Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan (18 July 1909 – 28 April 1978) was the 5th Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and the President of Afghanistan from 1973 to 1978. Born into the royal family, he overthrew the Musahiban monarchy of his first cousin Mohammed Zahir Shah and declared himself as the first President of Afghanistan in 1973. He would hold this position until his assassination in 1978 during the Saur Revolution led by the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). Khan was known for his progressive policies, efforts to improve women's rights, Pashtun nationalism, and for initiating two five-year modernization plans which increased the labor force by about 50 percent. The 1978 coup and assassination plunged Afghanistan into an ongoing civil war.
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Daoud Khan in the 1970s
|1st President of Afghanistan|
17 July 1973 – 28 April 1978
|Vice President||Sayyid Abdullah|
|Preceded by||King Zahir Shah|
|Succeeded by||Abdul Qadir (acting)|
Nur Muhammad Taraki
|5th Prime Minister of Afghanistan|
7 September 1953 – 10 March 1963
|Preceded by||Shah Mahmud Khan|
|Succeeded by||Mohammad Yusuf|
|Born||18 July 1909|
|Died||28 April 1978 (aged 68)|
|Political party||Afghan National Revolutionary Party|
|Spouse(s)||HRH Princess Zamina Begum, sister of King Zahir Shah|
Khan was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, the eldest son of the diplomat HRH Prince Mohammed Aziz Khan (1877–1933) (an older half-brother of King Mohammed Nadir Shah) and his wife, Khurshid Begum. He lost his father to an assassination in Berlin in 1933, while his father was serving as the Afghan Ambassador to Germany. He and his brother Naim Khan (1911–1978) then came under the tutelage of their uncle HRH Prince Hashim Khan (1884–1953). Daoud proved to be an apt student of politics. Educated in France, he served as Governor of the Eastern Province in 1934-35 and in 1938–39, and was Governor of Kandahar Province from 1935 to 1938.
In 1939, Khan was promoted to Lieutenant-General and commander of the important Kabul Army Corps until 1946. From 1946 to 1948, he served as Defense Minister, then Interior Minister from 1949 to 1951. In 1948, he served as Afghan Ambassador to France. In 1951, he was promoted to General and served in that capacity as Commander of the Central Corps of the Afghan Armed Forces in Kabul from 1951 to 1953.
Royal Prime MinisterEdit
Khan was appointed Prime Minister in September 1953 through an intra-family transfer of power that involved no violence. His ten-year tenure was noted for his foreign policy turn to the Soviet Union, the completion of the Helmand Valley project, which radically improved living conditions in southwestern Afghanistan, as well as tentative steps towards the emancipation of women.
With the creation of an independent Pakistan in August 1947, the Durand Line conflict with the British colonialists was inherited by that country and Afghanistan. Khan supported a nationalistic reunification of the Pakistani Pashtun people with Afghanistan, but this would have involved taking a considerable amount of territory from the new nation of Pakistan and was in direct opposition to an older plan of the 1950s whereby a confederation between the two countries was proposed. The move further worried the non-Pashtun populations of Afghanistan such as the minority Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek, who suspected his intention was to increase the Pashtuns' disproportionate hold on political power. Border skirmishes with Pakistan began in 1949.
Abdul Ghaffar Khan (founder of Khudai Khidmatgar movement), claimed that Daoud Khan 'only exploited the idea of reunification of Pashtun people to meet his own political ends'. The idea of 'reunification of Pashtun people never helped Pashtuns' and it only caused trouble for Pakistan. In fact it was "never a reality". Moreover, Daoud Khan policy of reunification of Pashtun people failed to gain any support from Pashtuns in Pakistan. Baloch tribe in Pakistan also wondered why Daoud Khan had included Balochistan as part of his idea without their approval.
