Kandahar International Airport (more commonly known as Kandahar Airport) (IATA: KDH, ICAO: OAKN) is located 10 miles (16 kilometers) south-east ofKandahar CityinAfghanistan. The airport was built by theUnited Statesin the 1960s, under the United States Agency for International Development program. It may have been intended to be used as a possibleU.S. militarybase in case theUnited Statesand former USSR went to war. It was occupied by theSovietsin 1979, and was severely damaged during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan. It received further damages again during October 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom when theTalibangovernment was being toppled.
As of 2007, Kandahar Airport has been rebuilt and is used for both military and civilian flights. At first it was mainly occupied by the United States armed forces but since 2006 the airfield has been maintained by the Canadian Forces. There are also other forces present from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It is sometimes difficult to locate the airport from the sky during day-time because of lack of contrast with the ground and the usual dust or haze in the area. But during night the runway is well lit up and can easily be spotted because it is isolated from the population area.
The airfield itself was built between 1956 and 1962 by American consultants, for a cost of USD 15 million. Bearing a great resemblance to typical U.S. architecture of the time, its original purpose was as a refueling stop for long-range piston engined aircraft traveling between the Middle East and Southeast Asia. However, with the advent of jet aircraft, such stops were no longer necessary, and the airport saw little use.Since the airport was designed as a military base, it is more likely that the United States intended to use it as such in case there was a show-down of war between the United States and former USSR. While the United States was busy building Kandahar Airport, the USSR was busy in the north building Kabul Airport.
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the airfield was used intensively by the Soviet Air Forces, both as logistical facility for flying in troops and supplies and as a base for launching airstrikes against local Mujahideen groups.
Fighting in the Kandahar area was particularly intense. However Kandahar airport was left relatively untouched and its main building was largely intact at the end of the war. The airstrip did suffer extensive damage that was subsequently repaired by the United Nations in in the mid 1990s to support humanitarian flights.
The airport was mostly used at this time for military and humanitarian purposes, hosting regular flights of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to and from Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat and Peshawar (Pakistan). Ariana Afghan Airlines (the national carrier of Afghanistan) also flew infrequent flights out of Kandahar to Pakistan and a few locations in Afghanistan (Herat, Kabul, Jalalabad).
Taliban militias inKandahar airport guarding the Indian Airlines Flight 814
The airport came into the public eye during the tense drama that was played out when terrorists, who hijacked and landed Indian Airlines Flight 814 on the airfield in December 1999, ordered the Indian Government to ensure the release and safe-passage of three alleged terrorists in return for letting the occupants of the passenger plane leave without harm. Although the exact nature of the deal that was struck between the Indian Government and the hijacking group is not known at this point, it did secure the release of the 3 prisoners who were being held in a prison in India.
Operation Enduring Freedom
The airport's main terminal in 2002.
Capture and early buildup
During the current conflict, Kandahar Airport was one of the first coalition bases established in Afghanistan. It was captured by the US Marines 26th MEU in mid-December 2001, just a few weeks after the first coalition footprint was established at Camp Rhino in the desert to the southwest. The airport was captured by an air insertion coinciding with a rapid overland push from troops based at Camp Rhino. Major battles between the Taliban and Northern Alliance had been fought at the airport just days earlier, and when coalition troops arrived there were abandoned weapons - including a BM-21 still loaded with rockets - scattered around the terminal. Australian and Canadian special forces were amongst the first coaliton troops to relocate to Kandahar Airport, and by Christmas Day the US-led coalition had established a footprint of at least 1000 troops. A perimeter was quickly secured around the terminal building and airstrip, and initially all troops worked and lived in and around the main terminal building itself. The first spartan ablutions were established in the middle of a large rose garden out front, but shower facilities were not established for several weeks. By mid-January 2002, the 101st Airborne Division and Canadian Army started building up at Kandahar Airport, allowing the 26th MEU to depart. The accommodation area began to enlarge down along the airfield to where the current military base is located, and by April the coalition presence had expanded to several thousand personnel.
The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade is the main U.S. Army Aviation unit present. The 451st Air Expeditionary Wing is the main USAF unit present. As part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy also had based a squadron of Harrier GR7A aircraft at Kandahar Airfield to provide close air support to coalition ground forces. But since June 2009 they have been replaced by a squadron of Panavia Tornado GR4 aircraft, carrying out close air support and recce misions. The Royal Air Force also has based a detachment of C130 K and J model Hercules transport aircraft from 24, 30, 47 and 70 Squadrons and its attached Engineering detachment from 24/30 and 47/70 Engineering Squadrons RAF Lyneham. Eight F-16 close air support fighters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force were deployed to Kandahar Airfield to support the expanded NATO operation in southern Afghanistan in late 2006.
The government of Afghanistan has been slow in rebuilding the facility, the vast majority of it has been reclaimed from years of neglect and damage by Soviet and Taliban soldiers.
The interior gardens, pools, kitchen galley, restroom facility, and ticketing areas have been restored. With the transition of the U.S. passenger area terminal to the Afghans in 2005, the airport is currently used for civilian flights. It was used for the 2006 Hajj by Muslim pilgrims.
With the closure of Camp Julien inKabulon November 29, 2005, most of the Canadian Forces personnel in Afghanistan were transferred to Kandahar province in the southern part of the country. Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser took command of the multinational brigade from its headquarters at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) in March 2006.
At the same time, Canada also fielded a battle group for two successive six-month rotations, and deployed a new rotation for the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar. Since 2007, the airport is maintained by NATO under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) banner, although a prominent base for the US and Canadian Forces, many other Armed Forces are based there. British Forces use Kandahar as their main staging post for the South and fly direct into the Helmand province. Fast jets and combat helicopters are also deployed here as this is the main airport in the troubled south-east of the country.
