Afghanistan’s problem started soon after the death of its founder Ahmad shah Abdali in 1747-1773. The problem aggravated during the reign of Zaman Shah, the grandson of Ahmad shah and son of Timur Shah. He was an ambitious king and wanted to revive the empire of his grandfather. However, his ambitions were frustrated by the more powerful, British imperial power. He was caught up in a conspiracy and ultimately blinded by his step brother Mahmud Shah with the help of the powerful sons of Barakzai Sardar who was earlier assassinated by Zaman Shah for his alleged part in a conspiracy against him. The Afghan problem is both due to external and internal dynamics. Since the last two centuries Afghanistan is caught up in an imperial cobweb of machinations. Since 1800 and the rise of Napoleonic France, Afghanistan became the victim of European power politics. Of the three European powers, viz Britain, Tsarist Russia, and Napoleonic France, all trying to colonize as many people as they could and checkmate each other in the process. The danger of Napoleon was eliminated in 1815, in the famous Waterloo war. Now Napoleon was out of the tournament, and the Great Game between the two powers, Britain and Tsarist Russia begun in earnest. In their lust for colonization, Afghanistan went through two unwanted wars (1839-1842 and 1879-1880). The implications of these wars were extremely stultifying for Afghanistan’s progress and development. Afghanistan’s foreign policy was controlled by the British after the infamous Gandamak Treaty signed and imposed on Amir Yaqub Khan in July 1879. Afghanistan was not only converted into a buffer state but was also acknowledged in the British sphere of influence. Today’s Afghanistan is the direct result of the imperial juggernaut which has been termed by Louis Dupree as Demarcation without Representation. The British since Zaman Shah, tried to seek puppets, who were weak and would form a dependent regime in Afghanistan but strong enough to control it against internal chaos and turmoil. Besides, the two wars, the Durand Line was also imposed on Afghanistan as per the British forward Policy in November 1893. This imperial demarcation would become a bone of contention ironically between the two Muslims states. Common bonds and religion didn’t work to find a solution to this contentious issue. After the birth of Pakistan and the start of the Cold War, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan worsened. Pakistan in order to escape the jaw of the nutcracker between Afghanistan and India joined the US-led Alliances SEATO and CENTO in 1950s. Pakistan’s joining of the Western Block prompted Soviet Russia to support Afghanistan on the issue of Pashtunistan. The same issue not only led to the closure of border but also led to the breaking of diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1961. The neutrality of Afghanistan was mortgaged to Soviet Union that was to be trampled in 1979, in years to come. The vacuum created by the Taliban ouster was filled with a hastily called and flawed Bonn Agreement. Like Dost Muhammad Khan and Amir Abdu Rahman who were preferred by the British for their own reasons. This time a strong person like Hamid Karzai was needed to rule Afghanistan. However, like Shah Shuja who was working under British Bayonets, the Afghans looked down upon him and his backers The Anglo-Russian Convention in 1907, formally accepted Afghanistan as in the British sphere of influence and Amir Habibullah Khan was simply asked to accept. Suffering enormously in the hidden war of European imperialists, Afghanistan once again was caught up in the vortex of ideological rivalries between the Communist and Capitalist blocks after 1917, Communist Revolution in Russia. This time the fear of US-led west Alliance including Pakistan triggered USSR to come and rescue its client regime and placed Babrak Karmal as their man in 1979. For almost ten years the Soviet Union fought a war with islamists but had to withdraw their troops under the lopsided Geneva Accords. The withdrawal of Soviet troops was termed as a ‘bleeding wound’ and was called by Samuel P Huntington as the ‘Final Waterloo’ for the west, but it was to be a Pyrrhic victory for Afghanistan and the rest of the world. The soviet backed regime of Afghanistan withstood the onslaughts of Islamists for some three years but eventually gave way in 1992. The Mujahideen took over who were called by Dr. Najibullah as ‘Made in Rawalpindi’ and also known as the ‘Peshawar Seven’. However, they started grappling with each other as they got a scent of power which proved to be stronger than anything else. The situation in Afghanistan got gruesome and brutish due to internal ethnic fault lines and external interference by all its neighbors. In such a chaotic situation a new force by the name of Taliban emerged purportedly with the help of Pakistan or as a counter ethnic force against the depredations of warlords. The new force is also stated to have initially a soft corner in Washington for many reasons. The UN recognized Afghan Government’s Prime Minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had supported Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War in 1991, and the US Ambassador Robin Rafael is stated to have said that the US would not shed tears for a government which has extremists like Gulbadin, when the Taliban captured Kabul in September 1996. The intransigent and maverick Taliban imposed a bizarre rule in Afghanistan bringing peace but at the cost of robbing women of their rights. The bonhomie between Taliban and the US soon ended when the chief of Al-Qaeda got refuge in Afghanistan after being expelled from Sudan. The Clinton Administration was further infuriated when al-Qaeda was blamed for bombing US assets in Tanzania and elsewhere when USS Cole was bombed. What proved to be the last straw on the camel’s back was 9/11 and it brought about a seismic shift in world politics. The chickens came home to roost. Pakistan was asked to comply with US orders unconditionally or be ready to be bombed to the Stone Age. Willy nelly Pakistan provided logistic help to USA to dislodge the Taliban regime in 2001. The vacuum created by the Taliban ouster was filled with a hastily called and flawed Bonn Agreement. Like Dost Muhammad Khan and Amir Abdu Rahman who were preferred by the British for their own reasons. This time a strong person like Hamid Karzai was needed to rule Afghanistan. However, like Shah Shuja who was working under British Bayonets, the Afghans looked down upon him and his backers. Same happened to the Soviets and its clients. The Americans too have failed to learn in their seventeen years long war that as long as they stay in Afghanistan, they will be equated with British and Soviets. The fate of Macnaghten and Cavangnary and their stooges must not be obfuscated, if history is anything to go by. The heart of Asia has been suffering for long and the need of the hour is for the world to come together to try to heal it. As an Afghan expert Burnet Rubin has aptly stated that Afghanistan is not only the mirror of its people but indeed of the whole world. The world needs to learn from history. The writer teaches history in the University of Peshawar Published in Daily Times, February 19th 2019.