The first Anglo-Afghan war was fought from 1839 to 1842. It was fought between the British Empire and the Emirate of Afghanistan. It’s also known by the British as the “disaster”. At that time, there used to be a king Emir Dost Mohammad of the Barakzai dynasty.
The first Afghan War was fought because the British feared that an Islamic army would lead an uprising in India by the people and princely states, and thus, they decided to replace Dost Mohammed Khan with Shah Shujah.
The British successfully removed Emir Dost Mohammad and placed Emir Shah Shujah of Durrani when the British captured Kabul in August 1839. However, there were very harsh winters in Kabul, and during 1842, they retreated from Kabul.
Then the British sent an army for retribution to Kabul to avenge the previous forces. Various parts of the capital were demolished. Finally, on 6 January, 1842 some 4,500 British and Indian troops with 1,200 camps marched out of Kabul.
Also, Shah Shujah was murdered. In 1843 Dost Mohammed returned from his exile from India and continued his rule. The Afghans had victory over the British.
The second Afghan War was fought from 1878–1880. It was fought between the emirate of Afghanistan and the British Raj. In November 1875, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli appointed Lord Lytton as the governor-general of India.
Lytton was quite concerned with India’s relations with Afghanistan. Also, Russia’s influence was growing in Afghanistan. So, Lytton was ordered to secure a strong frontier by force. Lytton noticed Shir Ali Khan, the third son of Dost Mohammad.
The Emir refused Lytton’s permission to enter Afghanistan and Lytton took action against the kingdom until 1878. Lytton decided to crush his neighbouring pipkin and began the second Anglo-Afghan war in November 1878. Shir Shah fled his country, died in exile in early 1878.
The British army occupied Kabul and a treaty was signed at Gandamak on 26 May, 1879 and it recognised Shir Ali’s son Yaqub Khan as the Emir. He agreed to gain a permanent British embassy at Kabul.
On 3 September, 1879, the British representative, Sir Louis Cavagnari, and his escort were killed in Kabul. The British forces again dispatched and in October they again occupied Kabul.
Nephew of Yaqub Khan, Abd al Rahman, became the Emir. During his reign, the boundaries of Afghanistan were drawn by the British and the Russians. In the second Anglo-Afghan war, the British had a victory over Afghanistan.
The third Anglo-Afghan war began on 6 May, 1919 to 8 August, 1919. It was fought between the British and the emirate of Afghanistan.
When the first world war began, there was widespread support of the Ottoman Empire in Afghanistan. But Habibullah Khan (ruler of Afghanistan) maintained the policy of non-involvement throughout the War. When Habibullah was assassinated on 20 February, 1919, his son Amanullah Khan took the throne.
Britain still had some important influence on Afghanistan. However, Amanullah Khan declared total independence from Britain on his coronation. This led to the beginning of the third Anglo-Afghan war in May 1919.
There was a series of battles between the British-Indian army and the Afghan army. After this month-long War, Afghans gained control of their own foreign affairs.
A peace treaty was signed at Rawalpindi on 8 August, 1919. However, before signing the final document, the Afghans concluded a treaty friendship with the new Bolshevik regime in the Soviet Union. Because of this, Afghanistan became the first state to recognise the Soviet government. This friendship lasted till December 1979, when the Soviet Union captured Afghanistan during the Afghan War.
The Afghan War was fought from December 1979 to February 1989 between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union negotiated in support of the Afghan communist government in its conflict with anti-communist Muslim guerrillas during the Afghan War and it remained till mid-February 1989.
In April 1978, the Afghanistan government, which Mohammad Duad Khan headed, was overthrown by Nur Mohammad Taraki. Power then was shared by two Marxist Leninist political groups, Khalaq and Parcham party, which was earlier one single organisation, the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which was recombined before the coup.
The new government had little support and shared close ties with the Soviet Union, launched ruthless expulsion of all domestic opposition, land and social reforms that were bitterly disliked by the religious Muslim and largely anti-communist population.
Tribal and urban groups collectively known as Mujahideen revolted against it. This led to coups and internal fighting within the government and between the peoples and banner fractions.
This was the main reason why the Soviets invaded the country on 24 December, 1979 by sending 30,000 troops. Their aim was to emerge their new client state, headed by Banner leader Barbrak Karmal. The Mujahideen rebellion grew and it spread to all parts of the country.
The Afghan War settled with a tie with more than 1,00,000 soviet troops controlling the cities, large towns. The Soviets attempted to remove the Mujahideen’s civilian support by bombing and destroying rural areas. There was a massive fight from the countryside.
By 1982 some 2.8 million Afghans had looked out for asylum in Pakistan. Around 1.5 million fled to Iran. Eventually, the Mujahideen were able to invalidate Soviet airpower through anti-aircraft missiles supplied by Soviet rivals, the United States.
The Mujahideen broke up into different independent groups. Throughout the War, there wasn’t much coordination between them. But the quality of arms and military organisation improved. A large number of arms and other war materials were shipped through Pakistan to the guerrilla by the United States and other countries.
There was an undetermined number of Muslim volunteers who were known as Afghan Arabs. They travelled from all parts of the world to join the opposition. By the late 1980s, the War in Afghanistan was disintegrating the Soviet Union (some 15,000 dead and many more were injured).
In 1988 the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union signed an agreement and the troops were withdrawn (completed in 1989). Then Afghanistan returned to non-aligned status. In April 1992, various rebel groups came together with unruly government troops. They stormed the capital of Kabul and Najibullah, the communist president, was overthrown who succeeded Karmal in 1986.
President Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of the Islamic society, a major Mujahideen group, refused to leave his office because of the power-sharing arrangement. As a result, other Mujahideen groups, specifically the Islamic party, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, surrounded Kabul and began to bombard the city with artillery and rockets.
These attacks continued for several years and the countryside outside Kabul slipped into disruption. In response, the Taliban, an Islamic group led by Mohammad Omar, emerged in the fall of 1994 and seized power by occupying Kabul in 1996.
Soon, the Afghan Arabs controlled the northern portion of Afghanistan, which was held by an insecure coalition of Mujahideen forces known as the Northern Alliance.
Fighting continued till 2001 when the Taliban refused demands by the U.S. government to deport Saudi Arabia exile Osma Bin Laden, leader of Islamic extremist group, Al-Qaeda, which had a good friendship with the Taliban, was accused of launching terrorist attacks against the United States.
U.S. special forces allied with Northern Alliance fighters and launched a series of military operations in Afghanistan, because of which the power of the Taliban declined. In 2004, an interim government was formed, but the new government struggled to secure centralised authority against the Taliban.
It is estimated that over 1.5 million Afghans were killed before 1992. The exact number of people killed during combat and other conflicts is unclear. Thousands died due to starvation or because of different diseases and the numerous land mines. By the end of the 20th century, Afghanistan was one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.
The number of Afghans displaced due to the Wars is estimated to be around 6 million.