Afghanistan: A timeline

Posted on August 12, 2011

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I was surprised to discover recently that there is no comprehensive, publicly available timeline of the war in Afghanistan. This was also annoying, as it meant I had to construct my own. Here is what I have so far, but will continue to build it and hope others will contribute too. My aim is cover in as much detail as possible the last two decades of the war, on everything from the evolution of both the Taliban and al-Qa’ida, the course of the war since 2001, Pakistan, and US and UK policy. (As my work is on how the UK Conservative Party under David Cameron views, and has handled, the war, this timeline also includes the history of the Party since 2005). I hope it proves useful to people.

1953

February: the Pakistani government turns to the country’s Army to restore order after its police were unable to cope with violent demonstrations, engineered by the Islamist Jamaat-i Islam party; (“That intervention set an unhealthy precedent”, Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan).

1958

October: 7th, General Iskander Mirza, Pakistan’s president, declares martial law in the country after a new wave of Islamist demonstrations; 27th, Mirza is deposed in a military coup led by General Muhammad Ayub Khan, the Pakistani chief of army staff.

1969

March: Ayub Khan is forced to resign as President of Pakistan; he is succeeded by General Yahya Khan; (“When [Ayub Khan] stepped down, Pakistan was already beginning to look like an army with a state rather than a state with an army”, Tomsen, TWoA).

1971

December: 20th, General Yahya Khan is forced to hand over power to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, leader of the People’s Party.

1976

March: Bhutto appoints Lieutenant General Zia ul-Haq as chief of the army staff, overlooking six of Zia’s superiors, in an attempt to establish his authority over the military.

1977

July: 5th, Bhutto is deposed as Prime Minister of Pakistan in a military coup led by Zia ul-Haq; he is subsequently imprisoned.

1979

April: 4th, Bhutto is executed by the Zia regime.

1984

May: Zia ul-Haq, in a conversation with George H. W. Bush, reassures the American vice-president that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

July: several Pakistani nationals are arrested in Texas and Canada for attempting to buy nuclear weapon-making materials.

1988

August: 17th, Zia is killed in a plane crash, along with the American ambassador Arnold L. Raphel and the U.S. embassy’s military attaché.

1989

January: the U.S. embassy in Kabul is closed for security reasons.

1992

January: 1st, Russia cuts off all military and economic aid to the Communist regime of Mohammad Najibullah in Kabul, and the United States reciprocates by cutting off aid to Pakistan and they Mujahideen.

April: Kabul falls to the combined forces of Rashid Dostum and Ahmad Shah Massoud, two Mujahideen leaders.

1993

January: 25th, Mir Amal Kasi, a young Pakistani, guns down two CIA employees and wounds three more outside the organization’s Langley headquarters; he flees to Pakistan.

1994

October: 12th, the Taliban seize Spin Boldak; leads to fall of arms depot under the control of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s forces.

November: Kandahar falls to the Taliban.

1995

January: clashes between the Taliban and Hikmatyar’s forces in southern Kabul.

September: 5th, Herat is abandoned to the Taliban.

1996

May: 18th, Osama bin Laden leaves the Sudan for Afghanistan.

July: 1st, Jalalabad falls to the Taliban, where Osama bin Laden was staying; Mullah Wakil Muttawakil, a key Taliban figure, flies to Saudi Arabia to finalise a deal on Osama’s sanctuary in Afghanistan.

August: 23rd, Osama’s fatwa, ‘Declaration of War Against the United States’, is published in London.

September: Gary Schroen, the CIA’s Islamabad station chief, meets with Ahmed Shah Massoud in Kabul; it is the first contact Massoud has had with the CIA since 1991; (Schroen: “We want to repoen the relationship. The United States is becoming more and more interested in Afghanistan”); 26th, Massoud withdraws from Kabul; 27th, the Taliban takes Kabul and executes Najibullah, former Communist leader of Afghanistan

1997

March: Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s leader, asks Osama to move to Kandahar, so they can exercise more control over his actions.

May: 25th, the Taliban enter Mazar-e-Sharif and Shiberghan; 26th, Pakistan recognises the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

July: 20th, the Taliban lose Charikar and Bagram airbase to Massoud.

August: Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, a key al-Qa’ida figure, moves to Afghanistan.

