Yesterday I decided I need to reacquaint myself with Afghanistan’s recent history; Richie reminded me that when the Russians invaded in 1979, there was a civil war in progress.
The then communist Prime Minister Amin was trying to get rid of the traditional Muslim way of life and enforce a western life style; this was met with resistance from the Muslim population.
Amin’s plan was to build factories and move the population into towns, to become the new urban working class producing profitable commodities.
In order to push this strategy through, he had thousands of religious leaders arrested; many fled, some to the mountains, others to Pakistan
Thousands joined the Mujahedeen, who were fighting a holy war to overthrow the government, many young men fled to Pakistan to avoid being conscripted into the Afghan army and having to fight with the Russians.
There they attended the ultra orthodox religious schools, the madrasa's, where many were trained to become fighter’s too and join the struggle against the Russian invaders;Taliban means student of Islam.
The Americans response was to arm and train the Mujahedeen; they advised them on where and how to build strongholds, plus many people sympathetic to the cause joined the fight from around the world.The war in Afghanistan was becoming a nightmare for the disintegrating Soviet Union; they had failed at a huge cost to themselves to install a regime in Afghanistan.
In 1988 the Soviet Union signed an agreement with the United States, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to withdraw their troops this was done by February 1989.
Its shame that force was used to break the traditional way of life in Afghanistan in 1979, surely new ways could have been introduced without destroying how they lived.
Now we are living with the consequence of these actions.