Afghanistan timeline 1926-1930

From Academic Kids

Timeline of Afghan history


Afghanistan suffers during the year from the effects of the great Khost rebellion of the previous year, and little, if any, progress is made in developing the country.

June 9, 1926

Amanullah changes his title from amir to padshah ("king").

August 31, 1926

A treaty of neutrality and mutual nonaggression between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union is concluded. The first clause in the treaty provides for "neutrality in the event of an armed conflict between either of the parties with a third power", while in another clause each party agrees "not to permit in its territory the activities of elements having for their object hostile action against the other party to the treaty". This treaty is the beginning for Afghanistan of closer relations with Russia, and is followed by a "treaty of friendship" concluded on September 14, and by negotiations for an Afghan-Soviet trade agreement. These steps do not improve Afghanistan's relations with the Indian government, which is already looking with suspicion on some of its military activities; so much so that in August Mr. Yunus, the secretary of the Afghan legation in London, thought it necessary to send a communication to The Times stating that the number of Afghanistan's aeroplanes was too small to cause any apprehension, and that the Russians engaged in the air service were employed as pilots or mechanics in the same way as any other Europeans.


The year is free from internal disturbances. During a tour in the southern provinces, King Amanullah is loyally received by the same Mangals who were in revolt against him a couple of years previously. Some restiveness shown by the Uzbeks of Afghan Turkestan is also calmed by a personal visit from the king in May.

May 1927

In pursuance of his settled policy of modernizing Afghan institutions, the king reorganizes the arrangements for the budget after a conference with his ministers at Jalalabad. The revenue estimates are satisfactory, and not only are liberal allocations granted to various departments, but provision is made for opening twenty-seven new primary boys' schools and three girls' schools, also schools of agriculture and telegraphy. In order to gain new ideas for the improvement of his country, the king further plans an extended tour in foreign, especially European, countries.

Early December 1927

The preparations for his tour having been completed, King Amanullah makes a farewell speech to his officials at Kabul, in which he states that Afghanistan, in the shadow of freedom, has said good-bye forever to her stationary position, and has joined the "social and living nations of the age." The farewell durbar is held at Kandahar - a place with which the king has close family connections - and from there the king travels via Quetta and Karachi to Bombay. He is accompanied by his queen and by his minister for foreign affairs, and other high officials. The minister of war, Sardar Mohammad Wali Khan, is left as regent in his absence. The royal party reaches Bombay on December 14. They are received by the governor - the viceroy being confined to bed with malaria - and are given an enthusiastic popular welcome. Amanullah during his stay visits the principal mosque, and delivers a sermon, in which he recommends to his Muslim hearers tolerance of other faiths. Leaving Bombay on December 18, the party sails to Egypt, stopping on the way at Aden, where the king and queen land for a few hours and visit the residency. Port Said is reached on December 26, and from there the party proceeds to Cairo, where they are entertained by King Fuad.


January 8, 1928

Having completed their stay in Egypt, the king and queen arrive in Rome. Two state banquets are here given in the king's honour, and he also has an interview with the pope. While in Italy he visits Milan and a number of other cities, paying special attention to engineering and motor works. From Italy he goes through the Riviera to Paris, where he is officially received by the president of the republic. Here, as elsewhere, the official visit is succeeded by a much longer unofficial stay. In the course of February visits are paid to Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany, and on March 13 the royal party crosses over to London, where the crowd gives them an enthusiastic welcome. State banquets are given in the king's honour at Buckingham Palace, the Guildhall, and the Foreign Office, and no effort is spared by the authorities to impress him with the value and sincerity of British friendship. On March 23 he goes with Queen Souriyah to Oxford, where a brother of the queen is an undergraduate, and receives there the degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

