Monday, August 29, 2016


When Margaret Thatcher Invaded Afghanistan

U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (center) and Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq visit the Afghan border in October 1981.U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (center) and Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq visit the Afghan border in October 1981.
U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (center) and Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq visit the Afghan border in October 1981.
U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (center) and Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq visit the Afghan border in October 1981.
In 1981, less than two years after the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher crossed the Pakistani border into the country she described as a "strategically crucial area."

Thatcher was on a visit to Pakistan in October 1981 and, after visiting some of the many hundreds of thousands of Afghans gathered in refugee camps there, had been taken by Pakistani leader General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq through the Khyber Pass to see the Afghan border.

While there, the leaders approached a border crossing and reportedly shook hands with the surprised guards on the Afghan side.

"We had better leave while they're friendly," Thatcher was quoted as saying.

WATCH: Margaret Thatcher and Zia-ul-Haq visit the Afghan-Pakistani border.

As noted in the TV report above (at about the 2:30 mark), Thatcher probably wandered a few meters inside Soviet Afghanistan territory.

The Kremlin responded to the whole incident by blasting Thatcher's "provocation aimed at stirring up anti-Soviet hysteria."

But in hindsight, the episode can be seen in the light of what Ishaan Tharoor at "Time" magazine describes as Thatcher's foreign policy falling on the "wrong side of history":

Lost in a Cold War fog, Thatcher, along with the U.S., supported the military government of General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq in Pakistan, helping prop up a South Asian generalissimo now seen as one of the chief architects of the Islamist radicalization of his country. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Zia became the point person for the Anglo-American fightback; under his watch, the Afghan mujahedin bloomed and the seeds of a new era of terrorist militancy were planted. During a 1981 visit to Pakistan, Thatcher delivered a speech hailing Islamabad’s efforts. The full transcript can be found here -- in it, Thatcher doesn’t even pay lip service to the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people.

Or as the "Montreal Gazette" report notes, in its reporting of Thatcher's visit to Pakistan, the Soviet TASS news agency "repeated accusations that the United States and other Western countries are arming the Afghan rebels."

-- Dan Wisniewski

How Much Do You Know About Margaret Thatcher?

Tags: Margaret Thatcher

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 09, 2013 13:40
Guys, it's a pity that while talking about Thatcher you "forgot" to mention the fact that hundreds of people in the UK went to the streets of London, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow to organize spontaneous street parties to celebrate the death of this monster. Many people in her native country hate her very much for having destroyed the post-war British social model and for having been a forerunner of the destructive policies of today's Euro-Troika.
Source on the British street-parties (with pictures):
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
April 12, 2013 21:12
Great coach Eugenio, from Vienna, your "Troyka s bubentcami",
Lured Brits and Germans-Austrians join the Great Russia horse.
But not unlike Eugenio, using lies on RFE, got killed my mother,
Non-Russian horses will be killed too one day, by his evil forces.

They lured the two putting Stalin under house arrest, provoking
The "Cold War", killed Stalin and lied about him - pinning crimes
That Russia did, making proper British upbringing bitterly joking
At Caucasian nose of WW2 ally - grow love a Russia's dummies.
Thatcher didn't love Russia much, so Eugenio is bitterly pocking.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
April 15, 2013 08:45
USA Congress voted to honor postmortem Mrs. Thatcher.
USA Senate, controlled by democrats, holding it back.
It is up to USA government and American voters,
How much honors who gets. But what a hex!

Eugenio set-up to kill my mother on this RFE,
Russia and USA killed her - blackmailing me.
Eugenio-Russia called Thatcher a "monster",
Obama's USA got his order - deny her honor.

I dn't think she was as big "destiny" as Stalin,
Roosevelt, or Churchill, but big enough Lady
Be honored by her Britain and USA "cousins",
Unless Eugenio is "boss" of democrat-madly.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 10, 2013 08:31
VIDEO: Deadly Raid: 11 kids killed in British airstrike in Afghanistan -

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

Most Popular

Editor's Picks