Chronological History of Afghanistan

By Abdullah Qazi (1997)
Updated by Abdullah Qazi on April 10, 2005
Updated by S. Ghilzai on February 6, 2016

Part I (50,000 BCE – 652)

50,000 BCE-20,000 BCE

  • Archaeologists have identified evidence of stone age technology in Aq Kupruk, and Hazar Sum. Plant remains at the foothill of the Hindu Kush mountains indicate, that North Afghanistan was one of the earliest places to domestic plants and animals.

3000 BCE-2000 BCE

  • Bronze might have been invented in ancient Afghanistan around this time.
  • First true urban centers rise in two main sites in Afghanistan–Mundigak, and Deh Morasi Ghundai.
  • Mundigak (near modern day Kandahar)–had an economic base of wheat, barley, sheep and goats. Also, evidence indicates that Mudigak could have been a provincial capital of the Indus valley civilization.
  • Ancient Afghanistan–crossroads between Mesopotamia, and other Civilizations.

2000 BCE- 1500 BCE

  • Aryan tribes in Aryana (Ancient Afghanistan)
  • The City of Kabul is thought to have been established during this time.
  • Rig Veda may have been created in Afghanistan around this time.
  • Evidence of early nomadic iron age in Aq Kapruk IV.

600 BCE — (There is some speculation about this date)

  • Zoroaster introduces a new religion in Bactria (Balkh)—(Zoroastrianism–Monotheistic religion)
    (about 522 BC)–Zoroaster dies during nomadic invasion near Balkh.

522 BCE–486 BCE

  • Darius the Great expands the Achaemenid (Persian) empire to its peak, when it takes most of Afghanistan., including Aria (Herat), Bactriana (Balk, and present-day Mazar-i-Shariff), Margiana (Merv), Gandhara (Kabul, Jalalabad and Peshawar), Sattagydia (Ghazni to the Indus river), Arachosia (Kandahar, and Quetta), and Drangiana (Sistan).
  • The Persian empire was plagued by constant bitter and bloody tribal revolts from Afghans living in Arachosia (Kandahar, and Quetta)

329-326 BCE

  • After conquering Persia, Afghanistan is invaded by Alexander the Great. Alexander conquers Afghanistan, but fails to really subdue its people.
  • Constant revolts plague Alexander.

323 BCE

  • Greeks rule Bactria (Northern Afghanistan)

170 BCE-160 BCE

  • Bactria–Parthia

50 AD

  • Kushan rule, under King Kanishka
  • Graeco-Buddhist Gandharan culture reach its height.

220 AD

  • Kushan empire fragments into petty dynasties.

400 AD

  • Invasion of the White Huns. They destroy the Buddhist culture, and leave most of the country in ruins.


  • Independent Yaftalee rule in Afghanistan.

550 AD

  • Persians reassert control over all of what is now Afghanistan.
  • Revolts by various Afghan tribes.

650 AD

  • The world’s first oil paintings are painted in the Bamiyan caves by Buddhists.

652 AD

  • Arabs introduce Islam

Part II (652 – 1747)

652 AD

  • Arabs introduce Islam


  • Islamic era established with the Ghaznavid Dynasty (962-1140)
  • Afghanistan becomes the center of Islamic power and civilization.


  • Mahmud Ghazni dies.
  • Conflicts between various Ghaznavid rulers arise and as a result the empire starts to crumple.


  • Ghorid leaders from central Afghanistan capture and burn Ghazni, then move on to conquer India.

1219-1221 —

  • Invasion of Afghanistan by Genghis Khan
  • Destruction of Irrigation systems by Genghis Khan, which turned fertile soil into permanent deserts.


  • Marco Polo crossed Afghan Turkistan


  • Descendants of earlier Ghorid rulers reassert control over Afghanistan.


  • The rule of Timour-i-Lang (Tamerlane)


  • An Afghan named Buhlul invades Delhi, and seizes the throne. He finds the Lodi dynasty.


  • Babur, founder of the Moghul dynasty takes control of Kabul


  • Bayazid Roshan (Afghan intellectual) revolts against the power of the Moghul government. Roshan was killed in a battle with the Moghuls in 1579–but his struggle for independence continued.


