Amanullah Khan

Ghazi Amanullah Khan (Pashto: غازي امان الله خان, Dari: غازی امان الله خان; 1 June 1892 – 25 April 1960) was the sovereign of Afghanistan from 1919 until his abdication in 1929, first as Emir and after 1926 as King.[1] After the August 1919 end of the Third Anglo-Afghan War, Afghanistan was able to relinquish its protected state status to proclaim independence and pursue an independent foreign policy free from the influence of the United Kingdom.[2]

Amanullah Khan
غازي امان الله خان
King of Afghanistan
King Amanullah Khan.jpg
Emir of Afghanistan
Reign28 February 1919 – 9 June 1926
PredecessorNasrullah Khan
SuccessorHimself (as King)
King of Afghanistan
Reign9 June 1926 – 14 January 1929
PredecessorHimself (as Emir)
SuccessorInayatullah Khan
Born(1892-06-01)1 June 1892
Paghman, Principality of Afghanistan
Died25 April 1960(1960-04-25) (aged 67)
SpouseSoraya Tarzi
  • Princess Ameenah Shah
    Princess Abedah Bibi
    Princess Meliha
    Crown Prince Rahmatullah of Afghanistan
    Prince Saifullah
    Prince Hymayatullah
    Princess Adeela
    Prince Ehsanullah
    Princess India
    Princess Nagia
FatherPrince Habibullah I, Prince of Afghanistan
MotherSarwar Sultana Begum

His rule was marked by dramatic political and social change, attempting to modernize Afghanistan on Western designs, which he did not fully succeed in, due to an uprising by Habibullah Kalakani and his followers. On 14 January 1929, Amanullah abdicated and fled to neighbouring British India as the Afghan Civil War began to escalate. From British India, he went to Europe, where after 30 years in exile, he died in Italy, in 1960 (yet apparently and reportedly according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Amanullah died in Zürich in Switzerland). His body was brought to Afghanistan and buried in Jalalabad.[3]

Early yearsEdit

Amanullah at a young age

Amanullah Khan was born on 1 June 1892, in Paghman near Kabul, Afghanistan. He was the third son of the Emir Habibullah Khan. Amanullah was installed as the governor of Kabul and was in control of the army and the treasury, and gained the allegiance of most of the tribal leaders.[4]

In February 1919, Emir Habibullah Khan went on a hunting trip to Afghanistan's Laghman Province. Among those in his retinue were Nasrullah Khan, Habibullah's first son Inayatullah, and Habibullah's commander-in-chief Nadir Khan. On the evening of February 20, 1919, Habibullah was assassinated while in his tent by Shuja ud-Dawla, one of the pages who slept in his tent, on orders from his younger son, Amanullah, leaving Nasrullah the heir successor to the Afghan throne. Nasrullah at first refused to take the throne and declared his allegiance to Inayatullah, Habibullah's first born. Inayatullah refused and said that his father had made Nasrullah the heir rightfully and wanted him to become Emir. All the local tribes people also gave their allegiance to Nasrullah, who was a pious and religious man.[5]

The remainder of Habibullah's party journeyed south-east to Jalalabad, and on February 21, 1919, reached that city, whereupon Nasrullah was declared Emir, supported by Habibullah's first son Inayatullah.[6]

Upon receiving the news, Amanullah Khan, third son of Habibullah by Habibullah's first wife, had remained in Kabul as the king's representative. Using this opportunity, he immediately seized control of the treasury at Kabul and staged a coup against his uncle.[7] He took control of Kabul and the central government, declaring war against Nasrullah. Nasrullah did not want any blood shed in order for him to be king. He told Amanullah that he can have the kingdom, and he will take exile in Saudi Arabia. Amanullah Khan swore upon the Quran that no harm would come to Nasrullah if he returned to Kabul and then he can do as he pleased. Fearing that Nasrullah's supporters would rise against Amanullah, he went against his word and imprisoned Nasrullah and his supporters. On February 28, 1919, Amanullah proclaimed himself Emir,[6] and on March 3, 1919, Nasrullah was arrested by Amanullah's forces.[8]