April 5, 1928

The king leaves England for the East of Europe. On his way he finds it necessary to stay in Berlin to undergo an operation for tonsilitis. While in Germany he is presented by the German government with a specially upholstered Junkers aeroplane, and discusses with Professor Junkers the subject of an airline between Afghanistan and Persia. From Berlin the king and queen proceed to Warsaw (April 29), and thence two days later to Moscow, where they receive a royal welcome in spite of the anti-royalist professions of their hosts. While in Russia they pay a visit to Leningrad, where they witness the Baltic Fleet manoeuvres at Kronstadt. The next country to be visited is Turkey, which King Amanullah regards with peculiar affection. At a banquet given in his honour at Angora on May 20, President Mustafa Kemal Pasha lays stress on the close ties between the Afghan and Turkish peoples, and King Amanullah replies with a speech expressing admiration of the work accomplished by the president. From Angora the royal party proceeds to Constantinople, and after spending a few days there sail in a Turkish steamer to Batum, with an escort of Turkish and Russian warships. On June 9 they arrive at Tehran, where they are greeted by the shah and his son the valiahd in the presence of large crowds. On June 16 they leave Tehran for Meshed by motor car, and thence journey via Herat, Farah, Kandahar, Mukur, and Ghazni partly by car and partly by aeroplane to Kabul, where they arrive on July 1, after an absence of nearly seven months. A huge crowd has gathered from all parts of the country to welcome them, and their return is made the occasion for great festivities.

April 1928

An agreement is concluded between Afghanistan and Russia for an air service between Kabul and Tashkent.

May 25, 1928

A close treaty of friendship and security, to be valid in the first instance for ten years, is concluded between Afghanistan and Turkey.

June 1928

A pretender to the throne, who claims that he is a grandson of the amir Mohammad Yakub, appears in Kabul, but he is soon discovered to be an impostor and secures no following. Other than this, the country has remained perfectly peaceful during the absence of the king.

July 1928

Shortly after the king's return, complaints reach his ear that he has spent on his tour money which could ill be spared from the public treasury. He silences such murmurings by pointing out that he has brought back presents far outweighing in value the expense of the tour. He can also boast truly that he has made Afghanistan known to the world as a country with great potentialities, and one whose friendship is worth cultivating. Among the definite results of his trip he is able to announce the impending conclusion of treaties with thirteen states, agreements with French and German companies to undertake a survey preparatory to the construction of a railroad linking Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, and Kushk, and the acquisition of over 50,000 rifles, over 100 cannon, six model machine guns, six tanks, and five armoured cars. The bulk of this armament, however, does not reach Afghanistan within the year. King Amanullah's tour has impressed on him more strongly than ever the advantages of European civilization. Contact with the great personages of the West has put a keen edge upon his reforming zeal, and he is determined to follow as closely as possible in the footsteps of his distinguished co-religionist, Mustafa Kemal of Turkey. Dazzled by the latter's success, he overlooks the fact that there is a fundamental difference between Turkey and Afghanistan: the Turks are a fairly homogeneous people with a long tradition of obedience to a central authority, whereas the Afghans are a conglomeration of diverse tribes accustomed to a certain measure of autonomy and attached to their local customs. He is advised by the foreigners at his court and the most prudent of his counsellors to proceed slowly with his reforms, but in his eagerness to Westernize the country he resolves to make the pace even more rapidly than his Turkish confrère. The first fruits of the tour are made apparent to their subjects a few days after their return when the queen sits through a state banquet without the purdah or religious veil. The mullahs are greatly scandalized and remonstrate with the king. He points out to them that the working women in the villages do not wear the purdah, and bids them see to their own flocks. They are nonplussed for the moment, but are nevertheless reconciled to the king's innovations.