  • Khushhal Khan Khattak (Afghan warrior-poet) initiates a national uprising against the foreign Moghul government.


  • Mir Wais (forerunner of Afghan independence) makes Kandahar independent of Safavid Persia that had ruled it since 1622.


  • Mir Wais dies peacefully, and lies in a mausoleum outside of Kandahar.


  • Mir Wais’ son, Mir Mahmud, invades Persia and occupies Isfahan. At the same time, the Durranis revolt, and terminate the Persian occupation of Herat.


  • (April 25)–Mir Mahmud is mysteriously killed after going mad.
  • Afghans start to lose control of Persia.


  • Nadir Shah (head of Persia) occupies southwest Afghanistan, and southeast Persia.


  • Nadir Shah takes Kandahar.


  • Nadir Shah is assassinated, and the Afghans rise once again. Afghans, under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Abdali retake Kandahar, and establish modern Afghanistan.

Part III (1747 – 1978)


  • Rule of Ahmad Shah Abdali (Durrani).
  • Ahmad Shah consolidates and enlarges Afghanistan. He defeats the Moghuls in the west of the Indus, and he takes Herat away from the Persians. Ahmad Shah Durrani’s empire extended from Central Asia to Delhi, from Kashmir to the Arabian sea. It became the greatest Muslim empire in the second half of the 18th century.
  • (1750) Khurasan—-> Afghanistan.


  • Rule of Timur Shah
  • Capital of Afghanistan transferred from Kandahar to Kabul because of tribal opposition.
  • Constant internal revolts


  • Rule of Zaman Shah
  • Constant internal revolts
  • (1795) Persians invade Khurasan (province)


  • Rule of Mahmood
  • Constant internal revolts


  • Rule of Shah Shujah
  • (1805) Persian attack on Herat fails.
  • Internal fighting


  • Mahmood returns to the throne.
  • War with Persia–indecisive victory
  • Internal fighting


  • Sons of Timur Shah struggle for the throne–Civil War–anarchy–
  • Afghans lose Sind permanently


  • Dost Mohammad Khan takes Kabul, and establishes control.


  • Persia moves into Khurasan (province), and threatens Herat. Afghans defend Herat successfully.


  • (May)–Afghans lose Peshawar to the Sikhs; later they crushed the Sikhs under the leadership of Akbar Khan who defeated the Sikhs near Jamrud, and killed the great Sikh general Hari Singh. However, they failed to retake Peshawar due to disunity and bad judgment on the part of Dost Mohammad Khan.


  • Dost Mohammad Khan is proclaimed as Amir al-mu’ minin (commander of the faithful). He was well on the road toward reunifying the whole of Afghanistan when the British, in collaboration with an ex-king (Shah Shuja), invade Afghanistan.


  • First Anglo-Afghan War
  • After some resistance, Amir Dost Mohammad Khan surrenders to the British and is deported to India.
  • Shah Shuja is installed as a “puppet king” by the British. (1839-1842)
  • April 1842–Shah Shuja killed by Afghans.
  • Afghans passionately continue their struggle against the British.
  • Akbar Khan–Afghan hero–victorious against the British.
  • In January 1842, out of 16,500 soldiers (and 12,000 dependents) only one survivor, of mixed British-Indian garrison, reaches the fort in Jalalabad, on a stumbling pony.


  • After the annihilation of British troops, Afghanistan once again becomes independent, and the exiled Amir, Dost Mohammad Khan comes back and occupies the royal throne (1843-1863).


  • Afghan hero, Akbar Khan dies


  • Dost Mohammad Khan signs a peace treaty with India.


  • British take Baluchistan, and Afghanistan becomes completely landlocked.


  • Sher Ali, Dost Mohammad Khan’s son, succeeds to the throne.
  • (1865)–Russia takes Bukhara, Tashkent, and Samarkand.


  • Mohammad Afzal occupies Kabul and proclaims himself Amir.
  • October, 1867–Mohammad Afzal dies.


  • Mohammad Azam succeeds to the throne
  • 1868–Mohammad Azam flees to Persia
  • Sher Ali reasserts control (1868-1879).


  • Russia established a fixed boundary between Afghanistan and it’s new territories.
  • Russia promises to respect Afghanistan’s territorial integrity.


