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 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
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 with Soviet
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
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
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
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