Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

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The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), renamed the Republic of Afghanistan in 1987, existed from 1978 to 1992, during which time the socialist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) ruled Afghanistan.

The PDPA came to power following the Saur Revolution, which ousted the government of Mohammad Daoud Khan. Daoud was succeeded by Nur Muhammad Taraki as head of state and government on 30 April 1978. Taraki and Hafizullah Amin, the organiser of the Saur Revolution, introduced several contentious reforms during their rule, the most notable being equal rights to women, universal education and land reform. Soon after taking power a power struggle began between the Khalq faction led by Taraki and Amin and the Parcham faction led by Babrak Karmal. The Khalqists won and the Parchamites were purged from the party. The most prominent Parcham leaders were exiled to the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union.

After the Khalq–Parcham struggle, a power struggle within the Khalq faction began between Taraki and Amin. Amin won the struggle, and Taraki was killed on his orders. His rule proved unpopular within his own country (due to the reforms mentioned earlier) and in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union intervened, supported by the Afghan government, in December 1979, and on 27 December Amin was assassinated by Soviet military forces. Karmal became the leader of Afghanistan in his place. The Karmal era, lasting from 1979 to 1986, is best known for the Soviet war effort in Afghanistan against mujahideen insurgents. The war resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties, as well as millions of refugees who fled into Pakistan and Iran. The Fundamental Principles, a constitution, was introduced by the government in April 1980, and several non-PDPA members were allowed into government as part of the government's policy of broadening its support base. Karmal's policies failed to bring peace to the war-ravaged country, and in 1986 he was succeeded as PDPA General Secretary by Mohammad Najibullah.

Najibullah pursued a policy of National Reconciliation with the opposition, a new Afghan constitution was introduced in 1987 and democratic elections were held in 1988 (which were boycotted by the mujahideen). After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988–1989, the government faced increasing resistance. 1990 proved to be a year of change in Afghan politics: a new constitution was introduced, which stated that Afghanistan was an Islamic republic, and the PDPA was transformed into the Watan Party, which has survived to this day as the Democratic Watan Party. On the military front, the government proved capable of defeating the armed opposition in open battle, as in the Battle of Jalalabad. However, with an aggressive armed opposition, internal difficulties such as a failed coup attempt by the Khalq faction in 1990 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Najibullah government collapsed in April 1992.