The deployments in February 2006 brought Task Force Afghanistan in Kandahar to about 2,250 personnel. The mission of TFA was to improve the security situation in the southern areas, and play a key role in the transition from the U.S.-led multinational coalition to NATO leadership. This change was made in southern Afghanistan in the summer of 2006.
Kandahar and NATO
In July 2007, the post of Commander, Kandahar Airfield (COMKAF) was created as a NATO appointment which, to date, has been held by an officer of the Royal Air Force of OF-6 rank.
Commander, Kandahar Airfield has been held by:
July 2007 - Air Commodore A D Stevenson
February 2008 - Air Commodore R W Judson (exact date unknown)
September 2008 - Acting Air Commodore A D Fryer
July 2009 - Air Commodore M A B Brecht
May 2010 - Air Commodore G Moulds
No. 904 Wing RAF is stationed at the airport.
2009 troop surge
The 2009 surge in NATO operations in southern Afghanistan pushed the number of aircraft operations at the base from 1,700 to 5,000 flights a week. The numbers meant that Kandahar had become the busiest one-runway airport in the world.
This is a list of airports in Afghanistan, grouped by type and sorted by location.
Afghanistan has two major air gateways: Kabul International Airport, serving the capital, and Kandahar International Airport, serving the south of the country. The two airports were operated in the past under instrument flight rules with day and night operations. Four major domestic airports with airside pavements provide air connection to the major cities. In addition, 16 regional domestic airports are spread over the country serving the smaller, more remote areas. These airports have mainly gravelled airside facilities and operate under visual flight rules.
This transport-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Kabul International Airport (IATA: KBL, ICAO: OAKB),(Pashto: دکابل نړیوال هوایی ډګر), (Persian: میدان بین المللی کابل ), also known as Khwaja Rawash Airport, is located 16 kilometers (9 miles) from the city center of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Kabul International Airport was built in the early 1960s at a time when Afghanistan was becoming modernized. During the 10 year Soviet war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, the airport was in full control of the Red Army. Following the Soviet withdrawal it remained in control of the Soviet-backed Afghan military that switched to private militia and other regimes until late 2001 when the United States and allies invaded Afghanistan.
At first, Kabul Airport was only for the United States armed forces and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led peacekeeping force. After the removal of UN sanctions, in early 2002, it was finally allowed to be used for civilian airlines. The US military and ISAF (with the Romanian Air Force a lead contributor in 2005) run the military section of the airport and provide security there. The Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army are in control of security inside and around the airport.
History and construction
Kabul Airport in 1969
Kabul Airport was originally built in the early 1960s by Soviet Union engineers. Around this time in history, Afghanistan was becoming a modernized nation and catching up with the rest of the nations in the world. Many western tourists from places such as America, Europe, India, and else where started flocking to the country via Kabul Airport. This era tragically ended in late 1970s when the country began facing political turmoil.
The airport was used by the Soviet Union's Red Army during the Soviet War in Afghanistan, from 1979 to 1989, . It was also used by the military forces of former President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Najibullah, until 1992. It fell in the hands of local mujahideen forces for several years and then took over by the Taliban until late 2001 when they fled the city after US invasion of Afghanistan. Due to international sanctions under the Taliban government, the airport was closed in late 1990s, with very limited international flights.
Following the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan, after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States of America, Kabul International Airport was bombed and destroyed about a month later by the United States armed forces. All the planes on the ground were also hit and destroyed by the pilots of the United States Air Force. The airport has never seen any development until very recent when US and NATO forces took control of the premises.
In 2006, the government of Afghanistan accepted an assistance package from the government of Japan to rebuild Kabul International Airport. The plan included a modern 35 million US dollar terminal for international passengers. Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, and other high profile figures attended the inauguation ceremony. The new terminal was officially opened to international flights on 2 June 2009. The existing terminal has been refurbished and is currently being used for domestic flights.
Movements are expected to reach 100,000 by 2011, which is when Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air will receive their new airplanes. Also, the Afghan Air Force will receive 45 new aircraft by then.
Kabul Airport is the hub for the Afghan Air Force, which also provides security to the airport.
The North Side Cantonment - Kabul International Airport facility was completed and turned over to the United States armed forces in September / October 2008. It will house the command facilities for the Afghan National Army Air Corps, and includes housing, administrative, operations, maintenance and recreation facilities. The project includes two new hangar complexes, new taxiway and ramps. It is the headquarters and main base of the Air Corps. The first hangar facility was turned over to the Afghan National Air Corps in January 2008. The second hangar was completed in 2008.
Etihad Crystal Cargo operated by World Airways Abu Dhabi, Sharjah
Aerial view of entire airport plus nearby mountains
Kabul International is the hub for Ariana Afghan Airlines
Kam Air is also based from Kabul International
Passengers boarding Ariana Afghan Airlines in 2006
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates at Kabul International Airport
The airport has two terminal buildings, the modern for international flights and the Soviet built one for domestic flights. Several hangars along the runway are for military aircraft. There are no hangars for civilian (or transient) aircraft.
The airport has 7 helicopter pad for mostly military traffic.
Fire fighting equipment is present, replacing Soviet era tenders with donations from Britain and UAE.
Transportation to and from the airport are buses, taxi and private cars. The airport is connected to Kabul from a 4 lane highway, but it shares the roadway with pedestrian traffic.
Accidents and incidents
On 2 January 1962, Iran Air Flight 123, a Douglas C-47 on a cargo flight, crashed whilst attempting to take-off from Kabul. During the take-off roll the captain noticed a malfunction in the number 1 engine followed by the aircraft veering to the left of the runway. To avoid a crash, the captain pulled the aircraft up into the air, but whilst attempting to turn the aircraft away from the airport, a wing struck the ground followed by a crash. Both crew members survived.
On 21 September 1984, an Ariana Afghan Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 was hit by explosive bullets while on approach to Kabul Airport. All passengers and crew survived the incident.