  • Start of second Anglo-Afghan War
  • The British invade and the Afghans quickly put up a strong resistance.


  • Sher Ali dies in Mazar-i-Shariff, and Amir Muhammad Yaqub Khan takes over until October 1879.
  • Amir Muhammad Yaqub Khan gives up the following Afghan territories to the British: Kurram, Khyber, Michni, Pishin, and Sibi. Afghans lose these territories permanently.


  • Battle of Maiwand
  • July 1880, Afghan woman named Malalai carries the Afghan flag forward after the soldiers carrying the flag were killed by the British. She becomes a heroine for her show of courage and valour.
  • Abdur Rahman takes throne of Afghanistan as Amir.
  • The British, shortly after the accession of the new Amir, withdraw from Afghanistan, although they retain the right to handle Afghanistan’s foreign relations.
  • Abdur Rahman establishes fixed borders and he loses a lot of Afghan land.
  • Nuristan converted to Islam.


  • The Panjdeh Incident
  • Russian forces seize the Panjdeh Oasis, a piece of Afghan territory north of the Oxus River. Afghans tried to retake it, but was finally forced to allow the Russians to keep Panjdeh – Russians promised to honor Afghan territorial integrity in the future.


  • The Durand line fixes borders of Afghanistan with British India, splitting Afghan tribal areas, leaving half of these Afghans in what is now Pakistan.


  • Afghanistan’s northern border is fixed and guaranteed by Russia


  • Abdur Rahman dies, his son Habibullah succeeds him.
  • Slows steps toward modernization


  • Russia and Great Britain sign the convention of St. Petersburg, in which Afghanistan is declared outside Russia’s sphere of influence.


  • Mahmud Tarzi (Afghan Intellectual) introduces modern Journalism into Afghanistan with the creation of several newspapers.


  • Habibullah is assassinated, and succeeded by his son Amanullah (The reform King)
  • The first museum in Afghanistan is instituted at Baghe Bala.


  • Third Anglo-Afghan war
  • Once again, the British are defeated, and Afghanistan gains full control of her foreign affairs.
  • Amanullah Khan initiates a series of ambitious efforts at social and political modernization.


  • Amanullah Khan changes his title from Amir to Padshah (King).


  • Amanullah Khan is overthrown by Habibullah Kalakani.
  • After the fall of Amanullah Khan, Mahmud Tarzi seeks asylum in Turkey.
  • The Rise and Fall of Habibullah Kalakani, popularly known as “Bache Saqao”
  • Nadir Khan takes the throne; his tribal army loots government buildings and houses of wealthy citizens because the treasury was empty.
  • Habibullah Kalakani, along with his supporters, and a few supporters of Amanullah Khan are killed by Nadir Khan. Now Nadir Khan establishes full control.


  • (May) Pro-Amanullah Khan uprising put down by Nadir Khan.
  • Nadir Khan abolishes reforms set forth by Amanullah Khan to modernize Afghanistan.


  • Nadir Khan assassinated by a college student, and his son, Zahir, inherits the throne. He rules until 1973.
  • Zahir Shah’s uncles serve as prime ministers and advisors until 1953.
  • Mahmud Tarzi dies in Turkey at the age of 68 with a heart full of sorrow and despair toward his country.


  • The United States of America formally recognizes Afghanistan


  • Da Afghanistan Bank (State Bank of Afghanistan) is incorporated.


  • Minor pro-Amanullah Khan uprising (January 15)


  • Zahir Shah proclaims Afghanistan as neutral during WW2


  • Britain withdraws from India. Pakistan is carved out of Indian and Afghan lands.


  • Afghanistan’s Parliament denounces the Durand Treaty and refuses to recognize the Durand line as a legal boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Pashtuns in Pashtunistan (Occupied Afghan Land) proclaim an independent Pashtunistan, but their proclamation goes unacknowledged by the world community.


  • Prince Mohammad Daoud becomes Prime Minister.


  • The U.S. rejects Afghanistan’s request to buy military equipment to modernize the army.


  • Daoud turns to the Soviet Union (Russia) for military aid.
  • The Pashtunistan (occupied Afghan land) issue flares up.


