Border crossings between USSR and Afghanistan in the 1960s

Border crossings between USSR and Afghanistan in the 1960s


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For a (fictional, but set in the real world) story set in 1962, I need to get my protagonists from the USSR into Afghanistan. I've done some research and found no reliable information about the historical status of todays border crossings. In the west, near Aqina the border crossing was officially opened in 2007 - did it not exist before or was it closed for some time? What was its status in 1962? In the middle, at Hairatan, the bridge was built for the Soviet invasion in 1979. What was there in 1962? To the east, the Tadschikistan border is described a "porous", but roads are sparse and typically run along the border, not over it. Many of them are fairly recent and probably didn't exist in the 60s.

I've exhausted my sources and hope for an answer or pointers to other sources.

So how to cross over from the Soviet Union into Afghanistan in 1962? It would be best if there were at least two options that my protagonists could discuss.

(additional information: For reasons, taking the plane is not an option)


One such crossing was over the Amu Darya river, which separates the Uzbek (Soviet) city of Termez from Hairatan. As Uzbekistan is doubly landlocked, it has no seaports, and Termez is the most important of its riverine ports. In ancient times the port was at nearby Kampyr-Tepe. Before the various bridges were built, "[t]here had been river traffic between Termez and Afghanistan for many years", including ferries. Termez's present port facilities were built up along with or after a Russian "fortress and garrison" was installed there in the 1890s. A bridge across another section of the same river was built in 1901. In the 1960s, it must have been practical to cross the river from Termez to Hairatan.


I've been to that border region in 2011. It's a largely barren, semi-desert area, hilly and mountainous. As such I'd not be at all surprised if the border was pretty much impossible to patrol for either country without investing massive amounts of manpower and material. While I didn't get very close to the border, I saw no roads leading towards it that would indicate patrol roads along the border, let alone things like watch towers and other fortifications.

So it's entirely possible (I'd say even very likely) that there may well have been a lively cross border smuggling going on.

And that was during the days of the struggle with the Taliban, who saw the Uzbek government as an enemy (Uzbekistan does not allow people being openly religious, ANY religion, and does not allow proselitising within its borders, they also hosted several western nations' air forces providing air support for ground troops operating against the Taliban at the time).

I wouldn't be surprised if there were occasional helicopter patrols of the border, but I didn't see any. During the Soviet era there'd have been more resources available for those, but less technologically advanced so for example night vision equipment would have been hard to come by and less efficient, making it probably rather easy to filter small parties on foot or horseback across the border under cover of darkness (especially given the ruggedness of the terrain).


Wakhan Corridor

The Wakhan Corridor (Pashto: واخان دهلېز ‎, romanized: wāxān dahléz, Urdu: واخان راہداری Persian: دالان واخان ‎, romanized: dâlân vâxân) is a narrow strip of territory in Afghanistan, extending to China and separating Tajikistan from Pakistan [1] [2] [3] and Kashmir. The corridor, wedged between the Pamir Mountains to the north and the Karakoram range to the south, is about 350 km (220 mi) long and 13–65 kilometres (8–40 mi) wide. [4] From this high mountain valley the Panj and Pamir Rivers emerge and form the Amu Darya. A trade route through the valley has been used by travellers going to and from East, South and Central Asia since antiquity. [5]

The corridor was formed by an 1893 agreement between the British Empire (British India) and Afghanistan, creating the Durand Line. [6] This narrow strip acted as a buffer zone between the Russian Empire and the British Empire (the regions of Russian Turkestan, now in Tajikistan, and the part of British India now in Pakistan and the contested region of Gilgit-Baltistan). Its eastern end bordered China's Xinjiang region, then ruled by the Qing dynasty.

Politically, the corridor is in the Wakhan District of Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province. As of 2010, the Wakhan Corridor had 12,000 inhabitants. [7] The northern part of the Wakhan, populated by the Wakhi and Pamiri peoples, is also referred to as the Pamir. [8]


Border crossings between USSR and Afghanistan in the 1960s - History

After the founding of the People's Republic, the Chinese leadership was concerned above all with ensuring national security, consolidating power, and developing the economy. The foreign policy course China chose in order to translate these goals into reality was to form an international united front with the Soviet Union and other socialist nations against the United States and Japan. Although for a time Chinese leaders may have considered trying to balance Sino-Soviet relations with ties with Washington, by mid1949 Mao Zedong declared that China had no choice but to "lean to one side"--meaning the Soviet side.

Soon after the establishment of the People's Republic, Mao traveled to Moscow to negotiate the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance. Under this agreement, China gave the Soviet Union certain rights, such as the continued use of a naval base at Luda, Liaoning Province, in return for military support, weapons, and large amounts of economic and technological assistance, including technical advisers and machinery. China acceded, at least initially, to Soviet leadership of the world communist movement and took the Soviet Union as the model for development. China's participation in the Korean War (1950-53) seemed to strengthen Sino-Soviet relations, especially after the UN-sponsored trade embargo against China. The Sino-Soviet alliance appeared to unite Moscow and Beijing, and China became more closely associated with and dependent on a foreign power than ever before.

During the second half of the 1950s, strains in the Sino-Soviet alliance gradually began to emerge over questions of ideology, security, and economic development. Chinese leaders were disturbed by the Soviet Union's moves under Nikita Khrushchev toward deStalinization and peaceful coexistence with the West. Moscow's successful earth satellite launch in 1957 strengthened Mao's belief that the world balance was in the communists' favor--or, in his words, "the east wind prevails over the west wind"--leading him to call for a more militant policy toward the noncommunist world in contrast to the more conciliatory policy of the Soviet Union.

In addition to ideological disagreements, Beijing was dissatisfied with several aspects of the Sino-Soviet security relationship: the insufficient degree of support Moscow showed for China's recovery of Taiwan, a Soviet proposal in 1958 for a joint naval arrangement that would have put China in a subordinate position, Soviet neutrality during the 1959 tension on the SinoIndian border, and Soviet reluctance to honor its agreement to provide nuclear weapons technology to China. And, in an attempt to break away from the Soviet model of economic development, China launched the radical policies of the Great Leap Forward (1958-60), leading Moscow to withdraw all Soviet advisers from China in 1960. In retrospect, the major ideological, military, and economic reasons behind the Sino-Soviet split were essentially the same: for the Chinese leadership, the strong desire to achieve self-reliance and independence of action outweighed the benefits Beijing received as Moscow's junior partner.

During the 1960s the Sino-Soviet ideological dispute deepened and spread to include territorial issues, culminating in 1969 in bloody armed clashes on their border. In 1963 the boundary dispute had come into the open when China explicitly raised the issue of territory lost through "unequal treaties" with tsarist Russia. After unsuccessful border consultations in 1964, Moscow began the process of a military buildup along the border with China and in Mongolia, which continued into the 1970s.

