Afghanistan under Daud - Relations with Neighboring States

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Afghanistan under Daud - Relations with Neighboring States, Dilip Mukerjee
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, May 6 2005 (

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Afghanistan under Daud - Relations with Neighboring States

Dilip Mukerjee

Asian Survey, Vol. 15, No.4 (April 1975), pp 301-312

Publishing Date: Friday, May 6 2005

THE JULY 1973 coup d'etat in Afghanistan has neither eroded the country's traditional neutralism nor brought about any drastic change in its economic system. The fears of a tilt towards the Soviet Union and of sweeping socialist reforms have proved unfounded. The shadowy central committee which assumed power after deposing King Zahir Shah remains as shadowy as ever, while Mohammad Daud, President and Prime Minister, runs the country in much the same authoritarian style as when he was the King's Prime Minister between 1953 and 1963.

The explanation for the continuity in policies lies in the character of the coup. It took place at a time when the economy was in very bad shape after two years of severe drought. The high price of food led to serious distress in urban areas, while tribal peoples in rural areas were forced to slaughter a sizeable proportion of their livestock for lack of feed. International agencies concerned with Afghanistan's planning were beginning to write off the whole development effort since the mid 1950s as "a costly failure. "

Although a new constitution had been promulgated by the King in 1964 to make the cabinet answerable to a popularly elected House of the People (Wolasi Jirgah), he had stopped short of allowing the formation of political parties. There were informal and sub-rosa groupings, although none of any consequence outside Kabul. The political power in the country remained as before a monopoly of traditional leaders who derived their influence either from their wealth, their customary status within a tribe, or their positions in the religious hierarchy. A few with high technical or professional qualifications were accommodated in high offices even though they belonged to none of these categories, but this was only to be expected in a country very short of talent. Political stability rested thus on the equation established by the King with the traditional leadership through such instrumentalities as the cabinet and parliament. The ultimate sanction for his authority was his personal control over the army and air force, with every appointment to the rank of captain and above being made personally by him. A high proportion of these positions went to men drawn from families linked to the King's by kinship ties of the Mohammadzai clan.

Why this control crumbled is still not clear, but Kabul was for many months before the coup full of rumours of an impending convulsion. One story was that King Zahir would be persuaded by his family to abdicate in favour of his son-in-law, Sardar Abdul Wali. The latter may have been ambitious on his own account, but it is more likely that he was being put forward as a successor by a syndicate of powerful men who needed him to legitimize the authority they hoped to wield.

Even as these plans were being hatched, young military officers would seem to have decided to make a pre-emptive strike. Their antipathy to the King stemmed in part from King Zahir's denial of promotion opportunities to those outside the kinship net, and in part from a general disillusionment with his ability to take Afghanistan forward. The officers were mostly trained in the USSR, as a consequence of Kabul's nearly exclusive dependence upon Moscow for military supplies since 1956. The difference in the levels of development between Soviet Asian republics across the Amu Darya (Oxus) and their own country may have given their discontent a sharper edge.

It seems that these officers asked Daud quite late in the day to accept their political leadership in the event of a successful coup. This may explain the blandness of his first statement after the event. Apart from declaring that the republic he was proclaiming conformed "to the true spirit of Islam," and that he had always been "in search of ways" to give all the people of Afghanistan a real share in the country's progress "without privilege or discrimination," he said nothing to define the goals of the new regime. As he put it, "the new order has with it basic reforms, the details of which are not possible in this short time." He promised friendship with all, except to add the caveat that Pakistan is "the only nation with which we have a political difference over the Pashtunistan issue." This was a reference to the demand that Kabul has been making off and on since 1947 that tribal regions in Pakistan should have the right of self-determination. [1]

The rise of Daud to power was galling to other would-be successors, such as Sardar Abdul Wali who was quickly put behind bars. Frustrated ambitions may also explain the first of the three attempts to dislodge the Daud regime, discovered in September 1973. This led to the arrest of Mohammad Hashem Maiwandwal, one-time Ambassador to the U.S. and Prime Minister from 1965 to 1967, and 20 others, including the newly promoted chief of air staff, two serving lieutenant generals, five colonels and one member of the now defunct Wolasi Jirgah. Whether Maiwandwal was in on the plot from the start is open to question, but his pro western reputation may explain why he was chosen for its leadership. He was said to have committed suicide while awaiting trial but the international community in Kabul believes that he was killed when third degree methods were used to obtain a confession. Apparently Daud's instructions were exceeded by the interrogators, leading to consequences noted below.