August 1928

A loya jirga (assembly of the people) is held at Paghman, and discusses a number of the reforms proposed by the king. It is decided among other things to replace the Council of State with a National Assembly of 150 members selected from the Grand Assembly for three years, and to which government servants shall be ineligible; that the period of compulsory military service shall be extended from two to three years and all exemptions abolished; that preaching certificates shall be introduced for Afghan mullahs and that mullahs from neighbouring countries shall be excluded; and that persons entering the government service in future shall not have more than one wife. It is also resolved that Afghanistan shall adopt a tricoloured flag in place of the present black flag, which is said to be an emblem of mourning, not fitting for Afghanistan since she achieved her independence. The king also desires to prohibit the marriage of youths before 22 and girls before 18, but he cannot persuade the assembly to agree to this. Hardly is the jirga over when a number of mullahs begin to preach sedition among the people. The king promptly arrests the ringleaders, and on October 30 the chief kadi of Kabul and three other mullahs are executed. The king meanwhile proceeds with his scheme of reforms. He has already decreed that education up to a certain point shall be compulsory for all and free for the poor. By the end of October several roads and bridges are being constructed, telegraphs and telephones are working between Kabul and the chief towns, and college buildings are being erected in Kabul and Kandahar. For the improvement of the Army, 65 officers have gone to Russia, France, and Italy, and 20 more are to go to England, while a Staff College is to be opened at Khurd Zabitan. For the furtherance of the king's various schemes numerous foreigners are invited to the country. The king is desirous to introduce the system of cabinet government, but Shir Ahmad Khan, to whom he entrusted the task, is unable to form a cabinet, and he has, as he says, to be his own prime minister.

End of November 1928

The reforming activities of the king are brought to a sudden stop by the revolt of the Shinwaris, a powerful tribe in eastern Afghanistan, much under the influence of the mullah of Chaknaur. They assemble in force in the neighbourhood of Jalalabad, and besiege that city. The king finds that in the hour of need he cannot rely upon his army, which is disaffected because its pay is in arrears. He therefore, after some indecisive fighting, begins to parley with the rebels in order to induce them to lay down their arms. A truce of ten days is declared early in December, during which the tribesmen consider the king's proposals. As he does not consent to abandon his reforms, they again take up arms at the end of the truce. At the same time (December 17) other tribesmen, acting apparently without any concert with the Shinwaris, gather in force near Kabul. They are led by a Tajik brigand named Habibullah, but familiarly known as Bacha-i-Saqao or "son of the water-carrier," and are joined by numbers of disaffected persons, both soldiers and others, from Kabul itself. Kabul is reduced to a state of siege, and the king and queen judge it prudent to retire within the Arg, the fortified part of the palace. Although the rebels disclaim any hostility to the members of the British legation, the legation buildings, which are situated outside of the town in the zone of fighting, suffer damage from stray shots. The position being regarded as dangerous, five British aeroplanes on December 23 fly across from Peshawar and take off all the women and children to the number of about a dozen. Between that date and the end of the year the women and children from the other legations are rescued in a similar manner. The gallantry of the British airmen makes a great impression throughout Europe. The Russian women and children are conveyed northwards by Russian aeroplanes.

December 25, 1928

Bacha-i-Saqao suddenly retires with his troops to the mountains, and the king considers himself out of danger; the queen has already made her escape to Kandahar. His last act in the year is to reward his troops at Kabul with two months' pay and to increase the pay of his bodyguard from 14 to 20 rupees a month. When the new year opens, the king is still retaining a precarious hold upon the throne at Kabul. On the east the Shinwari and other tribes are at Jalalabad debating whether to advance on Kabul or not. For the moment they are parleying with the king's brother-in-law and minister, Ali Ahmad Jan, whose forces, however, are quite insufficient to keep them in check. From the north, Kabul is threatened by Bacha-i-Saqao and his army; though they were beaten off they are still encamped in force about twenty miles (30 km) away.


