327 BC The area known today as Afghanistan, part of the Persian Achaemenian empire, is conquered by Alexander the Great, who then departs for India. Ruins of a Greek city founded about 325 BC were discovered at Ay Khanom. Excavations produce Greek architectural elements, including a theatre and a gymnasium. 304 BC The modern day Kandahar and Herat provinces are ceded to the Maurya dynasty of northern India. Inscriptions have been found from the reign of the Indian monarch Ashoka the Great (ruled 273-232 BC), who greatly increased the popularity of Buddhism in Afghanistan.
250 BC Diodotus, a local Greco-Bactrian governor, declares the Afghan plain of the Amu Darya river independent.
180 BC Greco-Bactrian conquerors move south, establishing their rule at Kabul and in the Punjab. The Parthians of eastern Iran establish control over Sistan and Kandahar.
130 BC A nomadic raid ends the Greek era at Ay Khanom.
135 BC Central Asian nomadic tribes united under the banner of the Kushan to seize Bactria, or what is now northern Afghanistan, from the Bactrian Greeks. AD 78-144 The region becomes part of the empire of Kushan Kin Kaniska, a patron of the arts who propagates a brand of Buddhism.
241 Persian Sasanids establish control over parts of Afghanistan, including Bagram in what is now northern Afghanistan.
Approximately 300 -400
The world’s largest Buddha figures are carved into a cliff at Bamian in Afghanistan’s central mountains.
400 A new wave of Central Asian nomads under the Hephthalites take control.
565 Nomads are defeated by a coalition of Sasanids and Western Turks. Under the Hephthalites and Sasanids, many of the Afghan princedoms are influenced by Hinduism. Excavations from the time near Kabul and Ghazni reveal both Buddhist and Hindu statuaries. 646 Islamic armies defeated the Sasanids at the Battle of Nahavand near modern Hamadan, Iran. They advance into the Afghan area, but are unable to hold the territory.
800 -900 The region witnesses the rise of numerous local Islamic dynasties.
A former Turkish slave named Alptigin seizes Ghazni. He is succeeded by another former slave, Subuktigin, who extends the conquests to Kabul and the Indus.
998 Subuktigin’s son, Mahmud of Ghazna, conquers the Punjab and Multan and carries his raids into the heart of India. Ghazni becomes a cosmopolitan city, as does the second capital at Bust, or Lashkar Gah, in the south.
1150 ‘Ala’ al-Din Husayn of Ghur, a mountain-locked region in central Afghanistan, sacks Ghazni.
1219 Genghis Khan invades the eastern part of Husayn’s empire. Later, Husayn’s son rallies Afghan highlanders near Kabul, defeating the Mongols and killing Genghis Khan’s grandson. Genghis Khan retaliates, leveling Bamian.
1227 Genghis Khan dies. In Afghanistan, several local chiefs establish independent states while others recognize Mongol princes. Late 1300s Timur (Tamerlane), a 14th-century warlord of Turco-Mongol descent, conquers a large part of the country.
1405-1507 Timur’s successors, the Timurids, patronize learning and the arts, revitalizing the capital city of Herat.
1504 Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, makes Kabul the capital of an independent state.
1507 Turkic Uzbeks take Herat under Muhammad Shaybani.
1522 Babur seizes Kandahar and establishes the Mughal Empire in eastern Afghanistan south of the Hindu Kush. For the next 200 years, the country is divided between India’s Mughals, who hold Kabul, and Persia’s Safavids, who hold Herat. Kandahar is in dispute for many years.
1709 Mir Vays Khan, an Afghani tribal leader, heads a successful uprising against Gorgin Khan, the Persian governor of Kandahar. Khan governs Kandahar until his death in 1715.
1716 The Abdalis (Durrani) of Herat liberate their province from the Persians.
1725 The country faces Russian pressure from the north, just as Ottoman Turk forces advance from the west. Shah Ashraf curbs both onslaughts.
1729 Afghans are defeated at Damghan and driven out of Persia.
1732 Iranian ruler and conqueror Nadr Qoli Beg takes Herat and recruits many Heratis to serve in his army. Electing himself shah of Persia, he renames himself Nadir Shah.