The Sino-Soviet dispute also was intensified by increasing competition between Beijing and Moscow for influence in the Third World and the international communist movement. China accused the Soviet Union of colluding with imperialism, for example by signing the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the United States in 1963. Beijing's support for worldwide revolution became increasingly militant, although in most cases it lacked the resources to provide large amounts of economic or military aid. The Chinese Communist Party broke off ties with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1966, and these had not been restored by mid-1987.

During the Cultural Revolution, China's growing radicalism and xenophobia had severe repercussions for Sino-Soviet relations. In 1967 Red Guards besieged the Soviet embassy in Beijing and harassed Soviet diplomats. Beijing viewed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 as an ominous development and accused the Soviet Union of "social imperialism." The Sino-Soviet dispute reached its nadir in 1969 when serious armed clashes broke out at Zhenbao (or Damanskiy) Island on the northeast border. Both sides drew back from the brink of war, however, and tension was defused when Zhou Enlai met with Aleksey Kosygin, the Soviet premier, later in 1969.

In the 1970s Beijing shifted to a more moderate course and began a rapprochement with Washington as a counterweight to the perceived threat from Moscow. Sino-Soviet border talks were held intermittently, and Moscow issued conciliatory messages after Mao's death in 1976, all without substantive progress. Officially, Chinese statements called for a struggle against the hegemony of both superpowers, but especially against the Soviet Union, which Beijing called "the most dangerous source of war." In the late 1970s, the increased Soviet military buildup in East Asia and Soviet treaties with Vietnam and Afghanistan heightened China's awareness of the threat of Soviet encirclement. In 1979 Beijing notified Moscow it would formally abrogate the long-dormant SinoSoviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance but proposed bilateral talks. China suspended the talks after only one round, however, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

In the 1980s China's approach toward the Soviet Union shifted once more, albeit gradually, in line with China's adoption of an independent foreign policy and the opening up economic policy. Another factor behind the shift was the perception that, although the Soviet Union still posed the greatest threat to China's security, the threat was long-term rather than immediate. SinoSoviet consultations on normalizing relations were resumed in 1982 and held twice yearly, despite the fact that the cause of their suspension, the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, remained unchanged. Beijing raised three primary preconditions for the normalization of relations, which it referred to as "three obstacles" that Moscow had to remove: the Soviet presence in of Afghanistan, Soviet support for Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia, and the presence of Soviet forces along the Sino-Soviet border and in Mongolia. For the first half of the 1980s, Moscow called these preconditions "thirdcountry issues" not suitable for bilateral discussion, and neither side reported substantial progress in the talks.

Soviet leadership changes between 1982 and 1985 provided openings for renewed diplomacy, as high-level Chinese delegations attended the funerals of Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yuriy Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko. During this time, Sino-Soviet relations improved gradually in many areas: trade expanded, economic and technical exchanges were resumed (including the renovation of projects originally built with Soviet assistance in the 1950s), border points were opened, and delegations were exchanged regularly.

The Soviet position on Sino-Soviet relations showed greater flexibility in 1986 with General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev's July speech at Vladivostok. Among Gorbachev's proposals for the Asia-Pacific region were several directed at China, including the announcement of partial troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Mongolia, the renewal of a concession pertaining to the border dispute, and proposals for agreements on a border railroad, space cooperation, and joint hydropower development. Further, Gorbachev offered to hold discussions with China "at any time and at any level." Although these overtures did not lead to an immediate highlevel breakthrough in Sino-Soviet relations, bilateral consultations appeared to gain momentum, and border talks were resumed in 1987. In the late 1980s, it seemed unlikely that China and the Soviet Union would resume a formal alliance, but SinoSoviet relations had improved remarkably when compared with the previous two decades. Whether or not full normalization would include renewed relations between the Chinese and Soviet communist parties, as China had established with the East European communist parties, was uncertain as of mid-1987.


How Russia Built a Channel to the Taliban, Once an Enemy

The recent assessment that Russia paid bounties to the insurgents to attack U.S. troops stunned many, but officials said the Kremlin’s outreach began almost a decade ago.

KABUL, Afghanistan — During one of the most violent stretches of fighting in northern Afghanistan, as the Taliban scored victories that had eluded them since the beginning of the conflict, the top American commander went public with a suspicion that had nagged for years: Russia was aiding the insurgents.

In diplomatic circles in Kabul around the time of that accusation, in 2017, there were murmurs that the Russian assistance had included night-vision goggles and armor-piercing ammunition.

But Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander, offered no definitive evidence, and that spoke to how confusing the battlefield had become as three longtime adversaries — the Taliban, Russia and Iran — agreed on their common interest in seeing the Americans leave Afghanistan. In the maze of corruption, cash and foreign hands in Afghanistan, it was no easy task to pin down who was doing what.

“We’ve had weapons brought to this headquarters and given to us by Afghan leaders and said, ‘This was given by the Russians to the Taliban,’” General Nicholson said a year later. “We know that the Russians are involved.”

The recent revelation of an American intelligence assessment that Russia had provided the Taliban with bounties to attack U.S. and coalition troops stunned political leaders in Washington and added a potent dose of Cold War-style skulduggery to deliberations over Afghanistan’s future. Both Russia and the Taliban have rejected the assertion.

But while that would be a notable escalation of Russian interference in Afghanistan, it was clear to many officials that Russia had been working to hedge its bets with the Taliban for years. The Russians saw the Afghan government as entirely controlled by the United States, and at worst so fragile that it would struggle to survive the U.S. withdrawal.

In interviews, Afghan and American officials and foreign diplomats with years of experience in Kabul say that what began as a diplomatic channel between Russia and the Taliban just under a decade ago has more recently blossomed into a mutually beneficial alliance that has allowed the Kremlin to reassert its influence in the region.

The shift coincided with increasing hostility between the United States and Russia over Syria’s civil war and other conflicts, analysts say, as well as Russia’s frustration with rising instability in Afghanistan and the slow pace of the U.S. pullout.

Now, the United States is conducting the troop withdrawal it agreed to with the Taliban even without a final peace deal between the insurgents and the Afghan government which the Americans have supported for years. But Russia’s covert efforts, officials and analysts say, are aimed at harassing and embarrassing the United States as the troops leave rather than profoundly changing the course of the conflict.

“It was in modest quantities it was not designed to be a game-changer on the battlefield,” General Nicholson, who has since retired from the military, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday about Russian arms and aid to the Taliban. “For example, the Taliban wanted surface-to-air missiles, the Russians didn’t give it to them. So I always concluded that their support to the Taliban was calibrated in some sense.”

