The First World War had two power blocs- allied and axis. Allied power
included Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Canada, Japan and United
States of America, whereas the axis powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary,
Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. The First World War started in 1914 when the
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the only heir to the throne of Austrian-Hungary Empire
was assassinated by the Bosnian Serb nationalist, in response Austrian Hungary
attacked Serbia and the war between two countries escalated when the alliances
of both the parties intervened and changed this to a full scale war.
powers won the war and with the Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920) which formed
the Treaty of Versailles (signed in 1919 effective from 1920). Germany was held
to be liable for the First World War by the Article 209 of the Treaty of
Versailles. The punitive direction taken against Germany was to pay 6 billion
dollars to the allied powers as compensation. The direction was not only
punitive, but one-tenth land of Germany was also handed over to the allied
powers. Germany called this treaty as 'dictated peace' consequent to which, the
nation lost its pride and prestige in the world political sphere.
Woodrow Wilson, the then USA president, in the joint session of the Congress on
8 January 1918 delivered a revolutionary 14 point speech. These points focused
on resolution of issues in the world with debate and deliberation, and led to
the establishment of League of Nations on 28 June 1919 with 56 members and 3
organs- assembly, council and secretariat. A strange point is that Woodrow
Wilson talked about the establishment of League of Nations but USA, the nation
of which he was the President did not join the organization.
The same time saw the rise of Benito Mussolini (in 1922) and Adolf Hitler (in
1933) in Italy and Germany respectively. Both had the feeling of nationalism and
were against the Paris Peace Conference as Mussolini thought Italy did not
receive its due from the treaty and Hitler believed that the treaty destroyed
the pride and prestige of Germany in the world politics. This adamant feeling of
nationalism led to the rise of authoritarian government and dictatorship in both
The Second World War commenced when Germany under the leadership of Hitler
invaded Poland in 1939. This war also had two power blocs- allied (Great
Britain, USSR, France and USA joined afterwards) and axis (Germany, Italy and
Japan), when the allied power intervened in the German invasion of Poland to
help the country, it led to a full scale war. The Second World War ended in 1945
when USA interfered and dropped two nuclear bombs named- 'little boy' and 'fat
man' over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
After the war ended, the authoritarian rule and dictatorship also ended in
Germany and Italy. The end of the war led to the creation of two superpowers-
USA and USSR, as the economies of other countries deteriorated like of- Germany,
Great Britain, France, Italy etc. thus the world was bipolar now. League of
Nations was seen as a failure as its only goal was to resolve the issues between
the nations and stop the possibility of war but the organization could not do
so. But still there was seen a need of a world organization and thus United
Nations was formed with the foundation of the Woodrow Wilson's 14-point speech
to preserve peace and eliminate war with the encouragement of economic and
social progress, safeguarding human rights and manage the refugee problems in
USA and USSR both had a developed economy and a strong political horizon. While,
both the nations followed different ideologies, USA follows capitalism, which
refers to an ideology in which the motive is to maximize profits, the resources
are in the hands of few and there is prevalence of private property. Karl Marx,
a socialist economist and a well known scholar, stated that capitalism leads to
a division in the society and creates two classes- bourgeoisie and proletariat,
while he stated that he was not opposing capitalism as a concept as according to
him it has the seed of a proletariat revolution in itself which would lead to
socialism, which he prefers. USSR, on the other hand followed socialism, which
refers to an ideology in which the resources are public (for all), the
government have the responsibility of distribution of resources and they are
against private property as they believe it creates division in the society.
Both USA and USSR had the aim of portraying their ideology as supreme, which led
to intense competition of the countries in the political front and led to a
'cold' war between the power blocs. But following the 'logic of deterrence'
(both the countries had nuclear weapons and could cause humongous destruction to
each other's country, thus with the logic and to avoid the destruction both
nations decided not to attack each other) these tensions and the competition
never led to a full scale military or a 'hot' war. 'Cold war' as a concept was
coined by Walter Lippmann in 1947.
Cold war has been divided into different phases. The first phase was in
1946-1949, both the sides tried to stop the expansion of each other's territory.
Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister of United Kingdoms, in his speech in
the University of Westminster, in London UK, on 5 March 1946 used the term 'iron
curtain' to refer the military and ideological barrier between countries and he
believed that USSR's power can only be limited with the use of force. The only
producer of atomic bombs then was USA. Joseph Stalin, the leader of USSR, wanted
to expand his control and did not follow the Yalta Conference- held between
Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the USA president, in 1945
to set a free and fair representative government in Poland after the Second
World War. He ordered an attack on Poland and established communist regime in
the country. He was also successful in establishing communist regime in Hungary,
Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia.
The second phase of Cold War was in 1949-1953, USA with the purpose of unifying
and strengthening the western allies formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) with 12 countries in 1949. USA also signed a treaty with Australia and
New Zealand called 'Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty (ANZUS)'
in 1951. USA tried to expand its allies to Asia as well and thus signed a
security treaty with Japan on 8 September 1951.
In this phase, the Korean War
(1950-1953) also took place, USA and USSR divided Korea under 38th parallel into
two zones of occupation, North Korea was under the communist rule supported by
USSR and China. South Korea was supported by USA. On 25 June 1950, North Korea
invaded South Korea. United Nations Security Council sent its troops to South
Korea and held North Korea as a 'violator of peace.' On 27 July 1953, Korea was
officially divided into two and the two parts- North Korea and South Korea
signed a peace treaty. In this phase, USSR also countered the monopoly of US
in the nuclear and atomic bombs and tested its first ever nuclear bomb in 1953.
