat, a city in NW Afghanistan. In January 1857 the British under James Outram sent a military force to oust the Persian occupiers.

30 March 1855, Afghan leader Dost Mohammed signed a peace treaty ending 12 years of hostility with Britain. This agreement, the Treaty of Peshawar, was intended to thwart a Persian occupation of Afghanistan.

6 January 1842. A 16,500-strong Anglo-Indian force under Lord Auckland was massacred in Afghanistan whilst retreating from Kabul. Harsh Afghan winters and Afghan guerrilla tactics had defeated the British.

1839, Start of First Afghan War (1839-42). This War arose from the failure of a British mission to Kabul led by Captain Alexander Burnes in 1837. The aim of this mission was to overthrow Dost Mohammed (1793 � 1863) and replace him with a predecessor leader. Britain wanted a more pro-British Afghan ruler,so as to protect the northwestern borders of India. Dost Mohammed was indeed overthrown but then restored in 1843 following a revolt in Kabul.

1823, The last Durrani Emir died. No new ruler emerged until 1826 when Dost Mohammed became Emir. Britain and Russia began to compete for influence in the region, during the so-called Great Game.

1809, Afghan leader Shah Shoja signed a Treaty of Friendship with Britain. The Shah promised to oppose the passage of foreign (i.e. Russian) troops through his territory.


Independence of Afghanistan from Persia

1747, The modern nation of Afghanistan was formed under Ahmad Shah Durrani, a warlord who secured the independence of the country from Iran. Ahmad Shah ruled until 1773.This was the start of the Barkzai Dynasty, which endured until 1929.

1719, A 30,000-strong Persian army sent to retake Herat was defeated by the Afghans.

1717, Abdali Afghans rebelled against the Persians at Herat.

1711, A large Persian army besieged Kandahar but was driven back by guerrilla Afghan attacks.

1709, Safavid power in Persia was weak, and taking advantage of this, Ghilzai Afghans rebelled at Kandahar and deposed the Persian Governor, and declared an independent Afghanistan.


1530, On the death of Babur, Afghanistan was divided between an Uzbek north, a Mughal east, and a Persian west.

1504, The Moghuls took Afghanistan. Babur, a descendant of Genghiz Khan, made Kabul the capital, and then went on to establish the Mughal Empire in India.

1369, Timur (Tamerlane) invaded the Afghanistan region, incorporating it into his Timurid Empire.

1219, Genghis Khan invaded and laid waste the north and west of Afghanistan.

1030, Mahmud, ruler of Ghazna, a kingdom in modern-day Afghganistan and Iran, (born 971) died. The kingdom of Ghur (Ghowr), previously a vassal State of Ghazmi, now rebelled and in 1151 Ghur forces attacked the capital of Ghazni. The besieged it, capturing and then sacking it, in 1152. The citizens were forced to flee to India. However by 1185 the city of Ghazna was revived as a subsiadiary Ghur administratoive centre.

997, Mahmud of Ghanzni became ruler, and extended his power as far as the Punjab in India.

2 October 971, Mahmud of Ghazni, Afghan warrior, was born (died 1030).

962, Alptigin, a Turkish warrior-slave, captured the Afghan fortress of Ghazni, and founded the Ghaznavid Dynasty.

652, Arab armies invaded the Afghanistan region, introducing Islam.

250, Afghanostan became part of the Persian Sassanid Empire.

50 CE, Afghanistan became part of the Kushan Empire.

327 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered the Afghanistan region.

530 BCE, Cyrus the Great made Afghanistan part of the Persian Empire.


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