On April 13, 1919, Amanullah held a Durbar (a royal court under the supervision of Amanullah) in Kabul which inquired into the death of Habibullah. It found a colonel in the Afghanistan military guilty of the crime, and had him executed. On manufactured evidence, it found Nasrullah complicit in the assassination.[6] He imprisoned Nasrullah to life imprisonment[9] and had him assassinated approximately one year later while in the royal jail.[8]

Russia had recently undergone its Communist revolution, leading to strained relations between the country and the United Kingdom. Amanullah Khan recognized the opportunity to use the situation to gain Afghanistan's independence over its foreign affairs. He led a surprise attack against the British in India on 3 May 1919, beginning the Third Anglo-Afghan war.[10] After initial successes, the war quickly became a stalemate as the United Kingdom was still dealing with the costs of World War I. An armistice was reached towards end of 1919, and Afghanistan was completely free of British diplomatic influence.[11]


By 1921, banditry was dramatically curtailed in Afghanistan by harsh punishment, such as being imprisoned in suspended cages and left to die.

Amanullah enjoyed early popularity within Afghanistan and he used his influence to modernize the country. Amanullah created new cosmopolitan schools for both boys and girls in the region and overturned centuries-old traditions such as strict dress codes for women.[12] He increased trade with Europe and Asia. He also advanced a modernist constitution that incorporated equal rights and individual freedoms with the guidance of his father-in-law and Foreign Minister Mahmud Tarzi.[13] His wife, Queen Soraya Tarzi played a huge role in regard to his policy towards women. This rapid modernisation created a backlash and a reactionary uprising known as the Khost rebellion which was suppressed in 1925. He also met with many followers of the Baháʼí Faith in India and Europe, from where he brought back books that are still to be found in the Kabul Library.[14] This association later served as one of the accusations when he was overthrown.[15]

At the time, Afghanistan's foreign policy was primarily concerned with the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, the so-called Great Game. Each attempted to gain the favor of Afghanistan and foil attempts by the other power to gain influence in the region. This effect was inconsistent, but generally favourable for Afghanistan; Amanullah established a limited Afghan Air Force consisting of donated Soviet planes.[16]

Visit to EuropeEdit

Amānullāh Khān with first Turkish President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Ankara, (1928).

Amanullah travelled to Europe in late 1927.[17] The Afghan King and Queen set out from Karachi and en route they met with King Fawad of Egypt in Cairo. They undertook a whirlwind European visit: Italy, arrival on 8 January 1928, where they met with King Victor-Emanuel III of Italy along with his Prime Minister, Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI in the Vatican City; France, arrival in Nice on 22 January 1928, in Paris on 25 January, meeting with President Doumergue; Belgium, arrival on Brussels on 8 February, meeting with King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. The next stop was Germany. The germanophile king arrived via Germany in Berlin on 22 February to meet President Paul von Hindenburg the same day. Next he travelled to Great Britain as guests of King George V and Queen Mary. The steam ship SS Maid of Orleans arrived in Dover on 13 March. The royal couple left England on 5 April to Poland. On their way, they had a longer stopover in Berlin where the Amir underwent an emergency tonsillectomy. The royal train with the Amir back on board arrived in the Polish border town of Zbąszyń on April, 28. The next day it pulled into Warsaw to be met by Polish ministers, the speaker of the Sejm and the country's president Ignacy Mościcki. At his request Amanullah was granted a possible audience with the First Marshal of Poland Józef Piłsudski. The Afghan party departed from Warsaw travelling east across the country to the border with the Soviet Union on 2 May 1928.[18]

