From the 1950s through the mid-1970s, Afghanistan seemed, on the surface, to be proceeding on a path toward modernization. Then, beginning with Mohammed Daoud Khan's 1973 coup that overthrew the monarchy and unleashed a series of unexpected consequences (including Daoud's own overthrow and assassination by the Communists in 1978), all that was derailed by decades of upheaval, conflict, war, and human and material devastation—including both revolutionary and reactionary ideological mobilizations and a whole range of foreign interventions (in which the Soviet Union and Pakistan played the most destructive roles, but have had plenty of company). History is full of surprises.
assembled a fascinating on-line collection of photos from Afghanistan in the 1950s & 1960s. Three of them are below, and you can see the rest of them (along with a Massoudist historical documentary) here
Picture taken in 1962 at the Faculty of Medicine in Kabul of two Afghan medicine students listening to their professor (at right) as they examine a plaster cast showing a part of a human body. (AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan man leading laden camels and donkeys through an arid, rocky landscape, in November, 1959. (Robert P. Martin, LOC)
Afghan boys, men, and a woman walk through a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 26, 1954. (AP Photo)