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Nur Muhammad Taraki

Nur Muhammad Taraki

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Nur Muhammad Taraki was an Afghan politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and statesman during the 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...

. Taraki was born near 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 educated at Kabul University
Kabul University
Kabul University is located in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. It was founded in 1931 but officially opened for classes in 1932. Kabul University is currently attended by approximately 7,000 students, of which 1,700 are women. As of 2008, Hamidullah Amin is the chancellor of the university...

, after which he started his political career as a journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

. He later became one of the founding members 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 was elected as the party's General Secretary at its first congress. He ran as a candidate in the 1965 Afghan parliamentary election
Afghan parliamentary election, 1965
Elections were held in Afghanistan in September, 1965. Women voted for the first time in Afghan elections. Several unofficial parties run candidates with beliefs ranging from fundamentalist Islam to far left. Turnout was very low, leading to the vocal predominance of Kabul's radicals...

 but failed to secure himself a seat. In 1966 he published the first issue of Khalq
Khalq
Khalq was a faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Its historical leaders were Presidents Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin. It was also the name of the leftist newspaper produced by the same movement. It was supported by the USSR and was formed in 1965 when the PDPA was born...

, a party newspaper, but it was closed down shortly afterwards by the Afghan Government. The assassination of Mir Akbar Khyber
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...

 led Taraki, along with Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

 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....

, to initiate 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...

 and establish the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

.

The presidency of Taraki, albeit short-lived, was marked by controversies from beginning to end. Taraki launched a land reform on 1 January 1978 which proved to be highly unpopular and, along with his government's other reforms, led to a popular backlash which initiated the Afghan civil war. Despite repeated attempts throughout his reign, Taraki proved unable to persuade 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 intervene in support of the restoration of civil order.

At the beginning of his rule, the Government was divided between two PDPA factions: Khalqs (which Taraki was the leader of), the majority, and the Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

s, the minority. In 1978, shortly after his rule began, Taraki started a purge of the government and party which led to several high-ranking Parcham members being sent into de-facto exile by being assigned to serve overseas as ambassadors. His reign was marked by a cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

 centered around himself that had been cultivated by Amin. His relationship with Amin turned sour during his rule, ultimately resulting in Taraki's murder on 14 September 1979, upon Amin's orders.

Early life and career


Taraki was born to a rural 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...

 Pashtun
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...

 peasant family in Naawa district, Ghazni Provence on 15 July 1917, or 1913. He was the oldest of three children and attended a village school in Nawa
Nawa District
Nawa is a large district in the far south of Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. It is situated 100 km south from Ghazni in a mountainous region. Its population, which is 100% Pashtun, was estimated at 29,054 in 2002, of whom around 45% were children under 12. The district center is the village of...

 before leaving in 1932, at the age of 15, to work in the port city of Bombay, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. There he met a Kandahari merchant family who employed him as a clerk for the Pashtun Trading Company. Taraki's first encounter with 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...

 was during his night courses, were he met several Communist Party of India
Communist Party of India
The Communist Party of India is a national political party in India. In the Indian communist movement, there are different views on exactly when the Indian communist party was founded. The date maintained as the foundation day by CPI is 26 December 1925...

 members who impressed him with their discussions on social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 and communist values. Another important event was his encounter with Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was an Afghan, Pashtun political and spiritual leader known for his non-violent opposition to British Rule in India...

, a Pashtun nationalist and leader of the Red Shirt Movement
Khudai Khidmatgar
Khudai Khidmatgar literally translates as the servants of God, represented a non-violent freedom struggle against the British Empire by the Pashtuns of the North-West Frontier Province....

 in neighboring India, who was an admirer of the works of Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

.

In 1937 he started working for Abdul Majid Zabuli
Abdul Majid Zabuli
Abdul Majid Zabuli was the founder of Afghanistan's banking system. He founded the Ashami company in 1932, which eventually became the Afghan National Bank .-Personal history:...

, the Minister of Economics, who introduced Taraki to several Russians. Later Taraki became Deputy Head of the Bakhtrar News Agency and became known throughout the country as an author and poet. His best known book, the De Bang Mosaferi, highlights the socio-economic difficulties facing Afghan workers and peasants. His works were translated into Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

; in 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....

, where his work was viewed as embodying scientific socialist themes, Taraki was hailed by the government as "Afghanistan's Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky
Alexei Maximovich Peshkov , primarily known as Maxim Gorky , was a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist.-Early years:...

". During a visit to the Soviet Union Taraki was greeted by Boris Ponomarev
Boris Ponomarev
Boris Nikolayevich Ponomarev was a Soviet politician, ideologist and historian, and a member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union...

, the Head of the International Department of the Central Committee, and other Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 members.

