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By John F. Shroder

A glance on the geographic, political, monetary, and social elements of Afghanistan, a rustic suffering to reconcile modernization with conventional values and methods.

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Sample text

The project was designed to permit the cultivation of two grain crops annually. Instead, because of inadequate soil surveys prior to the initiation of the project, progressively increasing salinization, waterlogging, and other problems, crop yields declined by 50 percent, or even more in some areas. Because an engineering firm from the United States had designed the project, the failure affected Afghan trust in American technical assistance. Daoud’s government moved closer to the Soviet Union to restore balance in foreign affairs and to profit from cold war competition between the two superpowers.

Erosion, caused by the removal of vegetation, soil compaction, and salinization was severe. Good farmland was reduced, and surface water quality was affected. Many formerly productive lowland basin lakes, such as Namakzar, became playas—unproductive desert basins that only occasionally hold water. While water from canals and near-surface wells continued to support cultivation in many areas, the deterioration of water quality in other areas encouraged the excavation of underground canals, or karez.

Once again, Afghanistan was a pawn in someone else’s game of power and control. INDEPENDENCE Following the third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, Afghanistan gained full control over its foreign affairs under the conditions of the Treaty of Rawalpindi. The country thus became fully independent. In 1921, an Afghan-Soviet treaty of friendship was signed, further reducing outside pressures on the country. Actually, however, the Soviets needed first to consolidate their new empire’s hold on its rebellious regions directly to the north, and in other areas, before resuming their southward penetration in the cold war following World War II.

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