On 12 June 1990, an Aeroflot Ilyushin Il-76 was struck by a missile whilst flying at 22,500 ft (6,858 m) causing two engines to shut down. The aircraft made a forced landing in Kabul with no flaps on an unpaved runway. All 10 crew survived.
On 29 May 1992, an Ariana Afghan Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 was struck by a missile while landing in Kabul. The nose of the aircraft was damaged but the flight landed safely. All passengers and crew survived.
On 19 March 1998, an Ariana Afghan Airlines Boeing 727-200 crashed into the 3,000 ft (914 m) Sharki Baratayi mountain whilst descending into Kabul. All 10 crew and 35 passengers on board died.
On 16 September 2004, an Antonov An-24 operated by Kam Air, slewed off the runway while landing at Kabul slightly injuring some of the 27 passengers aboard, but the plane was not damaged.
On 3 February 2005, Kam Air Flight 904, a Boeing 737-200 operated by Phoenix Aviation, vanished from radar screens on approach to Kabul in poor weather, sparking a massive ANA search operation for the 96 passengers and eight crew. The wreckage of the aircraft was found two days later in the mountains east of Kabul, but all 104 people on board had been killed.
On 11 March 1985, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-30 was on an aerial photography flight in the Kabul area south of the Panjshir Valley. Upon returning to the airport, the aircraft was struck by a Strela missile. The captain tried to make an emergency landing at Bagram but was too high. A fire ignited by the missile strike then reached the aileron controls causing the pilots to lose control; three of the five crew members evacuated the aircraft safely, but the other two crew members died.
On 29 November 1986, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26 was hit by a stinger missile whilst climbing out of Kabul. The aircraft was carrying several tons of S-24 rockets and 400 kg of explosives to Jalalabad in Afghanistan. All seven crew members perished.
On 21 October 1987, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-12BK collided with a Mil Mi-24 helicopter whilst taking off in poor visibility. The flight was heading for the capital city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent; 18 of the 19 passengers and crew died.
On 21 December 1987, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26 was hit by a stinger missile whilst circling to a safe altitude shortly after take-off. The number one engine was hit causing the fuel tank to get punctured. Smoke entered the cabin so all six crew members parachuted out; the captain jumped out too close to the ground to open his parachute, he died apon impacting the ground.
On 24 June 1988, a Soviet Air Force Antonov An-26 was hit by bullets fired from Mujahideen rebels. The aircraft crashed in Kabul killing one of the six crew members on board.
On 28 August 1992, a Soviet Air Force Ilyushin Il-76MD was hit by a renegade Mujahideen rocket whilst boarding Russian embassy staff.
On 5 August 2008, a United Arab Emirates Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules overran the runway upon landing in Kabul causing a fire in the forward section of the aircraft. The aircraft was carrying aid to Afghanistan. All crew members survived.
On 8 September 2009, a bomb blast occurred near the airport's entrance around 8:22am local time.
Kabul (Persian: کابل Kābol IPA: [kɒːˈbol]; Pashto: کابل Kābul IPA: [kɑˈbul]; archaic Caubul), is the capital and largest city ofAfghanistan, located in the Kabul Province. According to the 2008 official estimates, the population of Kabul metropolitan area is 2.8 million people.
It is an economic and cultural centre, situated 5,900 ft (1,800 m) above sea level in a narrow valley, wedged between the Hindu Kush mountains along the Kabul River. The city is linked with Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif via a circular highway that stretches across the country. It is also the start of the main road to Jalalabad and further to Peshawar, Pakistan.
Kabul's main products include fresh and dried fruit, nuts, Afghan rugs, leather and sheep skin products, domestic clothes and furniture, and antique replicas, but the 1978-2001 wars have limited the economic productivity of the city. Economic productivity has improved since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in late 2001.
Kabul is over 3,500 years old; many empires have long fought over the city for its strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia. From 1504 to 1526, Kabul served as the original capital of Babur, builder of the Mughal Empire. It remained under the Delhi Sultanate until 1738, when Nader Shah and his Afsharid forces invaded the Mughal Empire. After the death of Nader Shah Afsharid in 1747, the city fell to Ahmad Shah Durrani, who quickly added it to his new Afghan Empire. In 1776, Timur Shah Durrani made it the capital of the modern state of Afghanistan. Since the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan, the city has been a target of militant groups. It is currently being re-developed but attacks by Taliban and other militants are slowing down the reconstruction process.
The Kabul valley is believed to be over 5,000 years old. The word "Kubhā" is mentioned in Rigveda and the Avesta around 3000 BC, which appears to refer to the Kabul River. The Rigveda praises it as an ideal city, a vision of paradise set in the mountains. Others suggest that the city may have been established between 2000 BC and 1500 BC. The area in which the Kabul valley sat in was part of the Median Empire before being conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire. There is a reference to a settlement called Kabura by the rulers of the Achaemenid Empire (Darius, Darius II and Darius III of Persia), which may be the basis for the future use of the name Kabura (Κάβουρα) by Ptolemy. It became a centre of Zoroastrianism followed by Buddhism and Hinduism later. Alexander the Great explored the Kabul valley after his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire in 330 BC but no record has been made of Kabul, which may have been only a small town and not worth writing about. The region became part of the Seleucid Empire before falling to the Indian Maurya Empire.
Alexander took these away from the Aryans and established settlements of his own, but Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus (Chandragupta), upon terms of intermarriage and of receiving in exchange 500 elephants.
—Strabo, 64 BC–24 AD
The Greco-Bactrians captured Kabul from the Mauryans in the early 2nd century BC, then lost the city to their subordinates in the Indo-Greek Kingdom around the mid-2nd century BC. The Bactrians founded the town of Paropamisadae near Kabul, but it was later ceded to the Mauryans in the 1st century BC. Indo-Scythians expelled the Indo-Greeks by the mid 1st century BC, but lost the city to the Kushan Empire about 100 years later.