Civil WarEdit

During Amanullah's visit to Europe, opposition to his rule increased to the point that an uprising in Jalalabad culminated in a march to the capital, and much of the army deserted rather than resist. In January 1929, Amanullah abdicated and went into temporary exile in then British India. His brother Inayatullah Khan became the next king of Afghanistan for a few days until Habibullah Kalakani, a leader of the "Saqqawists" opposition movement, took over. While in India, Kalakani battled anti-Saqqawist tribes. Around 22 March, Amanullah returned to Afghanistan assembling forces in Kandahar to reach Kabul and dispose of Kalakani. However his forces failed to advance and on 23 May 1929 he fled to India again, this time never to return to his country.[19]


Kalakani's nine months rule was soon replaced by Nadir Khan on 13 October 1929. Amanullah Khan attempted to return to Afghanistan, but he had little support from the people. From British India, the ex-king traveled to Europe and settled in Italy, buying a villa in Rome's Prati neighborhood. Meanwhile, Nadir Khan made sure his return to Afghanistan was impossible by engaging in propaganda. Most of his reforms had been reversed, but the later King, Mohammad Zahir Shah, made a more gradual program of reform.[20]

Nevertheless, he still had a group of staunch supporters in Afghanistan. These Amanullah loyalists unsuccessfully attempted several times in the 1930s and 1940s to bring him back to power.[21]

In 1941, some press in the west reported that Amanullah was now working as an agent for Nazi Germany in Berlin.[22] It is believed he was involved in plans to regain his throne with Axis help,[23] despite Afghanistan's neutrality. However following the Axis loss in Stalingrad in 1943, the plans were abandoned.[24]


Mausoleum of Amanullah Khan in Jalalabad

After fleeing to India, King Amanullah Khan sought asylum in Italy because he was given the Order of the Annunciation by King Victor Emmanuel III on his world tour. He eventually died in the year 1960, according to some reports either in Italy or, according to some other reported sources, Zürich, Switzerland. His body was brought to Afghanistan and buried in the eastern city of Jalalabad. He left behind his widowed wife and four sons and five daughters, including Princess India of Afghanistan.[25]


He married Soraya Tarzi (1899–1968) and they had 6 daughters and 4 sons:

  • Princess Ameenah Shah (14 May 1916 – 29 October 1992). During her exile, in 1954 she married a naturalized Turkish citizen of Bosnian origin named Mustafa Hasanovic Ar. He was the son of the deputy of the Bosnian Young Moslems.[26]
  • Princess Abedah Bibi
  • Princess Meliha (1920–2011). She became a medical doctor in Istanbul University, she married Turkish engineer A. Tahir Söker, a close relative of Celâl Bayar.[27]
  • Crown Prince Rahmatullah of Afghanistan (June 7 1921–September 11 2009). Married to Adelia Graziani, a niece of Marshal of Italy Rodolfo Graziani.[28]
  • Prince Saifullah, died young from bronchial pneumonia.[29]
  • Prince Hymayatullah, died very young from bronchial pneumonia.[30]
  • Princess Adeela (1925–2000). Married Armando Angelini (b. August 10 1924), the son of an Italian cavalry officer and they have four daughters:[31]
    • Elisabetta (b. 31 May 1948)
    • Cristina (b. 3 Oct 1949)
    • Simin (b. 8 Oct 1954)
    • Cinzia (b. 11 Jan 1957)
  • Prince Ehsanullah (1926–2017). Married Leyla Tarzi, daughter of Col. Tavvab Tarzi, son of Mahmud Tarzi. He has 2 sons, both born in Istanbul:[32][33]
    • Ahmed Aman Ullah (b. 1961)
    • Rahmad Ullah, (b. 1965)
  • Princess India (b. 1929). In 1951 she married Kazem Malek, an Iranian landowner, and settled in Mashhad, Iran. They had two daughters: Soraya, born in 1954 in Rome, Italy, and Hamdam, born in Mashad, Iran in 1956. After eight years of marriage Princess India divorced her husband and returned to Rome to live with her two daughters. In 1966 she married an Afghan businessman named Abdul Rauf Haider. They had a son named Eskandar who was born in Rome in 1967. In 1968, Princess India returned to Afghanistan after the death of her mother Queen Soraya. She attended funeral ceremonies in Jalalabad and was very much impressed by her homeland and decided from that time on she would work for the benefit of Afghanistan.[34]
    • Soraya (b. 1954), first daughter of Princess India
    • Haman (b. 1956), second daughter of Princess India and her husband Kazem Malek, Hamdam later married a navy commander named Paolo Fusarini. The couple had two children. They currently[when?] reside in Rome, Italy.[34]
      • Matteo
      • Flavia
    • Eskandar (b. 1967), son of Princess India and Abdul Rauf Haider
  • Princess Nagia, the youngest daughter of Amanullah and Soraya. She married İlter Doğan, a Turkish Businessman whom she met on her visit to Istanbul and they have two children.[35]
    • Ömer, son of Princess Nagia and İlter Doğan
    • Hümeyra, daughter of Princess Nagia and İlter Doğan

