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Afghanistan Diplomatic Relations

A research guide for diplomatic relations in Afghanistan from the Criss Library Archives & Special Collections.

Afghanistan Diplomatic Relations: Historical Background

Afghanistan’s geography shaped its modern history. A landlocked country in Central Asia on the ancient trade routes connecting East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East served as the crossroads of various cultures. Afghanistan had been exposed to thousands of years of invasions and migrations from every direction. Alexander the Great entered the area in 330 BCE. In the modern era, the country served as a buffer state between British India and Russia, losing some of its territories to both imperialist powers. Afghanistan was able to maintain its independence throughout its history. Afghanistan fought three wars with the British during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The Taliban took over the country in 1996, and eventually they were overthrown by the NATO forces, led by the United States in 2001.

Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection Overview

The UNO Libraries' Archives and Special Collections holds the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection, one of the largest collections of Afghan primary and secondary materials in the United States. It contains over 20,000 titles in more than 20 languages including Dari, Pashto, and English.

The Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection is comprehensive in scope. The library seeks to acquire materials pertaining to all aspects of Afghan life and culture, from prehistory to the present. Although the majority of the collection consists of history and literature, it also includes materials on economics, education, folklore, law, agriculture, language, architecture, music, geography, and geology. Items date from 18th Century to the present and include books, periodicals, microforms, maps, documents, newspapers, dissertations, organizational documents, and personal papers. Most of the collection consists of materials in English, and the two official languages of Afghanistan, Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian). In addition, there are publications in many other languages, including German, French, and Russian. Among the important items in the collection are the various publications of the Afghan resistance groups or "mujahideen" based in Pakistan during the 1980’s, reports of the U.S. Department of State relating to Afghanistan and Kabul Radio Pashto News Monitoring Service. In 1982, the Library created the Afghan Oral History Project, which resulted in more than 46 hours of interviews describing the political situation and the personal experiences of many individuals since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The library has made extensive efforts to add to Paul's original donation of over 1,200 items through purchases and donations from many other supporters. Learn more about donating materials and funds to support the collection. The repository does not accept multiple copies of the same titles. Potential donors of books and other material should contact Amy Schindler, Director of Archives and Special Collections, to discuss your potential gift.

Note that like most special collections, the material in the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection is only available for use in UNO Libraries' Archives and Special Collections with the exception of some microforms and selected titles. Interlibrary loan requests from researchers for books and other printed material are individually reviewed by an archivist for potential loan or digitization on demand. Researchers with questions about whether it may be possible to loan or digitize a title should contact Archives and Special Collections at

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