Identify the country….

Lets play a small game. I’ll post a few photos from the 1950’s and 60’s and lets see if you can identify the country that these pictures were taken in.

A university campus

Biology class in the university

A girl scout program in the capital city

Mothers and children at a city park

A phonograph record store selling the latest music records

Cabinet in session

So which country is it?

Somewhere in Europe? No.


Iran? No.

India? No.

Its Afghanistan!

This ravaged and war torn country was once a stable and developing country in the 1950’s and 60’s. These photos are from a book published during that period by the then govt’s planning ministry. I agree that this being an official govt book, it would naturally have handpicked photos which served to promote the country’s image in the west. Even then, im sure we all can agree that it is very very difficult to even imagine such normalcy in today’s Afghanistan, even in a few places. Children playing in a park, girl scouts undergoing training, a functioning modern co-ed university all seem so very surreal today. This is what 30 years of war can do to a country. It is very tragic indeed.

I found these images on, in a photo essay by Mohammad Qayoumi. Click here to see all the pictures and the full essay.


2 responses to “Identify the country….

  1. Interesting photos, however they have no bearing on the then and now of tribal rule of Afghanistan.
    It is a long and sometimes a bit confusing read but with careful study you can see then as now rule was and is tribal based and maintained through a web tribal chiefs. Supported by lesser tribal /regional chiefs insuring each continues to enjoy control of long established tribal regions of Afghanistan.

    When looking at this entire region,including what is now Afghanistan,Iraq, Iran and Pakistan the same methods of rule exists.

    Those that state the ruling class was ‘elected’ fail to account for the percent of the population claiming to belong to both ruling tribes as well as tribal numbers supporting the ruling tribal leaders.

    The amount of freedom citizens may enjoy is based more in the personality of it current president and major religious leaders than anything else and is subject to overnight change with the death or over through of one or more of those leaders.

    I Like your blog, Happy and prosperous 2011

    • I do think that under the communist rule Afghanistan was heading faster into prosperity and modern democratic systems than it had been for the last 500 years. If we see the history of nations, all have had some form of ‘tribal’ rule at some point till they reformed and evolved modern democratic systems. While you mention Iraq and Iran, it is also prudent to look at another of their neighbours, Turkey which is a model state in the Arab world. They too would have come under the same classification of a ‘tribal’ state had it not been for the efforts of Ataturk. Hence, my point is no country is beyond reform. Even if you look at India, you will find large swathes of the country in the rural heartlands having a ‘tribal’ mindset. But it hasnt stopped these villagers from embracing democracy and elections. With the right leadership, any feudal state can be democratized, and remain that way long after the death of those leaders provided the right systems were put in place.

      With Afghanistan, we need to be more careful in making judgements considering its turbulent war-torn history as being used as the playing field for ‘the great game’.

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