The third phase of Cold War was in 1953-1957, in which there was a change in the
leadership in the two nations, now the USA President was Dwight D. Eisenhower
winning the 1953 elections and now USSR's Premier was Nikita Khrushchev.
Scholars felt that with the change in the leadership the war would end or
decelerate. USA continued signing of the various treaties; USA signed South-East
Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) with Pakistan, Thailand and Philippines in
September 1954. In 1955, Middle East Defense Organization (MEDO) was formed and
USA was giving military assistance to 43 countries and having more than 3000
military base around USSR now. In the response to these treaties of USA, USSR
formed a 'Warsaw Pact' in 1955 with 12 countries.
The fourth phase of Cold War was in 1957-1962. In this phase, for the very first
time a USSR Premier, Nikita Khrushchev visited USA. This was a 13-day visit held
from 15 to 27 September 1959; the visit was seen as a symbol of goodwill and
peace with development of personal relationship between the leaders of the
superpowers. On 1 May 1960, a U-2 spy plane was seen over USSR, which re-ignited
the tensions between the nations. Though the media objected that USA would never
take such steps, Dwight Eisenhower, the then President of the nation agreed the
presence of the U-2 spy plane and stated that it was for the security of US
citizens from USSR, he further stated that the nation would continue to take
these steps if necessary.
In 1961, Germany was divided into two, where East
Germany was under USSR but West Germany did not had the support of any country.
Thus, the migration from East Germany to West Germany started increasing, as the
people wanted a type of governance for their security and benefits. When no
western power was taking control of West Germany, USSR was forced to create a 25
mile long wall to separate the two sides of Germany, to stop the migration.
most important incident of this phase was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Cuba
had a communist president Fidel Castro, and received assistance from USSR. Thus
in 1962, he allowed the USSR installation of missiles in Cuba, which is just 90
miles away from the shore of America. This was the very first time that both the
country's weapons were so close to each other. John F. Kennedy, the then
president of USA, did not want to take a chance and have USSR missiles so close
to the American shore and thus ordered to block the USSR ships going to Cuba and
thus the crisis started. This crisis had the possibility of a full scale hot war
but with the Logic of Deterrence it did not lead to a hot war.
Both the superpowers also used 'd�tente' for the relaxation of the issue as they
now understood that the only way they can live together in the world is by
peaceful co-existence. Easing of the tensions became the priority of the
nations and thus in the fifth phase of the Cold War 1962-1969 there were many
treaties signed by both the parties for reducing the hold of Weapons of Mass
Destruction. There was also the commencement of the hotline between Washington
and Moscow in 1963, for the direct communication of leaders of the two
superpowers. This was started by the then USA President John F. Kennedy. Partial
Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963 for the end of nuclear test in space,
underwater and atmosphere. This treaty was the base for many different treaties-
Non Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968, which got its foundation from
Partial Test Ban Treaty and became a hallmark for complete disarmament in the
world and stop the testing of nuclear weapons.
Active d�tente was followed in the sixth phase of the Cold War 1969-1978 in
which Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev introduced many cultural agreements and
trade practices. The Sea Bed Pact was signed in 1971, which stopped the
nuclear tests on the sea bed. In 1971 after 18 months talk between US, Great
Britain, France and USSR the west powers were allowed the access in West
Germany. The Biological Warfare Treaty was signed in 1972 for curbing the
biological agents in the world. In 1972, Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty was
signed for each side to have the control of maximum 100 ABMs; the Strategic Arms
Limitation Treaty (SALT) was also signed in 1972 for freezing of the ballistic
missiles. In 1973, there were co-operations in agriculture research, cultural
expansion and scientific exchange of the two nations. In 1975 with the
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Helsinki, 34 countries of
Europe and USA signed to improve d�tente in East and West. Though, with this
measure d�tente was seen to be in its climax. It ended when USSR invaded
Afghanistan in 1979.
Afghanistan In 1977
Afghanistan gained independence on 19 August 1919 under King Amanullah Khan (Durrani
Empire) after signing the Anglo-Afghan treaty, though Afghanistan was never
under Britain as a colony, it signed the treaty with Britain for its
independence. Since then Afghanistan was under monarchial government, the
monarch was from the Durrani Empire. Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last king of
Afghanistan reigning from 1933-1973, ruling for 40 years which was the longest
in Afghanistan. When the king in 1973 went for a medical treatment in Italy,
former Prime Minister Mohammed Dauod Khan, the king's cousin and brother-in-law,
with Afghan army officials established a coup d'�tat against king's rule,
ending the 225 year old monarchial government in the country.
