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Photos Of Afghanistan Before The Wars

Young students dancing to music on a school playground.

Afghanistan during the 1960s was a very different country than we see it today. The country remained neutral and was neither a participant in World War II nor aligned with either power bloc in the Cold War. However, it was a beneficiary of the latter rivalry as both the Soviet Union and the United States vied for influence by building Afghanistan’s main highways, airports, and other vital infrastructure. Afghanistan was a peaceful country until the 1979 Soviet invasion.

In 1967, Dr. William Podlich took a two-year leave of absence from teaching at Arizona State University and began teaching in the Higher Teachers College in Kabul, Afghanistan. During his stay, Dr. Podlich and his family took a lot of photos of a thriving, modernizing country. Check out 1960s Afghanistan photos from before the wars below.

Also check: Afghan Mujahideen During The 1979-1980 [18+]

1. On the left is a picture showing the photographer’s daughter in a park. On the right is that same park 40 years later.

1960s Afghanistan par vs present day

2. Photographer’s daughter.

Peg Podlich (Right). "I grew up in Tempe, AZ, and when my dad offered my younger sister, Jan, and me the chance to go with him and our mother to Afghanistan, I was excited about the opportunity. I would spend my senior year in high school in some exotic country, not in ordinary Tempe... Of course, there were loads of cultural differences between Arizona and Afghanistan, but I had very interesting and entertaining experiences.Ê People always seemed friendly and helpful. ÊI never got into any real difficulties or scrapes, even though I was a fairly clueless teenager!ÊÊTimes were more gentle back then." - Peg Podlich.

3. Kabul Gorge or locally known as Tang-i-Gharoo which led to the Darae Maiee-Par (Flying Fish Valley). This is the highway which connects Kabul with the province city of Jalalabad.

Kabul Gorge or locally known as Tang-i-Gharoo which led to the Darae Maiee-Par (Flying Fish Valley). This is the highway which connects Kabul with the province city of Jalalabad.

4. Bus Driver.

"In the spring of 1968,Êmy familyÊtook a public, long-distance, Afghan bus through the Khyber Pass to visit Pakistan (Peshawar and Lahore).Ê The road was rather bumpy in that direction, too.Ê As I recall, it was somewhat harrowing at certain points with a steep drop off on one side and a mountain straight up on the other!Ê I remember that, before we left Kabul,Êmy father paid for a young man to go around the bus with a smoking censor to bless the bus or ward off the evil eye.Ê I guess it worked - we had a safe trip." - Peg Podlich.

5. Bus Trip.

Peg Podlich, in the sun glasses, taking a family trip on a bus going from Kabul, Afghanistan to Peshawar, Pakistan.

6. Unlike current roads in Afghanistan, roads in the 1960s were well kept and generally free.

Guard duty at the King's Palace

7. Many men wore nice western clothes.

An Afghan teacher. "The Higher TeachersÕ College was a two-year institution for training college-level teachers, located at Seh Aqrab Road and Pul-e-Surkh Road (on the west side of Kabul, near Karte-Seh)." - Peg Podlich

8. Girls and boys in western style universities and schools were encouraged to talk to each other freely.

Afghan girls coming home from school. "Afghan girls, as well as boys, were educated up to the high school level, and although girls (and boys) wore uniforms, the girls were not allowed to wear a chadri on their way to secondary school. Able young women attended college, as did the men." - Peg Podlich

9. Afghan petrol station.

Gas Station.

10. The Salang Tunnel, located in Parwan province, is a link between northern and southern Afghanistan crossing the Hindu Kush mountain range under the difficult Salang Pass. The Soviet-built tunnel opened in 1964.

The Salang Tunnel, located in Parwan province, is a link between northern and southern Afghanistan crossing the Hindu Kush mountain range under the difficult Salang Pass. The Soviet-built tunnel opened in 1964.

11. The photographer’s daughter at Paghman Gardens.

(L-R) Jan and Peg Podlich at Paghman Gardens, which was destroyed during the years of war before the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

12. King’s Hill in Paghman Gardens.

King's Hill in Paghman Gardens. "If you look at photos of the devastation of Europe or Asia after WWII and compare them with what you see nowadays or from pre-war times, you can get a similar feeling while looking at these photos from Afghanistan in the late 1960s... Perhaps looking at these old pictures when Afghanistan was a land of peace can encourage folks to see Afghanistan and its people as they were and could be. It is important to know that we have more in common with people in other lands than what separates us." - Peg Podlich

13. Young Afghans walking home.

Young Afghans walking home.

14. A residential hillside in Kabul.

A residential hillside in Kabul. "For the year that I was in Kabul, my family lived in a house in Shari-Nau, up the road from the Shari-Nau Park.Ê My parents had lived in Denver, Colorado in the 1940s.Ê My mother would say that Kabul reminded her of Denver: about a mile in altitude, often sunny,Êwith beautiful mountains in the distance.Ê I thought it seemed somewhat like Arizona because of the arid landscape and lack of rain.Ê Since I was born here (in AZ), it was very easy for me to appreciate the stark beauty of the landscape there in Afghanistan." - Peg Podlich.

15. A group of young Afghans share tea and music.

A group of young Afghans share tea and music.

16. Frying jilabee, a sweet dessert.

Frying Jilabee, a sweet dessert.

17. Much of Afghan culture retained its traditional dress and style. Even in Kabul, the bazaars remained much the same.

Sisters pose for a photograph in Kabul.

18. Chemistry lesson in a mud-walled classroom.

Chemistry lesson in a mud-walled classroom.

19. Parking lot of the American International School of Kabul (AISK).

Parking lot of the American International School of Kabul. The school no longer exists, although alumni stay in touch through Facebook and hold reunions every few years at different cities around the U.S. The next reunion will be held in Boston in 2013. "AISK's last year was 1979, so the school had a 20 year history. AISK was located on the same campus that currently houses the American University of Afghanistan (on Darul-aman Rd in west Kabul). In 1967-68, there were about 250 students attending AISK and 18 graduating seniors." - Peg Podlich

20. Signs of prosperity dotted the urban landscape, showing off a solid upper class of Afghanistan. Masjid Shah-e-do Shamsheera in Kabul.

Masjid Shah-e-do Shamsheera in Kabul.

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