Civilopedia entry Edit
To his fellow Afghans, Abed Rahmani wrote, “Be united like a rain; be powerful like an ocean.” The people of Kabul, largest city in Afghanistan, having weathered repeated imperial invasions to retain their distinctive culture and identity, can be said to have done that. Wedged in a valley in the Hindu Kush, Kabul occupies a strategic location on the route between south and central Asia, controlling the approaches to the Khyber Pass. And since it has centuries of experience resisting invaders, it has produced fierce warriors for all that time. When not fighting outsiders, the hill tribes happily fought each other.
Kabul is over 3500 years old, but rarely free. The Hindu Rigveda praised it as the ideal city, a “vision of paradise set in the mountains.” Late in the Achaemenid Era, the city became a center for Zoroastrianism. Numerous kingdoms and empires held Kabul over the next dozen centuries. In 1504 AD the city was taken by Babur, who made it his headquarters as he carved out the Mughal Empire. Babur so loved the city he lived in for two decades that his tomb carried an inscription in Persian reading: “If there is a paradise on earth, this is it, this is it.”
The Afghans would spend most of the 1800s fighting the British off. Free at last when the 20th Century dawned, Kabul experienced a renaissance that spanned 60 years. During the rule of the liberal Mohammed Zahir Shah, European investments were made in modern communication and transportation … and weaponry. A ten-year Soviet occupation ended in civil war after the Russians withdrew in 1989, resulting in the repressive Taliban-controlled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In 2001 an American-led coalition established a new democratic government.