Formerly JALALKOT, capital of Nangarhar velayat (province),
eastern Afghanistan, on the Kabul River, at an altitude of 1,940 ft
(590 m). It lies on the route from Kabul, the Afghan capital (110
mi [177 km] north-northwest), via the Khyber Pass to Peshawar, Pakistan,
and handles much of Afghanistan's trade with Pakistan and India. The
town stands at an important strategic position, commanding the entrances
to the Laghman and Konar (Kunar) valleys. It is a military centre,
with an airfield.
The site of Jalalabad has been occupied since the 2nd century BC,
and Akbar (1542-1605), regarded as the greatest Mughal ruler
of India, started the modern town as early as the 1560s. It came
under Afghan rule in 1834. During the First (1839-42) and Second
(1879-80) Anglo-Afghan wars, Jalalabad was occupied by the British.
After their military intervention in 1979, Soviet forces established
a military command near Jalalabad and gained control of the town
in early 1980. Afghan guerrillas maintained control of the province,
and fighting continued intermittently. Several million Afghan refugees
and the headquarters of several Afghan guerrilla groups were across
the Pakistan border in nearby Peshawar.
The town is surrounded by a large irrigated plain, producing fruit,
almonds, rice, and grain. Light industries include a sugarcane refinery
and handicraft shops. An urban modernization program to improve
water systems and pave the roads has been undertaken. The University
of Nangarhar, established in 1963, is located in Jalalabad. Pop.
(1982 est.) 57,824, mainly Pashtuns.
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