In 1960, Khan sent troops across the poorly-marked Durand Line into the Bajaur Agency of Pakistan in an attempt to manipulate events in that area and to press the Pashtunistan issue, but the Afghan forces were defeated by the Pakistani Tribals. During this period, the propaganda war from Afghanistan, carried on by radio, was relentless. In 1961, Daoud Khan made another attempt to invade Bajaur with larger Afghan army this time. However, Pakistan employed F-86 Sabres jets which inflicted heavy casualties against the Afghan army unit and the tribesmen from Kunar province which were supporting the Afghan army. Several Afghan soldiers were also captured and they were paraded in front of international media which in turn caused embarrassment for Daoud Khan.
In 1961, as a result of his policies and support to militias in areas along the Durand Line, Pakistan closed its borders with Afghanistan and the latter severed ties, causing an economic crisis and greater dependence on the USSR. The USSR became Afghanistan's principal trading partner. Within a few months, the USSR sent jet airplanes, tanks, heavy and light artillery, for a heavily discounted price tag of $25 million, to Afghanistan.
As a result of continued resentment against Daoud's autocratic rule, close ties with the Soviet union and economic downturn because of blockade imposed by Pakistan, Daoud Khan was asked to resign. Instead of resigning, Daoud Khan requested King Zahir Shah to approve new 'one-party constitution' proposed by him which would in turn increase the Daoud Khan already considerable power. Upon rejection, Daoud Khan angrily resigned. The crisis was finally resolved with his forced resignation in March 1963 and the re-opening of the border in May. Pakistan continued to remain suspicious of Afghan intentions and Daoud's policy left a negative impression in the eyes of many Tajiks who felt they were being disenfranchised for the sake of Pashtun Nationalism.
In 1964, King Zahir Shah introduced a new constitution, for the first time excluding all members of the Royal Family from the Council of Ministers. Khan had already stepped down. In addition to having been Prime Minister, he had also held the portfolios of Minister of Defense and Minister of Planning until 1963.
President of the RepublicEdit
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On July 17, 1973 Khan seized power from his cousin (and brother-in-law) King Zahir in a bloodless coup. Departing from tradition, and for the first time in Afghan history, he did not proclaim himself Shah, establishing instead a republic with himself as President.
In 1974 he signed one of two economic packages that aimed to greatly increase the capability of the Afghan military. At this time, there were increasing concerns that Afghanistan lacked a modern army comparable to the militaries of Iran and Pakistan. Daoud hosted General Secretary of the National Awami Party Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Ajmal Khattak, Juma Khan Sufi, Baluch guerrillas, and others. Khan's government and forces also commenced training Pakhtun Zalmay and young Baluchs to conduct militant action and sabotage in Pakistan. The campaign was significant enough that even one of Bhutto's senior colleagues, minister of interior and head of the provincial branch of Bhutto's party of/in the then-North-West Frontier Province (renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2010), Hayat Sherpao, was killed, ostensibly on the orders of the later-acquitted Awami Party. As a result, Afghanistan's already strained relationship with Pakistan further dipped and Pakistan likewise started similar kinds of cross-border interference.
King Zahir Shah's democratic constitution with elected members and the separation of powers was replaced by a now largely nominated loya jirga (meaning "grand assembly"). A new constitution backed by a loya jirga was promulgated in February 1977, but failed to satisfy all political factions.
In 1976, under pressure from the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and to increase domestic Pashtun support, he took a stronger line on the Pashtunistan issue and promoted a proxy war in Pakistan. Trade and transit agreements with Pakistan were subsequently severely affected. Soon after Khan's army and police faced a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement, the Islamic fundamentalist movement's leaders fled to Pakistan. There, they were supported by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and encouraged to continue the fight against Khan. He was successful in suppressing the movement, however. Later in 1978, while promoting his new foreign policy doctrine, he came to a tentative agreement on a solution to the Pashtunistan problem with Ali Bhutto.
In 1977 Khan presented a new constitution to the National Assembly, which wrote in several new articles and amended others - one of these was the creation of a presidential government. He also began to moderate his socialist policies. In 1978, there was a rift with the PDPA. Internally he attempted to distance himself from the communist elements within the coup. He was concerned about the tenor of many communists in his government and Afghanistan's growing dependency on the Soviet Union. These moves were highly criticized by Moscow, which feared that Afghanistan would soon become closer to the West, especially the United States; the Soviets had always feared that the United States could find a way to influence the government in Kabul.