Kushano-Hephthalite Kingdoms in 565 AD
According to historians the Sanskrit name of Kabul is believed to be Kamboja (Kamboj). It is mentioned as Kophes or Kophene in some classical writings. Hsuan Tsang refers to the name as Kaofu in the 7th century AD, which is the appellation of one of the five tribes of the Yuezhi who had migrated from across the Hindu Kush into the Kabul valley around the beginning of the Christian era. It was conquered by Kushan Emperor Kujula Kadphises in about 45 AD and remained Kushan territory until at least the 3rd century AD. The Kushans are believed to be of Turkic origin.
“ The Yueh-ci of the Chinese, of whome the Kushans were a branch, are believed to have been of Turkish origin, but it is probable that they were partly of Iranian blood and culture, which would have rendered easier their assimilation by the pre-existing Iranian population (including the Sakas). The portraits on their coins show them as sturdy bearded men with long noses, in fact of the type still prevailing among Afghans and Tadjiks; their language seems to have been (or to have rapidly become) Iranian, and the Gods they worshipped were mainly Persian. Their home before they were attacked by the Hiung-nu was in Chinese Turkistan where recent discoveries show the early civilization to have been mainly Iranian and the language identical with that of Sogdiana. They probably assimilated other Iranian elements during their residence in the Oxus country, and learnt something also from the Greek princes whose coins they imitated, although their knowledge of Greek was much less perfect than that of the Sakas, and they often used Persian words written with Greek letters. ”
Around 230 AD, the Kushans were defeated by the Sassanid Empire and replaced by Sassanid vassals known as the Indo-Sassanids. During the Sassanian period, the city was referred to as "Kapul" in Pahlavi scripts. In 420 AD the Indo-Sassanids were driven out of Afghanistan by the Xionite tribe known as the Kidarites, who were then replaced in the 460s by the Hephthalites. It became part of the surviving Turk Shahi Kingdom of Kapisa, also known as Kabul-Shahan. According to Táríkhu-l Hind by Al-Biruni, Kabul was governed by princes of Turkic lineage who's rule lasted for 60 generations.
Kábul was formerly governed by princes of Turk lineage. It is said that they were originally from Tibet. The first of them was named Barhtigín, * * * * and the kingdom continued with his children for sixty generations. * * * * * The last of them was a Katormán, and his minister was Kalar, a Bráhman. This minister was favoured by fortune, and he found in the earth treasures which augmented his power. Fortune at the same time turned her back upon his master. The Katormán's thoughts and actions were evil, so that many complaints reached the minister, who loaded him with chains, and imprisoned him for his correction. In the end the minister yielded to the temptation of becoming sole master, and he had wealth sufficient to remove all obstacles. So he established himself on the throne. After him reigned the Bráhman(s) Samand, then Kamlúa, then Bhím, then Jaipál, then Anandpál, then Narda-janpál, who was killed in A.H. 412. His son, Bhímpál, succeeded him, after the lapse of five years, and under him the sovereignty of Hind became extinct, and no descendant remained to light a fire on the hearth. These princes, notwithstanding the extent of their dominions, were endowed with excellent qualities, faithful to their engagements, and gracious towards their inferiors...
—Abu Rayhan Biruni, 978-1048
The Kabul Turks and Hindus built a huge defensive wall around the city to protect it from future invaders. This wall has survived until today and is also considered a historical site,.
Islamic conquest to the Mongol invasion,
Islamic conquest of Afghanistan,
The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began from Herat, which was one of the important cities of Khorasan, and made its way to Kabul in the late 7th century.
The Islamic conquest reached modern-day Afghanistan in 642, at a time when Kabul was ruled by an Indian. A number of failed expeditions were made to Islamize the region. In one of them, Abdu-r Rahmán bin Shimar invaded Kabul in the late 7th century and managed to convert 12,000 local inhabitants to Islam before abandoning the city. Muslims were a minority until Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar of Zaranj conquered Kabul in 870 and established the first Islamic dynasty in the region. It was reported in early 900 AD that the rulers of Kabul were Muslims with non-Muslims living close by.
"Kábul has a castle celebrated for its strength, accessible only by one road. In it there are Musulmáns, and it has a town, in which are infidels from Hind."
Over the centuries to come, the city was successively controlled by the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, and Kartids. In the 13th century the Mongol horde passed through and caused massive destruction in the area. Report of a massacre in the close by Bamiyan is recorded around this period, where the entire population of the valley was annihilated by the Mongol troops as a revenge for the death of Genghis Khan's grandson. One of Genghis Khan's grandson is thought to be named Kabul. During the Mongol invasion, many natives of Afghanistan fled to India where some established dynasties in Delhi.
Following the era of the Khilji dynasty in 1333, a famous Moroccan travelling scholar, Ibn Battuta, was visiting Kabul and he mentioned that Kabul was inhabitated by Persian-speaking Afghan tribes:
We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen. Their principle mountain is called Kuh Sulayman.
—Ibn Battuta, 1304–1369
Timurid and Mughal era,
Timurid dynasty and Mughal Empire,
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's sons, Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad Baksh.
In the 14th century, Kabul rose again as a trading centre under the kingdom of Timur (Tamerlane). By 1504, the city was revitalized by Babur and made into his headquarters, which remained one of the principle cities of the Mughal Empire for over 200 years. In 1525, he described Kabul as a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual region in his memoirs titled Baburnama.
In the country of Kābul there are many and various tribes. Its valleys and plains are inhabited by Tūrks, Aimāks, and Arabs. In the city and the greater part of the villages, the population consists of Tājiks . Many other of the villages and districts are occupied by Pashāis, Parāchis, Tājiks, Berekis, and Afghans. In the hill-country to the west, reside the Hazāras and Nukderis. Among the Hazāra and Nukderi tribes, there are some who speak the Moghul language. In the hill-country to the north-east lies Kaferistān, such as Kattor and Gebrek. To the south is Afghanistān... There are eleven or twelve different languages spoken in Kābul: Arabic, Persian, Tūrki, Moghuli, Hindi, Afghani, Pashāi, Parāchi, Geberi, Bereki, and Lamghāni...
Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, a poet from India who visited at the time wrote: "Dine and drink in Kabul: it is mountain, desert, city, river and all else." It was from here that Babur began his 1526 conquest of India. Babur wished to be buried in Kabul, a city he had always loved, but at first he was buried in Agra, India. Roughly nine years later his remains were dug back up and re-buried at Bagh-e Babur (Babur Gardens) in Kabul by Sher Shah Suri on orders by Babur's wife. The inscription on his tomb contains Persian words penned which states:"اگر پردیس روی زمین است همین است و همین است و همین است" (If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!)
The city was often contested by Babur's sons, especially Kamran Mirza and Humayun. Humayun was chased away from Hindustan by Sher Shah Suri but was able to return in November 1545 with Persian aid, where he is believed to have taken Kabul without any blood-spills. Kamran managed to retake Kabul twice but he remained a hated figure to the residents of the city, as his periods of rule involved atrocities against large numbers of them. Following his third and final ejection from Kabul in 1552, Kamran fled and was captured in Punjab by a general of Islam Shah Suri, ruler of the Sur Empire in northern India. Kamran was handed over to Humayun in Kabul, who made him blind.
Durrani Empire and the Afghan nation-state,
Shah Shuja, the last Durrani King, sitting at his court inside the Bala Hissar before it was destroyed by the British Army
Nader Shah Afshar invaded and occupied the city briefly in 1738 but was assassinated nine years later. Ahmad Shah Durrani, who commanded 4,000 Abdali Afghans under Nader Shah, asserted Pashtun rule in 1747 and further expanded his new Afghan Empire. His ascension to power marked the beginning of Afghanistan. His son Timur Shah Durrani, after inheriting power, transferred the capital of Afghanistan from Kandahar to Kabul in 1776. Timur Shah died in 1793 and was succeeded by his son Zaman Shah Durrani. The first European to visit Kabul was the 18th century English traveller George Foster, who described it as "the best and cleanest city in Asia".
In 1826, the kingdom was claimed by Dost Mohammad Khan and taken from him by the British Indian Army in 1839, who installed the unpopular Shah Shuja. An 1841 local uprising resulted in the loss of the British mission and the subsequent Massacre of Elphinstone's Army of approximately 16,000 foreign forces, which included civilians and camp followers on their retreat from Kabul to Jalalabad. In 1842 the British returned, plundering Bala Hissar in revenge before fleeing back to British India (now Pakistan). Dost Mohammed returned to the throne.
The British and Indian forces invaded in 1878 as Kabul was under Sher Ali Khan's rule, but the British residents were again massacred. The invaders again came in 1879 under General Roberts, partially destroying Bala Hissar before retreating to British India (Pakistan). Amir Abdur Rahman Khan was left in control of the country.
In the early 20th century King Amanullah Khan rose to power. His reforms included electricity for the city and schooling for girls. He drove a Rolls-Royce, and lived in the famous Darul Aman Palace. In 1919, after the Third Anglo-Afghan War, Amanullah announced Afghanistan's independence from foreign affairs at Eidgah Mosque. In 1929 Ammanullah Khan left Kabul due to a local uprising orchestrated by Habibullah Kalakani and Ammanullah's brother, Nader Khan, took control over the nation. King Nader Khan was assassinated in 1933 and the throne was left to his 19-year-old son, Zahir Shah, who became the long lasting King of Afghanistan.
Life of Kabul's people in the 1950s.
During this period between the two World Wars France and Germany worked to help develop the country in both the technical and educational spheres. Both countries maintained high schools and lycees in the capital and provided an education for the children of elite families. Kabul University opened in 1932 and soon was linked to both European and American universities, as well as universities in other Muslim countries in the field of Islamic studies. By the 1960s the majority of instructors at the university had degrees from Western universities.
Aerial view of Kabul in 1969
When Zahir Shah took power in 1933 Kabul had the only 6 miles of rail in the country, few internal telegraph or phone lines and few roads. He turned to the Japanese, Germans and Italians for help developing a modern network of communications and roads. A radio tower built by the Germans in 1937 in Kabul allowed instant communication with outlying villages. A national bank and state cartels were organized to allow for economic modernization. Textile mills, power plants and carpet and furniture factories were also built in Kabul, providing much needed manufacturing and infrastructure.
In 1955 the Soviet Union forwarded $100 million in credit to Afghanistan, which financed public transportation, airports, a cement factory, mechanized bakery, a five-lane highway from Kabul to the Soviet border and dams.
In the 1960s, Kabul developed a cosmopolitan mood. The first Marks & Spencer store in Central Asia was built there. Kabul Zoo was inaugurated in 1967, which was maintained with the help of visiting German zoologists. Many foreigners began flocking to Kabul with the increase in global air travels around that time. The nation's tourism industry was starting to pick up rapidly for the first time. Kabul experimented with liberalization, dropping laws requiring women to wear the burka, restrictions on speech and assembly loosened which led to student politics in the capital. Socialist, Maoist and liberal factions demonstrated daily in Kabul while more traditional Islamic leaders spoke out against the failure to aid the Afghan countryside. A 1969 a religious uprising at the Pul-e Khishti Mosque protested the Soviet Union's increasing influence over Afghan politics and religion. This protest ended in the arrest of many of its organizers, including Mawlana Faizani, a popular Islamic scholar.In the early 1970s Radio Kabul began to broadcast in other languages besides Pashtun which helped to unify those minorities that often felt marginalized, however this was put to a stop with Daoud's revolution in 1973.
