A Society on the cusp of modernity: 1960’s Afghanistan

These photos belie what the future Afghanistan actually spawned.  The tapestry of peaceful hues contrasts starkly with the current picture of religious intolerance, military intrigues and offensives and corruption.

Maybe Afghanistan was not the idyll but certainly in the 1960’s many bohemian Westerners hitch hiked through Afghanistan on the itinerary to an ephemeral Shangri-La. It was into this sedate peaceful setting that Dr. Bill Podlich relocated to Afghanistan with his family in 1967 to work for the Higher Teachers College in Kabul on behalf of UNESCO. Fortunately for posterity he took his camera with him. He captured not the harrowing pictures of a war-torn country, but rather the now non-extinct tolerant modernising society at peace with itself. I was fortunate enough to obtain copies of these pictures a year ago from a friend was had met his daughter Peg in Australia. Subsequently these insightful photos have been published by Time Magazine and are now freely available.

Afghani men out on a picnic

1960's Kabul#2

 On a trip from Kabul to Peshawar in Pakistan

1960's Kabul#3


 Dr Bill Podlich on a hillside outside Kabul

1960's Kabul#4


 A Buddha statue in Bamiyan Valley. In 2001, the Taliban destroyed the two largest ones.

1960's Kabul#5

 Men looking over Istalif, a centuries-old centre for pottery

1960's Kabul#6

 Men and boys enjoying the waters of the Kabul River

1960's Kabul#7

 An Afghan decorating cakes

1960's Kabul#8

 During a shopping trip to Istalif

1960's Kabul#9

 Senior English Class at the American International School of Kabul

1960's Kabul#10


 Young students in a playground

1960's Kabul#11

Students of the Higher Teachers College

 An Afghani Military Band

1960's Kabul#13

 An Afghan Army parade through Kabul

1960's Kabul#14

 Afghan repairmen in Kabul

1960's Kabul#15

 Shah-do-Shamshira Mosque built in the early 20th century under the reign of Amanullah Khan

1960's Kabul#16

Parking lot of the American International School of Kabul

1960's Kabul#17

 A Chemistry Lesson in a mud-walled classroom

1960's Kabul#18

 Sisters milling in the streets of Kabul

1960's Kabul#19

 Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley home to numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries as well as Islamic edifices

1960's Kabul#20

 A man preparing jibabee, a sweet desert

1960's Kabul#21

A residential hillside in Kabul

1960's Kabul#22

 Two Afghani men walking home

1960's Kabul#23

 King’s Hill in Pagham Gardens

1960's Kabul#24

 The Soviet built Salang Tunnel which connects northern and southern Afghanistan

1960's Kabul#25

 A petrol station in Kabul

1960's Kabul#26

Afghan girls coming home from school. Both Afghan boys and girls were educated until the high school level

1960's Kabul#27

 Two Afghan teachers

1960's Kabul#28

 A stop during the family’s bus trip through the Khyber Pass

1960's Kabul#29

Peg Podlich arriving in Kabul

1960's Kabul#305

Leave a Comment.