Afghanistan In The 50’s and 60’s

On May 16, 2014 by Tim Newman

Afghanistan 50s 60s - modern women students

Just the word “Afghanistan” evokes negative emotions in many Westerners. Whether it’s an emotion of sorrow or one of fear, the country has been tarred with a dirty stick and its people are poor, frightened and oppressed. But it wasn’t always like that.

Afghanistan has seen turmoil for centuries, but every so often there would be a glimmer of modernisation (for better or for worse) before the next batch of beef was opened.

During the Cold War, Afghanistan received machinery from Russia and aid from the US as they vied for their attention and support. They managed to remain neutral but benefited greatly from the cash and wares. The country made strides in education; things were looking up. Pictures of women without burkas and modern hairdos seem unmistakably non-Afghan. The image above shows young medical students with the professor on the right. Ladies with their hair out in Kabul?! Learning?? Without any men around?!

Modernisation and globalisation aren’t necessarily always positive things for countries, but the strides that the Afghan population were making seemed to be for the greater good. We’re not talking riches or wiping away culture and tradition, we’re just talking security, education and food. Then in the 1970’s a series of bloody coups, invasions, and civil wars began. And they never stopped.

Here are some photos of Afghanistan in what appears to be a bubble of joy in time. This isn’t an army troupe, these are boy scouts:

Afghanistan 50s 60s - boy scouts

Crowds line the streets for Eisenhower’s visit to Kabul ’59:

Afghanistan 50s 60s - Eisenhower's visit to Kabul 59

Finance Ministry building Kabul 1966:

Afghanistan 50s 60s - Finance Ministry building Kabul 1966

Queuing to watch a Hollywood movie (not that that’s the gold standard for a forward thinking society of course):

Afghanistan 50s 60s - women in movie theatre

Afghan women in a record shop that stocked Western music:

Afghanistan 50s 60s - women in record shop

History Collection on LAZERHORSE.ORG

More medical students:

Afghanistan 50s 60s - women studying

Street bazar in Kabul:

Sisters pose for a photograph in Kabul.

Higher Teachers College of Kabul:

Afghanistan 50s 60s - Higher Teachers College of Kabul

Eisenhower and entourage enter Kabul:

Afghanistan 50s 60s - Motorcade for President Eisenhower's visit to Kabul 59

Dancing and music in a school playground:

Young students dancing to music on a school playground.

Girls walking home from school:

Afghan girls coming home from school. Afghanistan 50s 60s - shop 1961 Afghanistan 50s 60s - stre bazar Kabul 1969

It’s easy to look at a country through a Western-centric visor and imagine people would be better off with McDonalds and Starbucks on every corner. Of course, that’s rubbish. But there’s a real sadness looking at a country that’s had the guts ripped out of it by power hungry, sadistic religious zealots and oil hungry Western countries that can kill from 1,000 miles away.





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