Khan established republican government and declared himself as the President and
the Prime Minister of Afghanistan. This republic rule was alien to the Afghans
as they were always ruled by a monarchial government. He had an autocratic rule
proved with his several educational, progressive social reforms and foreign
policies. Though the educational and social reforms were successful, the
foreign policies led to tense relations with the neighboring countries.
tried to suppress the dependence of Afghanistan to USSR. In his rule, the sole
legal party in Afghanistan was declared to be National Revolutionary Party which
was founded in 1975. In 1977, four years after the coup, Dauod Khan held
elections for the constituent assembly in January to make a constitution. The
assembly was part-elected and part-appointed. There were 41 members focusing on
fundamental rights and duties, the power of the president (elected for a six
year term) and government, a unicameral parliament with National Council.
the establishment of the constitution, only National Revolutionary Party was
allowed to nominate the candidates for the parliamentary elections. Supreme
Court was the highest judicial institution there were 30 presidential nominated
judges and 5-8 representative judges were from each province. 'Loya Jirga' was
the grand assembly which held the highest manifestation of will of Afghans. It
consisted of members of national assembly and the presidents of province and
district assemblies. The Loya Jirga focused on the issue of national
sovereignty, territorial integrity and supreme national interests; it had the
power to amend the constitution and provisions to impeach the President in
accordance to article 69 of the constitution.
But even after so many reforms and provisions, on 27 April 1978 Dauod Khan was
killed in a coup that brought a communist government in the rule. The leader of
the coup was Nur Mohammad Taraki, who was also one of the founding members of
Afghan Communist Party. He declared himself the President and the Prime Minister
of the nation. This was known as the Saur Revolution, the main organizer of the
revolution was Hafizullah Amin. Taraki proclaimed independence from soviet
influence and declared policies based on Islamic principles, nationalism and
He followed a communist form of government, and proved his inclination
towards USSR by signing a friendship treaty with the superpower. In June
1978, the guerrilla movement Mujahadeen was created to fight against the
Soviet-backed government. Mujahadeen are the people who participate in
jihad, as a fight on behalf of God, religion or community. Though many believe
that they are one group but it includes 4 different groups- one that believe in
jihadist ideology (which is regressive); the egalitarian vision of an Islamic
government (which is not regressive); the leftist or Maoists (who felt that they
were not heard); they people who pickup arms for resistance and fight the
government and there laws.
The fourth category of mujahedeen grew a lot in
Afghanistan when USSR invaded. In 1979, Amin grew to power and on March 27, 1979
he overthrew Taraki leadership and became the Prime Minister, while Taraki
retained presidency. Still there were many protests happening in Afghanistan
against the government's Marxist reforms and inclination to Soviet Union.
Soviet Entry In Afghanistan
After the protests, on 14 September 1979, Hafizullah Amin overthrew Taraki as
the President too and declared self as the President. He had a nationalist view
and attempted to improve the nation's relations with Pakistan and USA. As the
President, he met with the three charge d'affaires of USA and interviewed with
the American correspondent. These efforts of Amin grew tensions with USSR and
then on 24 December 1979, on Christmas Eve, USSR army invaded Afghanistan.
Hafizullah Amin was killed on 27 December by Operation Storm- 333 executed by
Soviet Union in the Tajbeg Palace where Amin resided. Though, the palace was
surrounded by the Afghan troops USSR was still successful in the invasion. In
the attack, 30 Afghan palace guards and 300 Afghan military were killed with the
capturing of 150 personnel by the Soviet army. This attack also led to death of
two Amin sons, his daughter was also wounded but she survived. This operation
led to the surrendering of the Afghan military with the end of the khalqist
domination of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan; there were
installation of pro-soviet measure and beginning of the Soviet-Afghan war. Many
Soviet personnel entered Afghanistan from the Amu Darya, which is the major
river of Afghanistan and other entered by air. Babrak Karmal was appointed as
the leader of Afghanistan. From February 1980, there were many protests in the
opposition of appointment of Karmal as the Prime Minister and the entry of USSR
in Afghanistan on the streets.
The USSR army raped, killed and kidnapped the Afghans. Students and civilians
rose against the USSR invasion but were suppressed by the personnel. The Soviet
army was deployed in strategic areas of the city, suppressing any and almost all
the protests that rose against them. By the early 1980s, mujahedeen rebels
united against the invaders, that is, the Soviets and the Afghan army, which was
backed by the Soviet Union. The USSR army used to attack the area with
mujahedeen rebels but when the army would go away, they would settle at the same
Due to this war, for the search of stability, appropriate employment,
appropriate housing, security and welfare many Afghans migrated to Pakistan
(south-east to Afghanistan) and Iran (west to Afghanistan) in 1982.
In 1984, Osama Bin Laden, the later leader of al-Qaeda (meaning 'the base'),
came to Afghanistan to aid the anti-Soviet fighters. He started increasing his
influence from 1979 and even met with Afghan leaders to raise funds for the
resistance. It was only in 1984 that his influence increased in Afghanistan and
Pakistan, where he recruited Arab volunteers to fight against the USSR army in
In 1986, USSR put a communist leader Dr. Muhammad Najibullah as the president of
Afghanistan. But he followed the soviet guidelines to run the government and
actually did no good to the nation.
In September 1988, Osama Bin Laden and 15 other Islamists formed al-Qaeda to
continue jihad, fight against the Soviets and build a nation governed by
Islamist laws and regulations. They not only focused on the expansion of USSR
military in Afghanistan but also focused on America's expansion as they believed
that the superpowers were the main obstacle to the establishment of a state
based on Islamic laws and regulations.