A coup against Khan, which may have been planned before he took power, was repressed shortly after his seizure of power. In October 1973, Mohammad Hashim Maiwandwal, a former Prime Minister and a highly respected former diplomat, was arrested in a coup plot and died in prison. This was at a time when Parchamis controlled the Ministry of Interior under circumstances corroborating the widespread belief that he had been tortured to death. One of the army generals arrested under suspicion of this plot with Maiwandwal was Mohammed Asif Safi, who was later released. Khan personally apologized to him for the arrest.
Khan wanted to lessen the country's dependence on the Soviet Union and attempted to promote a new foreign policy. He went to Egypt, India, Saudi Arabia, and Iran for aid. Surprisingly, he did not renew the Pashtunistan agitation; relations with Pakistan improved thanks to interventions from the US and the Shah of Iran. These moves alerted the Soviets.
The following year, he established his own political party, the National Revolutionary Party, which became the focus of all political activity. In January 1977, a loya jirga approved the constitution establishing a presidential one-party system of government.
During his latter years in charge, his purge of communists in his government strained his relations with them, while his desire for higher authority strained relations with the liberals that were in charge during the monarchy. Also, his persecution of religious conservatives strained relations with those people too.
Diplomatic relations with the Soviet UnionEdit
Khan met Leonid Brezhnev on a state visit to Moscow from April 12 to 15, 1977. He had asked for a private meeting with the Soviet leader to discuss with him the increased pattern of Soviet actions in Afghanistan. In particular, he discussed the intensified Soviet attempt to unite the two factions of the Afghan communist parties, Parcham and Khalq. Brezhnev described Afghanistan's non-alignment as important to the USSR and essential to the promotion of peace in Asia, but warned him about the presence of experts from NATO countries stationed in the northern parts of Afghanistan. Daoud bluntly replied that Afghanistan would remain free, and that the Soviet Union would never be allowed to dictate how the country should be governed.
After returning to Afghanistan, he made plans that his government would diminish its relationships with the Soviet Union, and instead forge closer contacts with the West as well as the oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Iran. Afghanistan signed a co-operative military treaty with Egypt and by 1977, the Afghan military and police force were being trained by Egyptian Armed forces. This angered the Soviet Union because Egypt took the same route in 1974 and distanced itself from the Soviets.
Communist coup and assassinationEdit
The April 19, 1978 funeral of Mir Akbar Khyber, the prominent Parchami ideologue who had been murdered, served as a rallying point for the Afghan communists. An estimated 1,000 to 3,000 people gathered to hear speeches by PDPA leaders such as Nur Muhammad Taraki, Hafizullah Amin and Babrak Karmal.
Shocked by this demonstration of communist unity, Khan ordered the arrest of the PDPA leaders, but he reacted too slowly. It took him a week to arrest Taraki, Karmal managed to escape to the USSR, and Amin was merely placed under house arrest. According to PDPA documents, Amin sent complete orders for the coup from his home while it was under armed guard using his family as messengers.
The army had been put on alert on April 26 because of a presumed coup. On April 27, 1978, a coup d'état beginning with troop movements at the military base at Kabul International Airport, gained ground slowly over the next twenty-four hours as rebels battled units loyal to Daoud Khan in and around the capital. Bhutto was hanged in April 1979.
Khan and most of his family were assassinated during a coup by members of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). The coup happened in the Arg, the former royal palace, on April 28, 1978. His death was not publicly announced after the coup. Instead, the new government declared that he had "resigned for health reasons." (In 1979, Taraki was killed by Amin, who, in turn, was killed by the KGB; Karmal died in 1996 of cancer in Moscow).