Some pointed out the considerably more extensive American efforts to support the mujahedeen insurgency against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

“We did the same,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former C.I.A. field officer in Afghanistan who retired last year as the agency’s acting chief of operations in Europe and Eurasia. “We turned the heat up as the Russians were leaving Afghanistan.”

“Putin,” he said, “is a student of history.”

As things began turning on the battlefield in recent years, officials described increasing suspicions of a greater Russian role in helping the Taliban. But they often struggled to pin down specifics, other than occasional influxes of new weapons and munitions that could have had several sources. In addition to Pakistan’s well-established support to the Taliban, Iran was taking a greater hand in helping the insurgents, and often using similar channels as the Russians, Afghan intelligence officials say.

The dots began connecting more clearly during a stretch of alarming violence in northern Afghanistan, when the Taliban twice overran Kunduz city, a provincial capital, in 2015 and 2016, sending the U.S. military scrambling.

As Afghan intelligence narrowed in on the ambitious regional Taliban commander behind those assaults, they tracked his travel back and forth across the nearby border with Tajikistan, a Russian intelligence stronghold, according to current and former senior Afghan security officials. Kunduz is also the base of operations for two Afghan businessmen who American intelligence officials say acted as middlemen in the bounty scheme between Russian intelligence officers and Taliban fighters.

U.S. officials say they confronted Russia about its aid to the Taliban on several occasions, but their public claims lacked detail, and it never amounted to a major issue. Russian officials said they received no documented evidence.

Three decades after the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russia’s cultural, economic and personal ties in the country remain deep. When Russia has looked to exert influence, whether benign or otherwise, it has had a host of friends to call on: Soviet-trained generals who led the Afghan forces for years on American pay businessmen who bragged of friendship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia politicians who kept homes in Moscow even as they grew rich on American contracts.

For much of the first decade of the war, the United States did not really have to worry about the deep Russian reach into Afghan society, as Mr. Putin’s government was aligned with the American mission of defeating Al Qaeda and Islamist groups that Moscow also saw as a threat — including the Taliban.

Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show genuine attempts by both sides to coordinate efforts in Afghanistan. Russian officials spoke of a “collective fist” in the fight against terrorism, and urged unity “with one voice — the American voice.”

But as the war in Afghanistan dragged on, and the two powers took opposing sides in the crises in Syria and Ukraine, the Russians increasingly saw the U.S. mission as failed, and the American presence in the region as a threat.

American intelligence officials now date Russia’s discreet outreach to the Taliban as beginning about eight years ago — around the time that Mr. Putin, after a four-year hiatus as prime minister, reassumed the presidency with a more confrontational posture with the West.

The mistrust soon became intense enough that Russian officials accused the United States of playing a hand in the rise of an Islamic State chapter in Afghanistan around 2015, with many of its earliest fighters being extremist militants from Central Asia who yearned to bring a holy war against Russia.

At a meeting of the Russian Security Council in 2013, Mr. Putin said his country could no longer stand by in the face of failures by the United States and its partners.

“We need a clear action strategy, which will take into account different possible developments,” Mr. Putin said at the meeting. “The task is to reliably protect the interests of Russia under any circumstances.”

Leading the portfolio on the diplomatic front was Zamir Kabulov, a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and reportedly a former Russian intelligence operative.

Mr. Kabulov began publicly criticizing the United States for weaknesses in the Afghan government and for failing to rein in Islamist militancy there — and increasingly describing the Afghan Taliban as a national entity that posed no threat beyond the country’s borders and could be worked with.

Reports increased about Taliban figures making trips to Russia. And just as the United States and Taliban were finalizing details of the American withdrawal, Russia brought the same Taliban leaders into Moscow meetings with a large number of Afghan political figures for discussions over the political future of the country.

As the United States has drawn down its military presence, it has increasingly relied on Afghan partners for intelligence and counterintelligence. What Afghan security officials were seeing in recent years, particularly in the north, was a deeply messy reality.

Around the time they began focusing more on Russian activities, the Afghans also unraveled an Iranian scheme of distributing arms to discontented warlords and militia commanders — the weapons were Russian, and the route was through Tajikistan, officials said. The Iranian scheme was short-lived, one senior Afghan official said, after Iran realized the weapons it was providing were turning up in the saturated black market.

The Russians often used the hundreds of millions of dollars in fuel imports for NATO and Afghan forces as a way to inject cash into Afghanistan to ensure influence and keep intelligence assets on their side. One former senior Afghan official said that instead of direct cash transfers, the Russians would mostly arrange for the convoys of oil tankers snaking into Afghanistan to be topped with extra fuel that would be cashed for circulation inside the country.

Though the countries of Central Asia gained their independence after the Soviet collapse, Russia has never let go of its foothold in the region. In one cable, a Russian diplomat described the borders of countries like Tajikistan, where the Russian Air Force still has about 7,000 troops, as “an extension of its own border.”

When the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan in 1990s, Tajikistan was a hub for the resistance commanders who received aid from Russia and Iran. In the 20 years since the U.S. invasion, the country has become a center of criminal traffic and vice, a kind of adult playground for many of the Afghan elite who frequently travel back and forth to Tajikistan and often have family there.

In that mix of spies, money and mafia, the Taliban, too, found a foothold. The insurgents made a point of taking and maintaining control of some of the border crossings from Kunduz Province into Tajikistan. From the south of the country all the way to the north, they had border access to evade military pressure, maintain ties with friendly foreigners and keep a channel for the opium trade that partly finances the insurgency.

Several Afghan officials, including Asadullah Omarkhel, who was the governor of Kunduz at the time, said they shared with the Americans intelligence that Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban commander who led the assaults on Kunduz, repeatedly crossed into Tajikistan for what they suspected were discussions with Russian agents. A Tajik news outlet reported meetings between Russian officials and Taliban commanders at a Russian air base in Tajikistan as early as 2015. And it was these border crossings that the Taliban used to bring weapons in, officials say.

Mr. Omarkhel said Americans initially were not confident about claims of Taliban ties to Russia, but then they started striking the Taliban bases along the border, including a strike that killed Mullah Salam.

At Thursday’s congressional hearing, General Nicholson repeated his accusation of Russia arming the Taliban, noting that even though the aid was not extensive, it still had effect.

“In the northern part of Afghanistan, in particular in Kunduz, the Russian assistance did help the Taliban inflict higher casualties on the Afghan security forces and more hardship on the Afghan people,” he said.


