Wednesday, 21 March 2012

When Kabul had Rock & Roll Not Rockets - via Piazza della Carina - from

When Kabul had Rock & Roll Not Rockets

When arguments are made over the war in Afghanistan people are often quick to assert that it is a failed state, locked in a medieval mindset; it’s always been a mess and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. It was not always so but decades of war have devastated the country and its people.

I am re posting some great pictures of Afghanistan before it suffered invasions and Taliban rule –  When the west help create the Taliban we knew not what we did. 

These pictures are from a book by Mohammed Qayoumi president of CA State University – born and grew up in Kabul

Below are some other interesting link on how Afghanistan was progressing.

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…

Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts — when Kabul had rock ‘n’ roll, not rockets.

On a recent trip to Afghanistan, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox drew fire for calling it ”a broken 13th-century country.” The most common objection was not that he was wrong, but that he was overly blunt. He’s hardly the first Westerner to label Afghanistan as medieval. Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently described the country as inhabited by “barbarians” with “a 1200 A.D. mentality.” Many assume that’s all Afghanistan has ever been — an ungovernable land where chaos is carved into the hills. Given the images people see on TV and the headlines written about Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, many conclude the country never made it out of the Middle Ages.

But that is not the Afghanistan I remember. I grew up in Kabul in the 1950s and ’60s. When I was in middle school, I remember that on one visit to a city market, I bought a photobook about the country published by Afghanistan’s planning ministry. Most of the images dated from the 1950s. I had largely forgotten about that book until recently; I left Afghanistan in 1968 on a U.S.-funded scholarship to study at the American University of Beirut, and subsequently worked in the Middle East and now the United States. But recently, I decided to seek out another copy. Stirred by the fact that news portrayals of the country’s history didn’t mesh with my own memories, I wanted to discover the truth. Through a colleague, I received a copy of the book and recognized it as a time capsule of the Afghanistan I had once known — perhaps a little airbrushed by government officials, but a far more realistic picture of my homeland than one often sees today.

A half-century ago, Afghan women pursued careers in medicine; men and women mingled casually at movie theaters and university campuses in Kabul; factories in the suburbs churned out textiles and other goods. There was a tradition of law and order, and a government capable of undertaking large national infrastructure projects, like building hydropower stations and roads, albeit with outside help. Ordinary people had a sense of hope, a belief that education could open opportunities for all, a conviction that a bright future lay ahead. All that has been destroyed by three decades of war, but it was real.

I have since had the images in that book digitized. Remembering Afghanistan’s hopeful past only makes its present misery seem more tragic. Some captions in the book are difficult to read today: “Afghanistan’s racial diversity has little meaning except to an ethnologist. Ask any Afghan to identify a neighbor and he calls him only a brother.” “Skilled workers like these press operators are building new standards for themselves and their country.” “Hundreds of Afghan youngsters take active part in Scout programs.” But it is important to know that disorder, terrorism, and violence against schools that educate girls are not inevitable. I want to show Afghanistan’s youth of today how their parents and grandparents really lived

The physical campus of Kabul University, pictured here, does not look very different today. But the people do. In the 1950s and ’60s, students wore Western-style clothing; young men and women interacted relatively freely. Today, women cover their heads and much of their bodies, even in Kabul. A half-century later, men and women inhabit much more separate worlds.

In the 1950s and ’60s, women were able to pursue professional careers in fields such as medicine. Today, schools that educate women are a target for violence, even more so than five or six years ago

“Student nurses at Maternity Hospital, Kabul.”

When I was growing up, education was valued and viewed as the great equalizer. If you went to school and achieved good grades, you’d have the chance to enter college, maybe study abroad, be part of the middle class, and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Education was a hallowed value

Afghanistan once had Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. In the 1950s and ’60s, such programs were very similar to their counterparts in the United States, with students in elementary and middle schools learning about nature trails, camping, and public safety. But scouting troops disappeared entirely after the Soviet invasions in the late 1970s.

This movie theater was located near where I once lived, and we could even see Hollywood movies there. (I remember seeing Spartacus, The FBI Story, and The Dirty Dozen

Mothers and children at a city playground.”

I also remember a playground a few hundred yards away from the theater, where mothers used to take their children to play. Now, only men loiter in the city parks; it is unsafe to bring children outside.


The education level of Afghanistan’s cabinet today is far less than it was 50 years ago, when this photo was taken. Back then, most high-ranking government officials would have had master’s or doctoral degrees. Western dress was the norm. These days, government meetings in Kabul are conducted among men, many with long beards, big turbans, and traditional garb.


 M Quyami  president of California State University, East Bay. He grew up in Kabul and came to work in the United States in 1978. Since 2002 he has volunteered his time in reconstruction efforts, serving on the board of directors to the Central Bank and as senior advisor to the minister of finance.

Kabul 1959





Queen Soraya 1929

pictures of the 70s

Prior to the CIA-backed civil war in Afghanistan and the Taliban rule beginning in 1996, 50% of the students and 60% of the teachers at Kabul University were women, and 70% of school teachers, 50% of civilian government workers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women.

Preprimary education programs were implemented in Afghanistan in 1980. By 1990 the country had 195 centers providing such childcare services.

Preprimary education programs were implemented in Afghanistan in 1980. By 1990 the country had 195 centers providing such childcare services.

The programs covered children between the ages of three to five. But, by 1999 only one remained open. In effect the 1980′s decade of gains in early childhood development program halted and it essentially collapsed.

Read more: Afghanistan – Preprimary Primary Education – Percent, Schools, School, Aged, Declined, and Unesco

At the time of Najibullah’s socialist government supported by the Soviet Union, Afghan women held government jobs

Women drove cars, traveled and went on dates. Fifty percent of university students were women.

But the CIA and Zbigniew Brzezinski ‘s Taliban friends soon put paid to all of that

Original post and link to ;) , thanks Sis