On June 28, 2008, his body and those of his family were found in two separate mass graves in the Pul-e-Charkhi area, District 12 of Kabul city. Initial reports indicate that sixteen corpses were in one grave and twelve others were in the second. On December 4, 2008, the Afghan Health Ministry announced that the body had been identified on the basis of teeth molds and a small golden Quran found near the body. The Quran was a present he had received from the king of Saudi Arabia. On March 17, 2009 Daoud was given a state funeral. Many Afghans fondly consider him to be the best leader their country has had in modern times.
Treatment of Non-Pashtun minority in AfghanistanEdit
Mohammad Daoud Khan was extremely unpopular with the Non-Pashtun minorities in Afghanistan because of his alleged Pashtun favouritism. During his regime, all controlling position in the government, army and educational institutions were held by Pashtuns. His attempt at Pashtunisation of Afghanistan reached such a extent that the word 'Afghan' started being referred only to Pashtuns and not to the minority who collectively formed majority in Afghanistan. Afghan armed forces were allied with Daoud Khan and supported his goal of promoting Pashtuns to higher posts in Afghan armed forces. In 1963, Afghan Uzbeks were not allowed to become high ranking officers in Afghan armed forces. Similarly only few Tajiks were allowed to hold the position of officer in Afghan army, while other ethnicities were prohibited to do so. Daoud Khan viewed Afghan armed forces as crucial vector in the Pashtunisation of Afghan state. 1975 Panjshir uprising is also believed to be result of anti Pashtun frustration which have been building in Panjshir valley as result of Daoud Khan's policies.
In September 1934 Khan married HRH Princess Zamina Begum (11 January 1917 – 28 April 1978), sister of HM King Mohammed Zahir Shah (15 October 1914 – 23 July 2007). The couple had four sons and four daughters:
- 1. Zarlasht Daoud Khan
- 2. Khalid Daoud Khan (1947–1978). Had a son:
- Tariq Daoud Khan
- 3. Wais Daoud Khan (1947–1978). Had four children:
- Turan Daoud Khan (1972-)
- Ares Daoud Khan (1973 – k. 1978)
- Waygal Daoud Khan (1975 – k. 1978)
- Zahra Khanum (1970-)
- 4. Muhammad Umar Daoud Khan (k. 1978). Had two daughters:
- Hila Khanum (1961 – k. 1978)
- Ghazala Khanum (1964 – k. 1978)
- 5. Dorkhanai Begum
- 6. Zarlasht Khanum (k. 1978)
- 7. Shinkay Begum (k. 1978). Had two daughters:
- Ariane Heila Khanum Ghazi (1961-)
- Hawa Khanum Ghazi (1963-)
- 8. Torpekay Begum. Had three children:
- Shah Mahmud Khan Ghazi
- Daud Khan Ghazi
- Zahra Khanum Ghazi
|Ancestors of Mohammed Daoud Khan|
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- "There was, therefore, little to hinder the assault mounted by the rebel 4th Armored Brigade, led by Major Mohammed Aslam Watanjar, who had also been prominent in Daoud's own coup five years before. Watanjar first secured the airport, where the other coup leader, Colonel Abdul Qadir, left by helicopter for the Bagram air base. There he took charge and organized air strikes on the royal palace, where Daoud and the presidential guard were conducting a desperate defense. Fighting continued the whole day and into the night, when the defenders were finally overwhelmed. Daoud and almost all of his family members, including women and children, died in the fighting. Altogether there were possibly as many as two thousand fatalities, both military and civilian." p. 88 of Ewans, Martin (2002) Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics HarperCollins, New York, Page 88 ISBN 0-06-050507-9
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- Saeedi, Sayed Ziafatullah (7 November 2018). "Daoud's Footprints: how Afghanistan's First President Influences Ghani". The Globe Post. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
- Walter, Ben (2017). Gendering Human Security in Afghanistan: In a Time of Western Intervention. Taylor & Francis. p. 75.
- Sharma, Raghav (2016). Nation, Ethnicity and the conflict in Afghanistan: Political Islam and rise of Ethno-politics 1992-1996. Routledge.
- Arnold, Anthony (1983). "Afghanistan's two party communism: Parcham and Khalq". Hoover Press. p. 39.
- Royal Ark