Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

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The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.

Saur Revolution


The advent of the communist revolution in Afghanistan can be traced to the assassination of Mohammed Akbar Khaibar
Mir Akbar Khyber
Mir Akbar Khyber was an Afghan intellectual and a leader of the Parcham faction of the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan...

 on April 17, 1978. Mohammed Akbar Khaibar was a prominent member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 (PDPA) and, allegedly, was killed by the government of President Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

. The government denied involvement, but the leaders of the PDPA feared that Daoud was planning to exterminate them all. Many were arrested after the funeral of Khyber, including Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki
Nur Muhammad Taraki was an Afghan politician and statesman during the Cold War. Taraki was born near Kabul and educated at Kabul University, after which he started his political career as a journalist...

 and Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

. Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

 and a number of military wing officers of the PDPA managed to remain at large and organized.

On 27 April 1978 the PDPA, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki, Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 and Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

 overthrew the regime of Mohammad Daoud. On the morning of April 28, 1978, Mohammad Daoud and his family were executed. The uprising was known as the Saur Revolution
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

 ('Saur' being to the month in the Persian Calendar in which the revolution occurred). On 1 May, Taraki became President
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

, Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 and General Secretary
General Secretary
The office of general secretary is staffed by the chief officer of:*The General Secretariat for Macedonia and Thrace, a government agency for the Greek regions of Macedonia and Thrace...

 of the PDPA. The country was then renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), and the PDPA regime lasted, in some form or another, until April 1992.

In 1967, two years after its founding, the PDPA had split into several factions. Ten years later the efforts of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 reunited the Khalq faction of Taraki and the Parcham faction of Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

. The "Saur Revolution
Saur Revolution
The Saur Revolution is the name given to the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan takeover of political power from the government of Afghanistan on 28 April 1978. The word 'Saur', i.e...

", as the new government labeled its coup d'etat
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, after the month in the Islamic calendar in which it occurred, was almost entirely the achievement of the Khalq faction of the PDPA. This success gave it effective control over the armed forces, a great advantage over its Parchami rival. Khalq's victory was partially due to Daoud's miscalculation that Parcham was the more serious threat. Parcham's leaders had enjoyed widespread connections within the senior bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 and even the royal family and the most privileged elite. These linkages also tended to make their movements easy to trace.

Khalq, on the other hand, had not been involved in Daoud's government, had little connection with Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

's Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 speaking elite, and a rustic reputation based on recruitment of students from the provinces. Most of them were Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

, especially the Ghilzai
Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

s. They had few apparent connections in the senior bureaucracy, many had taken jobs as school teachers. Khalq's influence at Kabul University was also limited.

These newcomers to Kabul had seemed poorly positioned to penetrate the government. Moreover, they were led by the erratic Mohammed Taraki, a poet, sometime minor official, and a publicly notorious radical. Confident that his military officers were reliable, Daoud must have discounted the diligence of Taraki's lieutenant, Hafizullah Amin, who had sought out dissident Pashtun officers. The bungling of Amin's arrest, which enabled him to trigger the coup ahead of its planned date, also suggests Khalq's penetration of Daoud's security police.

The organisers of the coup had carried out a bold and sophisticated plan. It employed the shock effect of a combined armored and air assault on the Argor palace, the seat of Daoud's highly centralized government. Seizure of the initiative demoralized the larger loyal or uncommitted forces nearby. Quick capture of telecommunications, the defense ministry and other strategic centers of authority isolated Daoud's stubbornly resisting palace guard.

The coup was by far Khalq's most successful achievement. So much so, that considerable literature has accumulated arguing that it must have been planned and executed by the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

, or some special branch of the Soviet military. Given the friction that soon developed between Khalq and Soviet officials, especially over the purging of Parcham, Soviet control of the coup seems unlikely. Prior knowledge of it does appear to have been highly likely. Claims that Soviet pilots bombed the palace overlook the availability of seasoned Afghan pilots.

Political leadership of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was asserted within three days of the military takeover. After thirteen years of conspiratorial activity, the two factions of the PDPA emerged in public, refusing at first, to admit their Marxist credentials. Khalq's dominance was quickly apparent. Taraki became president, prime minister and General Secretary of the PDPA, Hafizullah Amin as deputy prime minister. Parcham's leader, Babrak Karmal was also named deputy prime minister. Cabinet membership was split eleven to ten, with Khalq in the majority. Khalq dominated the Revolutionary Council, which was to serve as the ruling body of the government. Within weeks purges of Parcham began and by summer Khalq's somewhat bewildered Soviet patrons became aware of how difficult it would be to temper its radicalism.

Reforms and repression, 1978–1979


Once in power, the PDPA implemented a socialist agenda. It moved to promote state atheism
State atheism
State atheism is the official "promotion of atheism" by a government, sometimes combined with active suppression of religious freedom and practice...

. The regime abolished Muslim laws and encouraged men to cut off their beards. Women were no longer allowed to wear the Burqa, and mosques were placed off limits during the reforms. The mosques re-opened in the 80s, because the party tried to win more supporters. It carried out an ambitious land reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

, waiving farmers' debts countrywide and abolishing usury
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

 — intended to release the poorer farmers from debt peonage.

The government of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan moved to prohibit traditional practices which were deemed feudal in nature, including banning bride price
Bride price
Bride price, also known as bride wealth, is an amount of money or property or wealth paid by the groom or his family to the parents of a woman upon the marriage of their daughter to the groom...

 (Mahr
Mahr
In Islam, mahr is an amount of money paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage which she can spend as she wishes. The English concept of "dower", the gift of funds to the wife in the event she becomes widowed, closely approximates mahr. The terms "dowry" and "bride price" are...

) and forced marriage
Forced marriage
Forced marriage is a term used to describe a marriage in which one or both of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will...

. The minimum age for marriage was also raised. Education was stressed for both men and women and widespread literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 programmes were set up. According to sources, in 1988, women made up 40 percent of the doctors and 60 percent of the teachers at the University of Kabul; 440,000 female students were enrolled in educational institutions and 80,000 more in literacy programs. Western dress was common in the cities, and women enjoyed freedom from having to cover their faces with veils.
Such reforms however were not universally well-received, being viewed by many Afghans (particularly in rural areas) as the imposition of secular western values considered to be alien to Afghan culture and un-Islamic. As had happened earlier in the century, resentment with the government's programme and the manner in which it was imposed, along with widespread repression
Political repression
Political repression is the persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take political life of society....

, provoked a backlash from tribal and Islamic leaders.

The PDPA invited the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 to assist in modernizing its economic infrastructure (predominantly its exploration and mining of rare minerals and natural gas). The USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 also sent contractors to build roads, hospitals and schools and to drill water wells; they also trained and equipped the Afghan army. In April 1978, the USSR delivered to Afghanistan free of charge 45 BTR-65 PB armored personnel carriers with ammunition; 26 combat radios for border troops; 10,000 Kalashnikov rifles (AK); and 5,000 Makarov pistols (PM) with ammunition, totalling about 6.3 million rubles. Upon the PDPA's ascension to power, and the establishment of the DRA, the Soviet Union promised monetary aid amounting to at least $1.262 billion.

