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Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan...

By jimstaro - Posted on 18 June 2010

At a time prior to one of the so called great powers on this planet decided it wanted to control.

Photos Of Afghanistan's Past: Modernity Lost


June 18, 2010 The Afghanistan of Mohammad Qayoumi's memory is far from that of a "broken 13th century country," as it was recently described by British Defense Secretary Liam Fox.

Qayoumi, now a university president in America, grew up in Kabul in the 1950s and '60s. It was a period of calm and prosperity — and even optimism — before the Soviet invasion.

And thanks to a batch of vintage photos, Qayoumi has opened a window into that world with a photo essay recently published in Foreign Policy. The images depict a world that is slick, modern — even Western.

The photos show women in demure scarves, but also in pencil skirts and other fashions of the 1950s and '60s. And just as striking is what some of the women are doing: buying records. Back then, Qayoumi tells NPR's Deborah Amos, Afghans favored songs by Western pop singers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.

But this wasn't the first time as Mohammad Qayoumi says in the short discussion.


"From the 1880s to 1978, Afghanistan was a very stable country, which had only six rulers," Qayoumi says, "which is far more stable than most European countries in that era."

Of course, Afghanistan's history also includes many eras of conflict and destruction, from the empire of Alexander the Great to the Arab conquests, and more recently, to occupations by Britain and the Soviet Union.

As for the future, Qayoumi cites an Afghan saying: "A stream that has seen water before will see water in the future, also." To listen to the short Discussion

Then while the other so called major power on this planet helped the Afghans in the occupation by the other, they walked away from their promises to the Afghans when the others left, and the rest is more history and the present.

The Foreign Policy site report: Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts -- when Kabul had rock 'n' roll, not rockets., there are a number of photo's to review.



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