1738 Kandahar falls to Nadir Shah’s army. He also seizes Ghazna and Kabul.
1747 Nadir Shah’s death leads to the collapse of his Persian empire and also the rise of the last great Afghan empire, surpassed in size only by the Ottoman. Ahmad Shah Durrani expands Afghan control from Meshed in northeastern Iran to Kashmir and Delhi, from the Amu Darya river to the Arabian Sea.
1776 Amid tribal rebellions, Ahmad Shah’s son Timur Shah shifts the capital from Kandahar to Kabul.
1793 Timur Shah dies and his son Zaman Shah seizes the throne. He sets his sights on India, alarming the British, who pressure Persia’s Fath Ali Shah of Persia into diverting Zaman Shah’s attention, which he does by encouraging an advance on Kandahar. Zaman Shah returns to Afghanistan to defend that city and Kabul and is imprisoned.
1803 A new king, Shah Shoja’, ascends to the throne, just as powerful and unruly chiefs declare independence in outlying provinces, Punjab Sikhs move in on Afghanistan’s eastern terrritories and Persians advance from the west.
1809 Shah Shoja’ signs a friendship treaty with the British, who are looking for allies against a possible invasion of India by Napolean I and Alexander I of Russia. The shah promises to oppose the passage of foreign troops through his lands but Kabul is soon taken by Persian forces. 1919 Habibollah is murdered and Amanollah Khan takes the throne. Launching, a surprise attack against the British in India, Amanollah sparks the third Anglo-Afghan war, after which Afghanistan gains its independence. Amanollah rapidly modernizes the country, overturning strict dress codes for women, opening schools for boys and girls and increasing trade with Europe and Asia.
1924 Amanollah’s reforms are met with civil unrest. His forces suppress the Khost rebellion.
1927 As opposition to his rule increases, Amanollah travels to Europe. Rebels march on Kabul, where much of the army deserts.
1929 Amanollah abdicates and flees to India.
1933 Hailing from a long line of Pashtun rulers, Zahir Shah becomes king. Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next the 40 years.
1946 Afghanistan joins the United Nations.
1953 General Mohammed Daud Khan becomes prime minister. Turning to the Soviets for economic and military assistance, he also introduces social reform, allowing women to wear the veil voluntarily and abolishing purdah — the practice of secluding women from public view.
1961 Pakistan closes its border with Afghanistan after agitation.
1963 The “Pashtunistan” issue persists, namely the political status of Pashtun living in Pakistan after that country gained its independence in 1947. Mohammed Daud resigns as prime minister.
1973 Mohammed Daud overthrows King Zahir Shah in a coup. He declares Afghanistan a republic and himself president. The King goes into exile in Italy. Attempting to play the Soviets against the West, Mohammed Daud aggravates left-wing factions.
1978 The leftist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) launches a coup and military officers kill Mohammed Daud. Noor Muhammad Taraki becomes president. Islamic traditionalists and ethnic leaders begin an armed revolt in the countryside.
1979 Conservative Islamists control much of rural Afghanistan. The Afghan army faces collapse. President Nur Mohammed Taraki is deposed and killed under orders from his rival, Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin, who also fails to suppress the rebellion and is killed by the Soviets in December. That month, Soviet forces take control of Kabul. PDPA member and Marxist Babrak Karmal becomes president, with Soviet backing. 1980 Resistance intensifies as mujahideen groups fight Soviet forces. United States, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms.
1985 Mujahideen form an anti-Soviet alliance in Pakistan. Osama bin Laden is among them. Seeing little combat, the young Saudi Arabian provides them with financial backing. Mikhail Gorbachev says he will withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
1986 United States supplies mujahideen with Stinger missiles for firing at Soviet helicopter gunships. Mohammad Najibullah, former head of the secret police, replaces Karmal as secretary-general of the PDPA.
1987 Afghanistan, Pakistan, the USSR and the United States sign peace accords. Soviet Forces begin withdrawing. Najibullah is elected president. Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran now number more than five million. In total, more than half the population is displaced.
1989 Last remaining Soviet troops leave. Civil war rages as mujahideen try to overthrow Najibullah. 1991 United States and USSR agree to end military aid to both sides.
1990 Approximately 6.3 million Afghan civilians now are in exile — 3.3 million in Pakistan and 3 million in Iran.
1992 Rebel forces close in on Kabul and the Najibullah government collapses.
1993 Mujahideen factions agree on formation of a government. Burhanuddin Rabbani is proclaimed president of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. More than 1.2 million refugees slowly return from Pakistan.
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