  • Kruschev and Bulgaria agree to help Afghanistan.
  • Close ties between Afghanistan and USSR.


  • The Purdah is made optional, women begin to enroll in the University which has become co-educational.
  • Women begin to enter the workforce, and the government.


  • Pakistan and Afghanistan come close to war over Pashtunistan.


  • Zahir Shah demands Daoud’s resignation. Dr. Mohammad Yusof becomes Prime Minister.


  • The Afghan Communist Party was secretly formed in January. Babrak Karmal is one of the founders.
  • In September, first nationwide elections under the new constitution.
  • Karmal was elected to the Parliament, later instigates riots.
  • Zahir and Yussof form second government.


  • Second nationwide elections.
  • Babrak and Hafizullah Amin are elected.


  • Mohammad Moussa becomes Prime Minister.


  • July 17th: Zahir Shah is on vacation in Europe, when his government is overthrown in a military coup headed by Daoud Khan and PDPA (Afghan Communist Party).
  • Daoud Khan abolishes the monarchy, declares himself President—Republic of Afghanistan is established.


  • UNESCO names Herat as one of the first cities to be designated as a part of the worlds cultural heritage.


  • Daoud Khan presents a new constitution. Women’s rights confirmed.
  • Daoud starts to oust suspected opponents from his government.


  • Bloody Communist coup: Daoud is killed, Taraki is named President, and Karmal becomes his deputy Prime Minister. Tensions rise.
  • Mass arrests, tortures, and arrests takes place.
  • Afghan flag is changed.
  • Taraki signs treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union.
  • June–Afghan guerrilla (Mujahideen) movement is born.

Part IV (1978 – Present)


  • Bloody Communist coup: Mohammad Daoud is killed, Noor Mohammad Taraki is named President, and Babrak Karmal becomes his Deputy Prime Minister. Tensions rise.
  • Mass arrests, tortures, and arrests takes place.
  • Afghan flag is changed.
  • Taraki signs treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union.
  • June–Afghan guerrilla (Mujahideen) movement is born.


  • Mass killings
  • US ambassador killed
  • Noor Mohammad Taraki is killed and Hafizullah Amin takes the Presidency.
  • Amin is executed, and he is replaced with Babrak Karmal.
  • Soviet Union (Russia) invade in December.


  • Dr. Najibullah Ahmadzai is brought back from USSR to run the secret police.


  • UN sends investigators to Afghanistan to examine reported human rights violations.


  • Babrak Karmal is replaced by Dr. Najibullah.


  • Najibullah proposes ceasefire, but the Mujahideen refuse to deal with a “puppet government”.
  • Mujahideen make great gains, defeat of Soviets eminent.


  • Peace accords signed in Geneva.
  • Soviet Union defeated by Afghanistan, total withdrawal by the Soviets occurred on Feb. 15, 1989.
  • Experts agree that at least 40,000-50,000 Soviets lost their lives in action, besides the wounded, suicides, and murders.
  • Mujahideen continue to fight against Najibullah’s regime.
  • May–Afghan guerrillas elect Sibhhatullah Mojadidi as head of their government-in-exile.


  • April 15–The Mujahideen take Kabul and liberate Afghanistan, Najibullah is protected by UN.
  • The Mujahideen form an Islamic State–Islamic Jihad Council–elections.
  • Iranian and Pakistani interference increases–more fighting–
  • Professor Burhannudin Rabbani is elected President.


  • The Taliban militia are born, and advance rapidly against the Rabbani government.
  • Dostum and Hekmatyar continued to clash against Rabbani’s government, and as a result Kabul is reduced to rubble.


  • Massive gains by the Taliban.
  • Increased Pakistani and Iranian interference.


  • June–Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of Hezbi-Islami, having been eliminated as a military power, signs a peace pact with Rabbani, and returns to Kabul to rule as prime minister.
  • September 27–Taliban militia force President Rabbani and his government out of Kabul. After the capture of Kabul, the Taliban execute Najibullah.
  • Alliance between Government, Hezbi Wahdat, and Dostum
  • Oppression of women by the Taliban–women must be fully veiled, no longer allowed to work, go out alone or even wear white socks. Men are forced to grow beards. Buzkashi, the Afghan national sport is outlawed.
  • Tensions rise as Afghan government accuse Pakistan of aiding the Taliban.
  • Massive human rights violations by the Taliban.