USA Entry In The War
In 1973, Daoud Khan became a very close ally of USSR. But this alignment with
USSR made USA very nervous. Things became worse when his government was
overthrown and a Marxist-Leninist government was established in 1978, this was
when USA started sending some money to the resistance groups of Afghanistan.
Some of the officials of the then USA government like the former National
Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was very interested in getting involved and
overthrowing the communist government of Afghanistan. But there were also some
military leaders that believed that their getting involved in the Afghan
politics will force the Soviet Union to get involved too, for the sole purpose
Though, when USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979 the USA policymakers state that
they were focusing on an extensive covert operation and believed that they now
had to give support to the mujahedeen rebels. It was only in 1986 that they gave
increased support to mujahedeen rebels. United States, Britain and China gave
the arms to the rebels via Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). US
officials started this for the recovery of the Afghan sovereignty and religious
freedom; they also had an ulterior motive of not letting Soviet Union increase
their influence to the Middle East and South Asia. Though 'US National
Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted in a 1998 interview that this aid
to mujahedeen started in July 1979 which increased the probability that the
Soviet Union would invade Afghanistan to increase their control and restrict the
control of USA'- as stated by 'US Foreign Policy and the Soviet-Afghan War: A
Revisionist History' by Julie Lowenstein. The mujahedeens rebels were not being
trained by the CIA (USA's service) or ISI; they are just ordinary citizens who
had guns and arms at their homes for their protection from the USSR military.
USA also pressurized Egypt to release group of strong Islamists- one of them was
Ayman al-Zawahiri, which was second in command of al-Qaeda, from the prison.
These Islamists were from Yemen, Arab and Saudi Arabia and these were the ones
who formed al-Qaeda and gave strength to it.
The aid to the resistance groups by USA, UK and China led to the funding strong
fighters who were the ones to rise and start a civil war in Afghanistan when
USSR and USA eventually decided to retract their armies; this civil war also led
to formation of al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Pressure On United Nations
On 11 February 1981, United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim appointed
the Under Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar as his personal
representative to Afghanistan crisis showing his commitment to resolve the
In August 1981, de Cuellar got the information that Pakistan and Afghanistan
would be resolving the crisis, but on September he got news that the
negotiations were stalled because of the assertion of Afghanistan that the
withdrawal of USSR from the area can only be discussed between the concerned
parties, that is, USSR and Afghanistan and not with Pakistan as the Pakistan
officials insisted. On 28 September 1981, Afghan Foreign Ministry criticized the
role of USA in providing the resistance groups with arms and funds. He also
asserted that the only way Afghanistan would ever accept the accord with
Pakistan is when they have a routine timetable of withdrawal of Soviet troops
from the Afghan soil agreed by USSR and Afghanistan. This meant that Pakistan
would have little role in the agreement of the withdrawal of the Soviet troops.
This led Pakistan to harden its position and insist a greater role in
negotiations. Pakistan was so involved with the withdrawal of the Soviet army as
many Afghan migrants were living in Pakistan which created problem for their
In June 1982 with the help of UN Under Secretary General Diego Cordovez there
were eleven rounds of negotiations between Pakistan and Afghanistan with USSR
and USA in the Geneva headquarters, known as the Geneva Conference. The
conference was to focus on four points- Afghanistan to be politically
independent and non-aligned, withdrawal of foreign troops from the nation,
self-determination of Afghanistan and return of the Afghan refugees in honor.
Although little resulted from the first round of talks but it marked the
beginning of official forum for discussion of Soviet withdrawal. The Soviet
intentions were revealed by Yuri Andropov, Chairman of the Bureau of the Central
Committee of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in November 1982
at Leonid Brezhnev funeral, to Zia ul-Haq, the former President of Pakistan,
that Soviet Union wanted to get out of Afghanistan and would be able to do that
only if Pakistan would cease the aid to the resistance groups of the area. The
second round of Geneva conference continued in 1983 as the USSR military was
facing a lot of expenses, causalities and international prestige. On 8 April,
the conference began optimistically when USSR stated that when the condition is
right they might consider withdrawing from Afghanistan, the talk was suspended
on 22 April for the delegates to discuss with their governments. Pakistan was
interested in this resolution of issue because of the increasing number of
Afghan refugees settled in their country. This conference was a failure because
of absence of a Soviet negotiator in the decision making.
The third round of the Geneva conference ended in 1984 when America stated that
it was supplying assistance to Afghanistan resistance groups with $280 million
The true withdrawal of Soviet military took place only when Mikhail Gorbachev
became the leader of USSR in 1985. This was because now the government of USSR
was thinking of cutting down the extra and useless expenses it was making along
the way which eventually led to destruction of the Soviet economy. The fourth
round of Geneva conference was in June 1985, when Cordovez held talks with the
USA Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs,
Richard Murphy and Chief of the Middle Eastern Department of the Soviet Foreign
Ministry, Yuli Alekseyev, both the officials believed that the position held by
their countries in second conference was correct, that USSR would only withdraw
from Afghanistan when USA would stop the aid to mujahedeen rebels. This
confirmed the return of refugees as after withdrawal of USSR the Afghans would
return to their country, international guarantors and non interference in
Afghanistan by any other country's troops or government.