Comparing the U.S. and Soviet Experiences in Afghanistan

A country rarely fights the same war twice in one generation, especially from opposite sides. Yet that in many ways describes the U.S. role in Afghanistan today. In the 1980s, the Central Intelligence Agency, working from a safe haven in Pakistan, engineered the largest covert operation in its history to help defeat the Soviet 40 th Red Army in Afghanistan [1]. Today, the United States is fighting a Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan that operates from a safe haven in Pakistan. Many suggest that the outcome will be the same for the United States as it was for the Soviet Union—ultimate defeat at the hands of the insurgency. Pakistan’s role as a safe haven is remarkably consistent in both conflicts, but focusing exclusively on that similarity misses the fundamental differences between the two wars. This article will address those differences, and will also assess how Pakistan’s role is impacting the United States’ possibilities for success today.

Goals and Objectives

The first and perhaps most critical difference between the two wars is over goals and objectives. The United States intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 on the side of the Northern Alliance to topple the Taliban Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan only after the country had been used as a base for the 9/11 attacks on the United States. The U.S. goal, endorsed by the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), was self-defense against a government that had allowed its territory to be used for an act of war against another state. From the beginning, the United States has had no ambition to dominate or subjugate the Afghan people, or to stay in Afghanistan once the threat posed by al-Qa`ida and the Afghan Taliban is defeated. President Barack Obama reiterated this fact in his speech outlining the new U.S. policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan on March 27, 2009 [2].

The Soviet invasion in 1979 was a different matter. It is now understood that Moscow blundered into Afghanistan with little appreciation of the difficulties it would face [3]. Its goal was to shore up a communist regime that was on the edge of collapse in the face of a national uprising. The Soviet leadership wanted an Afghanistan that would be similar to other Soviet satellite states and under virtual Soviet imperial rule with only the façade of independence. The Soviets may also have had ambitions to use Afghanistan as a base to project authority further south.

The Soviet invasion and the attempt to impose communism on a rural and largely illiterate Islamic country with a history of xenophobia produced the predictable result: a mass national uprising. With the exception of small pockets of the urban middle class and a few minority regions—most notably the Uzbek province of Jowzjan where a tough local warlord, Abdul Rashid Dostum, raised a pro-Soviet militia—virtually the entire country was violently opposed to the new occupation and its atheist ideology.

In contrast, polls show most Afghans have supported the coalition forces that overthrew the Taliban, although that support is now dwindling as the coalition has failed to provide law and order and reconstruction [4]. The Taliban are not widely popular either support for the Taliban is mostly restricted to the Pashtun belt in southern and eastern Afghanistan. It has virtually no appeal to the 60% of Afghans who are not Pashtun. Therefore, the Soviets’ most difficult battlespace—the famous Panjshir Valley, home of the legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud (the Lion of the Panjshir)—is today quiet and devoid of Taliban because it is an exclusively Tajik area.

In short, while the Soviets faced a national uprising, the U.S.-led coalition faces a minority insurgency that is segregated from much of the country. Moscow’s task was much more difficult than the one facing NATO today.

Tactics and Support

The Soviets responded to Afghan opposition with a ferocity and brutality that made the situation even worse. At least 1.5 million Afghans were killed, another five million or so fled the country to Iran and Pakistan (one out of three Afghans), and millions more were displaced inside the country. A country that began the war as one of the poorest in the world was systematically impoverished and even emptied of its people. The Soviet Air Force carpet bombed cities such as Kandahar, where the population fell from 250,000 to 25,000 [5]. Millions of land mines were planted all over the country, with no records kept of where they had been laid. Nothing even approaching this level of horror is happening in Afghanistan today.

In part because of that brutality, the Soviet invasion was condemned by virtually the entire world except for its client states. The campaign to assist the Afghan insurgency, the mujahidin, enjoyed the backing of countries around the world including China, the United Kingdom, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others.

NATO forces in Afghanistan today have the support of the United Nations and operate under a UN Security Council mandate. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), created by the United Nations in 2001, has troops from 41 countries currently in Afghanistan, including U.S. forces, NATO contributions, and troops from non-NATO states such as Australia, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. Efforts are underway to get more states, especially in the Muslim world, to send troops.

Much of the hardest fighting in the current war has been conducted by non-American troops. The British in Helmand Province, the Canadians in Kandahar and the Dutch and Australians in Uruzgan have been fighting for the last several years in the heartland of the Taliban’s Pashtun belt. They have taken considerable casualties in the process. Indeed, for much of the last five years the principal battle against the al-Qa`ida enemy that attacked the United States in 2001 has been fought by American allies, while the United States’ primary focus has been on al-Qa`ida in Iraq.

The Role Played by Pakistan

If the differences between the American and Russian experiences are significant, there is at least one major similarity: the role played by Pakistan. In the 1980s, President Zia ul-Huq agreed to support the mujahidin insurgency despite the enormous risk involved in provoking the Soviet Union, then the world’s largest military power. The Soviets responded with an intense covert campaign to foment unrest inside Pakistan, especially in the border areas and in the refugee camps. Both the KGB and its Afghan ally, the KHAD, conducted terrorist attacks to bring pressure on Zia [6]. Moreover, the Soviets used military power, especially its air force, to intimidate Pakistan.

Zia insisted that outside support for the mujahidin had to flow through Pakistani hands, principally via the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate of the Pakistani Army. The ISI sought exclusive access to the mujahidin. Outside players had little choice but to accept Zia’s rules. Consequently, Pakistan served as the safe haven for the mujahidin, its logistical supply line and its advocate on the world stage.

Ironically, today Pakistan again acts as the safe haven for Afghan insurgents and their logistical supply line. The ISI is again the instrument by which Pakistan maintains its links to the Afghan Taliban and other extremist organizations [7]. This should come as little surprise since in the 1990s the ISI was a critical factor in the creation and development of the Taliban it only reluctantly agreed to distance itself from the Taliban after 9/11 under enormous U.S. pressure. It is now clear that the distancing is far from complete. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen has said, the ISI “has been very attached to many of these extreme organizations and in the long run they have got to completely cut ties with them in order to move in the right direction” [8].

The key leadership node of the Afghan Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan is the Quetta shura council, named after the capital of Balochistan where the senior Taliban leadership, probably including Mullah Omar (the Taliban’s leader since its founding), resides [9]. Quetta, a city of some two million, provides excellent cover for the Afghan Taliban leadership to operate and lead the insurgency. It is close to the Afghan border but remote from outsiders few Westerners have access to the area.

Even more ironically, Pakistan serves as the major logistical supply line for NATO forces in Afghanistan. More than 80% of the supplies U.S. and other coalition forces depend on arrive via Pakistan from the port of Karachi. Geography effectively precludes another alternative unless the alliance is willing to rely on Russia or Iran to control its supply lines. Moreover, the ISI is also a key partner in the struggle against al-Qa`ida. The ISI has helped capture or kill several senior al-Qa`ida operatives, despite declining ISI assistance since the early years after 9/11. Without Pakistan’s cooperation, many operations against al-Qa`ida would be much more difficult today.

