PHOTOS: Images of Afghanistan During the ’70s Are Not at All What You’d Expect

Many of the photographs you see above were shot by university professor Dr Bill Podlich from Arizona, who left America to travel to Kabul with his wife, Margaret, and his two teenage daughters, Jan and Peg.

Afghanistan in the 1970s was far more Westernized and tranquil than most of us know. These were the years before the Taliban took control of the country and imposed harsh Islamic rule.

As you can see, the sexes were not segregated, not even in cramped buses or in classrooms. Women didn’t wear burqas. Some wore nothing to cover their hair, though more conservative females opted for a casual headscarf.

If you think Afghans prefer their new lives, think again. According to Podlich’s son-in-law, who manages these historical photos: “Many Afghans have written comments [on the website] showing their appreciation for the photographs that show what their country was like before 33 years of war.”

Here’s a brief timeline of Afghanistan’s history:

1996: Taliban take over Kabul and prohibit women from working. Islamic punishments such as stoning to death and amputations are introduced.

1997: Taliban controls about two-thirds of country.

2001: President George W. Bush announces that U.S. and British troops have begun air strikes on Afghanistan. The targets are al-Qaeda terrorists blamed for the September 11 attacks.

2002: 9,700 U.S, troops are deployed, mostly going after Taliban insurgents.

2011: Bin Laden is found hiding in neighbouring Pakistan and killed in a U.S. special operations raid. There are still about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

2011: Obama announces his withdrawal plan to bring home 10,000 troops by the end of 2011.

2014: Obama announces his plan to pull virtually all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016, when his second term in office will be drawing to a close.

2015: In a reversal, Obama says the situation is too fragile for the American military to leave. He announces plans to keep the current force of about 9,800 in place through most of next year to continue counter-terrorism missions and advise Afghans battling a resurgent Taliban. The plan is for the number to decrease to about 5,500 troops in 2017.