The fifth round of Geneva conference took place in August 1985 to establish
government to government talks with Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Pakistan's
Foreign Minister Yaqub Khan in the United Nations General Assembly condemned the
Soviet and Afghan negotiators for changing the format of the negotiations and
stated that it will not take part of the negotiations until there is refugee
repatriation and Soviet withdrawal is stated in a proper timetable, this also
ended without any conclusion.
In the sixth round of Geneva conference in December 1985, Afghanistan had the
timetable for the withdrawal of the foreign troops but still Pakistan officials
were not interested to talk. Though this talk ended but the official debate of
USSR withdrawing from Afghanistan came into existence.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission made a critical report of the
violations of the Human Rights made by USSR troops in Afghanistan in 1985. In
1986, USSR and Afghanistan talked about the withdrawal of the Soviet troops
Thus the seventh round of Geneva conference was held in four different phases.
In the first, on 4 May 1986 there was a change of leadership in Afghanistan from
Babrak Karmal to Mohammad Najibullah. It also decided that the Soviet troops
withdrawal would happen between three to four years, but Pakistan insisted of
the withdrawal to be of six months or less. In the second phase, USSR,
Afghanistan and Pakistan failed to agree on a timetable for the withdrawal.
United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution for the seventh time
demanding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the UN Commission
on Human Rights condemned the Soviet occupation and Amnesty International
accused USSR of participating in the torture of Afghan prisoners.
obtained an agreement in November on measures to monitor a troop withdrawal but
fell short of establishing a timetable. The third phase was in March 1987, when
for the first time Pakistan officials were also present in the conference for
the withdrawal of troops. In the fourth phase, the Pakistan officials raised the
time frame for the withdrawal to six to eight months and Afghanistan decreased
the time frame to sixteen to eighteen months, they still were not able to agree
on the timetable for the withdrawal.
But finally in 1989 USSR troops left Afghanistan. The United Nations at the time
of danger placed the interest of the country in danger (Afghanistan) forward and
initiated the talks.
End Of Ussr Control Of Afghanistan
The work of providing assistance to the Soviet leaders to exit from Afghanistan
started from 1983 by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry led by Yaqub Ali Khan. In
1984-1985 he even paid visits to China, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, France and
United States to set up a framework for the withdrawal.
From 1987, the Soviet army tried to provide strength to the Afghan military
forces to fight the mujahedeen when they would have eventually left Afghanistan
truly. The Pakistan President Zia ul- Haq was determined to put a conservative
Islamist government in Afghanistan when USSR would have left the area.
On 14 April 1988 at the Geneva headquarters of the United Nations a formal
agreement was signed for the settlement of situation of Afghanistan between
Afghanistan, Pakistan with United States and Soviet Union as the guarantors.
There were bilateral agreements between Islamic Republic of Pakistan and
Republic of Afghanistan for non-intervention of Pakistan Islamic leaders in
Afghanistan's politics and decisions. Secondly agreement between Pakistan and
Afghanistan on the return of Afghan refugees back to their homeland.
The agreement also contained the timetable of the withdrawal of Soviet military
from Afghanistan. This withdrawal had to begin on 15 May 1988 and be ended by 15
February 1989. Thus, the nine year long Soviet invasion in Afghanistan was put
to an end.
The agreement was basically between Afghanistan and Pakistan but the United
States also stopped the supply of arms or funds to mujahedeen through Pakistan
once the USSR withdrawal was complete.
But as mujahedeen was not included in the accord at Geneva, they refused to
accept the terms of the agreement. Thus, after the withdrawal of Soviet forces a
civil war broke out in Afghanistan and the puppet President Dr. Muhammad
Najibullah failed to receive popular support but still retained power till 1992
after which mujahedeen rebels came to power.
When the First (1914-1918) and Second World War (1939-1945) was taking place
India was under colonial rule. But with the end of Second World War, Great
Britain took a huge hit in its economy. This was the time that the colonies of
Britain were demanding sovereignty and now that Britain was not economically
well it was not able to suppress the resistance movements taking place and was
forced to give independence to the colonies.
India, one of the colonies of Britain, became independent on 15 August 1947 from
the 200 year old rule of Britain by the East India Company. The last viceroy was
Lord Mountbatten who signed the independence of India. But this happened by the
division/partition of British India into- India (as we know today) and Pakistan.
Even before India was independent the Cold War was commenced by the speech of
Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of United Kingdoms in the Westminster
College on 5 March 1946. After the independence of India the leaders were
focused on developing India politically and economically. Thus India as a newly
decolonized country, the leaders did not intervene in the tensions of the world
and were focused on developing their nation first. Therefore India was not a
part of any treaties or agreements of USA or USSR that is, the Northern Atlantic
Treaty Organization or Warsaw Pact respectively. But we cannot state that India
was not a part of the Cold War, as not being a part includes the nation to not
do anything at all in the international level. But this was not the case for
India, as the nation was very much involved in the resolution of the issues in
the world. The nation's leader Jawaharlal Nehru had formed Non Alignment
Movement (NAM). This movement led India to maintain a distance from the
superpowers and be the voice of the newly decolonized countries.
NAM was not just founded by former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru but 4
other leaders from the newly decolonized countries- the then President of
Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito, President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser, first
President of Indonesia Sukarno and first Prime Minister of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah.
By this, India was able to make its own decision and stances which fulfill their
interests and not worry of the interests of the superpowers and their allies.