Under Mohammad Daoud Khan's prime ministership, suppression of radicals was common. However, because of his language skills, Taraki was sent to the Afghan embassy in the United States
Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C.
The Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. is the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's diplomatic mission to the United States. It is located at 2341 Wyoming Avenue N.W...

 in 1952. Within several months Taraki began denouncing the Afghan regime and accused it of being autocratic
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

 and dictatorial
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. His denunciation of the Afghan Government earned him much publicity in the United States. It also attracted unfavorable attention from authorities back home, who relieved him of his post and ordered him repatriated but stopped short of placing him under arrest. After a short period of unemployment Taraki started working for the United States Overseas Mission in Kabul as a translator. He quit his job in 1958 and established his own translation company, the Noor Translation Bureau. Four years later. Taraki started working for the American Embassy in Kabul
U.S. Embassy, Kabul
The Embassy of the United States in Kabul is the diplomatic mission of the United States in Afghanistan. It is located in the Wazir Akbar Khan section of the Afghan capital, Kabul, and is home to the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. Ryan Crocker is the current Ambassador. Richard Holbrooke, who died...

, but quit in 1963 to focus on the establishment 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), a communist political party
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

.

At the founding congress of the PDPA, held in Taraki's own home, Taraki won a competitive election against 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....

 to the post of general secretary on 1 January 1965. Karmal became second secretary. Taraki ran as a candidate for the PDPA during the September 1965 parliamentary election
Afghan parliamentary election, 1965
Elections were held in Afghanistan in September, 1965. Women voted for the first time in Afghan elections. Several unofficial parties run candidates with beliefs ranging from fundamentalist Islam to far left. Turnout was very low, leading to the vocal predominance of Kabul's radicals...

 but did not win a seat. Shortly after the election, Taraki launched Khalq
Khalq
Khalq was a faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Its historical leaders were Presidents Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin. It was also the name of the leftist newspaper produced by the same movement. It was supported by the USSR and was formed in 1965 when the PDPA was born...

, the first major left-wing newspaper in Afghanistan. The paper was banned within one month of its first printing. In 1967, less than two years after its founding, the PDPA split into several factions. The largest of these included Khalq (Masses) led by Taraki, and Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

 (Banner) led by Karmal. The main differences between the factions were ideological, with Taraki supporting the creation of a Leninist-like state, while Karmal wanted to establish a "broad democratic front".

On 19 April 1978 a prominent leftist named Mir Akbar Khyber
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...

 was assassinated and the murder was blamed on 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...

's Government. His death served as a rallying point for the Afghan communists. Fearing a communist 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...

, Daoud ordered the arrest of certain PDPA leaders, including Taraki and Karmal, while placing others such as Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

 under house arrest. On 27 April 1978 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...

 was initiated, reportedly by Amin while still under house arrest. Khan was killed the next day along with most of his family. The PDPA rapidly gained control and on 1 May Taraki became Chairman
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

 of the Revolutionary Council
Revolutionary Council (Afghanistan)
The Revolutionary Council of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan ruled the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from 1978 until its collapse in 1992. The council was the supreme state power under the communist regime and was a carbon copy of the Supreme Soviet...

, a role which subsumed the responsibilities of both president and prime minister
Prime Minister of Afghanistan
The Prime Minister of Afghanistan is a currently defunct post in the Afghan Government.The position was created in 1927, and was appointed by the king, mostly as an advisor, until the end of the monarchy in 1973...

. The country was then renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

 (DRA), installing a regime that would last until April 1992.

Establishment and purge


Taraki was appointed Revolutionary Council chairman and prime minister of Afghanistan, while he retained his post as general secretary of the PDPA. Taraki initially formed a government which consisted of both Khalq
Khalq
Khalq was a faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Its historical leaders were Presidents Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin. It was also the name of the leftist newspaper produced by the same movement. It was supported by the USSR and was formed in 1965 when the PDPA was born...

ists and Parcham
Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

ists; Karmal became deputy prime minister of Afghanistan while Amin became both deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Afghanistan)
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs - MFA - is the Government of Afghanistan Cabinet officer responsible for managing the Foreign relations of Afghanistan.-Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan:-External links:*...

. Internal problems soon arose and several prominent Khalqists accused the Parcham faction of conspiring against the Taraki government. A Khalqi purge of the Parcham then began with the faction's most prominent members being sent out of the country: Karmal became the Afghan ambassador to Czechoslovakia and 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...

 became the Afghan ambassador to Iran. Internal struggle was not only to be found between the Khalqist and Parchamists; tense rivalry between Taraki and Amin had begun in the Khalq faction with both vying for control.

