The First Anglo-Afghan War (widely known as the Great Game) occurred in 1839 as the Afghan army surrounded Sikh forces at Jamrud. It was basically a competition for power and influence over Central Asia fought between the British and Afghanistan. This first war was followed by a second in the late 1870s, and then a third in the early 1900s.
After the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi in 1919, Afghanistan was declared fully independent, and King Amanullah Khan moved forward in establishing diplomatic relations and modernizing the country.
Some of King Amanullah Khan's reforms were met with resistance by tribal and religious leaders, especially the abolishment of the burqa for women and co-educational schools. The king abdicated in 1929 after forces invaded Kabul.
Afghanistan's new king, Nadir Shah, completely threw out Amanullah Khan's reforms in an attempt to slowly approach the modernization of the country.
During World War II and the Cold War, Afghanistan remained neutral, and caught the attention of both the Soviet Union and the United States, as both countries competed for building rights to Afghanistan's highways and airports.
The newly built infrastructure brought an influx of western travelers throughout the 1960s, as the highways opened for use.
In 1973, Daoud Khan organized a coup against King Zahir Shah, and became Afghanistan's first President.
The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979. Through the 1980s this brutal war with Russia caused over a million Afghanis to lose their lives, and when the Russians withdrew in 1989, they subsequently left the country in a turmoil of refugees and poverty.
Internal fighting continued between varied mujahidin factions, giving rise to a state of warlordism that eventually spawned the Taliban. Their brutal control and social oppression ended when U.S. and allied military forces invaded the country shortly after the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.
Two days before September 11, 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud, an Afghan war hero responsible for leading troops in driving the Soviets out of Afghanistan, was assassinated by suicide bombers.
Even with the new government and the recent democratic election, Afghanistan's future is still very uncertain, especially with America's continuing war on terrorism, and its battles with the remaining followers of Usama (Osama) Bin Laden.
After the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden, many of Afghanistan's prominent figures (including Mohammed Daud Daud, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Jan Mohammad Khan, Ghulam Haider Hamidi, Burhanuddin Rabbani and others) were assassinated, and Pakistani-Afghan border conflicts intensified.
In response to the increased tension, NATO launched "Operation Knife Edge" against the Haqqani network in southeastern Afghanistan as an attempt to help eliminate insurgents before they strike.
Travel to Afghanistan is strongly discouraged as the ability of Afghan authorities to maintain order and ensure the security of citizens and visitors is limited.
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