The policy of non-alignment was also criticized by many. Many stated that by
this India is avoiding taking a firm stand in the world politics. Though India
signed the Treaty of Friendship with USSR in August 1971 for twenty years� but
this treaty did not stop India to have a relation with other countries and even
the other superpower.
In the period of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, India was politically and
economically unstable, the country had 3 Prime Ministers- Charan Singh (28 July
1979- 14 January 1980), Indira Gandhi (14 January 1980- 31 October 1984) and
lastly Rajiv Gandhi (31 October 1984- 2 December 1989).
With the end of 1970s, relationship between India and USSR had been more strong,
close and cooperative. Though India from the 1950s-1960s got an economic,
political and military support from USSR but at the end of 1970s it was
accelerated. Scholars believed that USSR could not have received a much better
third world ally to work against the Chinese and American expansion. But for
India, this support of USSR helped with the issues with Pakistan. When Soviet
invaded Afghanistan in 1979, this relationship was disrupted largely. For India,
the introduction of army to the country which was not part of the Soviet bloc
and a part of the non-aligned movement (Afghanistan joined NAM in 1961) was
repugnant to the historic foreign policy. It was a very tough position for India
to hold, on one hand, it was averse to idea of a superpower meddling with the
domestic affairs of a small country but on the other hand, the superpower which
had invaded was a strong ally to India. In the United Nations debated also,
India did not hold any one position.
Even though in an emergency special session
of United Nations General Assembly in 1980, India broke the NAM position and
openly supported the Soviet invasion when Brajesh Mishra stated that India
obviously cannot look at the situation with a peaceful state of mind because
literally a country had interfered in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. He
stated that USSR government had assured India that it was only because of the
request of Hafizullah Amin that Soviet troops entered the nation, further he
stated that the Soviet troops would even withdraw from the area when the Afghan
government would say so. He had an optimistic view of the Soviet nation and
stated that USSR would not violate the independence of Afghanistan and will not
stay in the nation a day longer than is necessary. Though, Indira Gandhi in her
election campaign of 1980 criticized the Soviet invasion.
USA had a South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) with Thailand,
Philippines and Pakistan. Pakistan at that time was one of the biggest threats
to the security of India and thus, this was one of the major reason that Indian
officials supported Soviet Union in the emergency session.
Afghanistan had become the base of many terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda
and Taliban, which put question to the security and the human rights of the
citizens of the country. India always wanted what is best for its neighboring
countries and therefore did not want the Soviet troops to leave the country
before it had been stabilized. But because of the economic failure of the USSR
under the Mikhail Gorbachev the troops had to leave Afghanistan before it was
Rajiv Gandhi shared close personal relation with Dr. Muhammad Najibullah and
when Soviet withdrew from Afghanistan and Afghanistan was unsteady, this bond
between Afghanistan and India became even stronger. But the resistance groups
prevalent in Afghanistan had a negative perception of India, because of its
pro-Soviet regime. Thus when the Najibullah government fell the relation between
the two countries were destroyed.
In an interview with I.K Gujaral, the former Prime Minister of India, who was
also the ambassador to Soviet Union in the Soviet Afghan Invasion, was asked
whether India endorsed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in any way, to which
he firmly stated NO that India did not in any sense endorse any kind of invasion
as India respects the sovereignty of each state and will never think of
attacking first and putting other country's independence in danger.
The only other countries which supported USSR in the invasion was- East Germany,
Vietnam and Angola, who were all the allies of the Soviet bloc. Oleg Troyanovsky,
USSR ambassador, stated that this repetition of the conferences in UN for
Afghanistan is a US attempt to destroy d�tente and peaceful coexistence of the
superpowers. Some Soviet scholars also stated that these conferences are
taking place often not because UN was concerned about the sovereignty of
Afghanistan but because UN is basically run by the funding of US and if US has a
problem in a particular issue of the world, UN will for sure look into that.
Afghanistan After Withdrawal Of The Soviet Troops
USSR troops officially left Afghanistan on 15 February 1989. But this withdrawal
led to a situation which every leader was afraid of. The withdrawal led to chaos
in Afghanistan and rise of terrorist organizations- Taliban and al-Qaeda. After
the USSR withdrawal we can see 3 things in Afghanistan- formation of al-Qaeda
with Osama Bin Laden as the leader, rise of regime of Taliban and solidification
of global violent jihad.
In 1992, the mujahedeen rebels overthrew Dr. Muhammad Najibullah's government.
The protest was led by Ahmad Shah Masood in the capital, Kabul and the
mujahedeens placed the Islamic leader Burhannudin Rabbani as President of the
In 1995, the resistant group Taliban rose to power and assured peace in the
country, unusually after the Taliban rise to power there were droughts and
famine from 1995 to 1999 which led to one million Afghans to migrate to
Pakistan, where they lived in refugee camps but still the citizens of
Afghanistan who wanted better living conditions approved the Taliban rule.
Islamic laws were applicable in the country as given in the sharia, the law
governing body of Islam. The Taliban rule made the cultivation of poppies for
the opium trade illegal, made better education policies, decreased the crime in
the streets and reformed the employment for men, but for women they curtailed
all the possibilities. Women were not allowed to go outside home without the
full veil; they were also not allowed to go outside home alone. The United
States did not recognize the authority of Taliban over Afghanistan because they
knew that the Taliban rule was undemocratic and authoritarian, the human rights
of citizens especially of women were also exploited largely.
