Salman Rashid Lahori is claiming that it was British colonialists who came up with the sobriquet “graveyard of empires” for Afghanistan. Salman Rashid is making stuff up. British have never referred to Afghanistan as a “graveyard of empires” in their records. This sobriquet for Afghanistan appears to be popularized by American media and literature in the context of collapse of Soviet Union. The regions which form parts of the modern state of Afghanistan, were conquered by invaders throughout history. The fact that there is large population of descendants of Mongols in the very center of Afghanistan, is testimony to the fact that Mongols fully conquered vast areas of the present-day Afghanistan.
Pashtuns who boast about Afghanistan being graveyard of empires on social media, are usually the young millennials, mostly diaspora. Before 1980s, Pashtuns themselves have never referred to the state of Afghanistan as a “graveyard of empires”, with the notion that invasion of Afghanistan always results in demise of the invading empire. As I already mentioned, it was Americans who propagated this idea. That being said, Pashtuns have proud history of resisting foreign invaders to the utmost of their abilities.
The phrase ‘Graveyard of Empires’ had entirely different meaning before Soviet-Afghan war. Western academics used the phrase “graveyard of empires” for regions with ancient history, mostly for “Mesopotamia” with the meaning that it has been a theatre of rise and falls of many nations and empires since of birth of civilization there. Afghanistan can be called a graveyard of empires in that meaning.