The destruction of Afghanistan's former ruling elite had begun immediately after the seizure of power. Execution (Parcham leaders later claimed at least 11,000 during the Taraki/Amin period), flight into exile, and later the devastation of Kabul itself would literally remove the great majority of the some 100,000 who had come to form Afghanistan's elite and middle class. Their loss almost completely broke the continuity of Afghanistan's leadership, political institutions and their social foundation. Karmal was dispatched to Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 as ambassador, along with others shipped out of the country. Amin appeared to be the principal beneficiary of this strategy.

The Khalq leadership proved incapable of filling this vacuum. Its brutal and clumsy attempts to introduce radical changes in control over agricultural land holding and credit, rural social relations, marriage and family arrangements, and education led to scattered protests and uprisings among all major communities in the Afghan countryside. Taraki and Amin left a legacy of turmoil and resentment which gravely compromised later Marxist attempts to win popular acceptance.

The human rights violations of the Khalq extended beyond the educated elite. Between April 1978 and the Soviet invasion of December 1979, Afghan Communists executed an estimated 27,000 political prisoners at Pul-i-Charki prison six miles east of Kabul. Many of the victims were village mullahs and headmen who were obstructing the modernization and secularization of the intensely religious Afghan countryside. The Khalq leadership introduced to Afghanistan the "knock on the door in the middle of the night", previously little known in that country, where the central government usually lacked the power to enforce its will beyond Kabul.

The Government was constructed in classic Leninist fashion. Until 1985 it was governed by a provisional constitution, "The Fundamental Principles of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan." Supreme sovereignty was vested in a Revolutionary Council, originally a body of fifty-eight members whose number later varied. Its executive committee, the Presidium, exercised power when the council was not in formal session. The Revolutionary Council was presided over by the president of the Democratic Republic.

Beneath the council the cabinet functioned under a Prime Minister, essentially in a format inherited from the pre-Marxist era. Two new ministries were added: Islamic Affairs and Tribes and Nationalities. Administrative arrangements for provincial and sub-provincial government were also retained.

In Leninist style, the PDPA closely mirrored the formal instruments of government. Its authority was generated by its Central Committee, whose executive stand-in was its Politburo. Presiding over both was the party's secretary general. Policy generation was the primary function of the executive level of the party, which was to be carried out by its members serving throughout the government.

On 5 December 1978 a friendship treaty was signed with the Soviet Union and was later used as a pretext for the Soviet invasion. Major uprisings occurred regularly against the government led by members of the traditional establishment who lost their privileges in the land reform. The government responded with heavy-handed military reprisals and arrested, exiled and executed many Mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 "holy Muslim warriors". The Mujahideen belonged to various different factions, but all shared, to varying degrees, a similarly conservative 'Islamic' ideology.

On 15 February 1979, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 ambassador in Kabul, Adolph Dubs
Adolph Dubs
Adolph "Spike" Dubs was the United States Ambassador to Afghanistan from May 13, 1978 until his death in 1979. He was killed in an exchange of fire after a kidnapping attempt.-Career:...

, was taken hostage and later killed when Amin ordered the police to attack. The US did not appoint a new ambassador.
The U.S. saw the situation as a prime opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. As part of a Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 strategy, in June 1979, the United States government (under President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski is a Polish American political scientist, geostrategist, and statesman who served as United States National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981....

) began to covertly fund and train anti-government Mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 forces through the Pakistani secret service known as Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), with the intention of provoking Soviet intervention (according to Brzezinski).

In mid-March the 17th infantry division in Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 under the control of Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan is a politician and former mujahideen commander from Afghanistan. Born in the western Afghan city of Herat, he rose to become a powerful rebel commander during in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, and then a key member of the Northern Alliance until finally becoming the Governor of Herat...

 mutinied in support of Shi'ite Muslims. A hundred Soviet advisors in the city, and their families, were killed. The city was bombed, causing massive destruction and thousands of deaths and later it was recaptured with Afghan army tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s and paratrooper
Paratrooper
Paratroopers are soldiers trained in parachuting and generally operate as part of an airborne force.Paratroopers are used for tactical advantage as they can be inserted into the battlefield from the air, thereby allowing them to be positioned in areas not accessible by land...

s.

Taraki visited Moscow on 20 March 1979 with a formal request for Soviet ground troops. Alexei Kosygin told him "we believe it would be a fatal mistake to commit ground troops... if our troops went in, the situation in your country... would get worse." Despite this statement Taraki negotiated some armed and humanitarian support—helicopter gunships with Soviet pilots and maintenance crews, 500 military advisors, 700 paratroopers disguised as technicians to defend Kabul airport, also significant food aid (300,000 tons of wheat). Brezhnev still warned Taraki that full Soviet intervention "would only play into the hands of our enemies—both yours and ours."

During this period, many Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran and began organizing a resistance movement. Although the groups organized, backed by the U.S. and Pakistan, in the city of Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 would after the Soviet invasion be described by the western press as "freedom fighters"—as if their goal were to establish a representative democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 in Afghanistan—in reality these groups each had agendas of their own that were often far from democratic. They were united, however, in their opposition to a regime with values very far from Islamic traditional ones, supported by external forces, as they were themselves in a far more direct manner.

The intense rivalry between Taraki and Amin within the Khalq faction heated up. Amin became prime minister on 28 March 1979 with Taraki remaining President. In September 1979, Taraki's followers had made several attempts on Amin's life. However, it was Taraki who was overthrown and assassinated by being smothered with a pillow in his bed, with Amin assuming power in Afghanistan. The Amin uprising was characterized as US-backed, with several reports of Amin meeting CIA agents in Kabul. Amin also began attempts to moderate what many Afghans viewed to be an anti-Islamic regime. His regime was still under pressure from the insurgency in the country and he tried to gain Pakistani or American support and refused to take Soviet advice. However, many Afghans held Amin responsible for the regime's harshest measures. The Soviet servicemen in Kabul speculated that Amin's rule would be marked by "harsh repression and... [result in] the activation and strengthening of the opposition... The situation can only be saved by the removal of Amin from power."

Taraki's death was first noted in the Kabul Times on 10 October, which reported that the former leader only recently hailed as the "great teacher... great genius... great leader" had died quietly "of serious illness, which he had been suffering for some time." Less than three months later, after the Amin government had been overthrown, the newly installed followers of Babrak Karmal gave another account of Taraki's death. According to this account, Amin ordered the commander of the palace guard to have Taraki executed. Taraki reportedly was suffocated with a pillow over his head. Amin's emergence from the power struggle within the small divided Communist party in Afghanistan alarmed the Soviets and would usher in the series of events which lead to the Soviet invasion.