September: 11th, Dostum retakes Mazar-e-Sharif.

December: 8th, U.S. and Taliban representatives meet in Pakistan to discuss improving relations; the latter makes clear that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for international terrorism.

1998:

February: Al-Qa’ida and other jihadist organisations announce the formation of the ‘World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders’, calling on Muslims to “kill the Americans wherever you find them.”

June: 1st, Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi intelligence chief, meets with Mullah Omar to discuss handing over Osama to the Saudi government.

July: 1st, Muttawakil goes to Saudi Arabia to finalise the deal on Osama bin Laden.

August: 7th, suicide bombings at the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, committed by al-Qa’ida (AQ); Turki al-Faisal returns to Afghanistan to collect Osama bin Laden, only for Mullah Omar to renege on the deal.

September: 22nd, Saudi Arabia expels Taliban representatives from the country and recalls its own representative from Afghanistan.

1999

June: 8th, Osama bin Laden is placed on the U.S. ‘Most Wanted’ list.

July: 1st, the U.S. imposes sanctions against Afghanistan.

October: General Musharraf becomes leader of Pakistan after successfully leading a military coup against the civilian government; the United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions on Afghanistan.

2000

October: 12th, suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, committed by AQ.

December: Mullah Omar calls on Muslims around the world to to stage attacks against “the atheists in the United States and the Security Council”.

2001

January: 10th, Islamist groups in Pakistan meet to support the Taliban government in Afghanistan against UN sanctions; 21st, George W. Bush is sworn in as President of the United States.

September: 4th, first meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) Principals Committee devoted specifically to AQ; 9th, Ahmad Massoud is murdered in a suicide bombing; 10th, NSC Deputies Committee agrees on a new diplomatic and military strategy to pressure the Taliban into handing over Osama bin Laden and AQ; 11th, AQ attacks both New York and Washington, precipitating the War on Terror; 13th, Richard Armitage, US deputy Secretary of State, meets with the Pakistani ambassador and presents him with non-negotiable demands with regard to AQ and the Taliban; 15th, beginning of a two-day session at Camp David to craft the US response to 9/11; 16th, President Musharraf gives a televised speech defending Pakistani support for America, justifying it on the grounds that India hopes to isolate the country (“Pakistan acquiesced to U.S. demands not because of an inherent strategic alignment but rather to counter any Indian advantages”, C. Christine Fair); September 26th, the first covert CIA team arrives in Afghanistan.

October: 7th, Musharraf dismisses the pro-Taliban General Mahmood Ahmad as head of the ISI; 9th, Hamid Karzai returns to Afghanistan via Balochistan.

November: 5th, the key battle of Mazar-i-Sharif; 10th, Mazar falls to Northern Alliances forces; 11th, Bamiyan falls to the Northern Alliance; 13th, the Taliban abandon Kabul; 18th, a Taliban force is defeated near Tarin Kowt by local forces sympathetic to Karzai, the prestige makes him a more credible political figure; 23rd, planes fly in and out of Kunduz, taking Pakistani officials (and, possibly, senior Taliban and AQ figures) back to Pakistan; 26th, Kunduz falls.

December: 5th, Karzai is informed that he will head the new interim government of Afghanistan; 6th, Mullah Omar and key Taliban figures flee from Kandahar city; an agreement on the make-up of the interim government is hammered out at the Bonn conference; 13th, five gunmen attack the Indian parliament building in New Delhi; India accuses terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e Mohammad (JeM) of being involved; 16th, Osama bin Laden, accompanied by bodyguards and other AQ fighters, escape from Tora Bora and into Pakistan; 22nd, the interim government of Afghanistan is formally established.

2002

January: Tokyo donor conference; security sector reform in Afghanistan is tasked out to five ‘lead nations’ (the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and Germany); 12th, Musharraf announces the banning of the most significant Islamist organizations in Pakistan.

March: formal end to combat operations in Afghanistan

June: 6th-10th, the emergency Loya Jirga

2003

August: 11th, NATO formally takes over leadership of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

October: the UN Security Council passes a resolution (UNSCR 1510) formally mandating wider ISAF operations, initially in the north and west of Afghanistan.

December: Ayman al-Zawahari, the then-deputy leader of al-Qa’ida, issues a fatwa calling for the death of President Musharraf; 25th, Musharraf’s motorcade is attacked by two suicide bombers in Rawalpindi.

