ARRANGEMENT OF VOLUMES
The volumes have been organised to focus on key historical events and periods:
Volume 1: 1919-1928. From Independence to the Civil War
Volume 2: 1928-1939. From the end of the Civil War to the Declaration of Neutrality in World War II
Volume 3: 1939-1947. From the outbreak of World War II to the partition of India
Volume 4: 1947-1970. The Post-War Years
The various periods of intense upheaval in Afghanistan are described in
detail by British Military Attachés.
Volume 1 in particular covers a time of extensive changes, with attempts at founding an air force, trained by the Russians, enforced westernisation by the Amir Amanullah leading to open rebellion started by the Mullahs of Khost, and resulting in his enforced abdication in 1928. The turbulence of such events caused the temporary withdrawal of the British legation twice, once in 1923-1924 and again in 1929.
Volume 2 relays numerous developments: the temporary ruler Habibullah Kalikani was assassinated after less than a year, his successor Muhammed Nadir Khan was assassinated in November 1933, followed by the accession of the young Amir Zahir. The expansion of the national army, road building, improved communications and a stable regime led to relative calm in the mid-1930s, although there were continuous pockets of tribal unrest in the south and east, and threatened Soviet incursions from the north.
Volume 3 concentrates on the period of the Second World War, when Afghanistan was officially neutral (as in the First World War). However, the presence of Axis personnel made Kabul in particular into a hotbed of secret agents from both sides, and the focus of at least one secret operation.
Volume 4 Following the independence of India in 1947, British relations with Afghanistan became less influential with the further decline of the former imperial power. The archives of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office now provide the main source of material for the period 1948-1970. Aside from assiduous monitoring of Afghanistan´s support for an independent Pathunistan (or Pushtoonistan), British activities become more confined to offering armaments and military training. The change in the nature of reporting was also affected by a War Office decision in 1949 to suspend the regular submission of intelligence diaries and to report on an ad hoc basis; thus the documentation in Volume 4 is different from earlier volumes in its scope and structure.
1. Communications in Afghanistan. Revised to March 1941.
2. Ethnographical Map of Afghanistan. From a General Staff India map, 1940.