The second attempt to dislodge the existing regime is believed to have occurred in December 1973. The list of those convicted for it in August 1974 is headed by two mullas (preachers), one from northern Afghanistan and the second from Herat, and included several junior military officers. They were presumably persuaded to join with the mullas in ousting a regime allegedly propped up by pro-Soviet elements who would in time want to replace Afghanistan's Islamic values with Godless dogmas.

Little has been disclosed about the third coup, but the attempt came to notice when boxes of arms and ammunition were seized in June 1974 at Kabul airport following a routine examination of incoming cargo. The Secretary of the Afghanistan branch of the Ikhwan-ul-Musulmeen, a militant Islamic organization, was arrested in Kabul soon afterwards, along with a number of other people.

Despite the absence of detailed information, the three counter coups reveal that disaffection against the Daud regime has two distinct strands. First, there are disgruntled politicians who resent Daud's return to power because they feel they have a better claim to it themselves. Maiwandwal may have belonged to this category. Secondly, there are mullas who must per se resent any strong government in Kabul because it inevitably diminishes their authority. They are a force to reckon with, as indicated by the measures adopted by successive kings to buy them off by putting them on the government payroll as teachers and social workers. Whether the mullas involved in the abortive coups were acting solely because of their misgivings about the regime, or were instigated by outside forces is a matter of judgement. Kabul asserts that it has proofs of Pakistan's complicity, but does not want to publish these because it will worsen an already strained relationship. Pakistan on its part is constantly accusing the Afghan regime of aiding and abetting tribal rebels in Baluchistan, and dissidents in the NWFP. As Prime Minister Bhutto said in his letter to the UN Secretary-General in September, "we have irrefutable evidence that the present Afghan government is systematically organizing the commission of acts of terrorism, through hired elements."

The dispute with Pakistan is discussed in detail in a later section, but its implications for Daud's domestic policies are clear from his caution in dealing with such sensitive subjects as the drafting of a new constitution. In his first policy statement on August 23, 1973, he declared that "the Republic will expand and extend democratic rights and liberties with the promulgation of the constitution." In an interview a year later to the Tehran daily, Kayhan, he reacted sharply to a query about the progress made in drawing up the document. He said there was no reason to expect Afghanistan to rush matters since many countries had managed quite well without a constitution for years.

It is known, however, that Dr. Abdul Majid, Minister of Justice, has been working on various drafts, modelled after the constitutions of Egypt, Algeria and other one-party states in the Islamic world. But Daud evidently feels that further work should be deferred until he is in a better position to cope with controversies that a constitutional debate may start. He may be waiting for a time when he can show that his regime has brought material benefits to the people. As he says, it will take another 18 months to two years "to reap the fruit" from the programs for "all-around social progress" on which his regime has embarked.

The changes he has made in his cabinet since mid-1974 appear to be motivated by the same concern for side-stepping controversies. He removed Pacha Gul, Minister for Frontier Affairs, and Abdul Mohtat, Minister of Commerce, in quick succession without any public explanations. But stories circulating through the Kabul grapevine suggest that the first was held responsible for Maiwandwal's death in custody, while the second was apparently pressing for a degree of state intervention in foreign trade that would have gravely alienated the influential business community. Both were Soviet trained middle-level army officers in their early 30s; both were thought to have been members of the central committee. With Gul banished to Bulgaria as Ambassador and Mohtat sitting idle at home, the only military member of the central committee still holding an important position is Faiz Moham. mad, 39-year old Minister of Interior, formerly a maj or commanding an elite force which was responsible for the security of King Zahir Shah and his palace. The defection of this group from the monarchist camp in July 1973 may have helped to tilt the balance against it.