2004

January: Afghanistan adopts a new constitution.

June: the Istanbul Summit; it is confirmed that NATO-ISAF will go on to operate in the whole of Afghanistan.

October: Hamid Karzai is elected President of Afghanistan for the first time.

2005

May: 5th, general election; Labour 355 (35.2%), Conservatives 198 (32.4%), LibDems 62 (22%).

August: 27th, David Cameron gives a speech on international terrorism to the Foreign Policy Centre.

September: Cameron announces his candidacy for the Conservative Party leadership.

December: 6th, Cameron becomes leader of the Party and Leader of the Opposition.

2006

February: 16th, William Hague, the new Shadow Foreign Secretary, gives a speech on Conservative foreign policy in the United States.

March: 3 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

April: British forces begin to arrive in Helmand.

June: 3 more UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

July: 3 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

September: 19 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; British troops are cut off in Musa Qala, negotiate a ceasefire with the Taliban; 6th, Cameron writes an article for The Guardian on the need for a ‘special relationship’ with India; 11th, Cameron gives a speech on international terrorism at the British American Project.

October: 1 UK soldier killed; British forces withdraw from Musa Qala; 3rd, Hague gives his first speech to the Conservative Party conference as Shadow Foreign Secretary; 12th, General Dannatt, the Chief of the UK General Staff, tells the Daily Mail newspaper that British troops should leave Iraq in 2007.

December: 3 soldiers killed in Afghanistan; US FM 3-24 on counterinsurgency published.

2007

January: 2 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

February: 2 more UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; ceasefire with the Taliban lapses after American and Afghan pressure, and the Taliban take over the town of Musa Qala.

March: 4 soldiers killed; 3rd, Hague gives speech on foreign policy to Welsh Conservatives.

April: 1 UK soldier killed in Afghanistan; the siege of Sangin district centre is relieved.

May: 5 UK soldiers killed; Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles becomes UK ambassador to Kabul.

June: 4 UK soldiers killed; 24th, Tony Blair steps down as leader of the Labour Party; 27th, Blair steps down as prime minister and is succeeded by Gordon Brown; Tories lose poll lead over Labour for first time in a year, both parties on 36%.

July: 6 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; An Unquiet World is published; Rome G8 conference on Afghanistan, which assigns responsibility for counter-narcotics to the UK and building up ANSF to the United States; David Miliband’s first trip to Afghanistan as Foreign Secretary; Labour secures five point lead over the Tories; 3rd, Cameron reshuffles his Shadow Cabinet, brings in Dame Pauline Neville-Jones as a shadow security minister, with promotion to the Lords; 22nd, Sunday Telegraph  claims that possibly half a dozen Tory MPs had written to 1922 Committee Chairman calling for a vote of no confidence in the Leadership.

August: 6 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; Afghan-Pakistan grand peace jirga; Conservative Party in crisis amid speculation Gordon Brown will call a snap general election; 8th, Cameron writes an article for The Independent on the lack of a proper plan in Afghanistan; 9th/10th, 6% believe we are winning in Afghanistan, 39% think we aren’t but will eventually, and 36% believe it isn’t possible; 28% want troops withdrawn immediately, 37% soon, 25% not at all (YouGov).

September: 7 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 23rd, Labour Party conference, Gordon Brown fails to call for an election in his conference speech.

October: 1 UK soldier killed in Afghanistan; 25-33% foreign fighters in Helmand, according to a British commander; Karzai visits Britain as a guest of Prince of Wales, talks with Gordon Brown; 1st, George Osborne makes inheritance tax pledge at the Conservative Party conference, turning around their fortunes in the polls; 2nd, Brown flies to Basra to announce withdrawal of British troops from Iraq; is attacked by  both Liam Fox, the Conservative defence spokesman and Sir John Major, a former Conservative prime minister, for playing politics with the military; 3rd, Cameron’s keynote speech at the Party conference, challenges Brown to call an election; 7th, Brown rules out calling a general election.

November: 2 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; US suggests making Lord Ashdown UN special representative to Afghanistan, with boosted powers.

December: 2 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; British, American and Afghan forces retake Musa Qala, coinciding with Brown’s first visit to Afghanistan as Prime Minister; 12th, Brown makes statement to the Commons on his government’s strategy for Afghanistan; 27th, Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistani prime minister and presidential candidate, is assassinated in Rawalpindi.