  • Mass graves of Taliban soldiers containing between 1,500 and 2,000 bodies are found. The men were believed to have been captured in May by general Abdul Malik during the Taliban’s brief takeover of Mazar-i-Sharif.


  • February–Earthquake strikes in northeastern Afghansitan, killing over 4,000 people, destroying villages and leaving thousands of people homeless.
  • August–Taliban finally capture Mazar-i-Sharif, and massacre thousands of innocent civilians afterwards, mostly Hazaras.
  • August 20th–United States launches cruise missles hitting Afghanistan’s Khost region.  US states its intent was to destroy so called terrorist bases/training facilities used by Osama bin Laden and his followers. Some Afghan civilians are also killed.
  • September–Tensions rise between Iran and the Taliban.  Iranians are angry about the killing of their diplomats and a journalist by the Taliban when they captured Mazar-i-Sharif.  Soon they deploy 70,000 troops to carry out military exercises near the Afghan border.  In the end, no fighting occurs between the Taliban and the Iranian army.


  • February–Earthquake hits eastern Afghanistan, affecting over 30,000 people, and killing at least 60 to 70 people.
  • September–The ex-king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah, calls for a grand assembly, or Loya Jirga to discuss ways of bringing peace to the country. The United Front soon welcomes the idea, but the Taliban ridicule Mohammad Zahir Shah’s attempts at establishing peace.
  • October– UN Security Council Resolution 1267 is adopted; sanctions against the Taliban on grounds that they offered sanctuary to Osama bin Ladin.


  • May–Taliban torture and kill civilians in the Robatak Pass
    (on the border between Baghlan and Samangan provinces).
  • September–Taloqan finally falls to the Taliban.
  • December– UN Security Council Resolution 1333 is adopted; additional sanctions against the Taliban for their continuing support of terrorism and cultivation of narcotics, etc.


  • January–Taliban torture and kill numerous civilians (Hazaras) in Yakaolang.
  • March–Despite pleas and requests from various international diplomats, Islamic scholars, the Taliban destroy ancient historical statues in the Kabul Museum, historical sites in Ghazni, and blow up the giant Bamiyan Buddhas from the 5th century. World expresses outrage and disgust against the Taliban action.
  • April–Ahmad Shah Masood visits Europe to gather support against the Taliban.
  • April–UN accuses Pakistan of not allowing adequate supply of food and medicines to displaced Afghans, at the Jalozai camp, near Peshawar.
  • April– Mullah Rabbani, the Taliban’s second-in-command dies of liver cancer.
  • May– Taliban order religious minorities to wear tags identifying themselves as non-Muslims.
  • September 9– Ahmad Shah Masood is killed by assassins posing as journalists. Two days later (September 11th), suicide attacks on the U.S. kill more than 3,000 people and destroy the two towers of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon.
  • October– Abdul Haq is killed by the Taliban. The United States and UK working with the forces of the United Front (UNIFSA) launch air strikes against the Taliban. ( The Americans hold Osama bin Laden directly responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the Taliban were targeted for protecting him.)
  • November: Taliban lose control of Mazar-i Sharif.
  • December 5– Bonn Agreement. Afghan political groups come together in Bonn, Germany and form an interim government.  Hamid Karzai is chosen as Chairman.


  • April– Former King Mohammad Zahir returns to Afghanistan (April) — does not claim throne.
  • War continues against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
  • June– Loya Jirga elects Hamid Karzai as President of a Transitional Government. Karzai picks members of his administration to serve until elections are held in 2004
  • July– Haji Abdul Qadir (brother of Abdul Haq) is killed. US air raid in Uruzgan province kills approximately 48 civilians, many of them members of a wedding party


  • War against Al Qaeda and the Taliban continue — further weakened.
  • August – NATO takes control of security in Kabul.