Karmal was recalled from Czechoslovakia but rather than return to Afghanistan he went into hiding with Anahita Ratebzad
Anahita Ratebzad
Anahita Ratebzad is a female Afghan Marxist and former member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan and the Revolutionary Council....

, his friend and former Afghan ambassador to Yugoslavia, as he feared execution if he returned. Muhammad Najibullah followed them. Taraki consequently stripped them of all official titles and political authority.

Land reform



Taraki's Government initiated a 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,...

 on 1 January 1979 which attempted to limit the amount of land a family could own. Those whose landholdings exceeded the limit saw their property requisitioned by the government without compensation. The Afghan leadership believed the reform would meet with popular approval among the rural population while weakening the power of the bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

. The reform was declared complete in mid-1979 and the government proclaimed that 665,000 hectares (approximately 1,632,500 acres) had been redistributed. The government also declared that only 40,000 families, or 4 percent of the population, had been negatively affected by the land reform.

Contrary to government expectations the reform was neither popular nor productive. Agricultural harvests plummeted and the reform itself led to rising discontent amongst Afghans. When Taraki realized the degree of popular dissatisfaction with the reform he quickly abandoned the policy. However, the land reform was gradually implemented under the later Karmal administration, although the proportion of land area impacted by the reform is unclear.

Other reforms


In the months following the coup, Taraki and other party leaders initiated other radical Marxist policies
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...

 that challenged both traditional Afghan values
Culture of Afghanistan
The culture of Afghanistan has been around for over two millenniums, tracing record to at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire in 500 BCE. Afghanistan translates to the "place of Afghans" or "land of the Afghans" in the nation's official languages, Pashto and Dari...

 and well-established traditional power structures in rural areas. Taraki introduced women to political life and legislated an end to forced marriage. However, Taraki ruled over a nation with a deep Islamic religious culture and a long history of resistance to any type of strong centralized governmental control, and consequently many of these reforms were not actually implemented nationwide. Popular resentment of Taraki's drastic policy changes triggered surging unrest throughout the country, reducing government control to only a limited area. The strength of this anti-reform backlash would ultimately lead to the Afghan civil war.

Under the previous administration of Mohammad Daoud Khan, a 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...

 program created by UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 had been launched with the objective of eliminating illiteracy within 20 years. The government of Taraki attempted to reduce this time frame from 20 to four years, an unrealistic goal in light of the shortage of teachers and limited government capacity to oversee such an initiative. The duration of the project was later lengthened to seven years by the Soviets in the aftermath of the Soviet intervention
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...

. The cultural focus of the UNESCO programme was declared "rubbish" by Taraki, who instead chose to introduce a political orientation by utilizing PDPA leaflets and left-wing pamphlet
Pamphlet
A pamphlet is an unbound booklet . It may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths , or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddle stapled at the crease to make a simple book...

s as basic reading material.

Soviet–Afghan relations



Taraki signed a Twenty-Year Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union on 5 December 1978 which greatly expanded Soviet aid to his regime. Following the Herat uprising, Taraki contacted Alexei Kosygin, chairman
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 of the USSR Council of Ministers, and asked for "practical and technical assistance with men and armament". Kosygin was unfavorable to the proposal on the basis of the negative political repercussions such an action would have for his country, and he rejected all further attempts by Taraki to solicit Soviet military aid in Afghanistan. Following Kosygin's rejection Taraki requested aid from 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...

, the general secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 and Soviet head of state, who warned Taraki that full Soviet intervention "would only play into the hands of our enemies – both yours and ours". Brezhnev also advised Taraki to ease up on the drastic social reforms and to seek broader support for his regime.

In 1979, Taraki attended a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 in Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. On his way back he stopped in 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...

 on 20 March and met with Brezhnev, foreign minister Andrei Gromyko
Andrei Gromyko
Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko was a Soviet statesman during the Cold War. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet . Gromyko was responsible for many top decisions on Soviet foreign policy until he retired in 1987. In the West he was given the...

 and other Soviet officials. It was rumoured that Karmal was present at the meeting in an attempt to reconcile Taraki's Khalq faction and the Parcham against Amin and his followers. At the meeting, Taraki was successful in negotiating some Soviet support, including the redeployment of two Soviet armed divisions at the Soviet-Afghan border, the sending of 500 military and civilian advisers and specialists and the immediate delivery of Soviet armed equipment sold at 25 percent below the original price. However the Soviets were not pleased about the developments in Afghanistan and Brezhnev impressed upon Taraki the need for party unity. Despite reaching this agreement with Taraki, the Soviets continued to be reluctant to intervene further in Afghanistan and repeatedly refused Soviet military intervention within Afghan borders during Taraki's rule as well as later during Amin's short rule.

