Formation of the Afghan state: 1747–72
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Formation of the Afghan state: 1747–72 book
For millennia the area called Afghanistan has been the crossroads of invading empires, a network of trade routes and a centre or meeting place for cultures. The great civilisations of the Asian continent, in particular the Indian and Chinese, were inter-linked by various trade routes crossing through Afghanistan. An art historian of the region summarises in the following words: ‘No land, in ancient times, was more thoroughly traversed in every direction. Doubtless no other was so well situated geographically to act as a link between east and west’ (Auboyer 1968: 9). Perhaps because of this, Afghanistan has gained the title, ‘cross-road of Asia’ (Gregorian 1969: 21-4). This area nearly always has been a battleground of different invading armies, sometimes ruled by one, at other times by others, and yet most of the time disputed between them.1 This violent and continuous change is part of the turbulent history of the Pashtuns or Afghans. An anthropologist of law writes:
For at least a millennium, the Pashto-speaking people have preserved their independence and ﬂourished through a tribal political organisation in their own homeland straddling the present AfghanistanPakistan international border. The tribal organisation of the people – more commonly called Afghans to the west, Pathan in the east, and Pushtuns/Pakhtuns on both sides of this border – today provides them not merely with a distinct cultural or ethnic identity, but especially for those in the central homeland nearest the border, with a form of polity alternative to that of the state.