by Melvyn Gallagher
In 1880 B-P was posted to Afghanistan as a young army officer. Scouting started there in 1931, joining the International Scouts Association in 1933. They were banned by the government in 1947 being accused of fire worship as they had made music and sang around a camp fire! Scouting was re-established in 1956 and Afghanistan re-admitted to the World Scout Conference in 1964. During this period there were four (uncatalogued) stamp issues commemorating Scout's Day, Scouting and Women's Day. Scouts of both genders played major parts in national events and a musician Scout Group formed. The then Federal Republic of Germany assisted greatly with the provision of uniforms and the training of adult leaders. Sadly in 1973 the Communist takeover made the Scouts part of the police, many fled the country and by 1978 Scouting was banned, being replaced by the Young Communist movement. Following further political upheaval and the fall of the Taliban, Scouting emerged again in 2003 but still not trusted by many thinking of them as still Communists or the police. At a camp held last year local mullahs caused trouble accusing Scouts singing round a campfire of indulging in Christian worship.
Nowadays, with much help from Afghanistan International Security Assistance Force personnel from many countries, especially some North American army officers who are Eagle Scouts and other coalition countries, including the Netherlands, Canada and Sweden, Scouting is growing again with a new Headquarters and training centre in Kabul and troops in 13 orphanages and 5 schools. Old training books have been translated and updated and 17 wood badges awarded at the first leader training course. Sadly, however, I can find no reference to any participation or assistance given by Britain.
Above Left: 1961 one of two stamps for Women's Day and Scouting.
Second Left: 1962 one of two stamps for Women's Day and Scouting.
Second Right: 1962 one from eight stamps for Boy Scouts Day. (The traditional style cap is now replaced by a baseball cap).
Above Right: 1964 one from twelve stamps for Women s Day and Scouting.