The day after the April 1978 Saur Revolution
In July 1973, Zahir Shah was ousted in a nonviolent coup and Kabul became the capital of a republic under Mohammed Daoud Khan, the new President. Daoud's revolution was actually supported by the communist party in the city, the PDP. The support of the PDP helped to prevent a violent clash in his coup in 1973. He named himself President of this new democracy and planned to institute reforms. Daoud was the long standing prime minister, and while he instituted a republic he had Soviet leanings in terms of political allies. He had welcomed Soviet military aid and advisors in 1956 and the nation slowly took on the appearance of what one US diplomat called a "Soviet-style police state, where there is no free press, no political parties, and where the ruthless suppression of minorities is the established pattern." Conversely, some of the people of Kabul who lived under King Zahir Shah describe the period before the April 1978 Saur Revolution as a sort of golden age. All the different ethnic groups or tribes of Afghanistan lived together harmoniously and thought of themselves first and foremost as Afghans. They intermarried and mixed socially.
In the later years of his leadership, Daoud began to shift favour from the Soviet Union to Islamic nations, expressing admiration for their wealth from oil and expecting economic aid from them to quickly surpass that of the Soviet Union. The slow speed of reforms however frustrated both the Western educated elite and the Russian trained army officers. Daoud forced many communists out of his government, which unified the various communist factions within the city.
This would ultimately lead to the Saur Revolution which occurred on April 27, 1978. The PDPA, the People's Democratic Party Army, seized the palace and killed Daoud and his family along with many of his supporters. The new communist regime moved quickly to institute reforms. Private businesses were nationalized in the Soviet manner. Education was modified into the Soviet model, with lessons focusing on teaching Russian, Leninism-Marxism and learning of other countries belonging to the Soviet bloc. Rural guerrillas and disaffected army deserters took up arms in the name of Islam, due to the communist regime's increasing rejection of it. This rebellion would eventually lead to the invasion of Afghanistan by Russian forces,.
Soviet invasion and civil war,
Soviet war in Afghanistan and Civil war in Afghanistan,
Tajbeg Palace in Kabul was used as the headquarters of the Soviet 40th Army
After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, on December 24, 1979, the Red Army occupied the capital. They turned the city into their command centre during the 10-year conflict between the Soviet-allied government and the Mujahideen rebels. The American Embassy in Kabul closed on January 30, 1989. The city fell into the hands of local militias and warlords after the 1992 collapse of Mohammad Najibullah's pro-communist government. As these forces between Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras, and Pashtuns divided into warring factions, the city increasingly suffered. In December, the last of the 86 city trolley buses came to a halt because of the conflict. A system of 800 public buses continued to provide transportation services to the city. By 1993 electricity and water in the city was completely out. At this time, Burhannudin Rabbani's Tajik fighters (Jamiat-e Islami) held power but the nominal Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e Islami, Dostum's Junbish and Abdul Ali Mazari's Hezbe Wahdat began shelling the city, which lasted until 1996. Initially the factions in the city aligned to fight off Hekmatyar but diplomacy between the groups quickly broke down. Due to the groups being mainly divided by ethnic origins the fighting quickly took on a genocidal aspect. The goal was to "purposefully eliminate people of a different identity ... by means of large-scale slaughter, coercive relocation, extortion and other modes of intimidation, such as rape and torture." Political control became almost feudal in manner, with a warlord controlling whatever area he and his followers could manage to militarily conquer. Tens of thousand of Kabul citizens were killed and many more fled as refugees. The United Nations estimated that 90% of the buildings in Kabul were destroyed during these years.
Kabul was captured by the Taliban on September 26, 1996, publicly lynching ex-President Najibullah and his brother. During this time, all the fighting between the rival groups came to a sudden end. Burhannudin Rabbani, Gulbuddin Heckmatyar, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Ahmad Shah Massoud, and the rest of the warlords all fled the city. The Taliban rule also did not last long, which made Afghanistan come to the brink of starvation,.
Approximately five years later, in October 2001, the United States armed forces assisted by British Armed Forces invaded the country during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Taliban abandoned Kabul in the following months due to extensive American and British bombing, while the Afghan Northern Alliance (former mujahideen and warlords) came to retake control of the city. In late December 2001 Kabul became the capital of the Afghan Transitional Administration, which transformed to the present Government of Afghanistan that is led by President Hamid Karzai.
Since the beginning of 2003, the city of Kabul has been slowly developing with the help of foreign investment. It is also the scene of many suicide bombings and powerful explosions where many people become casualties. Most attacks are carried out against government and military installations but the majority of the victims are civilians. From early 2002 to 2008, security was provided by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but now the newly trained Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA) are in charge of the area,.
Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
Kabul has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) with precipitation concentrated in the winter (sometimes falling as snow) and spring months. Summer starts in May and ends in August, and has very low humidity, providing relief from the heat. Autumn, consisting September and October, is warm and dry. Winters are mildly cold, lasting from November to March. Spring in Kabul starts in late March and is the wettest time of the year.
Climate data for Kabul
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Precipitation mm (inches)
Source: World Meteorological Organisation (UN)
Kabul City is one of the 15 districts of Greater Kabul (the province), and is divided into 18 sectors. Each sector covers several neighborhoods of the city. The number of sectors in Kabul increased from 11 to 18 in 2005.
Unlike other cities of the world, Kabul City has two independent councils or administrations at once: Prefecture and Municipality. The Prefect, who is also the Governor of Kabul Province, is appointed by the Ministry of Interior, and is responsible for the administrative and formal issues of the entire province. The Mayor of Kabul City is selected by the President of Afghanistan, who engages in the city's planning and environmental work.
The police and security forces belong to the prefecture and Ministry of Interior. The Chief of Police is selected by the Minister of Interior and is responsible for law enforcement and security of the city.