The central committee still remains an unknown quantity. It appeared just once in public when Daud was leaving for Moscow in June 1974 on his only visit abroad so far, but they were grouped so far away at the farewell ceremonies that diplomats present on the occasion had no chance to identify the individuals. It is believed that the members do not meet as a committee but tender advice individually to Daud. If this is indeed the case, the reason may be that he does not want it to exercise its collective authority. This situation also helps the cabinet, handpicked by Daud, to emerge as the focus of power.

Members of the cabinet include personal nominees like the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Mohammad Hasan Sharq (a member of Daud's personal staff during his Prime Ministership in 1953-63) or Sayyed Abdulelah, Finance Minister (formerly director of a commercial bank). Both are believed to be members of the central committee as well. There are also some men with a distinguished personal background like Dr. Nehmatullah Pazhwak, Minister for Education, while the third group consists of technocrats like Mohammad Khan Jalalar, Minister of Commerce, or Ali Ahmad Khoram, Minister of Planning. There is no question of Daud being merely the first among equals; he is the charismatic father figure whose personal acceptability to the Afghan people gives the regime its sanction.

Had Daud not prohibited the use of feudal titles, he should have been addressed as "Sardar" or Prince. He is a cousin of the deposed King Zahir Shah whose sister is his wife. His uncle, Mohammad Hashim Khan, was regent as well as Prime Minister to the King when he ascended the throne in 1933 at the age of 19. When Hashim Khan relinquished the job in 1946, another uncle, Shah Mohammad, took over the office, leaving it in 1953 to make way for Daud himself. This gives his authority a traditional base, and lends to his leadership of the republic a strong element of historical continuity.

There is no reason, therefore, to expect startling departures in foreign policy. The earlier misgivings about the regime's relationship with Moscow arose from a number of incidental circumstances, such as the fact that the Soviet Union was the first (and India the second) country to affirm its recognition of Daud as head of state. Secondly, the military's role in the coup suggested that Moscow may have had a hand in it because of its close links with the armed forces through numerous military advisers. But it is now clear that the Soviet Union played no part, although it may have had advance warning of what was going to happen through its advisers. This may be why it was ready to respond to the developments so promptly. Thirdly, the first high-level visits abroad by Mohammad Nairn, Daud's brother and foreign minister in the 1953-63 period who now acts as an adviser, were made to the Soviet Union and India in September 1973. But this may have been because other nations-taking their cue from the U.S.-preferred to wait and see whether Daud would last or give way like Neguib to an Afghan Nasser. It took western observers in Kabul some six months to recognize that he was there to stay.

Daud's mention of the Pashtunistan dispute with Pakistan in his broadcast proclaiming the republic also contributed to misgivings, the suspicion being that he had done so to win favor with Moscow and New Delhi. But anyone familiar with his record as Prime Minister should have known that he has very strong feelings on this issue. A Pakistani analyst, S. M. Burke, has noted that this was "one of the main planks of his policy" over that decade [2] while another, Mujtaba Razvi, describes him as "the main Afghan exponent of Pakhtoonistan." [3]

Western dignitaries who have talked to Daud since his return to power have come away convinced that he has a deep emotional commitment to the cause of Pashtunistan. This may have something to do with the fact that Daud's great-great-grandfather, Sultan Muhammad Khan, was the last Afghan governor of Peshawar-i.e., until the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh elbowed him out in 1823. There is Sir Olaf Caroe's testimony that, for the descendants of the sultan, "the lure of Peshawar is a passion, deep in their hearts. "

The Durand line, drawn in 1893, formalized the 1200-mile border between Afghanistan and British India stretching from the Pamirs in the north to Koh-i-Malik Shah at the tri-junction with Iran in the inhospitable desert south of the Helmand valley. Although it was accepted by  the then King, Amir Abdur Rehman, and reaffirmed by his successors, Habibullah in 1905, Amanullah in 1919 and 1921, and Nadir Shah in 1930, Afghanistan has always had reservations about it. An implicit condition of the arrangement with British India was that its administration would not be pushed right up to the line, so that the tribal areas lying between it and the "settled" or administered districts would remain a buffer zone.

