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Key events in Afghanistan's recent history

Afghans vote Thursday in the country's second presidential election in history and landmark provincial council polls. The following is a chronology of key political events in Afghanistan in recent history.

world Updated: Aug 20, 2009 08:56 IST

1965 and 1969: First and second limited parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.

1973: Prime Minister Mohammad Daud Khan overthrows King Zahir Shah and establishes a republic with himself as president. Left-wing factions join forces against him.

1978: Daud Khan is assassinated with several relatives including his wife and children in a Soviet-backed communist coup.

Communist Nur Muhammad Taraki becomes president.

1979: Infighting escalates between leftist leaders while rural groups revolt against reforms, including for women and land. Taraki dies, possibly assassinated, and Hafizullah Amin becomes president.

1980: Moscow invades, sending in tens of thousands of troops by land and air. The Red Army executes Amin. Babrak Kamal is installed as Soviet leader.

Anti-Soviet resistance by mujahedeen (Islam-inspired fighters) later intensifies with backing from the US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Thousands flee into exile.

1986: Karmal replaced by President Mohammad Najibullah.

1988: The Soviets begin withdrawal but resistance continues against Afghan communists.

1992: Mujahedeen factions take Kabul, toppling Najibullah. A four-year civil war begins. The capital is destroyed and around 80,000 residents are killed.

1994: A group calling themselves Taliban, or religious students, take up arms in Kandahar to secure highways against bandits and promising to restore order. They are embraced by a population weary of war.

1996: The Taliban sweep into Kabul, ousting mujahedeen troops and publicly hanging Najibullah, who had been sheltering in a UN compound. They introduce a hardline version of Islam, banning women from work and introducing Sharia law punishments such as stoning.

1997: The Taliban regime, which controls two-thirds of Afghanistan, is recognised by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

2001:

September 9: Al-Qaeda assassinates commander of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Massoud.

September 11: More than 3,000 people are killed in New York and Washington in attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda.

October 7: US-led military strikes launched against Taliban after they fail to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders.

November 13: Northern Alliance forces backed by US-led troops enter Kabul after Taliban withdraw overnight.

December 6: The Taliban agree to surrender their last stronghold, Kandahar, as their leaders flee the country.

December 22: Karzai is sworn in as head of a 30-member post-Taliban government at talks in Germany that lay down a timetable for Afghanistan's transition to democracy.

December: The UN-mandated International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) begins deployment in Afghanistan.

2002:

June 13: A traditional grand assembly of about 2,000 Afghans, called a loya jirga, appoints Karzai to head a two-year transitional government.

September 5: Karzai survives an assassination attempt in Kandahar.

2003

August 11: NATO takes charge of ISAF. It is the first NATO mission outside Europe since its inception 54 years earlier.

2004

January 4: Another loya jirga approves a new democratic constitution envisaging a presidential system of government.

October 9: Afghanistan's first presidential election passes off with little bloodshed despite militant threats.

November 3: Karzai proclaimed winner with 55.4 percent of vote.

2005

September 18: First parliamentary elections in more than 30 years held with little violence despite Taliban threats.

December 19: First session of parliament after nearly 30 years.

2006-2009

The Taliban and other radical factions redouble a guerrilla-style insurgency, with bloody attacks increasing every year.

2009

March 27: US President Barack Obama unveils a new strategy for Afghanistan, to include 21,000 extra troops and a focus on militant sanctuaries in Pakistan.

August 20: Presidential and provincial council elections.