2008

January: 1 UK soldier killed in Afghanistan; 14th, militants attack Kabul’s only five-star hotel, the Serena Hotel; suggestions that it had been mounted by the Haqqani network; 16th, The Times attacks President Karzai and reveals Lord Ashdown is to become the UN ‘super-envoy’; Karzai reacts angrily; 20th, Karzai tells his Cabinet he will ask for more clarity on Lord Ashdown’s role; his Cabinet is in favour of rejecting the Ashdown appointment entirely; 24th, Karzai tells journalists at Davos that Britain’s presence in Helmand had made things worse, not better; 26th, Sir Sherard flies to the UK and advises Ashdown to jump before he’s pushed by US and UK; 27th, Ashdown puts out a statement turning down the UN representative role.

February: 2 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; David Miliband and Condoleeza Rice, the American Secretary of State, hold a joint seminar on Afghanistan at Lancaster House in London, followed by a joint visit to Afghanistan; 14th, the first joint teleconference between US and UK ambassadors to Kabul and ministries in London and Washington.

March: 2 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

April: 3 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 1st, Cameron gives a speech to Chatham House on the future of NATO; 27th, militants attack military parade in Kabul, attended by President Karzai and most senior figures from the international coalition.

May: 3 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; US Marines dislodge the Taliban from fixed positions near Garmser; Kai Eide is appointed UN special representative to Kabul; a debate between Sir Sherard and Rory Stewart at Hay-on-Wye literary festival on UK involvement in Afghanistan, chaired by George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

June: 13 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; the Conservatives open up double-digit poll lead over Labour.

July: 4 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

August: 2 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; killing of ninety Afghan civilians by US airstrike at village of Azizabad; Brown visits Afghanistan for the second time as Prime Minister.

September: 4 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 3rd, Cameron gives a speech in Islamabad on democracy promotion; 15th, Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy.

October: 1 UK soldier killed in Afghanistan; 1st, Hague gives a speech in Georgia on Conservative foreign policy; Cameron gives his keynote conference speech.

November: 7 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

December: 9 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; Brown visits Afghanistan for a third time; 15th, Cameron responds to Brown’s statement on Iraq and Afghanistan; December 18th, Cameron responds to Brown’s statement on Iraq.

2009

January: 6 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 20th, Barack Obama sworn in as President of the United States; 22nd, Obama announces the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

February: 6 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 11th, the Taliban launch a series of violent attacks on government buildings in Kabul; 23rd, Cowper-Coles begins as UK Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

March: 3 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 27th, President Obama gives his first significant statement on his Afghanistan policy.

April: 1 UK soldier killed in Afghanistan; Foreign Office seminar on Afghanistan and Pakistan held on the fringes of G8 summit in London, attended by Hillary Clinton, the new US Secretary of State; 29th, Cameron responds to Brown’s statement on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

May: 12 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

June: 4 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 13th, General McChrystal issues his commander’s guidance to troops in Afghanistan; 19th, Operation Panther’s Claw begins.

July: 22 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 7th, Ministry of Defence announced its plan for a Strategic Defence Review to be held after the general election; 13th, Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament on Afghanistan; 9th, Cameron attacks Brown for his mishandling of the war, especially the lack of helicopters; 21st, Hague gives speech on foreign policy under a Conservative government to IISS; 27th, Panther’s Claw declared a success.

August: 19 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 2nd, Foreign Affairs Committee publishes its report on Afghanistan and Pakistan; 3rd, the Telegraph reports that David Cameron might appoint a ‘minister for Afghanistan’ if he becomes Prime Minister; 20th, polling day of Afghan presidential election; 21st, conference call between all the international special representatives, arranged by Holbrooke, to discuss aftermath of Afghan elections; 30th, General McChrystal’s initial assessment as commander of ISAF leaked.

September: 8 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; al-Shabab formally pledges its allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al-Qu’aida; 4th, Brown gives speech on Afghanistan to IISS; 21st, Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, boasts of eventual victory in Afghanistan; 25th, General Andrew Mackay quits his command after row with the British government over Afghanistan.