As the Supreme Court of Pakistan noted in a 1969 judgment, "it is true the tribal territories were never a part of British India as such. The Crown had acquired jurisdiction therein by grants, usages, sufferances, and other lawful means ... although they were territories outside the dominions of the crown." Hence, the British Parliament passed in 1890 a foreign jurisdiction act to exercise and enjoy this jurisdiction "in the same and as ample a manner" as if the territory had been obtained by cession or conquest. [4]

It is necessary to recall this historical background to understand the motivations of Afghanistan in persisting with the Pashtunistan issue over the last 30 years. Although Kabul could have scarcely hoped to persuade the British to return the areas taken over from it at various times in the 19th century, the last acquisitions dating back to 1879 in the NWFP and 1880 in Baluchistan, it did lay claim to them in November 1944 in a formal note to Whitehall in the context of the discussions then beginning on the transfer of power in India. The matter was pressed after London announced concrete plans for independence in June 1947, but the British government rejected the plea. Subsequently, India's Congress party asked for a third option of independence when, a referendum was held in 1947 in the settled districts of the north-west frontier province to decide whether these should join India or Pakistan. The Viceroy of India turned down the plea, with the result that the Congress in NWFP, led by Abdul Ghafar Khan, decided to boycott the referendum. The turnout was just over 50%, with 99% of the Vote going in favor of joining Pakistan.

Among the events that stand out in the history of the dispute since 1947 is Afghanistan's unilateral declaration, following the adoption of a resolution to this effect by its Parliament in July 1949, that "it does not recognise the Durand or any similar line." (A "Pashtoonistan day" is officially celebrated each year in August to reaffirm this abrogation.) In 1955, the decision to merge all four provinces of West Pakistan into a single unit, thus extinguishing the identity of the NWFP and Baluchistan, led to strong protests from Kabul. Demonstrations against Pakistani missions resulted in a break in diplomatic relations, but mediation by Turkey led to their resumption in a few months. It was at this juncture that Soviet leaders, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, declared during a visit to Kabul in December 1955 that "we sympathise with Afghanistan's policy on the Pashtunistan issue." This reflected Moscow's disapproval of Pakistan's entry into U.S sponsored defense arrangements; SEATO in January 1955 and MEDO (later CENTO) in September of the same year.

There was a more dangerous flareup in 1960, possibly because Pakistan began to pursue an activist frontier policy with the emergence of a powerful military regime in Pakistan under Field Marshal Ayub Khan. Military operations in Baluchistan against tribes resisting effective control continued intermittently between 1958 and 1962, until the Field Marshal decided to make overtures to tribal leaders. There was an armed clash with Afghanistan in September 1960, and diplomatic relations were again broken off in August 1961. These were revived only in May 1963 when an accord was reached through the Shah of Iran's good offices, three months after Daud laid down office as Prime Minister.

It is clear from this record that, the Pashtunistan issue has become a major Afghan concern whenever the government in Pakistan has sought to alter the status quo of the tribal "no man's land" along the Durand line. The forward policy Pakistan has pursued under Bhutto since the beginning of 1973 has revived the dispute. The Pakistan government says that its endeavors to build new roads and set up schools and hospitals in the border lands of NWFP and Baluchistan form part of the "socio-economic measures to which the government is committed to end feudalism." But this also brings the actual Pakistani presence closer to the Afghan border, at the same time as the welfare measures on one side of the Durand line put much poorer Afghanistan under pressure to match them on its side. These two factors are at the root of the renewed acrimony between Kabul and Islamabad. Even if Daud had not taken over, there would still have been the same angry exchanges that have been going on in the past months. 

The attitude of the tribal people on the Pakistani side is an important factor in the situation. In the NWFP, some tribes, or sections thereof, have welcomed the roads and the welfare amenities, but others have decided that they must resist this encroachment by central authority at all costs; possibly because effective governance would bring to an end the lucrative trade they conduct between Afghanistan and Pakistan which entirely bypasses customs and other checks. In Baluchistan, the situation has become even more complicated following Bhutto's dismissal in February 1973 of the local government which came into office on the strength of a clear majority in the provincial legislature. Its precipitate ouster came in the wake of the discovery of arms imported in diplomatic bags by the Iraq embassy in Islamabad, presumably for onward despatch to Iranian Baluchistan. The dismissed ministers have said that Bhutto was acting in deference to the wishes of the Shah of Iran. Since this development, two Baluch tribes; the Marris and Mengals have been up in arms against the central government, in a repetition of their upsurge against Field Marshal Ayub. It is scarcely surprising that the dissident tribes have Afghanistan's sympathy, although independent observers in Kabul feel that this is not being translated into material assistance by way of funds, weapons and training on any significant scale.