In Kabul, the ascension of Amin to the top position was quick. Amin began unfinished attempts to moderate what many Afghans viewed to be an anti-Islamic regime. Promising more religious freedom, repairing mosques, presenting copies of the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 to religious groups, invoking the name of Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 in his speeches, and declaring that the Saur Revolution was "totally based on the principles of Islam." Yet many Afghans held Amin responsible for the regime's harshest measures.

The Soviets established a special commission on Afghanistan, of KGB chairman Andropov, Ponomaryev from the Central Committee and Ustinov, the defense minister. In late October they reported that Amin was purging his opponents, including Soviet sympathizers; his loyalty to Moscow was false; and that he was seeking diplomatic links with Pakistan and possibly China.

Opposition forces


Outside observers usually identify the two warring groups as "fundamentalists" (or theocrats) and "traditionalists" (or monarchists). Rivalries between these groups continued during the Afghan civil war that followed the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 withdrawal. The rivalries of these groups brought the plight of the Afghans to the attention of the West, and it was they who received military assistance from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and a number of other nations.

Since 1973 (nearly five years before the revolution) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

, Ahmad Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

, future fundamentalist warlords and leaders of the fight against the Soviet army had fled to Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

, in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 to build up support with the help of the Pakistani government. A number of camps, military in origin, may have been conceived as rallying points around specific warlords with strong fundamentalist leanings, not just as neutral gathering places for refugees. In 1977, the Pakistani dictator, General Zia-Ul-Haq enforced an Islamic constitution, and backed the Afghan warlords in Peshawar, financing the building of thousands of madrassas in the vicinity of refugee camps, with help from Saudi Arabia.

The fundamentalists based their organizing principle around mass politics and included several divisions of the Jamiat-i-Islami. The leader of the parent branch, Rabbani, began organizing in Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 before repression of religious conservatives, which began in 1974, forced him to flee to Pakistan during Daoud's
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

 regime. Perhaps best known among the leaders was Hekmatyar, who broke with Rabbani to form another resistance group, the Hizb-e-Islami, which became Pakistan's favoured arms recipient. Another split, engineered by Yunus Khales, resulted in a second group using the name Hizb-e-Islami—a group that was somewhat more moderate than Hikmatyar's. A fourth fundamentalist group was the Ittehad-i-Islami led by Abdul Rabb Rasuul al-Sayyaf, who would later invite Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 to come to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. Rabbani's group received its greatest support from northern Afghanistan where the best known resistance commander in Afghanistan—Massoud—a Tajik
Tajiks
Tajik is a general designation for a wide range of Persian-speaking people of Iranic origin, with traditional homelands in present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan...

, like Rabbani, operated against the Soviets with considerable success.

The organizing principles of traditionalist groups differed from those of the fundamentalists. Formed from loose ties among ulama
Ulema
Ulama , also spelt ulema, refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. They are best known as the arbiters of shari‘a law...

 in Afghanistan, the traditionalist leaders were not concerned, unlike fundamentalists, with redefining Islam in Afghan society but instead focused on the use of the
sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 as the source of law (interpreting the sharia is a principal role of the ulama). Among the three groups in Peshawar, the most important was the
Jebh-e-Nejat-e-Milli led by Sibghatullah Mojadeddi. Some of the traditionalists were willing to accept restoration of the monarchy and looked to former King Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

, exiled in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, as the ruler.

The traditionalist groups set about the active eradication of any kind of alternative secular opposition to Fundamentalist ideology, eliminating the dissident intellectuals—who also happened to oppose the Mujaheddin groups.

Other ties also were important in holding together some resistance groups. Among these were links within sufi orders, such as the Mahaz-e-Milli Islami, one of the traditionalist groups associated with the Gilani Sufi order led by Pir Sayyid Gilani. Another group, the Shia Muslims of Hazarajat, organized the refugees in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

Funds of over $1 billion per year poured into the Mujahideen from the US, the Saudi intelligence service al-Istakhbara al-'Ama, the Kuwaitis, the Iraqis, the Libyans and the Iranians during the 1980s. The US-Saudi dominance in funding enabled them, along with the Pakistanis, to choose seven parties amongst the various exiled forces that leaned more towards theocratic despotism
Despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

 than toward secular nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

.

The Soviet war in Afghanistan, December 1979



The Soviet war in Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 began as midnight approached on 24 December 1979. USSR organized a massive military airlift into Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, involving an estimated 280 transport aircraft and 3 divisions of almost 8,500 men each. Within two days, Soviet forces secured Kabul, deploying a special Soviet assault unit against Darul Aman Palace
Darul Aman Palace
Darul Aman Palace is a European-style palace, now ruined, located about sixteen kilometers outside of the center of Kabul, Afghanistan....

, where elements of the Afghan army loyal to Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

 put up a fierce, but brief resistance. With Amin's death at the palace, Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

, exiled leader of the Parcham faction of the PDPA took place as Afghanistan's new head of government.

Several theories have been advanced for the Soviet action. These interpretations of Soviet motives do not always agree—what is known for certain is that the decision was influenced by many factors—that in Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

's words the decision to enter Afghanistan was truly "no simple decision." Two factors were certain to have figured heavily in Soviet calculations. The Soviet Union, interested in establishing a "cordon sanitaire
Cordon sanitaire
Cordon sanitaire — or quarantine line — is a French phrase that, literally translated, means "sanitary cordon". Though in French it originally denoted a barrier implemented to stop the spread of disease, it has often been used in English in a metaphorical sense to refer to attempts to prevent the...

" of friendly or neutral states on its frontiers, was increasingly alarmed at the unstable, unpredictable situation on its southern border. Perhaps as important, the Brezhnev doctrine
Brezhnev Doctrine
The Brezhnev Doctrine was a Soviet Union foreign policy, first and most clearly outlined by S. Kovalev in a September 26, 1968 Pravda article, entitled “Sovereignty and the International Obligations of Socialist Countries.” Leonid Brezhnev reiterated it in a speech at the Fifth Congress of the...

 declared that the Soviet Union had a "zone of responsibility" where it had to come to the assistance of an endangered fellow socialist country. The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a regime apparently on the verge of collapse.

The government of Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 faced several challenges. Strong connection to the Soviets prevented popular acceptance of the legitimacy of his government. Even though the Parchamis, themselves, had been among the groups most viciously persecuted by the Khalqis, their identification with 'Anti-Islam' Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 and Soviet 'infidels
Infidels
Infidels is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's 22nd studio album, released by Columbia Records in October 1983.Produced by Mark Knopfler and Dylan himself, Infidels is seen as his return to secular music, following a conversion to Christianity and three evangelical, gospel records...

' was not forgiven. Indeed, the decimation of their members forced the Soviets to insist on reconciliation between the two factions. The purging of Parchamis had left the military forces so dominated by Khalqis that the Soviets had no choice but to rely upon Khalqi officers to rebuild the army.

Soviet miscalculation of what was required to crush Afghan resistance further aggravated the government's situation. The Afghan army was expected to carry the burden of suppressing opposition, which was to be done quickly with Soviet support. As the war of pacification dragged on for years, the Babrak Karmal government was further weakened by the poor performance of its army.