Therefore, Pakistan has unusually strong leverage on both sides of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama’s new policy explicitly recognizes the critical role played by Pakistan and elevates the importance of working with Pakistan to shut down the safe havens in Balochistan and elsewhere along the Afghan-Pakistan border. He has promised to triple economic aid to Pakistan and provide military aid that is focused on counterinsurgency requirements such as helicopters for air mobility in the rugged border region.

For a number of reasons, Pakistan retains links to the Afghan Taliban despite the rising incidence of jihadist violence inside Pakistan. Most important is the army’s calculation that Washington and Brussels do not have the political will to persevere in Afghanistan. It is assumed by many in Pakistan that American and European patience to fight it out in Afghanistan is eroding, an assumption reinforced by polls that show support for the conflict steadily declining on both sides of the Atlantic. Supporting the Afghan Taliban is thus a useful hedge in case NATO decides to withdrawal and give up the struggle. Pakistan would then have a relationship with the Pashtun future of southern and eastern Afghanistan and would have an asset in the struggle for post-NATO Afghanistan.

Changing Pakistan’s Calculations

If the United States and its partners in Afghanistan demonstrate their resolve, especially with the additional forces en route to the battlefield this year, the calculation in Pakistan’s military may change. The alliance needs to make clear to Islamabad that the Taliban will not succeed on the battlefield.

Unfortunately, the politics in Islamabad are working in the wrong direction. The Pakistani Taliban are getting stronger and the political parties are squabbling over power. The army remains preoccupied with India. Pakistan must recognize that the existential threat to its freedoms comes from the jihadists. Only when the key players in Pakistan, both in the political parties and in the army, come to that conclusion will change occur. The United States needs to engage intensively to convince them of this reality.

There is no inherent reason why the NATO and U.S. war in Afghanistan must follow the pattern of the Soviet war. The differences between the two outweigh the similarities, especially in what most Afghans want for their country. While pundits may find the cliché that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empire simplistically attractive, there is every reason to believe that smart policies can avoid such an outcome.

Bruce Riedel is a Senior Fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and a professor at Georgetown University. He has advised four U.S. presidents on Afghanistan and was asked by President Barack Obama in January 2009 to chair an interagency strategic review of American policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, which was completed in March 2009. He is the author of The Search for Al Qaeda: its Leadership, Ideology and Future.

[1] The story of the first Afghan war has been told from many angles. George Crile’s Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of how the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of our Times underplays Ronald Reagan’s and Bill Casey’s role but is full of insights into the U.S. side of the war. Robert Gates’ memoirs From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How they Won the Cold War has a more balanced view. Also important is Milt Bearden’s two books on the war, The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB and The Black Tulip: A Novel of the War in Afghanistan. Bearden was the CIA chief of station in Islamabad at the end of the jihad. The Soviet side of the war has long been neglected but finally received attention from Gregory Feifer in The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan. Most important is the Pakistani version, written by the ISI commander of the battle, Mohammad Yousaf, with Mark Adkin in The Bear Trap: Afghanistan’s Untold Story in which the CIA is a duplicitous and timid partner for the ISI.

[2] In his March 27, 2009 speech, President Obama said: “We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future. We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends and allies, and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists. So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.” See “President Obama’s Speech on Afghanistan and Pakistan,” U.S. News & World Report, March 27, 2009.

[3] Gregory Feifer, The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan (New York: HarperCollins, 2009).

[4] Anthony Cordesman, “Afghan Public Opinion and the Afghan War: Shifts by Region and Province,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 13, 2009.

[5] On the cost of the war, see Robert Kaplan, Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan (New York: Vintage Books, 2001), pp. 184-188, 223.

[6] One of the most famous such attacks was on a logistics supply base the ISI had near Rawalpindi for the mujahidin, which was blown up by saboteurs in April 1988. More than 100 Pakistanis were killed, 1,000 injured and 10,000 tons of arms and ammunition destroyed. See Mohammad Yousaf and Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap: Afghanistan’s Untold Story (South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword Books, 2002), p. 220.


Six-party talks

2003 October - Pyongyang declares it has completed the reprocessing of 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods. Experts say this would give the North enough weapons-grade plutonium to develop up to six nuclear bombs within months.

2005 February - North Korea admits publicly for the first time that it has produced nuclear weapons for "self defence".

2006 July - North Korea test fires seven missiles including a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which crashes shortly after take-off despite it reportedly having the capability to hit the US.

2006 October - North Korea conducts its first nuclear weapons test at an underground facility. The UN imposes economic and commercial sanctions on North Korea.

2007 July - North Korea shuts down it main Yongbyon reactor after receiving 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil as part of an aid package.

2007 August - South Korea announces it will send nearly 50m US dollars in aid to the North after Pyongyang makes rare appeal for flood relief.


Historical perspective of Pak-Afghan Relations

'The first period was marked by the efforts of the Afghan authorities to get Pakistan to abandon the border along the Durand Line and from the ownership of the eastern Pashtun territories to Pakistan. But in the initial period, Afghanistan's dependence on Pakistan was being formed through the supply of goods through the port of Karachi'

At the heart of the difficult problems between the two neighboring states, Pakistan and Afghanistan, lie historical factors and circumstances that arose in the colonial era. The most important among them was the split of the Afghan (Pashtun) area into two parts, belonging to Kabul (the Afghan kingdom) and British India. The struggle of part of the Pashtuns of India for independence either in United India or outside it, within the framework of the independent Pashtunistan, ended in failure. The formation of Pakistan with the inclusion of the lands of the eastern Pashtuns led to difficulties and problems in the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The history of Pakistani-Afghan relations is divided into six major stages.

The first stage from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s is characterized by the attempts of the Afghan authorities to use the fact that Pakistan was an entirely new political entity that appeared in 1947 after the simultaneous voluntary and forced withdrawal of the colonialists from Hindustan. The difficulties of the initial stage of the formation of the borders and the territorial structure of the Pakistani state allowed Kabul to pursue an offensive policy towards the neighbor, seeking to secure access to the Arabian Sea with support for the separatist (autonomist) in Pakistan. They were associated at the time with the uprising in the Baluchi principality of Kalat, and with the proclamation of the “Free Pashtunistan” in the Waziristan mountains, the bands of the Pashtun tribes. The first period was marked by the efforts of the Afghan authorities to get Pakistan to abandon the border along the Durand Line and from the ownership of the eastern Pashtun territories to Pakistan. But already in this initial period, Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan was being formed through the supply of goods through the port of Karachi.