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Poullada, L. B. "AMĀNALLĀH". Encyclopædia Iranica (Online ed.). United States: Columbia University.
  2. ^ "Collections Online | British Museum". Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Central Asia". The British Library. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  4. ^ Rashikh 2017, p. 8.
  5. ^ Molesworth, George Noble (1962). Afghanistan 1919: An Account of Operations in the Third Afghan War. Asia Pub. House. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Afghanistan 1919–1928: Sources in the India Office Records
  7. ^ The Butcher of Amritsar – General Reginal Dyer Nigel Collett, 2006
  8. ^ a b Clements, Frank (2003). Conflict in Afghanistan: a historical encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-85109-402-4. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  9. ^ The State, Religion and Ethnic Politics: Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan Ali Banuazizi, 1988
  10. ^ Ahmed 2016, p. 189.
  11. ^ Ahmed 2016, p. 192.
  12. ^ Rashikh 2017, p. 87.
  13. ^ "Constitution of Afghanistan (1923)". Afghanistan Online. Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  14. ^ Rashikh 2017, p. 112.
  15. ^ Ahmed 2016, p. 194.
  16. ^ Ahmed 2016, p. 216.
  17. ^ Ahmed 2016, p. 232.
  18. ^ Paraskiewicz, Kinga (2014). Historyczna wizyta Amanullaha Chana króla Afganistanu w Europie (1927–1928) (The Historic visit of Amanullah Khan, King of Afghanistan, in Europe /1927-78/) (in Polish). Księgarnia Akademicka. pp. 29–71. ISBN 978-83-7638-532-7.; source of information on the route and the particular dates of visits to various countries
  19. ^ Volodarsky, Mikhail (23 April 2014). The Soviet Union and Its Southern Neighbours: Iran and Afghanistan 1917-1933. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-19537-3.
  20. ^ Burki, Shireen (2013). The Politics of State Intervention: Gender Politics in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. ISBN 9780739184325.
  21. ^ Times, Paul Hofmann Special to The New York (29 April 1979). "Afghan King, In Rome Exile, Tightens Belt". The New York Times (in American English). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  22. ^ "EX-KING AMANULLAH NOW WORKS FOR HITLER". The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria: 1848–1957). 24 May 1941. p. 4. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  23. ^ "Afghan king in Rome Exile". New York Times. 29 April 1979. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  24. ^ Crews, Robert D. (14 September 2015). Afghan Modern: The History of a Global Nation. ISBN 9780674286092.
  25. ^ Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics. United Kingdom: CurzonPress. p. 133.
  26. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. ^ "İki Kral Bir Lider". 29 July 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. ^ a b {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  35. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)


External linksEdit

Amanullah Khan
Born: 01 June 1892 Died: 25 April 1960
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emir of Afghanistan
Succeeded by
King of Afghanistan
Preceded by
Emir of Afghanistan
King of Afghanistan
Succeeded by