Whatever the Soviet goals may have been, the international response was sharp and swift. United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, reassessing the strategic situation in his State of the Union address in January, 1980, identified Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 as a "front-line state" in the global struggle against communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. He reversed his stand of a year earlier that aid to Pakistan be terminated as a result of its nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 program and offered Pakistan a military and economic assistance package if it would act as a conduit for United States and other assistance to the mujahedin. Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq , was the 4th Chief Martial Law Administrator and the sixth President of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988...

 refused Carter's package but later a larger aid offer from the Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 administration was accepted.
Questions about Pakistan's nuclear program were, for the time being, set aside. Assistance also came from the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. Also forth coming was international aid to help Pakistan deal with more than 3 million fleeing Afghan refugees.

The foreign ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference deplored the 'invasion' and demanded Soviet withdrawal at a meeting in Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

 in January 1980. United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 did not pass a resolution on the war, but the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 regularly passed resolutions opposing the Soviet occupation.

In mid-January 1980 the Soviets relocated their command post from Termez, on Soviet territory to the north of Afghanistan, to Kabul. For ten years the Soviets and the DRA government battled the mujahedin for control of the country. The Soviets used helicopters (including Mil Mi-24 Hind
Mil Mi-24
The Mil Mi-24 is a large helicopter gunship and attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for 8 passengers. It is produced by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and operated since 1972 by the Soviet Air Force, its successors, and by over thirty other nations.In NATO circles the export...

 gunships) as their primary air attack force, supported with fighter-bombers and bombers, ground troops and special forces.

The search for popular support



In attempts to broaden support, the PDPA created organizations and launched political initiatives intended to induce popular participation. The most ambitious was the National Fatherland Front (NFF), founded in June 1981. This umbrella organization
Umbrella organization
An umbrella organization is an association of institutions, who work together formally to coordinate activities or pool resources. In business, political, or other environments, one group, the umbrella organization, provides resources and often an identity to the smaller organizations...

 created local units in cities, towns and tribal areas which were to recruit supporters of the regime. Village and tribal notables were offered inducements to participate in well publicized rallies and programs. The party also gave affiliated organizations that enrolled women, youth and city workers high profile exposure in national radio, television, and government publications.

From its beginnings in the mid-1960s, the membership of the PDPA had taken keen interest in the impact of information and propaganda. Some years after their own publications had been terminated by the government, they gained control of all official media. These were energetically harnessed to their propaganda
goals. Anis, the mainline government newspaper (published in Pashto and Dari
Dari (Eastern Persian)
Dari or Fārsī-ye Darī in historical terms refers to the Persian court language of the Sassanids. In contemporary usage, the term refers to the dialects of modern Persian language spoken in Afghanistan, and hence known as Afghan Persian in some Western sources. It is the term officially recognized...

), the Kabul New Times (previously the Kabul Times), published in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, and such new publications as Haqiqat-i-Inqelab-i-Saur exhibited the regime's flair for propaganda. With Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 as its primary constituency, it also made innovative use of television.

The early efforts at mobilizing popular support were later followed up by national meetings and assemblies, eventually using a variation of the model of the traditional loya jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 to entice the cooperation of rural secular leaders and religious authorities. A large scale loya jirga was held in 1985 to ratify the DRA's new constitution.

These attempts to win collaboration were closely coordinated with efforts to manipulate Pashtun tribal politics. Such efforts included trying to split or disrupt tribes who affiliated with the resistance, or by compromising notables into commitments to raise militia forces in service to the government.

A concerted effort was made to win over the principal minorities: Uzbek
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

, Turkmen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

, and Tajiks
Tajiks
Tajik is a general designation for a wide range of Persian-speaking people of Iranic origin, with traditional homelands in present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan...

, in northern Afghanistan. For the first time their languages and literatures were prominently broadcast and published by government media. Minority writers and poets were championed, and attention was given to their folk art, music, dance and lore.

Critics of Soviet and Afghan government forces describe their effect on Afghan culture as working in three stages: first, the center of customary Afghan culture, Islam, was pushed aside; second, Soviet patterns of life, especially amongst the young, were imported; third, shared Afghan cultural characteristics were destroyed by the emphasis on so-called nationalities, with the outcome that the country was split into different ethnic groups, with no language, religion, or culture in common.

Internal refugees: flight to the cities


As the Afghan-Soviet war became more destructive, internal refugees flocked to Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 and the largest of the provincial cities. Varying estimates (no authentic census was taken) put Kabul's population at more than 2 million by the late 1980s. In many instances villagers fled to Kabul and other towns to join family or lineage groups already established there.

At least 3, perhaps 4, million Afghans were thus subject to government authority and hence exposed to PDPA recruitment or affiliation. Its largest membership claim was 160,000, starting from a base of between 5,000 and 10,000 immediately after the Soviet invasion. How many members were active and committed was unclear, but the lure of perquisites, for example, food and fuel at protected prices, compromised the meaning of membership. Claims of membership in the NFF ran into the millions, but its core activists were mostly party members. When it was terminated in 1987, the NFF disappeared without impact.

Factionalism: Khalq and Parcham


The PDPA was also never able to rid itself of internal rivalries. Burdened by obvious evidence that the Soviets oversaw its policies, actively dominated the crucial sectors of its government, and literally ran the war, the PDPA could not assert itself as a political force until after the Soviets left. In the civil war period that followed, it gained significant respect, but its internal disputes worsened.

Born divided, the PDPA suffered virtually continuous conflict between its two major factions. The Soviets imposed a public truce upon Parcham and Khalq, but the rivalry continued with hostility and disagreement frequently rising to the surface. Generally, Parcham enjoyed political dominance, while Khalq could not be denied the leverage over the army held by its senior officers.

Social, linguistic, and regional origins and differing degrees of Marxist radicalism had spurred factionalism from the beginning. When Soviet forces invaded, there was a fifteen-year history of disagreement, dislike, rivalry, violence and murder. Each new episode added further alienation. Events also tended to
sub-divide the protagonists. Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

 murder of Taraki divided the Khalqis. Rival military cliques divided the Khalqis further.

Mohammad Najibullah, 1986–1992


Parchami suffered a series of splits when the Soviets insisted on replacing Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 with Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

 as head of the PDPA on 4 May 1986. The PDPA was riven by divisions which prevented implementation of policies and compromised its internal security. These fundamental weaknesses were later partially masked by the urgency of rallying for common survival in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal. Yet, after military successes rifts again began to surface.

Karmal retained the presidency for a while, but power had shifted to Najibullah, who had previously headed the State Information Service (Khadamate Ettelaate Dowlati—KHAD
KHAD
Khadamat-e Etela'at-e Dawlati translates directly to English as: "Government Information Agency". However, this phrase is more correctly translated as Government Intelligence Service...

), the Afghan secret service agency. Najibullah tried to diminish differences with the resistance and appeared prepared to
allow Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 a greater role as well as legalize opposition groups, but any moves he made toward concessions were rejected out of hand by the mujahedin.

Factionalism had a critical impact on the leadership of the PDPA. Najibullah's achievements as a mediator between factions, an effective diplomat, a clever foe, a resourceful administrator and a brilliant spokesman who coped with constant and changing turmoil throughout his six years as head of government, qualified him as a leader among Afghans. His leadership qualities might be summarized as conciliatory authoritarianism: a sure sense of power, how to get it, how to use it, but mediated by willingness to give options to rivals. This combination was glaringly lacking in most of his colleagues and rivals.

Najibullah suffered, to a lesser degree, the same disadvantage that Karmal had when he was installed as General Secretary of the PDPA by the Soviets. Despite Soviet interference and his own frustration and discouragement over the failure to generate substantial popular support, Karmal still had retained enough loyalty within the party to remain in office. This fact was shown by the fierceness of the resistance to Najibullah's appointment within the Parcham faction. This split persisted, forcing Najibullah to straddle his politics between whatever Parchami support he could maintain and alliances he could win from the Khalqis.

Najibullah's reputation was that of a secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 apparatchik
Apparatchik
Apparatchik is a Russian colloquial term for a full-time, professional functionary of the Communist Party or government; i.e., an agent of the governmental or party "apparat" that held any position of bureaucratic or political responsibility, with the exception of the higher ranks of management...

 with especially effective skills in disengaging Ghilzai
Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

 and eastern Pashtuns from the resistance. Najibullah was himself a Ghilzai from the large Ahmedzai tribe. His selection by the Soviets was clearly related to his success in running KHAD, the secret police, more effectively than the rest of the DRA had been governed. His appointment thus, was not principally the result of intra-party politics. It was related to crucial changes in the Soviet-Afghan war that would lead to the Soviet military withdrawal.

The Soviet decision to withdraw, 1986–1988


The Soviets grossly underestimated the huge cost of the Afghan venture—described, in time, as the Soviet Union's Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

—to their state.

The peak of the fighting came in 1985–86. The Soviet forces launched their largest and most effective assaults on the mujahedin supply lines adjacent to Pakistan. Major campaigns had also forced the mujahedin into the defensive near Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 and Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

.

At the same time a sharp increase in military support for the mujahedin from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

 allowed it to regain the guerilla war initiative.

These shifts in momentum reinforced the inclination of the new Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 government to view further escalation of the war as a misuse of Soviet political and military capital. Such doubts had developed prior to the decision to install Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

. In April 1985, one month after Gorbachev assumed the Soviet leadership, its May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

 greeting to the Kabul government failed to refer to its "revolutionary solidarity" with the PDPA, a signal in Marxist-Leninist rhetoric that their relationship had been downgraded. Several months later, Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 suggested the inclusion of non-party members in the Revolutionary Council and the promotion of a "mixed economy." These tentative concessions toward non-Marxists won Soviet praise, but divergence in policy became obvious at the Twenty-Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1986. Gorbachev's "bleeding wound" speech hinted at a decision to withdraw "in the nearest future." In his own speech Karmal made no reference to withdrawal. In early May he was replaced by Najibullah.

Najibullah was obliged to move toward the evolving Soviet position with great caution. Karmal's followers could use any concessions to non-Marxists or acceptance of a Soviet withdrawal against him. Accordingly, he moved in conflicting directions, insisting there was no room for non-Marxists in government, only offering the possibility of clemency to "bandits" who had been duped by mujahedin leaders into resisting the government. In addition to air strikes and shelling across the border, KHAD
KHAD
Khadamat-e Etela'at-e Dawlati translates directly to English as: "Government Information Agency". However, this phrase is more correctly translated as Government Intelligence Service...

 terrorist activity in Pakistan reached its peak under Najibullah.

Late in 1986 Najibullah had stabilized his political position enough to begin matching Moscow's moves toward withdrawal. In September he set up the National Compromise Commission to contact counterrevolutionaries "in order to complete the Saur Revolution in its new phase." Allegedly some 40,000 rebels were contacted. In November Karmal was replaced as now-ceremonial president by a non-party member, Haji Muhammad Samkanai, signaling the PDPA's
willingness to open government to non-Marxists.

At the end of 1986 Najibullah unveiled a program of "National Reconciliation". It offered a six-month cease-fire and discussions leading to a possible coalition government in which the PDPA would give up its government monopoly. Contact was to be made with "anti-state armed groups". Affiliation was suggested, allowing resistance forces to retain areas under their control.

In fact much of the substance of the program was happening on the ground in the form of negotiations with disillusioned mujahedin commanders who agreed to cooperate as government militia. The mujahedin leadership rhetorically claimed that the program had no chance for success. For his part Najibullah assured his followers that there would be no compromise over "the accomplishments" of the Saur Revolution. It remained a standoff. While a strenuous propaganda effort was directed at the both the Afghan refugees and Pakistanis in North-West Frontier, the program was essentially a sop to Moscow's
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 hope to tie a favorable political settlement to its desire to pull its forces out.

Najibullah's concrete achievements were the consolidation of his armed forces, the expansion of co-opted militia forces and the acceptance of his government by an increasing proportion of urban population under his control. As a propaganda ploy "National Reconciliation" was a means of gaining time to prepare for civil war after the Soviet departure.

The Geneva accords, 1987–1989


By the beginning of 1987, the controlling fact in the Afghan war was the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's determination to withdraw. It would not renege on its commitment to the Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 government's survival—Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

's options were restricted by Soviet military insistence that Kabul not be abandoned. Nevertheless, the Soviet leadership was convinced that resolution of Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 issues with the West and internal reform were far more urgent than the fate of the Kabul government.

Other events outside Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, especially in the Soviet Union, contributed to the eventual agreement. The toll in casualties, economic resources, and loss of support at home increasingly felt in the Soviet Union was causing criticism of the occupation policy. Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 died in 1982, and after two short-lived successors, Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 assumed leadership in March 1985. As Gorbachev opened up the country's system, it became clearer that the Soviet Union wished to find a face-saving way to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The civil war in Afghanistan was guerrilla warfare and a war of attrition between government and the mujahedin; it cost both sides a great deal. Many Afghans, perhaps as many as five million, or one-quarter of the country's population, fled to Pakistan and Iran where they organized into guerrilla groups to strike Soviet and government forces inside Afghanistan. Others remained in Afghanistan and also formed fighting groups; perhaps most notable was one led by Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

 in the northeastern part of Afghanistan. These various groups were supplied with funds to purchase arms, principally from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Despite high casualties on both sides, pressure continued to mount on the Soviet Union, especially after the United States brought in FIM-92 Stinger
FIM-92 Stinger
The FIM-92 Stinger is a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile , which can be adapted to fire from ground vehicles and helicopters , developed in the United States and entered into service in 1981. Used by the militaries of the U.S...

 anti-aircraft missiles which severely reduced the effectiveness of Soviet air cover.

