Contents: Preface. I. Introduction: 1. The Afghan state: essential characteristics. II. Historical perspective: 2. Policies of Amir Abdur Rehman (1880-1901). 3. Amir Amanullah (1919-29). 4. Failure of Communist reforms. III. Collapse of fundamentalism: 5. The Taliban: emergence and consolidation. 6. The Taliban: experimentation and failure. IV. Towards a stable Afghanistan: 7. Towards a stable Afghanistan: options and challenges ahead. Appendices. Bibliography. Index.
"The tragedy of the Afghan situation lies in the fact that both external as well as internal forces have hampered its progress towards a viable state. The peculiarities of the Afghan society and the natural dichotomy between the state and society have impeded the process of modernisation and centralisation. The three regimes of Amir Abdur Rehman Khan (1880-1901), Amir Amanullah (1921-29) and the Communists (1978-92) which tried to reform Afghanistan considerably failed or at best succeeded only partially. The Taliban regime (1996-2001) also lacked the vision to take Afghanistan on a path of progress towards reform and modernism.
The twin challenges before Afghanistan today are reconstruction of its economy and democratisation of its polity. Whether the local institutions of governance like the Jirgah and the shura can be integrated into the national political institutions calls for a serious examination.
Making a historical analysis of the internal weaknesses and external disturbances marking Afghanistan’s unstable past, the study tries to prognosticate Afghanistan’s prospects for a stable future." (jacket)