January 7, 1929

In order to placate the Shinwaris, Amanullah issues a proclamation cancelling most of his reforms, such as the education of women, and the introduction of conscription and European dress, and also promises to appoint a council, including clergy, nobles, and officials, to assist him in revising the law, and in reviewing the decisions of the popular assembly. But his efforts are now too late to save him. When Bacha-i-Saqao resumes the offensive on January 9 Amanullah is able, with the help of Russian airmen, to ward off his attacks, but the Shinwaris clamour for further concessions, and in fact seem determined upon his dethronement. Feeling himself powerless to resist them, Amanullah, on January 14, abdicates in favour of his elder brother, Inayatullah Khan, who for the previous ten years had lived a private life. Soon after, he succeeds in making his way to Kandahar, where the tribesmen are still loyal to his house, and where he had sent his queen Souriyah some time before. The change of monarchs only hastens the fall of the dynasty. Bacha-i-Saqao continues to press his attack on Kabul and by January 17 succeeds in gaining possession of the city. Inayatullah immediately abdicates, after a reign of three days, and Bacha-i-Saqao declares himself amir, with the name of Habibullah Ghazi. Inayatullah is allowed to retire in safety with the members of his household, being conveyed, with them, by British aeroplanes to Peshawar, and he soon after joins his brother in Kandahar.

January 1929

Britain is loudly accused in the Russian and German press of fomenting civil strife in Afghanistan. The charge, which is not supported by any evidence, is officially denied, and the Indian government takes stringent measures to prevent the border tribes from taking part in the Afghan fighting.

January 21, 1929

Amanullah, in Kandahar, under pressure from the tribesmen, formally rescinds his abdication and again proclaims himself king. At the same time a force favourable to him begins to concentrate at Ghazni, between Kandahar and Kabul. The tribes in the eastern part of the country also show no disposition to acknowledge Habibullah, partly because they look upon him with suspicion as being a Tajik and not a true Pathan, partly because they prefer to be independent. Thus the new amir's authority extends to only a comparatively small part of the country, comprising chiefly Kabul and the district north of it, where his own tribesmen reside. Himself being illiterate, he has no sympathy with the reforms of Amanullah, and restores the old regime in Kabul.

End of January 1929

Though up to this point foreigners in Kabul have not been molested, nor is there any sign of an anti-foreign movement there, the Indian government, mistrusting the ability of the new ruler to keep order, decides to advise all British subjects to leave the city, and to place aeroplanes at their disposal for doing so. The work of evacuation commences early in February, and goes on throughout the greater part of the month. Besides British subjects - mostly Indians - a large number of Turks and members of other nationalities are brought to Peshawar by the British aeroplanes. The evacuation is completed with the departure of Sir Francis Humphrys, the British minister, and the last members of his staff on February 25. Within two months the British aeroplanes have brought from Kabul to Peshawar some 600 people in seventy-two flights, without casualties and almost without mishaps - a remarkable achievement considering the height of the mountain ranges which had to be crossed and the intense cold. After the departure of Sir Francis Humphrys, the only diplomats left in Kabul are the Russian and Turkish ambassadors, and the Persian and German chargés d'affaires.

Early February 1929

The Shinwari and other tribes of the neighbourhood being no more disposed to accept the rule of Ahmad Ali Jan (who had declared himself amir at Jalalabad when Habibullah entered Kabul) than that of Amanullah, they inflict a severe defeat on him at Jagdalak. At about the same time tribesmen enter and plunder Jalalabad. A powder magazine is blown up in the course of the plundering, killing hundreds of people, and the town is reduced nearly to ruins. The tribes which supported Ahmad Ali now offer their allegiance to the amir of Kabul, but the rest remain independent, and commence to quarrel with one another. Ahmad Ali makes his way to Kandahar, where he is first imprisoned by Amanullah but afterwards released.

February and March 1929

Habibullah is engaged in military operations with the Tagari and Wardak tribes immediately south of Kabul. He succeeds in defeating or pacifying them, and thus clears a way for himself to Ghazni, where the Malik Ghaus-ed-Din, of the Ahmadzai Ghilzais, has proclaimed himself amir. During this time Amanullah has been inactive at Kandahar, though his agents were busy trying to win for him adherents in eastern Afghanistan, without success, as it proves. He shows little confidence in himself and at one time seriously thinks of withdrawing to Herat, and only desists in deference to the protests of the townsmen of Kandahar, who point out that such a step would involve them in heavy loss.

