Barack Obama ensconced White House on the slogan of 'change'. However, he is proving no different from his predecessor George W Bush. Mr Bush invaded Iraq and Obama is repeating the mistake by sending tens of thousands of additional US soldiers into the war-torn Afghanistan. The American humiliation in Iraq sealed the defeat of the Republicans in the last elections and it seems Obama's Afghan (mis)adventure will catalyse Democrats' annihilation in the next US elections. How can the Americans be so nave? Don't they know the history of Afghanistan? Why do they think that Afghanistan is only inhabited by the wild and the brutes and forget that the Afghans were among those peoples that took the first steps towards civilisation? The earliest urban centres of the ancient world during the Bronze Age (3000-2000 BC) were some of the Afghan cities. Around this time, the Aryans made this place their abode and that is how Aryana became the ancient name of Afghanistan. The Afghans were simple and peaceful people. The arrival of Buddhism from India in the third century BC and Islam from Arabia in the seventh century AD shaped their socio-religious outlook. It was not the Afghans but the outsiders who disturbed the peace of this area. The Persians were the first who colonised most of Afghanistan under Darius the Great from 522 to 486 BC. Isn't it the right of a people to struggle for their independence and the safety of their territory? Naturally, they resisted the Persian invaders. A few centuries of peace is not more than a few dots in the timeline of history. In 330 BC, Alexander the Great, after conquering Persia, marched on to Afghanistan enroute to India in order to unite Europe and Asia into one Kingdom. For four years he ravaged the Afghan lands scouring the valleys of Kunar and Swat to pacify the potential opposition. Before his army marched out of the legendary Khyber Pass, he had married a tribal chief's daughter, Rokhsana, believed to be the most beautiful woman in the world and stopped in the Kabul valley to lay the foundation of another Alexandria, presently called Bagram. He could have stayed longer but the Afghans - true to their tradition of resistance - continued to rebel against the invaders. By all accounts, few rivals can match Alexander's mastery over the world and the incumbent US president is certainly not among them. For several centuries the Afghan lands have been the highways and byways of adventurers and empire builders such as Genghis, Timur and Nadir Shah. For quite a while, large swathes of Afghanistan remained under the control of the great Mughals. The situation became critical after Emperor Aurangzeb appointed Amin Khan, the son of venerated Mir Jumla as the Governor of Kabul in 1667. The Afghans threw off the Mughal yoke three years later by defeating the army of Amin Khan, in which even his women and children were captured, whose release was secured on the payment of a substantial ransom. This situation compelled Aurangzeb to personally march to Hassan Abdal in 1674. He entrusted his son Prince Mohammad Sultan the task to subdue the fearsome Afghans but after two years of heroic Afghan resistance, he had to return to Delhi with bruised ego. Almost a century ago, Aurangzeb's most illustrious ancestor, Emperor Akbar the Great had also tried to humble the Pathans in Bajaur and Swat from 1587 to 1592 but not only did the emperor lose his favourite courtier Raja Birbal, another eight thousand Mughal warriors were also mowed down in the ensuing battle. In the first half of the eighteenth century, the Persian Emperor Nadir Shah subjugated Afghanistan and the territories west of the Indus. About a millennium back, the same Persians under their Sassanian kings had also humbled the Afghans as vassals. After Nadir's assassination by his own men, a Pathan tribal leader, Ahmed Shah Abdali, from the west of Afghanistan assumed the uncontested leadership of the Afghans. Not only that he defeated the Mughals and kicked the Persians out of Heart but also extended the Afghan authority from Central Asia to Delhi and from Kashmir to the Arabian Sea. For nearly a century, the Afghans remained free from the curse of foreign domination. Yes, there was internecine squabbling among the succeeding rulers but under the inspirational figure of Dost Mohammad, the Afghans attained near - complete unification. The Afghan independence was once again threatened after the British ascendancy in the subcontinent. Till today, it remains unclear whether the Russians ever intended to invade India. To secure the northwestern frontier, the British