The Pakistan army claims to have crushed Marri resistance, and is now combing the Mengal areas. But the hard core will probably survive these operations by retreating deeper into the hills. The terrain, bath here and in the NWFP, makes a quick conclusion difficult. The problem may continue to fester, giving Afghanistan added cause to agitate in world forums over the fate of the fraternal "Pashtoon" people; particularly if refugees continue to spill over. Some 300 of them came over in December 1974.

Even so, there are several good reasons why the dispute will not go beyond angry verbal exchanges. First, the great disparity in the military strength of the two countries imposes an obvious constraint on Afghanistan. Bhutto has at times talked in an alarming fashion; as during mid-July 1974 while on a tour of the sensitive tribal areas of the NWFP adjoining Afghanistan. The visit coincided with Pakistani charges that Kabul was concentrating its troops along the common border. Addressing a tribal conclave near Dir, Bhutto said: "If Afghanistan tries to indulge in any adventure, Kabul rulers will have something to lose rather than gain." At another meeting the next day, July 13, he declared that "if there was a war, the flag of Pakistan would be hoisted in Afghanistan." Kabul denied Pakistani charges of provocative troop movements as "completely false, baseless and deceptive." Yet, even two months later, Bhutto was still talking in terms of an imminent clash. He told the Washington Post on September 20 that there could be "a full scale war in less than a month." But he could scarcely overlook the fact that any outbreak of hostilities would create complications for him vis-a-vis India and the Soviet Union, and earn the disapproval of Islamic nations, particularly Iran, a neighbor and a major benefactor.

India's likely response can be gauged from the developments during the summer of 1974, when Pakistani troop concentrations were noticed in the Parachinar area; 100 miles east of Peshawar, lying on the traditional route for an advance into Kabul. But Pakistani reports at this time spoke of an imminent threat from Afghanistan, acting in concert with India. The Indian defence minister publicly declared that India "could not remain indifferent to such happenings in our vicinity," and called upon the Soviet Union to play its part in ensuring the maintenance of peace. Although this was never acknowledged, India undoubtedly ordered some troop movements on its side of the border - possibly to prevent a redeployment of Pakistan forces stationed on the Indian border towards Afghanistan.

This limited response, aimed at discouraging Pakistan from engaging in saber rattling, should not be taken to mean an Indian endorsement of Kabul's Pushtoonistan thesis. There are good reasons to believe that the Indian government has quietly advised Kabul that it can expect little support in international forums if it seeks to reopen a boundary issue sealed as far back as 1893. New Delhi has made the point that if well established colonial boundaries are to be contested, many parts of the world, particularly Africa, will be reduced to utter chaos. These points were firmly made by the Indian foreign minister during his visit to Kabul in October 1973; the first such visit after the take over by Daud.

What Moscow did during the tense summer weeks when a clash between Pakistan and Afghanistan seemed imminent remains unpublicized, but it can safely be assumed that its concerns for Kabul's safety was duly made known to Islamabad, as well as to other concerned capitals; Tehran for example. Western observers see, however, no substance in Pakistani reports that the Soviet Union is helping Kabul in a rapid build up of its military capabilities. There is no evidence of a change in the quantum or character of military supplies. While Afghanistan is re-equipping its armored brigades by replacing the T-34's of World War II vintage with T 54/55 tanks, this is a part of a long-standing plan for modernization.

The Soviet Union is, if anything, using its influence to cool the dispute. Instead of the sympathy effusively voiced by Khrushchev, Soviet leaders now avoid mentioning Pashtunistan. It was not touched upon, for instance, in the speeches made by Podgorny during his visit to Kabul two months before the 1973 coup d'etat, or more recently in welcoming Daud to Moscow in June 1974. The joint communique issued on the latter occasion expressed the bland hope that the political dispute between Pakistan and Afghanistan will be settled by peaceful means through negotiations. When Bhutto was in Moscow in October 1974, the same sentiment was reiterated except to add that the negotiations should be "on the basis of the principles of peaceful coexistence." Some in Kabul privately wondered whether this implied respecting existing territorial boundaries, but there was no official comment.