March 6, 1929

Shah Nadir Khan, a member of the royal family who was living in retirement in the Riviera and who watched the disruption of the country and its gradual relapse into anarchy with deep concern, returns to Afghanistan. He had been minister of war in 1919, and had won for himself a position of unique influence among the tribes. In 1925, not being able to agree with King Amanullah, he had gone as Afghan minister to France, but after holding that post for two years he had resigned and gone to live in the Riviera for the benefit of his health. He now determined to return to his native land, ostensibly to look after the interests of his relatives there, but really to see whether he could do anything to restore peace and unity to the country. He reached Peshawar on February 25 - the same day as Sir Francis Humphrys - and on March 6, in company with one of his brothers, Sardar Shah Wali Khan, crosses the frontier. Habibullah has made preparations for receiving him at Kabul, but instead of proceeding thither he joins another brother of his, Sardar Shah Mahmud Khan, at Khost. Habibullah thereupon orders his house to be looted and imprisons some members of his family in Kabul. Nadir does not attach himself to any of the rival amir's, but seeks to bring about the convocation of a jirga (tribal assembly) which should proclaim an amir of the whole country. At the same time he tries to induce Habibullah to submit his claims to such a jirga. He writes him a letter telling him that he made a mistake in declaring himself king, as he had no qualifications for such a position, and inviting him to call a conference for the purpose of selecting a ruler, adding that, if he refused to cooperate, he (Nadir Khan) would use his influence with the tribesmen against him. Shortly afterwards, Nadir sends another letter to Habibullah couched in most conciliatory terms, and assuring him that if he abdicated in favour of Amanullah, or any other member of the royal family, he would receive a full and honourable pardon. These overtures produce no effect.

April 1929

The Soviet government suspects Persia of a design to annex part of the Herat province, and issues to it a peremptory warning to desist. The fighting in the north leads to some incursions into Soviet territory, which give rise to preventive measures, but no armed intervention.

Early April 1929

Amanullah's forces finally move northward and reach Mukur without opposition. Habibullah meanwhile has marched south from Kabul, and on April 19 meets Amanullah's troops south of Ghazni, and with the help of the Ghilzais decisively defeats them. Amanullah for a time makes a stand at Mukur, but owing to the hostility of the tribesmen is forced to retire from there on May 14. He then gives up the struggle as hopeless, and on May 23 leaves Afghanistan in company with his brother Inayatullah. During this period fortune is equally favourable to the cause of Habibullah in other quarters. In the north, on the frontier of Russian Turkestan, Amanullah's standard was raised by Sardar Ali Gholam Nabi Khan, who had formerly been his minister in Moscow. Habibullah's cause is espoused in the same quarter by Said Hussein, who keeps Gholam in check and finally drives him across the Russian frontier at the end of June. On May 4 Sardar Abdor Rahim Khan occupies Herat, in the west of the country, in the name of the amir of Kabul.

May 9, 1929

Nadir Khan, having raised a force in the Khost district, starts an advance on Kabul, but he is met by a Kabuli force at Baraki in the Logar valley, and defeated, chiefly through the treachery of his ally, the amir of Ghazni. At the end of May Habibullah's troops occupy Kandahar without opposition, and capture the amir Ahmad Ali, who is sent to Kabul as a prisoner and executed there in July. After his defeat, Nadir Khan is left utterly without resources; nevertheless he remains Habibullah's most formidable opponent on account of his influence with the tribes and the loyal cooperation of his brothers. Habibullah now tries to conciliate him and proposes a conference. Nadir Khan stipulates that he shall first resign the throne, but to this he does not consent.