The second period lasted from the mid-1950s to the turn of the 1960s and 1970s. Pakistan in those years basically overcame the initial “growth sickness” and significantly strengthened its economic and military capabilities. he paid attention to relations with India, which used its contacts with Afghanistan to use it to “pressure” its regional neighbor and rival. After overcoming the acute crisis in bilateral relations (the early 1960s), a period of relative equilibrium began, which was not violated even by the wars of Pakistan with India in 1965 and 1971.

The third stage covers the 1970s. Pakistan, losing as a result of the events of 1971 its eastern province, transformed into an independent state of Bangladesh. Afghanistan finds itself in an intermediate geopolitical space between the Arab states, Iran, Pakistan and the USSR. Since the mid-1970s, the role of the Islamic factor in regional politics has increased, and Pakistan has become one of the hotbeds of Islamization from above. In relations with Afghanistan, he uses Islamists as a force opposing Kabul. Afghanistan tried to play a map of ethnonational separatism that swept the western (Balochistan) and north-western (Pashtun) provinces of Pakistan, but at the end of the period, yielding to the demands of Iran and the US, tried to establish a dialogue with Pakistan, agreeing to negotiate with him on the border.

The fourth stage begins with the turn of the 1970s-80s and ends with the beginning of the 1990s. This period was the time of the most severe confrontation between the two neighboring states. The buffer position of Afghanistan was replaced by its full association with the socialist bloc headed by the USSR. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, which came to power in Kabul, carried out a policy that was ideologically the opposite of Islamabad’s. Two political and ideological projects – the socialist (Soviet) and the Islamist ones – collided on the Afghan-Pakistani frontiers, which in the cold war enjoyed some support from the West. At the same time, the PDPA tried to actively use the factor of Pashtun nationalism in Pakistan and supported the idea of ​​promoting Pashtun statehood to the south up to the Arabian Sea. Pakistan became the site for the deployment of political organizations that fled from Afghanistan, fighting against the left-democratic Kabul regime. Official relations between the countries after the introduction of Soviet troops were interrupted, negotiations on the settlement of the situation took place in the format of indirect contacts. Pakistan has powerful allies in the form of the United States, Saudi Arabia,and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). The subversive war that was waged with the government in Kabul, the grouping of Islamist Mujahideen on Pakistani territory, was crowned with success after the collapse of the USSR.

The fifth period in Pakistani-Afghan relations takes a decade from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. Pakistan during this period largely played the role of the main arbiter in Afghan affairs, taking advantage of disagreements in the ranks of Afghan mujahideen, who proclaimed education. The Islamic State of Afghanistan, and then by the military actions that unfolded between them and the new grouping, the Islamic Taliban movement. Pakistan’s multiply-influenced influence on Afghanistan nevertheless did not allow Islamabad to solve the problem of the border along the “Durand Line” in a suitable way for itself and finally to bury the project of an independent Pashtunistan. At the same time, neither before nor after this period did Pakistan project its power on Afghanistan so directly and effectively. Using reliance on Saudi Arabia, Islamabad achieved exclusively influence on Afghanistan’s domestic and foreign policy under the rule of the Taliban regime.

The sixth stage began with the elimination of the Taliban in Afghanistan and continued until the middle of 2010. It should be noted a significant weakening during this period of the impact of Pakistan on the neighboring country. The main influence there was used at this stage by the US and its NATO allies. Pakistan had to experience at this stage the grave consequences of the retreat of the Afghan Taliban and the allied Islamist armed groups into its territory and the transformation of its northwest not only into the shelter of militants but also into the space of their sabotage and terrorist activity. Burdened by the emergence of local Taliban militants on its own land, Pakistan fell into a crisis situation and lost much of its ability to exert direct political influence on Afghanistan, continuing to indirectly and implicitly influence the situation there, providing shelter and assistance to the Afghan Taliban and its allies. The importance of Pakistan after 2001 turned into an extremely significant one from the point of view of strategic logistics in the conditions of deployment of a significant grouping of troops of the international coalition in Afghanistan. Equally significant was the role of Pakistan as a transit territory, providing Afghanistan with imported goods.

The prospects for resolving traditional disputes and conflicts between Afghanistan and Pakistan will largely depend on the nature of the regimes that will be established in both states. After the end of the crisis caused by the summing up of the presidential elections in Afghanistan in 2014, there were reasons to expect a more favorable development of the situation in the country, at least in the short term. The same can be said about the situation in Pakistan, where the 2013 parliamentary elections demonstrated the ability of the political system to avoid a crisis after the constitutionally fixed terms of office of the parliament and government. Adoption of democratic regimes can allow Afghanistan and Pakistan to strengthen political and trade-economic ties among themselves, resolve, if not de jure, then de facto border issue, reduce threats to security and cut back claims on the power of radical Islamists – the Taliban and their allies.

The writer is PhD scholar at National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad.


Cold War: What Was It And How Did It Start?

It was a major part of the second half of the 20th century, ending with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The Cold War was a major part of the second half of the 20th century, as tensions arose between two of the world's biggest superpowers over differences in both ideology and philosophy.

Given the name because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two, the USA and USSR, they instead supported major regional conflicts in various proxy wars.

The struggle for geopolitical dominance between the USA and USSR would instead often flare up indirectly, famously doing so as propaganda campaigns, espionage, rivalry at sports events and in technological competitions such as the Space Race.

The Cold War came to an end until 1991 with the collapse of the USSR, forever changing the world order and ushering in the next era of world politics.

Concorde: The Cold War Supersonic Race

Origins of the Cold War

Following the end of the Second World War and the surrender of the Nazis in 1945, the uneasy alliance of the United States, the UK and USSR began to unravel.

By 1948 the Soviets had installed governments in all the Eastern European states liberated by the Red Army.

Fearing permanent Soviet dominance in the region, the Americans and British began to take action to prevent the spread of communism to western European countries.

The Cold War had fully formed by 1947 when US aid provided under the Marshall Plan to western Europe had brought those helped in line with American influence and the Soviets had fully installed openly communist regimes in eastern Europe.

The two sides of the conflict had drawn lines in the sand and the power struggle had properly begun.

Pigeons: The Secret Cold War Spies

Struggle between superpowers

The Cold War would reach its peak in 1948-53. During this period the Soviets blockaded the Western-held sectors of West Berlin unsuccessfully and the US and its European allies formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In that same window, the USSR exploded its first nuclear warhead, ending the American monopoly on the weapons and the Chinese Communist Government came into power, ramping up the geopolitical pressure.

Although never culminating in all-out war, these dominating superpowers instead won influence through a series of smaller proxy wars.

One of the earliest and most famous is when both sides exerted influence over the civil war in Korea after the Soviet-supported communist government of North Korea invaded the US-supported South Korea, ending in a tense stalemate three years later.