Motivated by two factors, Iran is another country trying hard to prevent an aggravation of the Pashtunistan dispute. First, Iran does not want the ferment in Pakistani Baluchistan to become a matter of international interest because some of it may rub off on Iranian Baluchistan across the border. A Baluchistan freedom front, under the leadership of Jumma Khan Baluch, already operates out of Baghdad, aimed chiefly at stirring up the Baluchi population of Iran as a quid pro quo for the support Iran is giving to Iraq's Kurds. Secondly, Iran feels that any deterioration in Afghanistan - Pakistan relations would oblige both to become more dependent upon their respective communist friends; the Soviet Union in one case and China in the other.

As part of its efforts to cool tempers in Kabul and Islamabad, the Shah has offered to mediate between them as he did successfully in 1963. His foreign minister visited Kabul at the end of August and said, in reply to an Afghan welcome speech deploring the "mass annihilation of our Baluch brothers," that Iran would continue its efforts for bringing closer "our two brother countries." A senior official of the Iranian foreign office visited Kabul and Islamabad twice in September and October, but failed to persuade either side to open negotiations under Iranian aegis.

The Islamic secretariat is taking an interest because a war between two Islamic countries would represent a grave setback to its hopes of welding Islamic countries into an effective bloc. The Secretary-General, Hassan Al-Tohamy, visited Kabul and Islamabad in September to size up the situation.

Neither Daud nor Bhutto can dismiss out of hand the plea for patience made by Iran and the other Islamic nations. Both are looking for economic assistance from oil-rich neighbors to meet the problems posed for their countries by international inflation. In Afghanistan's case, there is also an obvious need to establish the credentials of the new republican regime with the people by overcoming the economic stagnation which marked the last years of the monarchy. This calls for large injections of aid because Afghanistan has usually depended on foreign loans and grants to meet two thirds of the development expenditure. The dependence may now be even greater because high import costs are making a heavy drain on budgetary resources. Large subsidies equivalent to 10% of all government expenditures are being paid to prevent too sharp a rise in the price of essential commodities such as edible oil, sugar and textiles.

Economics apart, Daud needs a close and cooperative relationship with its Islamic neighbors for two reasons. First, Arab impatience with the Pashtunistan dispute, as evident at the Islamic summit in Lahore in February 1974, is a plus factor for Bhutto. Kabul is, therefore, anxious to neutralize, if not win over, these countries. Secondly, he needs to show his people at home that he is on excellent terms with the Islamic world to refute Pakistan's propaganda that his regime is anti-Islamic because of its connections with the Soviet Union. Great importance is attached, therefore, to the ties developing with Saudi Arabia because of King Faisal's special position in the Islamic world as the custodian of Mecca Sharif.

Until now, the main sources of economic assistance are, in order of importance, the Soviet Union, the U.S., West Germany, the World Bank, the UN, Czechoslovakia, China, India and the UK. But total assistance has been on the decline, possibly because Afghanistan's strategic situation does not count for much in today's situation of global detente. Even if the Soviet Union again steps up its assistance, there are reports that it has offered $650-700 million in credits over the next five years, Kabul will still need a great deal more from other sources.

This explains the interest in tapping petrodollars through the multilateral Islamic Bank and through bilateral negotiations with Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The first three have made a grant of $10 million each for feasibility studies, the understanding being that large funds will be available for mutually advantageous projects identified by these studies. Iran, for instance, has indicated that it would like an examination of the economics of a railway line running from Kabul via Kandahar to Herat and thence to Islam Qala on the Iranian border. It would also like a similar investigation into the possibility of setting up cement plants based on known limestone deposits. Discussions with both Iran and Kuwait have taken place on integrated schemes for developing new irrigation facilities in southwestern river valleys to grow sugarcane needed by both Afghanistan as well as donors. [6]

The idea of cooperative ventures to develop latent agricultural resources is not new to Afghanistan. The Soviet Union has invested large sums in the Nangarhar and Sardeh irrigation projects, close to the Pakistani border, the idea being that some of the lands opened up would be utilized for state farms growing citrus, olives, and other fruits for which the Soviet Union offers a ready market. Moscow has now proposed four more irrigation projects to open up lands south of Amu Darya (Oxus) for the cultivation of cotton, with units located within the area to gin, spin and weave it for export.

