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1947: Afghanistan

As a part of a growing self-consciousness in Islam, and because of her proximity to the new states of India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, in 1947, became an influential state. Moreover, in 1947, Afghanistan increased in importance in the eyes of the Soviet Union.


Prior to the 18th century Afghanistan was ruled by both Persia and India, but, in 1747 Afghanistan became a separate political entity, including, in later years, Kashmir and the Punjab. However, weak rulers were unable to hold her Indian territory against British advances. Through most of the 19th century Afghanistan was a buffer between the ambitions of the British and the Russians.

The first Afghan war, 1839-1842, occasioned by British suspicions of Russian intrigue in the little, mountainous land resulted at first in a British disaster. Later, the English retook the capitol, Kabul, which they had lost, but decided to withdraw from a country so remote and hard to hold. In 1878 Britain again sent troops to counter a Russian diversion at a time when the British in the Balkans were checking Russian aspirations. At the end of this second Afghan war, Afghanistan, in 1879, turned over the Khyber Pass to British control. She also gave British trade full access, in return for which she received an annual subsidy; and she also agreed to conduct foreign relations only through the Government of India.

In 1907 Britain and Russia began to co-operate diplomatically against Germany. London and St. Petersburg came to an agreement on Afghanistan by which Russia acknowledged British predominance in Kabul.

During both world wars Afghanistan remained neutral. In 1919, however, sympathizing with Turkey, her sister Moslem state, Afghanistan proclaimed a holy war against Great Britain. The British drove invading Afghan troops out of India and, in 1921, recognized Afghanistan as independent. The new Soviet regime was at that time in no position to become a menace in foreign relations.

Relations with Soviet Union.

In recent years the Soviet Union has evidenced a new interest in Afghanistan. Without threatening political or economic pressure, she has emphasized a cultural affinity among the Tadjik people in Soviet Tadjikistan, in India, and in Afghanistan. Soviet scholars have undertaken to show strong artistic and other connections among the three branches of the Tadjik people. The Russians have established a thriving new city in their own province of Tadjikistan: Stalinabad, the capital of the province, a metropolis of nearly 100,000 population. The Lehuti Theater and the Firdausi State Library have also been founded. The attraction of a thriving city near the frontier of a poorly-organized state has wide implications.

The Northwest Province.

Afghanistan is again showing interest in the North-West Frontier Province of India which was once under Afghan control. In June 1947 Afghanistan asked that the Province be allowed to choose independence instead of membership in either Pakistan or Hindustan. However, in July the Province voted over-whelmingly to join Pakistan.

In the Sept. 30th meeting of the United Nations, Afghanistan voted against the admission of Pakistan, stating that the North-West Province plebiscite had not given the people an opportunity to vote on independence. Here emerged a difference between these two Moslem states.

On Oct. 29 Jinnah, the leader of Pakistan, was quoted in the British House of Commons as warning that the Russians had already infiltrated Afghanistan, and would be in a position to "move into Delhi in a few weeks" if the internal situation in India continued to deteriorate.

Moslems and Hindus had been fighting for control of Kashmir. This northernmost province of India is separated from Soviet territory by only a narrow strip of Afghanistan. Observers are wondering whether, with the British out of India, Afghanistan might not become an attractive area for Soviet occupation like Outer Mongolia.

Late in November it was announced that a strong force of Afghanistan troops under the war minister, General Daud Khan, was concentrated in their own eastern provinces to quell fighting between two tribes. This outbreak was reported to be a resumption of the long-standing feud between the Safis and the Nuristanis. Afghanistan, in stating that the troop movement was "to restore good relations" between the tribes, appeared to be trying to relieve any Pakistan apprehension that this was a show of force against her.

As 1947 drew to a close the question in the minds of many was whether their common religion might serve to be a stronger influence on the two states along the western border of the Far East than their growing nationalism