While Afghanistan has been in a state of civil war almost without interruption since 1978, the country's recent woes too often obscure its history before the PDPA's coup. What generated the tensions that made the PDPA's policy of state-led killing possible? What were the roots of Afghanistan's antagonism with Pakistan that partly fueled the crisis? How do we understand the decades of peace and nation-building that preceded the PDPA regime and the Soviet invasion? Understanding this questions - and not merely resorting to a shorthand of 'the graveyard of empires' - is crucial if we seek to do Afghanistan's modern history justice.
This introductory section answers some of these questions, providing users with a brief overview of the country's 20th century history, the intellectual origins of the PDPA and national resentments in Afghanistan, and a more focused narrative of events leading up to and following the coup in April 1978.