influence had to be extended well into Afghanistan. The architects of this forward policy were three British officers of the political service namely Alexander Burnes, James Abbot and John Nicholson. These can be equated with the present day likes of Holbrooke, Zalmay Khalilzad and David Petraeus of the American vintage. To realise their imperial designs, the British replaced the Afghan King Dost Mohammad with their stooge Shah Shujah, who was living in a comfortable exile in India. An 'Army of the Indus' marched through Quetta, Qandhar and Ghazni to install Shah Shujah as the king in Kabul in August 1839. The Afghan resistance against this British puppet was spearheaded by Mohammad Akbar, who was the son of the deposed King Dost Mohammad. The mounting Afghan agitation forced the 16000 British garrison at Kabul to begin its retreat to India via Jalalabad on January 6, 1842. The Afghan guerrillas liquidated the whole 'Army of Indus' leaving one Dr Brydon to narrate the harrowing tale to the British camp at Jalalabad. Enraged, the British assembled an 'Army of Retribution' under General Pollock that ravaged Kabul in September 1842. The ancient bazar of the city was blown up with gunpowder to leave a lasting mark of British retribution. All those villages which had decimated the 16000 strong British contingent were destroyed and their male inhabitants were either shot or bayoneted. After the return of the 'Army of Retribution' to India and the murder of Shah Shujah by his Afghan rivals, Dost Mohammad was back in power in Kabul. This was a clear testimony of the total failure of Britain's Afghan strategy. Decades later, the arrival of a Russian mission in Afghanistan in 1878 renewed the Anglo-Afghan hostilities which subsided under the treaty of Gandamak in 1879 whereby in lieu of an annual subsidy of 60,000 to the Afghan government, the British secured the presence of a permanent diplomatic mission in Kabul and the right to conduct Afghanistan's foreign relations as well as a slice of border territory including the entire Khyber Pass. That is how Pax Britannica was forced down the throats of the Afghans but they kept challenging this foreign domination at will. No wonder, like today, the north-western frontier was the liveliest border area of the world in those times as the British had to undertake twenty-one punitive military operations to subdue the Afghans from 1879 to 1900. Obama and his smart civil and military advisors must take a lesson in Afghan history before they intensify their military operations in Afghanistan. For centuries, the Afghans have ferociously guarded their freedom against the mighty armies of the world. There is a long line of Afghan freedom fighters from Roshan to Khushal Khan Khattak to Mir Wais and his son Mir Mahmud, who have kept glowing the flame of resistance. For example Bayazid Khan, who is popularly known as Pir Roshan that means 'The Enlightened Pir' in Pushto. The Pir advocated learning and equal treatment for women - a revolutionary concept for his times. As a major figure in Pushto literature, he is credited with writing the first ever book in Pushto language entitled Khair-ul-Bayan. This Pushtun intellectual raised the standard of rebellion against Akbar, the Great when the latter proclaimed the Din-i-Ilahi. From his base in Tirah, he fought several battles against the imperial Mughal armies. A century later, Mir Wais, the Chief of the Ghilzai clan raised the banner of resistance against the Safavid Shah of Persia to counter his efforts to convert the Sunni Pushtuns into Shias. After killing the Safavid Governor in the area, he defeated a large Persian force sent for retribution. Later his son, Mir Mahmud first humiliated the Persian Emperor Sultan Hosein in the battle of Gulnabad and subsequently forced the Shah to abdicate in his favour in October 1722 consequent to a brutal siege of Isfahan that extended over seven months and perished 80,000 inhabitants. Even the Afghan womenfolk have not lagged behind in heroism. In the Anglo-Afghan battle of Maiwand in 1889, it was an Afghan woman, Malalai, who won immortality by keeping the Afghan flag high after the Afghan soldiers carrying the flag were killed one after the other by the British army. The ferociousness and hatred of the Afghan women towards the soldiers of occupation forces is perhaps best summed up by Rudyard Kipling in his poem The Young British Soldier: When you are wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains An' the women come out to cut up what remains Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier E-mail: