When we think about Afghanistan, the only thing that comes to our mind is conflict. Throughout the past decade and beyond, this nation has dominated the news headlines for everything terrible. Taliban and terrorism are becoming synonymous with Afghanistan. It is not hard to see why. Even today we all can see how uncertain Afghanistan’s situation is.

We do not know what will happen in the next second with Afghanistan and its people. Despite having its rich history and cultural heritage, Afghanistan has been invaded many times by several colonial and regional powers. It is all because its strategic location is unfortunately at the crossroads of Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East that makes Afghanistan more vulnerable to attacks from all directions.

Yes, but it is also a fact that no one ever invaded Afghanistan completely at a time. Over time, it has been overrun by foreign forces despite having a rugged terrain and a fiercely independent tribal population. Afghanistan has been the centre of several mighty kingdoms for over 2,000 years. In the last three decades, Afghanistan has been constantly in the news for the wrong reasons, but after reading the following facts, you will see that it is much more than simply a combat zone.

There was a time when the war-torn nation was calm and progressive, unlike today. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Afghanistan looked very different from what it is today. There was a time when ladies wear western dresses or short skirts freely, and wearing Hijab is not mandatory. The was a time when the roadways were decorated with lots of luxury vehicles, not bathed with blood. There was a time when extremist forces did not rule Afghanistan, but now it is a terrible place for its own non-muslim population.

Below are some photos from Afghanistan history that shows how modern it was:

1. In the 1950s and 1960s, Afghanistan had female scouts where students taught about nature trails, camping and public safety

afghanistan past 1
NPR

2. In the past, the country possessed well-equipped and effective military forces to protect itself

afghanistan past 2
NPR

3. In the past, women bring their children to playgrounds without worry

afghanistan past 3
NPR

4. There was a time when women were allowed to go inside record stores and buy the music they wanted to listen to

afghanistan past 4
NPR

5. Outside scenes of theatres that screened Hollywood movies

afghanistan past 5
NPR

6. The newborn ward in a Kabul hospital in the 1960s looked like this

afghanistan past 6
NPR

7. Kindergartners used to dance around the schoolyard while listening to music

afghanistan past 7
Dailymail

8. Scenes of shopping sites in Afghanistan’s villages

afghanistan past 8
Dailymail

9. Co-education was a common practice

afghanistan past 9
Dailymail

10. Picnics were all about having a good time and listening to some good music without any worry

afghanistan past 10
Dailymail

11. Afghanistan’s communities had outdoor classrooms, and education was not out of reach for the Afghan people

afghanistan past 10
Dailymail

12. There was a time when it is not uncommon for Afghan women to go to school and college

afghanistan past 12
Dailymail

13. In public places like gardens, women were free to go around as they wanted

afghanistan past 13
Dailymail

14. Students were able to study at colleges with no restrictions on what they may do

afghanistan past 14
Dailymail

15. Kabul to Peshawar by bus

afghanistan past 15
Dailymail

16. A band of Afghan soldiers

afghanistan past 16
Dailymail

17. It’s like a chemistry lesson going on in a mud classroom

afghanistan past 17
Allthatsinteresting

18. Afghan guys are on their way home after work

afghanistan past 18
Dailymail

19. Afghans demonstrating for civil rights freely in Afghanistan

afghanistan past 19
Dailymail

20. Women were free

Modern Afghanistan girls in past
Instagram

These photographs depict a very different Afghanistan, and it’s heartbreaking to see how the war has devastated the nation in every way. These photographs were clicked by University professor Dr. Bill Podlich when he is in Afghanistan for a 2-year assignment with his family with UNESCO.