Areas of city
The following is a list of Kabul neighborhoods:
Public places' map of inner Kabul
Shahr-e-Naw (New City)
Wazir Akbar Khan
Macrorayon (1, 2, 3 and 4)
Khair Khana (1, 2 and 3)
Wazir Akbar Khan
Kartey Naw (New Quarter)
Kartey (3 & 4)
Shahr-e-Kohna (Old City)
Demography of Afghanistan and Afghan refugees,
Boys and girls of Kabul dressed in local traditional clothes
The Kabul metropolitan area has a population of 2.8 million inhabitants. The wider Kabul province, which also includes rural areas, has a population of around 3.5 million people, while the Kabul city's population makes almost 80 percent of the total provincial population.
The population of the city reflects the general multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-confessional characteristics of Afghanistan. There is no official government report on the exact ethnic make-up of the city but according to a 2003 estimate by the National Geographic Society, Persian-speakers form the majority of the city's population, with Tajiks being the largest group at approximately 45% followed by Hazaras at 25%. Pashtuns form another 25%. The remaining 5% include Turkic-speaking Uzbek and Turkmen as well as Aimak, Baloch, Pashai and others. Regardless of their ethnic background, every resident of Kabul are referred to as Kabuli or Kabulai.
Nearly all the people of Kabul are Muslim, about 75% Sunnis and 25% Shias. Small number of Sikhs and Hindus are also found in the city. There is at least one Jew in Kabul, whose name is Zablon Simintov,.
Transport in Kabul,
Transport in Afghanistan,
The domestic terminal of Kabul International Airport
Kabul International Airport, located 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the centre of Kabul, is the country's main airport. It is a hub to Ariana Afghan Airlines, which is the national airlines carrier of Afghanistan. Kam Air, Pamir Airways, and Safi Airways also have their headquarters in Kabul. Airlines from nearby nations such as Pakistan, Iran, India, and several others also make stops at Kabul Airport. A new international terminal was built by the government of Japan and began operation in 2008. The new terminal is the first of three terminals to be opened so far. The other two will open once air traffic to the city increases. Passengers coming from most foreign nations use mostly Dubai for flights to Kabul. Kabul Airport also has a military air base which serves as the main airport for Afghan National Air Corps. NATO also uses the Kabul Airport, but most military traffic is based at Bagram Air Base, just north of Kabul. The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police are in charge of the airport security. For the year of 2009, the militaries of Hungary and Poland were the operators of the entire airport, paying for the upkeep and protection of the facility, under command of NATO.
Bus service to most major cities of the country is available in Kabul although they are not as safe, especially for foreigners. The city's public buses (Milli Bus / "National Bus") take commuters on daily routes to many destinations. The service currently has approximately 800 buses but is gradually expanding and upgrading with more buses being added. The Kabul bus system has recently discovered a new source of revenue in whole-bus advertising from MTN similar to "bus wrap" advertising on public transit in more developed nations. There is also an express bus that runs from the city centre to Kabul International Airport for Safi Airways passengers. There are also yellow taxicabs just about anywe in and around the city.
Private vehicles are on the rise in Kabul, with Toyota, Nissan, and other dealerships in the city. People are buying new cars as the roads and highways are being improved. Most drivers in Kabul prefer owning a Toyota Corolla, one of Afghanistan's most popular car. It has even been reported that up to 90% of cars in Kabul are Corollas.With the exception of motorcycles many vehicles in the city operate on LPG. Gas stations are mainly private-owned but the fuel comes from Iran. Bikes on the road are a common sight in the city,.
Communications in Kabul,
Communications in Afghanistan,
GSM/GPRS mobile phone services in the city are provided by Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, Roshan and MTN. In November 2006, the Afghan Ministry of Communications signed a US 64.5 million dollar agreement with a company (ZTE Corporation) on the establishment of a countrywide fibre optical cable network. This will improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services not just in Kabul but throughout the country. Internet was introduced in the city in 2002 and has been expanding rapidly.
There are a number of post offices throughout the city. Package delivery services like FedEx, TNT N.V., and DHL are also available.
The city has many local-language radio stations, including Pashto and Dari, as well as some programs in the English language. The Afghan government has become increasingly intolerant of Indian channels and the un-Islamic culture they bring, and has threatened to ban them,.
Education in Kabul,
Education in Afghanistan and List of schools in Afghanistan,
Public and private schools in the city reopened since 2002 after they were shut down or destroyed from the fightings in the 1980s to the late 1990s. Boys and girls are strongly encouraged to attend schools under the Karzai administration but many more schools are needed not only in Kabul but throughout the country. The Afghan Ministry of Education has plans to build more schools in the coming years so that education is provided to all citizens of the country. The most well known high schools in Kabul include:
Habibia High School, a British-Afghan school founded in 1903 by King Habibullah Khan.
Lycée Esteqlal, a Franco-Afghan school founded in 1922.
Amani High School, a German-Afghan school for boys founded in 1924.
Aisha-i-Durani School, a German-Afghan school for girls.
The city's colleges and universities were renovated after 2002. Some of them have been developed recently, while others have existed since the early 1900s.
Kabul Medical University
KUniversities in Kabul,
Further information: List of universities in Afghanistan
Kabul Medical University
Polytechnical University of Kabul (Kabul Polytechnic)
American University of Afghanistan
Higher Education Institute of Karwan
Rana Institute of Higher Education
Bakhtar Institute of Higher Education
National Military Academy of Afghanistan
Kateb Institute of Higher Education,
Kabul Places of interest,
The old part of Kabul is filled with bazaars nestled along its narrow, crooked streets. Cultural sites include the Afghan National Museum, notably displaying an impressive statue of Surya excavated at Khair Khana, the ruined Darul Aman Palace, the Mausoleum of Emperor Babur and Chehlstoon Park, the Minar-i-Istiqlal (Column of Independence) built in 1919 after the Third Afghan War, the mausoleum of Timur Shah Durrani, and the imposing Id Gah Mosque (founded 1893). Bala Hissar is a fort destroyed by the British in 1879, in retaliation for the death of their envoy, now restored as a military college. The Minaret of Chakari, destroyed in 1998, had Buddhist swastika and both Mahayana and Theravada qualities.
