Prelude to Urban Uprisings
The national opposition was marked by two stages: spontaneous, disorganized urban opposition, and rural guerrilla opposition. It soon became clear that the Soviet army could suppress the former but not the latter. The mobile mujahideen could fight almost indefinitely.
Following the invasion, the Soviet army contingent increased in number. Within a week it swelled to about 85,000 and subsequently to 120,000. Its materiel included varieties of modern weapons, both chemical and strategic, which were deployed temporarily against possible attack from the outside. In addition, Soviet warplanes from bases across the Oxus also took part in operations inside Afghanistan.
Army contingents were stationed in and around cities as well as along some main roads. Some were dispatched to frontier areas such as Kunar and Gardez. The bulk of them were stationed along the main roads leading to the Soviet border. A protective line was drawn around the city of Kabul, but the army did not immediately take part in operations. Until the uprising in Kabul in February 1980, the invading army acted in self-defense. The Soviets acted on the view that since resistance to their invincible army was futile, it would be a matter only of weeks or perhaps months before the country settled. They also held that since the invading army had rid the Afghans of the tyrant Khalqis, they would accept its presence. The promises of the new regime were likewise calculated to soothe the Afghans.
With that in mind, the authorities instructed provincial governors to establish a dialogue with those who had taken up arms. They were to persuade the militants to lay down their arms and enjoy the benefits of a peaceful life. This approach, on the contrary, emboldened the mujahideen, who soon appeared close to provincial capitals and roamed about in groups in villages surrounding the cities. There they either killed Communist Party members or drove them to cities. By 24 January the province of Laghman, for example, had been cleared of party members and their collaborators, while by mid-February the whole countryside had been wrested from government control. The mujahideen even controlled some main roads in the sense that they searched transport vehicles for party members and government officers. The Karmal government became confined to cities, and even there unparalleled opposition was shown to the invading power and its client government.