Conveniently, a formula was readily available for minimizing the humiliation of reversing a policy in which enormous political, material, and human capital had been invested. In 1982 under the auspices of the office of its secretary general, the UN had initiated negotiations facilitating a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Its format had essentially been agreed upon by 1985. Ostensibly it was the product of indirect negotiations between the DRA and Pakistan (Pakistan did not recognize the DRA) with the mediation of the secretary general's special representative, Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez is an American poker player. He has won one World Series of Poker bracelet, and he has 16 WSOP cash finishes including 7 final tables. He has won over $1.4 Million in career tournament winnings...

. The United States and the Soviet Union had committed themselves to guaranteeing the implementation of an agreement leading to a withdrawal.

Both the format and the substance of the agreement were designed to be acceptable to the Soviet Union and the DRA. Its clauses included affirmation of the sovereignty of Afghanistan and its right to self-determination, its right to be free from foreign intervention or interference, and the right of its refugees to a secure and honorable return. But at its core was an agreement reached in May 1988 that authorized the withdrawal of "foreign troops" according to a timetable that would remove all Soviet forces by 15 February 1989.

The accords emerged from initiatives by Moscow and Kabul in 1981. They had claimed that Soviet forces had entered Afghanistan in order to protect it from foreign forces intervening on the side of rebels attempting to overthrow the DRA. The logic of the Geneva Accords was based on this accusation, that is, that once the foreign threat to Afghanistan was removed, the forces of its friend, the Soviet Union, would leave. For that reason a bilateral agreement between Pakistan, which was actively supporting the resistance, and the DRA prohibiting intervention and interference between them was essential. In meticulous detail each party agreed to terminate any act that could remotely affect the sovereignty or security of the other. This agreement included preventing an expatriate or a refugee from publishing a statement which his/her government could construe as a contribution to unrest within its territory. The bilateral agreement between the Afghanistan and Pakistan on the principles of non-interference and non-intervention was signed on 14 April 1988.

The accords thus facilitated a withdrawal by an erstwhile superpower, in a manner which justified an invasion. They exemplify the delicacy of UN diplomacy when the interests of a great power are engaged. In essence, the accords were a political bailout for a government struggling with the consequences of a costly error. The UN could not insist that accusations of national culpability were relevant to the negotiations. In the case of Afghanistan, the Soviet Union insisted on its own diplomatic terms as did the United States in a different manner concerning Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

.

The agreement on withdrawal held, and on 15 February 1989, the last Soviet troops departed on schedule from Afghanistan. Their exit, however, did not bring either lasting peace or resettlement.

The failure to bring peace


The accords did not bring peace to Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. There was little expectation among its enemies or the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 that the Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 government would survive. Its refusal to collapse introduced a three-year period of civil war.

The Geneva process failed to prevent the further carnage which a political solution among Afghans might have prevented or lessened. It failed partially because the Geneva process prevented participation by the Afghan resistance. The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) occupied Afghanistan's seat at the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

. Denied recognition, the resistance leadership resented the central role that DRA was permitted to play at Geneva. When the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 representative Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez is an American poker player. He has won one World Series of Poker bracelet, and he has 16 WSOP cash finishes including 7 final tables. He has won over $1.4 Million in career tournament winnings...

 approached the mujahedin parties to discuss a possible political settlement in February 1988—more than five years after negotiations began—they were not interested. Their bitterness would hover over subsequent efforts to find a political solution.

Considerable diplomatic energy was expended throughout 1987 to find a political compromise that would end the fighting before the Soviets left. While Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, the Soviet Union and the DRA haggled over a timetable for the Soviet withdrawal, Cordovez worked on a formula for an Afghan government that would reconcile the combatants. The formula involved Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

, and by extension, the leading members of his former government, most of whom had gone into exile. This approach also called for a meeting in the loya jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 tradition representing all Afghan protagonists and communities. It was to reach a consensus on the features of a future government. The jirgah also was to select a small group of respected leaders to act as a transitional government in place of the Kabul government and the mujahedin. During the transition a new constitution was to be promulgated and elections conducted leading to the installation of a popularly accepted government. This package kept re-emerging in modified forms throughout the civil war that followed. Suggested roles for the king and his followers slipped into and out of these formulas, despite the implacable opposition of most of the mujahedin leaders.

The peace prospect faltered because no credible consensus was attainable. By mid-1987 the resistance forces sensed a military victory. They had stymied what proved to be the last set of major Soviet offensives, the Stinger missiles were still having a devastating effect, and they were receiving an unprecedented surge of outside assistance. Defeat of the Kabul government was their solution for peace. This confidence, sharpened by their distrust of the UN virtually guaranteed their refusal of a political compromise.

Pakistan's attempt at a political solution, 1987–1988


Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 was the only protagonist in a position to convince the mujahedin otherwise. Its intimate relationship with the parties it hosted had shaped their war and their politics. Their dependence on Pakistan for armaments, training, funding and sanctuary had been nearly total. But by 1987, the politics of Pakistan's foreign policy had fragmented. The Foreign Ministry was working with Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez is an American poker player. He has won one World Series of Poker bracelet, and he has 16 WSOP cash finishes including 7 final tables. He has won over $1.4 Million in career tournament winnings...

 to devise a formula for a "neutral" government. President Zia-ul-Haq was adamantly convinced that a political solution favoring the mujahedin was essential and worked strenuously to convince the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Riaz Muhammad Khan argues that disagreement within the military and with Zia's increasingly independent prime minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo
Muhammad Khan Junejo
Muhammad Khan Junejo was the tenth Prime Minister of Pakistan.-Early life:He was born at Sindhri in Tharparkar of Sindh. He belongs to Sindhi Muslim Rajput family of Junejo clan. Junejo started his political career at the age of twenty one...

, deflected Zia's efforts. When Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 announced a Soviet withdrawal without a peace settlement at his Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 meeting with President Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 on 10 December 1987, the chance for a political agreement was lost. All the protagonists were then caught up in the rush to complete the Geneva process.

In the end the Soviets were content to leave the possibilities of reconciliation to Najibullah and to shore him up with massive material support. He had made an expanded reconciliation offer to the resistance in July, 1987 including twenty seats in State (formerly Revolutionary) Council, twelve ministries and a possible prime minister-ship and Afghanistan's status as an Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic non-aligned state. Military, police, and security powers were not mentioned. The offer still fell far short of what even the moderate mujahedin parties would accept.

Najibullah then reorganized his government to face the mujahedin alone. A new constitution took effect in November, 1987. The name of the country was reverted to the Republic of Afghanistan, the State Council was replaced by a National Assembly for which "progressive parties" could freely compete. Mir Hussein Sharq, a non-party politician, was named prime minister. Najibullah's presidency was given Gaullist powers and longevity. He was promptly elected to a seven-year term. On paper, Afghan government appeared far more democratic than Mohammed Daoud Khan
Mohammed Daoud Khan
Sardar Mohammed Daoud Khan or Daud Khan was Prime Minister of Afghanistan from 1953 to 1963 and later becoming the President of Afghanistan...

 had left it, but its popular support remained questionable.