On 27 September 1996, Taliban assassinated the former president, Dr. Mohammad
Najibullah. The mujahedeens murdered him and brutalized his body in full front
of the international media. His terrible execution stands at the top of the
Afghanistan tragedies, which further opened the way for the five year rule of
Taliban. This act of Taliban led to the destruction of the relationship of
Afghanistan with India.
On 7 August 1988, al-Qaeda, now settled in Afghanistan bombed two American
embassies situated in East Africa- Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. This
led to death of more than 200 people. This led to Bill Clinton, the then USA
President, to attack Osama Bin Laden's training camp in Afghanistan. By 2000,
al-Qaeda was recognized as a terrorist organization by United Nations and Osama
Bin Laden was seen to be hiding in Afghanistan, building an army of terrorist
and training people.
In March 2001, Taliban stating that Afghanistan is an Islamic country thus
issued threats to destroy any and all figurines and statues other religions,
thus the the Buddhist statue at Bamiyam was destroyed. This was the most
important attack against the historical and cultural heritage of the country
which led to many protests in countries including India.
In September 2001, Taliban also assassinated the head of nation's insurgent and
head of Northern alliance Masood Azhar. With the increase control of Taliban and
Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, there was an increase in the terrorist
activities in the world, the most shocking terrorist attack was of the 9/11
attack happened on 11 September 2001. In the attack, four commercial planes were
hijacked by 19 terrorist of the al-Qaeda, the planes were then crashed in the
World Trade Centre Towers in New York and Washington DC in USA. Each tower was
badly destroyed, erupted into flames and killed thousand. Weeks later USA stated
that the main suspect for the act was Osama Bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda
situated in Afghanistan.
This act of the al-Qaeda led to the disastrous events for the world. World
markets were badly shaken, the companies suffered losses and New York markets
were closed for four trading days. As the towers were the heart of the New
York's financial district, the Lower Manhattan infrastructure was damaged, the
stock market fell drastically and commercial aviation facilities were closed
leading many people to be stranded throughout the nation. On October 7 the
members of NATO and USA launched airstrikes against Afghanistan; this was
because there was no response to the turning over Osama Bin Laden to USA. The
American warplanes started bombing the areas where there were Taliban and
al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Within months thousands of terrorists were
captured or killed. The Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders were forced to hide. This
led to the strategic failure of the al-Qaeda as its base in Afghanistan was
completely destroyed with the airstrikes. On December 7, Taliban surrendered the
last of its Afghan territory and it was reported that the rule of Taliban has
completely ended in Afghanistan.
For the set up of the interim government on December 22, Hamid Karzai was
declared the head of the government. In 2003, due to the increase of violence,
NATO forces took over the security of Kabul. In January 2004, seeing that there
is some stability in the nation in comparison to the previous years, the
citizens wanted a constitution in the country, this constitution was made by the
inputs of the Afghans, by the public meeting of villages. The office of the
Prime Minister was removed, the ministers were directly under the rule of the
President, there were provisions for the equality of women and the official
language was Pashto and Dari. In October 2004 Presidential elections, there were
18 candidates in total and 10.5 million Afghans registered for voting. Hamid
Karzai was elected as the president with 55% of the votes.
In 2006, the NATO peacekeeping forces had expanded to the south of the
Afghanistan. The Taliban leaders launched raids and suicide attacks against
international troops. On 12 May 2007, the Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah was
killed by the US operation in the south of Afghanistan; this was also confirmed
by the NATO forces and Afghan government.
USA President Barack Obama announced Richard Holbrooke as the special envoy to
Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight against terrorism in 2010. He also dispatched
more military and civilian trainers to the Afghanistan and approximately 17000
combat troops were ordered. Assistance was also given to Pakistan by America for
the fight against terrorists.
On 2 May 2011, the leader of al-Qaeda was killed by the US forces in Abbottabad
in Pakistan in a compound. The operation was named Neptune Spear. The operation
ended the decade long hunt of Osama Bin Laden who was the mastermind of the 9/11
attack in USA. Al-Qaeda confirmed the death on 6 May and vowed to avenge the
killing of their beloved leader.
On 11 March 2012, in the Kandahar massacre United States Army Staff Sergeant
Robert Bales murdered 16 Afghan civilians inside their homes and injured many in
Panjwai, Kandahar. This led to President Hamid Karzai to order the pulling back
of the American forces from Afghanistan. The Afghan army took over all the
security and military operations earlier done by the NATO forces. In May 2014,
USA President Barack Obama issued the timetable for the reducing of the US troop
size in Afghanistan by 2016.
Hamid Karzai lost the September 2014 presidency elections and Ashraf Ghani
became the president of the country. By December 2014 the NATO forces completely
withdrew from Afghanistan but the US troops were still present in the country
and continued to train the Afghan forces to maintain the stability in the
On 15 October 2015, Obama defied his own decision of removing the US troops from
Afghanistan by 2016 and states that 10,000 US troops will still be in
Afghanistan in 2016 following to 5,500 troops in 2017 when his tenure to be the
President would end. Obama states that this will be 'modest and meaningful' as
the US troops would not take matters to their own hands but will just assist and
consult with the Afghan commanders.