Taraki–Amin break



In the first months after the revolution, Hafizullah Amin and Nur Muhammad Taraki had a very close relationship. Taraki reportedly remarked, "Amin and I are like nail and flesh, not separable". Amin set about constructing a personality cult centered on Taraki. In party and government meetings Amin always referred to Taraki as "The Great Leader", "The Star of the East" or "The Great Thinker" among other titles, while Amin was given such titles as "The True Disciple and Student". Amin would later come to realize he had created a monster when the Kim Il Sung-like personality cult he had created inspired Taraki to become overly confident in his own brilliance. Taraki began discounting Amin's suggestions, fostering in Amin a deep sense of resentment. As their relationship turned increasingly sour, a power struggle developed between them for control over the Afghan Army. Their relations came to a head later that year when Taraki accused Amin of nepotism
Nepotism
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit. The word nepotism is from the Latin word nepos, nepotis , from which modern Romanian nepot and Italian nipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended....

 after Amin had appointed several family members to high-ranking positions.

Taraki could count on the support of four prominent army officers in his struggle against Amin: Aslam Watanjar, Sayed Muhammad Gulabzoy, Sherjan Mazdoryar and Assadullah Sarwari
Assadullah Sarwari
Assadullah Sarwari is an Afghan politician, who belongd to the Khalq faction of the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan....

. These men had joined the PDPA not because of ideological reasons, but instead due to their lofty political ambitions. They also had developed a close relationship with Alexander Puzanov
Alexander Puzanov
Alexander M. Puzanov was a Soviet-Russian statesman who was from 1952 to 1956 the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian SFSR, literally meaning Premier or Prime Minister....

, the Soviet ambassador in Afghanistan, who was eager to use them against Amin. After the 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...

 city uprising on 17 March 1979, the PDPA Politburo
Politburo of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
At its foundation the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan Central Committee consisted of:- First Poltiburo permanent members :The PDPA held its First Congress on January 1, 1965...

 and the Revolutionary Council
Revolutionary Council (Afghanistan)
The Revolutionary Council of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan ruled the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan from 1978 until its collapse in 1992. The council was the supreme state power under the communist regime and was a carbon copy of the Supreme Soviet...

 established the Homeland Higher Defence Council, to which Taraki was elected its chairman while Amin became its deputy. At around the same time, Taraki left his post as prime minister and Amin was elected his successor. Amin's new position offered him little real influence, however; as prime minister, Amin had the power to elect every member of the cabinet, but all of them had to be approved by the head of state, Taraki. In reality, through this maneuver Taraki had effectively reduced Amin's power base by forcing him to relinquish his hold on the Afghan army in order to take on the supposedly heavy responsibilities of his new but ultimately powerless post.

During Taraki's foreign visit to the non-aligned conference in Havana, his Gang of Four had received an intelligence report that Amin was planning to arrest or kill them. This report, it turned out, was incorrect. Nonetheless, the Gang of Four were ordered to assassinate Amin, its leader Sarwari selecting his nephew Aziz Akbari to conduct the assassination. However, Akbari was not informed that he was the chosen assassin or that it was a secret mission, and he confided the information to contacts in the Soviet embassy. The Soviet embassy responded by warning Amin of the assassination attempt, thereby saving him from certain death.

Fall from power



Taraki was greeted by Amin at the airport on his return to Kabul. The flight was scheduled to land at 2:30 but Amin forced the delay of the landing by an hour as a demonstration to Taraki of his control over the government. Shortly afterward, Taraki sought to neutralize Amin's power and influence by requesting that he serve overseas as an ambassador. Amin turned down the proposal, shouting "You are the one who should quit! Because of drink and old age you have taken leave of your senses." The following day Taraki invited Amin to the presidential palace for lunch with him and the Gang of Four. Amin turned down the offer, stating he would prefer their resignation rather than lunching with them. Soviet ambassador Puzanov managed to persuade Amin to make the visit to the Presidential Palace along with Sayed Daoud Tarun, the Chief of Police and Nawab Ali (an intelligence officer). Upon arriving at the palace, unknown individuals within the building opened fire on the visitors. Tarun was killed, while Ali sustained an injury and escaped with an unharmed Amin. Shortly afterward, Amin returned to the palace with a contigent of Army officers and placed Taraki under arrest. The Gang of Four, however, had "disappeared" and their whereabouts would remain unknown for the duration of Amin's 104-day rule.

After Taraki's arrest, Amin reportedly discussed the incident with 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...

 in which he said, "Taraki is still around. What should I do with him?" Brezhnev replied that it was his choice. Amin, who now believed he had the full support of the Soviets, ordered the death of Taraki. Taraki was subsequently suffocated with pillows. The Afghan media would report that the ailing Taraki had died, omitting any mention of his murder.

External links