  • January– Afghanistan adopts a new constitution.  The country is now a republic with 3 branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary).
  • 2004 October/November – Presidential elections are finally held after being delayed twice.  Hamid Karzai is declared the winner, with 55.4% of the votes. He is sworn in December. Karzai’s strongest challenger, Yunis Qanuni, came in second with 16.3% of the votes. The elections were not without controversy; allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing were brought up by many of the presidential candidates including Yunis Qanuni. Many felt that Hamid Karzai had an unfair advantage over the other candidates as he had access to financial and logistical resources that many of the other candidates did not have. A panel of international experts was setup to investigate the matter. The panel did find evidence of voting irregularities, however, they said that it was not enough to affect the outcome of the elections.


  • Harsh winter leaves hundreds of people dead.
  • Major advances in the disarmament process announced.
  • March– Dostum appointed as the Chief of Staff to the Commander of the Armed Forces. Yunis Qanuni announces new political alliance (March 31st).
  • April– Karzai welcomes the formation of Qanuni’s political alliance.


  • March 1st- US President George Bush and the First Lady visit Kabul and inaugurate the newly renovated Embassy of the United States of America.


  • August- United Nations report: Opium production in Afghanistan has hit an unprecedented high.


  • July- A suicide bomb goes off at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing over 50 people.


  • February- NATO countries pledge to increase troop numbers after U.S sends an extra 17,000 troops to Afghanistan.
  • November- Hamid Karzai is re-elected as president – winning against Dr. Abdullah Abdullah after he withdrew from the race. The election was wrought with fraud.


  • US President Obama sends 33,000 more U.S soldiers to Afghanistan bringing the total of international troops to 150,000.
  • July- Wikileaks website publishes classified documents about the U.S military involvement in Afghanistan.
  • August- All Dutch troops pull out.
  • November- At a conference in Lisbon, NATO decides to hand over security control to Afghan forces by 2014.


  • The Afghanistan National Front, or the Jabh-e-Milli, is created by Ahmad Zia Massoud, Mohammed Mohaqiq and Abdul Rashid Dostum, their major goal being to abolish the Taliban.
  • February- The number of civilians killed hits an all time high since 2001.
  • April- A U.S pastor leads a burning of the Quran, resulting in widespread protests. UN workers and civilians are killed.
  • May – Osama bin Laden is killed in Pakistan. Afterwards, many Afghan officials are assassinated such as Mohammed Daud Daud, Ahmed Wali Karzai (President Karzai’s brother), Jan Mohammed Khan, Ghulam Haider Hamidi and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani.
  • October- Afghanistan and India sign a co-operation agreement as relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan worsen.
  • December- 58 people are killed in attacks at two Shi’a shrines in the country, in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif.
  • Karzai signs a pact with tribal elders and the US for US troops to stay on past 2014.
  • Over 500 prisoners, mostly Taliban members, break out of a Kandahar prison.


  • January- The Taliban opens an office in Dubai.
  • February- After the burning of Qurans at the U.S airbase in Bagram, 30 people are killed in protests. US officials say they were burned because they were being used to relay messages between Taliban prisoners.
  • March- 16 civilians are killed in a U.S rampage in Kandahar.
  • April- The Taliban announces their “Spring Offensive”. Security forces kill 38 militants.
  • May- President Hollande decides to withdraw his troops early, by 2012.
  • Arsala Rahmani is assassinated. A member of the High Peace Council and former Taliban minister, he was crucial in talks between the government and the Taliban.
  • July- At a donor conference in Tokyo, $16 billion is pledged.
  • September- Bagram jail is given to the Afghan government to control, though the U.S still has control over some prisoners until 2013.


  • March- Sherkhan Farnood and Khalilullah Ferozi, two former chiefs of Kabul Bank are put in prison for their multi-million dollar fraud that nearly collapsed the entire country’s economy in 2010.
  • June- Afghan army takes control over almost all NATO operations.
  • Karzai boycotts security talks with the U.S after the U.S government announces to hold direct talks with the Taliban.


  • January- The Taliban attacks a restaurant in Kabul, killing 13 foreigners (becoming the most deadly attack on foreigners since 2001).
  • February- Start of the Presidential election campaign.
  • March- The Serena Hotel is infiltrated by gunmen who kill 9 people.
  • June- The second round of voting begins, as the election between Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani are marked with fraud and deemed inconclusive.
  • September- Dr. Ghani and Dr. Abdullah sign a power sharing agreement and Dr. Ghani is sworn into office.