Revealing The Cold War Mysteries Of RAF Fylingdales

The death of long-time Russian dictator Stalin would temporarily ease tensions between the two, although the standoff remained.

The next period of high tension came in between 1958 and 1962, a span of time involving a crisis so severe it almost led to major conflict.

Both the US and the Soviets began developing intercontinental ballistic missiles and in 1962, the secret installation of them in Cuba brought US cities very obviously in range of devastation.

This led to one of the most famous diplomatic crises in US history, the Cuban Missile Crisis, which only ended when both sides reached an agreement to withdraw the missiles.

Although soon afterward, both sides would sign a ban on nuclear weapons testing, the event would reinforce the determination of both sides and see the beginning of a 25-year build-up of both conventional and strategic forces.

A new era

During the 1960s and 1970s the Cold War would become more complicated, as it became more difficult to define the allegiance of countries by simple blocs of influence.

Instead, the world was more obviously defined by sets of complex patterns of international relationships.

China split with the Soviet Union in 1960 and the divide was growing, while economic growth in the West reduced any reliance on the United States.

Traditionally less powerful countries were gaining independence and becoming much harder for either side to coerce.

Spycraft between the nations remained rife as a mutual distrust and constant fear of nuclear war led to paranoia and suspicion.

A British mission of spies, known as BRIXMIS, was able to send 31 members of personnel into East Germany to keep an eye on the USSR.

Special Report: Meet The Real Cold War Spies Of BRIXMIS

The 1970s saw another temporary bout of easing tensions as demonstrated by the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) that led to the SALT I and II agreements of 1972 and 1979.

These agreements saw the two superpowers set limits on their anti-ballistic missiles and on their strategic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

What followed was the last period of real tension between the two superpowers, expressing itself during the 1980s through a massive arms buildup and a competition for influence in the Third World.

But the rivalry began to break down in the later years of the decade as under Mikhail Gorbachev the Soviets began weakening the country's more totalitarian aspects.

His efforts to change the system this way also came as communist regimes in the Eastern European bloc began to collapse.

The rise of democratic governments in East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia were quickly followed by the reunification of Germany under NATO with Soviet approval.

In late 1991 the Soviet Union finally collapsed and 15 new independent nations were born from its territory, Russia soon elected a leader democratically to office, and the Cold War was over.

Key moments of the Cold War

1945

4-11 February: Yalta Conference meeting of FDR, Churchill, Stalin – the 'Big Three'. The Cold War Begins.

1946

9 February: Stalin hostile speech – communism and capitalism were incompatible.

5 March: Iron Curtain Speech by Winston Churchill – "an 'iron curtain' has descended on Europe".

10 March: Truman demands Russia leaves Iran.

1 July: Operation Crossroads with Test Able was the first public demonstration of America's atomic arsenal.

Why Cold War Skills Are Making A Comeback In The Army

1947

2 September: Rio Pact – The US meets Latin American countries and creates a security zone around the hemisphere.

1948

25 February: Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia.

2 March: Truman's Loyalty Program created to catch Cold War spies.

17 March: Brussels Pact organised to protect Europe from communism.

24 June: Berlin Blockade begins, lasting 11 months.

1949

4 April: NATO ratified.

29 August: Russia tested its first atomic bomb.

1 October: Communists take control of China and establish the People's Republic of China.

Watch: Our documentary on BRIXMIS - the Cold War British spies who kept an eye on the Soviet Union.

1950

24 June: Korean War begins. Stalin supports North Korea which invades South Korea equipped with Soviet weapons.

1952

A-bombs developed by Britain.

1954

March: CIA helps overthrow regimes in Iran and Guatemala.

1955

May: Warsaw Pact formed.

1956

29 June: USSR sends tanks into Poznan, Poland, to suppress demonstrations by workers.

October-November: Rebellion put down in Communist Hungary.

Berlin Wall: Then And Now

1957

4 October: Sputnik launched into orbit.

3 November: Sputnik II launched – space dog Laika died in space.

1958

31 January: Explorer I launched.

November: Khrushchev demands withdrawal of troops from Berlin.

1959

January: Cuba taken over by Fidel Castro.

1960

May: Soviet Union reveals that US spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory.

November: John F. Kennedy elected President of USA.

19 December: Cuba openly aligns itself with the Soviet Union and its policies.

1961

17 August: Construction of Berlin Wall begins.

1962

October: Cuban Missile Crisis.

1963

22 November: President Kennedy assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

1968

August: Soviet Red Army crushes Czechoslovakian revolt.

Checkpoint Charlie: 30 Years Since Cold War Crossing Was Dismantled

1969

20 July: Apollo 11 lands on the moon.

1972

July: SALT I treaty signed.

1973

January: Ceasefire in Vietnam between North Vietnam and United States.

September: US-supported coup overthrows Chilean government.

October: Egypt and Syria attack Israel. Egypt requests Soviet aid.

1975

17 April: North Vietnam defeats South Vietnam, which falls to Communist forces.

1979

January: US and China establish diplomatic relations.

July: SALT II treaty signed.

November: Shah of Iran overthrown. Iranian Hostage Crisis.

December: Soviet forces invade Afghanistan.

1983

October: US troops invade and overthrow regime in Grenada.

1985

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes leader of the Soviet Union initiating a campaign of openness and restructuring.

1986

October: President Reagan and Gorbachev resolve to remove all intermediate nuclear missiles from Europe.

1987

December: Reagan and Gorbachev sign the INF Treaty, agreeing to remove their "intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles". The agreement would continue for more than 30 years, until the withdrawal of both the United States and Russia.

What Was It Like Living In Cold War East Germany?

1989

January: Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

June: Poland becomes independent.

September: Hungary becomes independent.

November: Berlin Wall is demolished and East Germany allows unrestricted migration to West Germany.

December: Communist governments fall in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania.


Record Cross-Border Migrant Returns Contribute to Bleak Humanitarian Outlook for Afghanistan in 2021

Kabul – Over the last year, more than one million Afghan migrants have returned or been deported to Afghanistan from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran as COVID-19 continues to deprive many of employment and health care.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that more than 650,000 undocumented migrants will return in 2021 – all of whom will be in dire need of humanitarian support at a time when donor funding is a small fraction of what is needed.

As of 11 March, IOM reports that over 200,000 undocumented Afghan migrants have returned since the start of the year. This is more than double the rate of return over the same period in 2019 and 2020. Around half of these returns have been deportations in recent weeks.

The elevated numbers of people coming back into the country is expected to remain high through the month of March due to religious holidays in Iran, during which many people travel home to see loved ones.

