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          1948: Afghanistan 

Tribal and religious relationships starred the little news emerging from Afghanistan in 1948. Developments in Kashmir and in Waziristan, as well as in Hyderabad, affected Afghanistan's policies. The death of Pakistan's Mohamed Ali Jinnah was a blow to this Mohammedan country. Palestine developments and the kaleidoscopic alterations in the Arab League called for good statesmanship by Afghanistan. 

Internal Conditions.

 It remained one of the least-known countries in the world, all but isolated by the Hindu Kush ranges with India on its east, the Soviet Union on its north, and Iran on its west and south. In all of its 250,000 sq. mi., Afghanistan in 1948 still had no railroads and less than 300 mi. of motor roads. Practically all transport was still carried on camel or pony back along the seven important trade routes, chief of which is eastward through the Khyber Pass to India. Along the frontier are warlike and independent tribes of Pathans. Afghanistan's languages are Pushtu and Iranian. Its population of about 10,000,000 still knows the 200-year dominance of the Durani over the Tajiks, the aborigines. The capital is Kabul (population about 120,000); other chief cities are Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif. The predominant religion is Islam.Despite the mountainous nature of most of the country, fruit, vegetables, and cereals are produced in the irrigated valleys. Raising of the fat-tailed sheep, a native of Afghanistan, furnishes the principal meat diet, a substitute for butter from the grease of the tail, and wool and skins. Persian lambskins and cotton are exported. Though iron, silver, copper, lead, coal, gold, and petroleum and raw asbestos are known, most of the mineral resources in the country remained undeveloped in 1948. Small factories manufacture some matches, buttons, leather, boots, marble-ware, furniture, and small arms and ammunition. In 1948 hydroelectric stations were under construction or planned under the supervision of the government, which also controlled commerce.Money is based on silver, the chief unit being the afghani. The National Bank, with branches in Asia, Europe, and America, was established in May 1938; in 1948 it had a capital of over 300,000,000 afghani. The government is a constitutional monarchy; the laws and customs are those of Islam. Elementary schools exist throughout the country, but secondary schools are found only in Kabul and provincial capitals; elementary and secondary education is free. In 1948 there were two training schools for teachers; some technical, art, commercial, and medical schools also existed. The Kabul University, founded in 1932, had four faculties of law, science, medicine, and arts. The reigning king was Mohammed Zahir Shah.

 Associations with Pakistan.

 As Afghanistan saw India divided between Pakistan and India, its ministers approached the British minister in Kabul with the information that tribesmen of the North-West Frontier Province desired to disassociate themselves from India. Presumably these were the tribes in the territory between the 1893-demarcated Durand Line (which marks the frontier between India and Afghanistan) and the areas commonly referred to as the "settled districts," which would include the bulk of the tribes in Waziristan as well as others. This region is divided into five political agencies; Malakand (Dir, Swat, and Chitral), Khyber, Kurram, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan. There are further areas known as tribal areas under the political control of the six districts of the North-West Frontier Province.The tribes always had a large measure of independence. They have crossed easily any of the frontiers, both for friendly visits and for purposes of escape. There are no intrinsic differences between the tribes of Afghanistan and those of the North-West Frontier Province. All are Pathans.In a referendum in the North-West Frontier Province of India, those voting representing only about one-half of the electorate, a majority of the votes were cast in favor of Pakistan. As for those not voting, their abstention could be laid to indifference or ignorance. However, a further consideration must be given to the fact that Abdul Ghaffar Khan, leader in the North-West Frontier Province of the Redshirts (who are supporters of the Indian Congress Party), called on his followers to boycott the referendum, and at the same time he was urging the establishment of a new regime to be called "Pathanistan." There was a possibility, if he continued, of this movement jeopardizing the peace and security of the frontier.

 The influence of Abdul Ghaffar Khan in Afghanistan was difficult to assess. Tribal leaders are jealous of their position and will not be too ready to accept any overlordship. This was seen in 1929 in the tribal uprising which led to the expulsion of King Amanullah and which enabled the ruling Afghanistan dynasty to come to power. The stability of the ruling house has been entirely dependent on tribal goodwill, and in the past there was trouble with pretenders and agitators, who usually made their appearance in the independent tribal territory of Waziristan. In 1936 the whole of Waziristan was roused on religious issues by the Faqir of Ipi. In 1948 he was still in an obscure spot near the Afghanistan frontier and considered himself the supreme leader in tribal affairs in Waziristan and beyond. 

At the close of 1948 this situation offered little hope of permanent stability. It could entice any nation which would like to set some elements of a population against other elements in order to intrude its influence and in the confusion achieve power. 

Relations Affecting the Soviet Union. 

 The Soviet Union is an important element in the minds of Afghans. About September an Associated Press dispatch from London announced that the joint Soviet-Afghanistan border commission had completed a two-year job of demarcating the border with an agreement signed in Tashkent, U.S.S.R. On September 30 an Associated Press dispatch from Paris reported that Afghanistan was scheduled to meet along with 11 countries from three continents for the formation of a regional defense bloc. These nations are situated on or near the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa, and generally they oppose Soviet policies. In addition to Afghanistan, the nations were listed as Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan, Turkey, and Yemen. The plan was said to have been cleared by a meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Constantin Tsaldaris and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Khashaba Pasha. The attention of Greece to this proposed bloc was significant to the whole Mediterranean and south European region, for Greece has been a pivot for Anglo-American policies. 

Action on Palestine.

 The stirrings in the Islam world were not ignored in Kabul. Palestine, the chief locale of efforts among Mohammedans to achieve a political and religious harmony despite tribal differences, found Afghanistan taking sides. On October 31 it was reported to have recognized the Provisional Arab Government of Palestine set up at Gaza.

 Social Unrest.

 In 1948 unrest was evident among the many native contractors and workers and former members of the Afghan armed forces who had left their country during World War II either to work or fight.

 Archaeological Excavations. 

Afghanistan made the news in October through its ancient history. It was reported that the Danish Central Asiatic Expedition, led by Professor Henning Haslund-Christensen, had discovered ruins of the ancient city of Lashgari Sarai. This lost metropolis, once inhabited by tens of thousands of people and surrounded by formal gardens, was discovered in a desert region of Afghanistan, the ruins covered by sands. The expedition at the close of 1948 hoped to come upon clues to the lost civilization of the region 

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