Other places of interest include Kabul City Center, which is Kabul's first shopping mall, the shops around Flower Street and Chicken Street, Wazir Akbar Khan district, Babur Gardens, Kabul Golf Club, Kabul Zoo, Shah Do Shamshera and other famous Mosques, the Afghan National Gallery, Afghan National Archive, Afghan Royal Family Mausoleum, the OMAR Mine Museum, Bibi Mahroo Hill, Kabul Cemetery, and Paghman Gardens.
Tappe-i-Maranjan is a nearby hill where Buddhist statues and Graeco-Bactrian coins from the 2nd century BC have been found. Outside the city proper is a citadel and the royal palace. Paghman and Jalalabad are interesting valleys north and east of the city.
Shar-e Naw Park during the winter
Kabul International Airport
Bāgh-e Bābur Park (Babur Gardens)
Bāghi Bālā Park
Lake Qargha Park
Shar-e Naw Park
Bebi Mahroo Park
Abdul Rahman Mosque
Id Gah Mosque
Pul-e Khishti Mosque
Shah-e Do Shamshera Mosque
Shar-e Naw Park during the winter
Mausoleum of Tamim Ansar
Mausoleum of Timur Shah Durrani
Mausoleum of Abdur Rahman Khan
Mausoleum of Zahir Shah and Nadir Shah
Marriott (under construction)
Safi Landmark Hotel
Golden Star Hotel
Heetal Plaza Hotel
Kabul Reconstruction and developments,
New office building
As of October 2007, there are approximately 16 licensed banks in Kabul: including Da Afghanistan Bank, Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul Bank, Azizi Bank, Pashtany Bank, Afghan United Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Punjab National Bank, Habib Bank and others. Western Union offices are also found in many locations throughout the city, which are mainly used by expatriate Afghans to transfer funds to their families at home.
A small sized indoor shopping mall (Kabul City Center) with a 4-star (Safi Landmark) hotel on the top six floors opened in 2005. A 5-star Serena Hotel also opened in 2005. Another 5-star Marriott Hotel is under construction. The landmark InterContinental Hotel has also been refurbished and is in operation. Modern apartment buildings are also being built across Kabul, as part of the attempt to modernize the city.
An initial concept design called the City of Light Development, envisioned by Dr. Hisham N. Ashkouri, Principal of ARCADD, Inc. for the development and the implementation of a privately based investment enterprise has been proposed for multi-function commercial, historic and cultural development within the limits of the Old City of Kabul along the Southern side of the Kabul River and along Jade Meywand Avenue, revitalizing some of the most commercial and historic districts in the City of Kabul, which contains numerous historic mosques and shrines as well as viable commercial activities among war damaged buildings. Also incorporated in the design is a new complex for the Afghan National Museum. Dr. Ashkouri has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with His Excellency Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad in Washington, D.C. to undertake this project and to develop it for actual implementation over the next 20 to 25 years. Dr. Ashkouri has presented the City of Light Plan to President Karzai and has received a letter of support from the President and the Minister of Urban Development in support of this project's development.
The plan for Kabul's nine billion dollar future modern urban development project, the City of Light Development.
About 4 miles (6 km) from downtown Kabul, in Bagrami, a 22-acre (9 ha) wide industrial complex has completed with modern facilities, which will allow companies to operate businesses there. The park has professional management for the daily maintenance of public roads, internal streets, common areas, parking areas, 24 hours perimeter security, access control for vehicles and persons. Another phase with additional 27 acres (11 ha) of land will be added immediately proceeding the first phase.
A $25 million Coca-Cola bottling plant was opened in 2006. Financing was provided by a Dubai-based Afghan family. President Hamid Karzai formally opened the facility in an attempt to attract more foreign investment in the city. In late 2007 the government announced that all the residential houses situated on mountains would be removed within a year so that trees and other plants can be grown on the hills. The plan is to try to make the city greener and provide residents with a more suitable place to live, on a flat surface. Once the plan is implemented it will provide water supply and electricity to each house. All the city roads will also be paved under the plan, which will solve transportation problems,.
Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs), both national and international, are based in Kabul, conducting various activities to assist development in Afghanistan and provide humanitarian relief to the many victims which 30 years of war have produced.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is the largest not-for-profit organization in Afghanistan. It has been involved in most major development projects, including the Serena Hotel, the first five-star hotel in Afghanistan, as well as the restoration of the Bagh-e Babur gardens. AKDN also launched the award-winning Roshan, Afghanistan's leading telecommunications provider. Over 93% of Roshan's staff comprises Afghan nationals, whose average age is 23; many employees only have a high school degree. Over 20% of Roshan's employees are women, and the company has shown that it is committed to promoting women in the workplace.
Afghanistan Information Management Services (AIMS) provides software development, capacity development, information management, and project management services to the Afghan Government and other NGOs, thereby supporting their on-the-ground activities.
The We Are the Future (WAF) Center is a child care centre whose aim is to give children a chance to live their childhoods and develop a sense of hope. The centre is managed under the direction of the mayor's office and the international NGO. Glocal Forum serves as the fundraiser, program planner and coordinator for the WAF centre. Launched in 2004, the program is the result of a strategic partnership between the Glocal Forum, the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation and Mr. Hani Masri, with the support of the World Bank, UN agencies and major companies.
Images of Kabul
Bagh-e Babur from a mountain top
Qargha lake, outside the city
Kabul City during the evening
Bagh-e Bala Park
Kabul Golf Park, outside the city
Darul Aman Palace
A panoramic view of east side of Kabul city during daylight.