“Desperation among the poor in Afghanistan has been growing over the years as there are fewer job opportunities at home. Many Afghans have no choice but to migrate to urban areas or other countries in search of a safer place to live, healthcare and education,” said Nicholas Bishop, IOM’s Cross-Border Response Programme Manager.

“We are now seeing an increasing number of migrants returning back to Afghanistan, as COVID-19 has destabilized economies where undocumented Afghans have limited access to health care due to their legal status. The situation is becoming more dire by the day.”

Many Afghan migrants return home with only the possessions they carry on their backs. Most have taken out significant loans to journey abroad in the first place and suffered from abuse during their time outside of the country.

Outsized cross-border returns are one symptom of a much larger problem. This year, as many as 13.2 million people are expected to suffer from a widespread drought and famine-like scenario, according to the newly released OCHA’s Afghanistan Spring Contingency Plan.

Combined with escalating levels of conflict and the ongoing consequences of COVID-19, the likelihood of additional waves of internal displacement, cross-border migration and a spike in humanitarian needs is high. Unfortunately, the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2021 is only 5 per cent funded as of 9 March.

IOM, together with the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and humanitarian partners, delivers humanitarian assistance and other services to returnees at major international border crossings with Iran and Pakistan. A network of transit facilities provides overnight accommodation, hot meals, health and protection services, and transportation support.

However, limited funding means that only 5 per cent of undocumented returnees receive the support they need each week.

As of 9 March, Afghanistan has officially confirmed over 55,000 COVID-19 infections at present with 2,450 deaths. Due to limited funding for the country’s COVID-19 response, the true rate of unrecorded infection is believed to be in the millions, according to Ministry of Public Health and WHO officials.

Despite the delivery in recent weeks of vaccine supplies from India and the COVAX Facility – the multilateral mechanism created to ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines among countries – and the start of a nationwide vaccination campaign, the identification of new viral variants is deeply concerning for Afghanistan, as vaccines are unlikely to be widely available until 2022 or later.

Under multi-donor funding contributions, IOM has deployed over 380 staff to support COVID-19 response efforts and ensure the continuation of basic primary health care in areas where hospital visits have declined by more than 25 per cent in the face of infection among health workers and rampant conflict.

Later this month, IOM will issue its global 2021 Strategic Response and Recovery Plan, highlighting IOM’s approach to address the urgent humanitarian consequences of the pandemic, as well as the medium to longer-term socioeconomic interventions required to ensure the resilience of affected populations in Afghanistan and beyond.

IOM Afghanistan is seeking USD 17 million in 2021 to respond to COVID-19.

For more information, please contact Nicholas Bishop, Emergency Response Officer, IOM Afghanistan, Tel: +93794445948, Email: [email protected] or Angela Wells, Public Information Officer, IOM in Geneva, Tel: +41 79 403 5365, Email: [email protected] .


Border crossings between USSR and Afghanistan in the 1960s - History

During the spring and summer of 1969, U.S. government officials watched the ideological and political split between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China escalate into fighting on Sino-Soviet borders. Some U.S. officials wondered whether the clashes would escalate some even speculated that the Soviet Union might launch attacks on Chinese nuclear weapons facilities. This electronic briefing book of declassified U.S. government documents captures the apprehensions on the U.S. side as well as on the part of the Chinese and the Russians, with Moscow worried about China's nuclear potential and Beijing worried about a Soviet attack. The briefing book includes some of the most significant sources cited in an article in the current issue of Cold War History, "Sino-American Relations, 1969: Sino-Soviet Border Conflict and Steps Toward Rapprochement," by William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive. Drawing on archival records and material released through the Freedom of Information Act, the article reviews the Nixon administration's early steps toward a new relationship with the People's Republic of China and the impact of Sino-Soviet tensions on the moves toward rapprochement taken by both Beijing and Washington.

The documents presented here highlight Washington's perceptions of the border tensions that escalated during March 1969 and the internal U.S. government discussions of the possibility of a wider Sino-Soviet war. The material also elucidates the Soviet Union's use of covert military threats to coerce Beijing into entering diplomatic negotiations over the disputed borders. A State Department memorandum of conversation, published here for the first time, recounts one of the more extraordinary moments in Cold War history--a KGB officer's query about the U.S. reaction to a hypothetical Soviet attack on Chinese nuclear weapons facilities. Also included is a recently declassified report warning of the danger of a Soviet attack on China, written for Henry Kissinger by the influential China watcher Allen S. Whiting.

Archival documents also illustrate secret White House initiatives during the summer and fall of 1969 to turn a page in Sino-American relations. Convinced that Sino-Soviet tensions provided a basis for rapprochement but also determined to minimize the State Department's role, Nixon and Kissinger tried to open secret communications with China through Pakistan and Romania. Other documents show how State Department officials tried to assert a role in policymaking on rapprochement and, before they were cut out altogether, made important contributions to White House efforts to signal a friendly interest in communications with China.

This briefing book also includes some interesting CIA Directorate of Intelligence material released through the Archive's FOIA requests. Top-secret "Weekly Reviews", published every Friday at noon, helped keep officials "with a need to know" apprised of current events, such as the Sino-Soviet border clashes. A reference in a report on Chinese diplomacy (document 28) to a secret directive from Zhou En-lai suggest that U.S. intelligence, perhaps the Hong Kong "China watchers", could acquire significant information on Chinese policymaking from refugees and other contacts.

Document 1
U.S. State Department, Bureau of Intelligence and Research: Intelligence Note, "USSR/China: Soviet and Chinese Forces Clash on the Ussuri River," 4 March 1969, Secret/No Foreign Dissemination/Controlled Dissemination 1
Source: National Archives, Record Group 59, Department of State Records, Subject-Numeric Files 1967-69 [hereinafter cited as SN 67-69, with file location], Pol 32-1 Chicom-USSR
Document 2
Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, "Weekly Review," 21 March 1969, Top Secret Umbra, No Foreign Dissem, excised copy
Source: CIA Freedom of Information release to National Security Archive
An early report from CIA's intelligence directorate accurately concluded that Beijing "triggered" the 2 March incident. 3 Another bloody exchange took place on 15 March when the Soviets deployed forces for retaliatory action CIA analysts saw that battle as a "Chinese effort to contest [the Soviet] presence."

CIA's "Weekly Review" appeared in two editions: one was classified "Secret"' the other was highly classified--"Top Secret Umbra"--the code word then assigned to communications intelligence. Interestingly, the "warning" on the document notified readers that they could not "take action" on comint--for example, use it for diplomatic or military advantage--without the permission of the Director of Central Intelligence.


Watch the video: Ντοκιμαντέρ με θέμα το Πραξικόπημα της 15ης Ιουλίου, 1974