October: 6 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; the Foreign Secretary David Miliband responds to the conclusions of FAC’s August report on Afghanistan and Pakistan; 10th, Angus Reid poll shows 35% support British involvement in Afghanistan against 59% who don’t; 22nd/23rd, YouGov poll finds 37% want to withdraw from Afghanistan soon, 29% are against withdrawal and 25% want to withdraw immediately; 6% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 36% believe we will eventually, 48% think it isn’t possible.

November: 12 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 4th/5th, 5% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 28% believe we will eventually, 57% think it isn’t possible; 35% want troops withdrawn immediately, 38% soon, 20% not at all (YouGov); 16th, Brown gives Guildhall speech on foreign policy; 19th, Karzai’s second inauguration as President of Afghanistan.

December: 9 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; major operation (Tor Shpah) to clear insurgents from Char-e-Mirza, Noorzo Kalay and Zarghun Kalay in preparation for Operation Moshtarak; 1st, President Obama outlines new Afghanistan strategy at West Point; 3rd, Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, denies Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan during a press conference with Gordon Brown; 4th, Cameron tells Daily Telegraph that he wants to “bring British troops home as soon as possible but any timetable has got to be based on success and results”’.

2010

January: 6 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 20th, Cameron tells CNN, “We want to withdraw troops on the basis of success…rather than believing there are artificial deadlines where we can do these things automatically”; 28th, international conference on Afghanistan is held in London.

February: 15 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 1st, David Miliband makes a statement to Parliament on the London conference; 4th, MoD releases detailed briefing on Moshtarak to London-based media; 13th, British troops air assault the town of Nad Ali as part of Operation Moshtarak, securing several compounds and the bazaar; British and Afghan troops conduct patrols, set up checkpoints and conduct shuras with locals; 18th, British and Afghan hold 2/3 of the tow.

March: 12 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

April: 3 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 18th/19th, 10% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 33% believe we will eventually, 43% think it isn’t possible; 24% want troops withdrawn immediately, 40% soon, 27% not at all (YouGov); 28th/29th, 19% of marginal voters think Conservatives have the best policy on Afghanistan, 17% think Labour, 21% think LibDems, 33% don’t know (ICM).

May: 8 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 6th, the UK general election; Conservatives 306 MPs (36.1%), Labour 258 MPs (29%), LibDems 62 MPs (23%); 11th, David Cameron becomes Prime Minister; 12th, the UK National Security Council meets for the first time; it is agreed that the SDR should be widened to include broader security concerns; 15th, Cameron meets with President Karzai at Chequers; 22nd, Hague visits Afghanistan with Fox and Andrew Mitchell, the new Secretary of State for International Development; 23rd, Hague rejects the idea of setting deadlines for withdrawal in an interview with the BBC Politics Show; 25th, the Queen outlines the priorities of the new Coalition government in a speech to Parliament; those priorities include conducting a Strategic Defence and Security Review, “lasting security and stability in Afghanistan”, and an “enhanced partnership” with India; 27th, Hague says that the UK will not interfere in India-Pakistan relations (“Our approach would not be to tell those countries what to do, they must take forward their own bilateral relations”).

June: 20 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 1st, Cameron holds ‘intensive’ discussions about Afghanistan with the National Security Council at Chequers; 10th, Cameron’s press conference with President Karzai in Kabul; 11th, Cameron speaks to the troops at Camp Bastion; 13th/14th, 9% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 31% believe we will eventually, 46% think it isn’t possible; 25% want troops withdrawn immediately, 42% soon, 27% not at all (YouGov); 14th, Cameron’s statement to Parliament on his first trip to Afghanistan as Prime Minister; 23rd, Obama dismisses General McChrystal as head of ISAF/US forces and appoints General Petraeus; 25th, Cameron announces a 2015 deadline for UK combat involvement in Afghanistan in a Sky News interview.

July: 16 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 1st, William Hague gives first big speech as Foreign Secretary; 4th/5th, 7% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 27% believe we will eventually, 53% think it isn’t possible; 28% want troops withdrawn immediately, 44% soon, 19% not at all (YouGov); 7th, Cameron reiterates the 2015 deadline in a House of Commons debate; 21st, Hague gives statement to Commons on the Kabul conference; 28th, Cameron gives a speech in Bangalore advocating a “special relationship” with India; he also criticises Pakistan for looking “both ways” on terrorism; 31st July, Yousaf Gilani, the Pakistani prime minister, attacks Cameron over his critical remarks about the country and terrorism (“In India, you [Cameron] talk about terrorism but you don’t say anything about Kashmir. You forgot about the human rights abuses going on there. You should have spoken about that too, so that we in Pakistan would have been satisfied”); Pakistani intelligence officials cancel a scheduled trip to the UK.