Stalemate: Civil War, 1989–1992


The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 left Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 deep in winter with intimations of panic among Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 officials. Hard experience had convinced Soviet officials that the government was too factionalized to survive. Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i and United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 officials expected a quick mujahedin victory. The resistance was poised to attack provincial towns and cities and eventually Kabul, if necessary. The first one to fall might produce a ripple effect that would unravel the government.

Within three months, these expectations were dashed at Jalalabad. An initial assault penetrated the city's defenses and reached its airport. A counterattack, supported by effective artillery and air power, drove the mujahedin back. Uncoordinated attacks on the city from other directions failed. The crucial supply road to the garrison from Kabul was reopened. By May 1989 it was clear that the Kabul forces in Jalalabad had held.

The Mujahedin were traumatized by this failure. It exposed their inability to coordinate tactical movements or logistics or to maintain political cohesion. During the next three years, they were unable to overcome these limitations. Only one significant provincial capital, Taloqan
Taloqan
Tāloqān is the capital of Takhar Province, in northern Afghanistan. It is located in the Taluqan District. The population was estimated as 196,400 in 2006.-History:The old city to the west on the riverside was described by Marco Polo in 1275 CE as:...

, was captured and held. Mujahedin positions were expanded in the northeast and around Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, but their inability to mass forces capable of overcoming a modern army with the will to fight from entrenched positions was clear. A deadly exchange of medium-range rockets became the principal form of combat, embittering the urban population, and adding to the obstacles that prevented millions of refugees from returning.

Victory at Jalalabad dramatically revived the morale of the Kabul government. Its army proved able to fight effectively alongside the already hardened troops of the Soviet-trained special security forces. Defections decreased dramatically when it became apparent that the resistance was in disarray, with no capability for a quick victory. The change in atmosphere made recruitment of militia forces much easier. As many as 30,000 troops were assigned to the defense of Herat alone.

Immediately after the Soviet departure, Najibullah pulled down the façade of shared government. He declared an emergency, removed Sharq and the other non-party ministers from the cabinet. The Soviet Union responded with a flood of military and economic supplies. Sufficient food and fuel were made available for the next two difficult winters. Much of the military equipment belonging to Soviet units evacuating Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 was shipped to Afghanistan. Assured adequate supplies, Kabul's air force, which had developed tactics minimizing the threat from Stinger missiles, now deterred mass attacks against the cities. Medium-range missiles, particularly the Scud
Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

, were successfully launched from Kabul in the defense of Jalalabad, 153 kilometers away. One reached the suburbs of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad
Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

, more than 400 kilometers away. Soviet support reached a value of $3 billion a year in 1990. Kabul had achieved a stalemate which exposed the mujahedin's weaknesses, political and military.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, 1991


With the failure of the communist hardliners to take over the Soviet government in August 1991, Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

's supporters in the Soviet Army lost their power to dictate Afghan policy. The effect was immediate. On 13 September, the Soviet government, now dominated by Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

, agreed with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 on a mutual cut off of military aid to both sides in the Afghan civil war. It was to begin 1 January 1992.

The post-coup Soviet government then attempted to develop political relations with the Afghan resistance. In mid-November it invited a delegation of the resistance's Afghanistan Interim Government (AIG) to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 where the Soviets agreed that a transitional government should prepare Afghanistan for national elections. The Soviets did not insist that Najibullah or his colleagues participate in the transitional process. Having been cut adrift both materially and politically, Najibullah's faction torn government began to fall apart.

During the nearly three years that the Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 government had successfully defended itself against mujahedin attacks, factions within the government had also developed quasi-conspiratorial connections with its opponents. Even during the Soviet war Kabul's officials had arranged cease-fires, neutral zones, highway passage and even passes allowing unarmed mujahedin to enter towns and cities. As the civil war developed into a stalemate in 1989, such arrangements proliferated into political understandings. Combat generally ceased around Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 because most of the mujahedin commanders had an
understanding with its provincial governor. Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

 developed an agreement with Kabul to keep the vital north-south highway open after the Soviet withdrawal. The greatest mujahedin victory during the civil war, the capture of Khost
Khost
Khost or Khowst is a city in eastern Afghanistan. It is the capital of Khost province, which is a mountainous region near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan...

, was achieved through the collaboration of its garrison. In March 1990 Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

 cooperated with an attempted coup by the Khalqi Defense minister Shah Nawaz Tanai: Hekmatyar's forces were to attack Kabul simultaneously. The plot misfired because of faulty communications. Tanai escaped by helicopter to Pakistan where he was greeted and publicly accepted as an ally by Hekmatyar.

Interaction with opponents became a major facet of Najibullah's defensive strategy. Many mujahedin groups were literally bought off with arms, supplies and money to become militias defending towns, roads and installations. Such arrangements carried the danger of backfiring. When Najibullah's political support ended and the money dried up, such allegiances crumbled.

The fall of Kabul, April 1992


Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 ultimately fell to the mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 because the factions in its government had finally pulled it apart. Until demoralized by the defections of its senior officers, the army had achieved a level of performance it had never reached under direct Soviet tutelage. The regime collapsed while it still possessed material superiority. Its stockpiles of munitions and planes would provide the victorious mujahedin with the means of waging years of war. Kabul was short of fuel and food at the end of winter in 1992, but its military units were supplied well enough to fight indefinitely. They did not fight because their leaders were reduced to scrambling for survival. Their aid had not only been cut off, the Marxist-Leninist ideology that had provided the government its rationale for existence had been repudiated at its source.

A few days after it was clear that Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

 had lost control, his army commanders and governors arranged to turn over authority to resistance commanders and local notables throughout the country. Joint councils or shuras were immediately established for local government in which civil and military officials of the former government were usually included. Reports indicate the process was generally amicable. In many cases prior arrangements for transferring regional and local authority had been made between foes.

These local arrangements generally remained in place in most of Afghanistan until at least 1995. Disruptions occurred where local political arrangements were linked to the struggle that developed between the mujahedin parties. At the national level a political vacuum was created and into it fell the expatriate parties in their rush to take control. The enmities, ambitions, conceits and dogmas which had paralysed their shadow government proved to be even more disastrous in their struggle for power. The traits they brought with them had been accentuated in the struggle for preferment in Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

.

Collusions between military leaders quickly brought down the Kabul government. In mid-January 1992, within three weeks of the demise of the Soviet Union, Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

 was aware of conflict within the government's northern command. General Abdul Momim
Abdul Momim
During the Civil war in Afghanistan, General Abdul Momim or Abdul Mumin, was an ethnic Tajik officer who played a crucial role in the downfall of the government of Mohammad Najibullah...