Donald Trump the President of USA (after Obama) also continued to involve
military of US in Afghanistan as 'the vacuum for terrorist' and maintain
peace and stability.
On 29 February 2020, there was a signing of the peace agreement between USA and
Taliban that would serve the purpose of withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan
by May 2021 and end the 20 year war in Afghanistan (2001-2021), this agreement
was known as the Doha agreement. Taliban in this agreement pledged to prevent
al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban. But this agreement was broken in
2022 when America and Taliban both claimed that the other side had violated the
provisions of the agreement.
US secretary of state Anthony Blinken stated that Taliban had sheltered the
al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, which was a violation of the agreement and
thus the US troops invaded Afghanistan and killed him. Taliban stated that
America is in violation as the agreement stated that the US troops cannot enter
the nation, but they did to kill the al-Qaeda chief, which Taliban did not know
was even in Afghanistan.
Joe Biden was elected as President of USA on 20 January 2021. In April 2021 he
announced the complete withdrawal of the US troops in Afghanistan. Taliban was
successful in collapsing government of Afghanistan on 15 August 2021 when some
of the US troops were still present in the country. This led to debates that
whether the withdrawal of the US troops was necessary and could the collapse of
government of Afghanistan by Taliban would have been a failure if US troops
would still be present in the country.
US to this answered that US had been spending a lot for the stability and peace
in the other countries and now they would prefer that the large sum that they
spend would instead be used for the development of America. On 26 August 2021,
when the last withdrawal of the US troops was happening, there were two suicide
bombings in Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans were trying to flee the
country and had gathered at the airport waiting for flights because of the
Taliban takeover of the country. The bombing killed 169 Afghans and 13 US
But still President Joe Biden did not reverse the course of the withdrawal of
troops and still kept the end date of the America troops to exit to be 31
August. In his speech from the White House over this incident he vows to
retaliate against the perpetrators of the attack at the airport- 'We will not
forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down to make you pay.'
Taliban made their government in 2022 to rule over Afghanistan with Hibatullah
Akhundzada as the supreme leader and Hasan Akhund as the acting Prime Minister
The seventh phase of cold war was between 1979-1989. The USSR troops invaded
Afghanistan in 1979. USA boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow as a way to
protest the 1979 invasion of Soviet Union of Afghanistan, in totality 65 nations
refused to take part in the Olympics while 80 nations took part in the
competition. While, the USSR refused to take part in the 1984 Olympics in Los
Angeles giving the reason of security concern with the chauvinistic sentiments
and an anti-Soviet hysteria prevalent in the United States. The boycott involved
14 Eastern Bloc countries led by USSR. The USSR troops withdrew from Afghanistan
After the USSR troops withdrew from Afghanistan, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
(START 1) was signed on 31 July 1991 between USA and Russia (after
disintegration of USSR due to high investment in weapons manufacturing and space
research; protest by Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for
independence; Gorbachev reformist democratic policies of Glasnost and
Perestroika) for the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms, not
more than 6000 nuclear warheads, 1600 intercontinental ballistic missiles and
weapons, 80% of weapons were aimed to be removed by 2001. With that the second
edition of START was also signed between USA and Russia on 3 January 1993, this
led to reduction of the strategic delivery vehicles and number of warheads
The climax of cold war was when the Berlin wall (used to divide between East and
West Germany) was collapsed in 1989, the cold war officially ended in 1991 when
USSR disintegrated and there were many different and new states born by this
disintegration, which had the choice of following capitalism or socialism. The
cold war which was the ideological war between the two superpowers now that one
had disintegrated there was prevalence of capitalism. Now, the bipolar world was
changed to a unipolar world or as many scholars state a multipolar world because
of the rise of many third world countries like China, India, and Japan etc.
As for Afghanistan, it is considered as 'failed' as without the support of the
other country's troops either USSR and USA, Afghanistan was not able to function
properly and have a stable government. The major reason of the invasion of USSR
in Afghanistan as given by the officials was increase in the relations with USA.
Afghanistan which was on the south of USSR, it was difficult and dangerous for
the USSR to allow the increase of relationship of the country with the only
other superpower present in the world. USSR withdrew its troops from Afghanistan
When Afghanistan was under USSR it gave rise to the many mujahedeen groups,
which led to the creation of the terrorist organizations like Taliban and
al-Qaeda. These groups were major reason for the rise of the terrorist
activities in the world, the major shock being the 9/11 attack of al-Qaeda under
the leadership of Osama Bin Laden. USA invaded the Afghanistan in 2001 as a
response of the 9/11 attack, which led to damage of the market of the whole
world, with the motive of reducing the terrorist activities and kill the
mastermind of the attack Osama Bin Laden.
USA withdrew from the nation with the orders of the President Joe Biden by 31
August 2021, ignoring the fact that Taliban had already taken Afghanistan under
its control on 15 August 2021. These terrorist organizations always had the
motive of having a state ruled by the Islamic laws and regulations given in the
sharia and Quaran, giving no rights to women and all to men- the women were not
allowed to go outside alone and not without their full veil. These groups are
not only the reason of increase in terrorism in the world but are also the
reason of the state of Afghanistan being unstable and never have a proper
democratic government till now. Now even in 2023 there is no democratic
government, it is the Taliban leaders who rule the nation.
Written By: Vidya Taneja