Daud is diversifying Afghanistan's international ties in other directions as well. Kissinger made a brief stopover in November 1974, and found Daud anxious to cultivate U.S. goodwill. An economic delegation will be going to Washington in 1975 to discuss the possibility of an expanded aid program. Likewise, the low-key economic and technical assistance program begun by India in 1970 is also to be expanded. It has been given an extra dimension by the arrangements now made for the military training of Afghan officers in Indian defense establishments. India may also set up a cadet school in Afghanistan, but there are no plans for seconding Indian personnel to serve as advisers; contrary to reports emanating from Pakistan.

Finally, Daud sent his brother Nairn as a special envoy to Peking in December 1974 where he met Chou En-lai in the hospital, and heard the vice-premier, Li Hsien-nien, praise Kabul for consistently pursuing the policy of peace, neutrality and non-alignment. The same banquet speech called upon South Asian countries to sharpen their vigilance against the wild ambitions of the super powers, and advised them to seek "a peaceful and negotiated settlement of existing issues between their countries." Meanwhile, Chinese aid commitments are being honored and may be expanded.

The dialogue in Peking shows that the wheel has now turned full circle. Daud is in full control, and he is going to exercise his authority to advance Afghan national interests as he sees them. He needs friends, the more the better, but is not willing to kowtow to any of  them.


References & Notes

  1. The Pashtunistan demand is difficult to define because Afghanistan has never spelled it out. Pashtunistan literally means the land of Pashtuns (alternatively spelled Pakhtoons), meaning the Pashto-speaking people. They live both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Baluchis, speaking an entirely different tongue, are described as "southern Pashtoons" in Kabul. The claim was made in a book on the subject published in the early 1950s by Abdur Rahman Puzhwak, now Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi, that Pashtunistan includes the whole area from Chitral and Swat down to Las Bela on the Arabian Sea, roughly comprising Pakistan's two provinces; North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan. When Daud was asked in the summer of 1974 by an Indian journalist to define Pashtunistan's territorial extent, his terse reply was: "this is well known."
  2. Pakistan's Foreign Policy, London: Oxford University Press, 1973, p. 207.
  3. The Frontiers of Pakistan, Karachi: National Publishing House Ltd., 1971, p. 163.
  4. The provisions of this act were given a new legal validity by the Extra-Provincial Jurisdiction Order, issued by Pakistan's Governor-General on March 31, 1949 but having retrospective effect from the date the British transferred power in August 1947. It should be noted that when the tribal Jirgahs (councils) of the NWFP opted to join Pakistan, they told Sir George Cunningham, the then Governor of the NWFP, that they wished "to have exactly the same relations as they had with the British." Jinnah, the architect of Pakistan, assured them at the time that his government had no desire "to interfere in any way in the traditional independence of tribal areas."
  5. It is interesting to recall Afghanistan's almost identical reaction when the British began building railway lines in the NWFP and Baluchistan. As Amir Abdur Rahman Khan (Kabul's ruler from 1880 to 1901) wrote in his biography, it was tantamount to "pushing a knife into my vitals." When the viceroy of India invited him to the opening ceremony of a railway tunnel, he wrote back to ask "whether it was the custom of the English people when they bored a hole in a man's stomach to invite him to come and see the opening made." (Cited in Vartam   Gregorian: The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan, Stanford: Stanford University   Press, pp. 153.154.)
  6. The communique issued after talks with Iran in July 1974 mentioned cooperative development of water resources in the Helmand valley, suggesting that the dispute between the two riparians over this river's waters has now been resolved. The arrangements proposed by Iran were accepted by the Afghan parliament and were awaiting ratification by the King when the coup d'etat took place. The new regime took the position that it needed time to examine the matter. Nothing has been said in public since, but it appears that Daud is waiting for a suitable opportunity to announce that he has ratified the treaty.


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Afghanistan under Daud - Relations with Neighboring States, Dilip Mukerjee
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, May 6 2005 (