, in charge of the Hairatan
Hairatan
Hairatan is a border town in the north of Balkh province, Afghanistan, on the Amu Darya river. The river forms the border with Uzbekistan, and the two nations are connected by the Afghanistan–Uzbekistan Friendship Bridge. The city of Termez in Uzbekistan is close to Hairatan...

 border crossing at the northern end of Kabul's supply highway, and other non-Pashtun generals based in Mazari Sharif feared removal by Najibullah and replacement by Pashtun officers. The generals rebelled and the situation was taken over by Abdul Rashid Dostam, who held general rank as head of the Jozjani militia, also based in Mazari Sharif. He and Massoud reached a political agreement, together with another major militia leader, Sayyid Mansor, of the Ismaili
Ismaili
' is a branch of Shia Islam. It is the second largest branch of Shia Islam, after the Twelvers...

 community based in Baghlan
Baghlan
Baghlan is a city in northern Afghanistan, in the eponymous province, Baghlan Province. It is located three miles east of the Kunduz River, 35 miles south of Khanabad, and about 1,700 metres above sea level in the northern Hindu Kush...

 province. These northern allies consolidated their position in Mazari Sharif on 21 March.
Their coalition covered nine provinces in the north and northeast. As turmoil developed within the government in Kabul, there was no government force standing between the northern allies and the major air force base at Bagram
Bagram
Bagram , founded as Alexandria on the Caucasus and known in medieval times as Kapisa, is a small town and seat in Bagram District in Parwan Province of Afghanistan, about 60 kilometers north of the capital Kabul. It is the site of an ancient city located at the junction of the Ghorband and Panjshir...

, some seventy kilometres north of Kabul. By mid-April the air force command at Begram had capitulated to Massoud. Kabul was defenseless; its army was no longer reliable.

Najibullah had lost internal control immediately after he announced his willingness on 18 March to resign in order to make way for a neutral interim government. As the government broke into several factions the issue had become how to carry out a transfer of power. Najibullah attempted to fly out of Kabul on 17 April, but was stopped by Dostam's troops who controlled Kabul Airport under the command of Babrak Karmal's
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 brother,
Mahmud Baryalai. Vengeance between Parchami factions was reaped. Najibullah took sanctuary at the UN mission where he remained until his hanging by the Taliban in 1996. A group of Parchami generals and officials declared themselves an interim government for the purpose of handing over power to the mujahedin.

For more than a week Massoud remained poised to move his forces into the capital. He was awaiting the arrival of political leadership from Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

. The parties suddenly had sovereign power in their grasp, but no plan for executing it. With his principal commander prepared to occupy Kabul, Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

 was positioned to prevail by default. Meanwhile UN mediators tried to find a political solution that would assure a transfer of power acceptable to all sides.

The United Nations plan for political accommodation


Benon Sevan
Benon Sevan
Benon Vahe Sevan was the head of the United Nations' Oil-for-Food Programme, established in 1996 and charged with preventing Iraq's government from using the proceeds from oil exports for anything but food, medicine and other items to benefit the civilian population.Born into an Armenian-Cypriot...

, Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez
Diego Cordovez is an American poker player. He has won one World Series of Poker bracelet, and he has 16 WSOP cash finishes including 7 final tables. He has won over $1.4 Million in career tournament winnings...

's successor as special representative of the UN secretary general, attempted to apply a political formula that had been announced by UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar
Javier Pérez de Cuéllar y de la Guerra is a Peruvian diplomat who served as the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1, 1982 to December 31, 1991. He studied in Colegio San Agustín of Lima, and then at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 1995, he ran unsuccessfully...

 on 21 May 1991. Referred to as a five-point plan, it included: recognition of Afghanistan's sovereign status as a politically non-aligned Islamic state; acceptance of the right of Afghans to self-determination in choosing their form of government and social and economic systems; need for a transitional period permitting a dialogue between Afghans leading to establishment of a government with widely based support; the termination of all foreign arms deliveries into Afghanistan; funding from the international community adequate to support the return of Afghanistan's refugees and its reconstruction from the devastation of war.

These principles were endorsed by the Soviet Union and the United States and Afghanistan's neighboring governments, but there was no military means of enforcing it. The three moderate Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 parties accepted it, but it was opposed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

, Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

, Rasool Sayyaf and Mawlawi Yunis Khalis who held out for a total victory over the Kabul government.

Nevertheless, these four "fundamentalists" found it politic to participate in the effort to implement the UN initiative. Pressure from their foreign supporters and the opportunities that participation offered to modify or obstruct the plan encouraged them to be reluctant players. Pakistan and Iran worked jointly to win mujahedin acceptance at a conference in July, 1991. Indicating its formal acceptance of the plan, Pakistan officially announced the termination of its own military assistance to the resistance in late January 1992. Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

 also declared his acceptance, but until 18 March 1992, he hedged the question of whether or when he would resign in the course of negotiations.

Sevan made a strenuous effort to create the mechanism for the dialogue that would lead to installation of the transitional process envisaged in point three of the plan. The contemplated arrangement was a refinement and a simplification of earlier plans which had been built around the possible participation of Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning for four decades, from 1933 until he was ousted by a coup in 1973...

 and the convoking of a meeting in the loya jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 tradition. By March 1992 the plan had evolved to the holding of a meeting in Europe of some 150 respected Afghans representing all communities in the late spring. Most of Sevan's effort was directed at winning the cooperation of all the Afghan protagonists, including the Shia parties in control of the Hazarajat
Hazarajat
The Hazarajat is the original homeland of the Hazara people, and lies in the central highlands of Afghanistan, among the Koh-i-Baba mountains and the western extremities of the Hindu Kush. Its physical boundaries, however, are roughly marked by the Bamiyan Basin to the north, the headwaters of...

. In early February, he appeared to have won the active support of commanders among the Pashtuns in eastern Afghanistan and acquiescence from Rabbani and Hekmatyar to the extent of submitting lists of participants acceptable to them in the proposed meeting. Simultaneously, Sevan labored to persuade Najibullah to step down on the presumption that his removal would bring about full mujahedin participation. Instead, Najibullah's 18 March announcement accelerated the collapse of his government. This collapse in turn triggered events that moved faster than Sevan's plan could be put into effect.

In the midst of hectic manoeuvring to put the European meeting together, Sevan declared on 4 April that most of the parties (including Hekmatyar's) and the Kabul government had agreed to transfer power to a proposed transitional authority. He also announced the creation of a "pre-transition council" to take control of government "perhaps within the next two weeks." He was struggling to keep up with events which threatened to dissolve the government before he had a replacement for it.

In the end, some of the Shia parties and the Islamists in Peshawar blocked his scheme. They withheld their choices or submitted candidates for the European meeting whom they knew would be unacceptable to others. The hope for a neutral, comprehensive approach to a political settlement among Afghans was dashed. Sevan then worked to ensure a peaceful turnover of power from the interim Kabul government which replaced Najibullah on 18 April to the forces of Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

 and Abdul Rashid Dostam. In effect, the turnover was peaceful, but without an overall political settlement in place. Within a week, a new civil war would begin among the victors as the era of the Islamic State of Afghanistan
History of Afghanistan since 1992
This article on the History of Afghanistan since 1992 covers the time period from the fall of the Najibullah government in 1992 to the ongoing American military presence in Afghanistan.-End of Najibullah government:...

began.

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