August: 7 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 3rd, Cameron insists that the UK-Pakistan relationship is strong, but insists “there has been and still is a problem of terror groups in Pakistan that threaten other countries”; 5th, President Asif Zardari arrives at Chequers for a two-day summit with Cameron and UK officials to discuss cooperation on terrorism, amongst other things; 6th, both Cameron and Zardari praise the “unbreakable” relationship between the UK and Pakistan at the end of their summit; significantly, Zardari doesn’t mention terrorism in his statement to the press; 13th, Cameron addresses the passing out ceremony at Sandhurst; 15th/16th, 31% want troops withdrawn immediately, 45% soon, 17% not at all (YouGov).

September: 6 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 8th, Hague gave evidence to Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Afghanistan; 9th, debate in Parliament on Afghanistan; 18th, parliamentary elections in Afghanistan; 19th/20th, 29% want troops withdrawn immediately, 46% soon, 17% not at all (YouGov); 28th, letter from Liam Fox to the Prime Minister about cuts to the defence budget is leaked to The Daily Telegraph.

October: 4 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 3rd/4th, 8% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 26% believe we will eventually, 53% think it isn’t possible; 18th, the UK National Security Strategy is published; 19th, the UK Strategic Defence and Security Review is published; the House of Commons debate on the SDSR; 27th, first of quarterly statements by the government on progress in Afghanistan.

November: 4 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 15th, Cameron gives Mansion Hall speech on British foreign policy; 17th, Hague gives speech on international security at Georgetown University, Washington; 22nd, Cameron’s House of Commons statement on the NATO summit; 28th/29th, 6% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 26% believe we will eventually, 56% think it isn’t possible; 29% want troops withdrawn immediately, 45% soon, 8% not at all (YouGov).

December: 3 UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan; 12th/13th, 10% believe we’re winning against the Taliban, 24% believe we will eventually, 53% think it isn’t possible; 29% want troops withdrawn immediately, 45% soon, 9% not at all (YouGov); 13th, Richard Holbrooke dies.

2011

February: 5th, Cameron gives a speech on the problems of multiculturalism at the Munich Security Conference; 22nd, Cameron a gives speech to Kuwaiti parliament on democracy promotion in the Middle East.

March: 2nd, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee publishes its report on UK’s foreign policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

April: 5th, David Cameron calls for a “fresh start” between the UK and Pakistan during his first trip to the country (“We want a strong relationship with a secure, prosperous, open and flourishing Pakistan. I acknowledge that there are challenges that our friendship must overcome. But I want to argue today that they shouldn’t hold us back anymore”).

September: 13th, the Haqqani network attacks the U.S. embassy, ISAF-NATO headquarters and other important buildings in Kabul; 20th, Barhanuddin Rabbani, former President of Afghanistan, is assassinated in a suicide bombing in Kabul; 22nd, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, describes the Haqqani network as a “veritable arm” of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence service, who provided support to the Haqqanis’ attack on Kabul; 23rd, Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s foreign minister, warns that the U.S. “could lose an ally” if it continues to make allegations like those of Mullen’s; 25th, Pakistan’s military leaders, in a special meeting convened by Army chief General Kayani, decide not to turn on the Haqqanis, as requested by the Americans; 27th, William Hague speaks to the Pakistan Society in London on strengthening Anglo-Pakistani relations (“What happens in Pakistan matters to Britain, and we will stand by Pakistan as it addresses the challenges it faces and build a durable relationship that we know will stand the test of time”).

November: 14th, Pakistan’s military chiefs reportedly snub the government by not attending an official dinner hosted for the President of Turkmenistan; the leadership of the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) decides to summon home Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, to “brief the country’s leadership on a host of issues impacting Pak-US relations and recent developments”; 15th, President Zardari meets separately with General Kayani and US Ambassador Cameron Munter, allegedly to discuss the return of Ambassador Haqqani.