June 16, 1929

Nadir Khan succeeds in obtaining the support of an important jirga of tribes convened by the Hazrat Sahib of Shor Bazar, an influential religious leader, at Shishrak, not far from Gardez. Meanwhile Habibullah has assumed the offensive, and sent a force into the Logar valley to seize Gardez, which Nadir Khan had occupied in March. Its first attempt on the place, on June 13, was frustrated by the tribesmen, but a second attempt, made a few days later (June 25), is successful. Further advance is, however, barred to the amir's troops by the hostility of the tribesmen. During the next couple of months there is an active competition in propaganda between the amir on one side and Nadir Khan and his brothers on the other, for the purpose of gaining over the tribes. Gradually Nadir Khan wins the day. Already in the middle of July he is able to launch a small offensive, which, however, meets with no success. On August 22 his forces make a determined attack on Gardez, and eventually recapture it, but are unable to retain it. The amir just made his peace with the Hazaras, on the west of Kabul, who had long been a thorn in his side, and is thus able to spare more men for the campaign against Nadir Khan, and so to neutralize his success. Early in September the Durrani tribe drives his governor and garrison out of the town of Kandahar. From a military point of view this loss is not of great consequence, but it cuts off Kabul from one of its great sources of food supply, and causes the price of bread to rise there seriously.

September 15, 1929

The forces of Habibullah, under his brother Hamidullah, again show their superiority in the field by inflicting a decisive defeat at Gandamak, near Jalalabad, on Mahmud Hashim Khan, a brother of Nadir Khan, who had collected a lashkar among the tribes of eastern Afghanistan. This success, however, avails the amir but little. The constant fighting of the last four months has exhausted his resources, and his failure to open communications with India has prevented him from replenishing them. Nadir Khan, on the other hand, has strengthened his influence with the tribes, and at the beginning of October his army, under the command of his brother, Shah Wali Khan, is in a position to commence an advance on Kabul through the Logar valley. The amir's troops meet them outside Kabul on October 6 and suffer a decisive defeat, after which his resistance rapidly collapses. Shah Wali Khan is at the gates of Kabul on October 8, and two days later is in possession of the city. The amir holds out a few days longer in the Arg (citadel), but this also is captured by bombardment on October 13.

October 17, 1929

Nadir Khan makes his formal entry into the capital, and calls an assembly of chiefs and notables to thank them for their support. The spokesmen of the tribes beg him to accept the crown. He at first declines on the ground of ill-health, but as the whole assembly continues to insist, he at length consents. Most of the provinces within a short time declare their acceptance of his rule. Habibullah escapes from Kabul into the district of his own tribesmen, the Koh-i-danis, in the north. He is unable, however, to rally a force to his support, and is in a few days captured along with a number of his chief officials and brought to Kabul. On the demand of the Hazaras and other tribes hostile to Habibullah, all 18 are executed on November 2. The new amir's first steps are to form a ministry and enrol troops for a regular army. On October 19 he sends a message to Europe through a newspaper correspondent that he hopes to lead Afghanistan along the path of progress and to make it an independent and civilized state, to reopen the schools, and to build up roads, railways, and industries. He is anxious to create bonds of friendship with all nations, especially with France, which he regards with peculiar affection. At the end of November he issues a proclamation summing up his policy in ten points which include the maintenance of Islamic law as the basis of administration, the total prohibition of alcoholic liquor, the establishment of a military school and an arsenal for manufacturing modern arms, the continuance of King Amanullah's relations with foreign powers, a progressive educational policy, and the continuance of the old Council of State.


During the first year of his reign, Nadir Shah scrupulously observes his constitutional obligations, though he retains almost absolute power in his own hands by appointing members of his family to the chief offices of state. At the same time he is careful not to offend the religious or tribal susceptibilities of his subjects. He rescinds the two reforms of King Amanullah which had most embittered the population - the suppression of the purdah and the secularizing of the law. He allows the influence of the mullahs to be restored, and creates a tribunal of ulemas in Kabul to interpret the Sharia (law of the Qur´an). He endeavours to placate the tribes by appointing governors from among their own leading men. As a result of these concessions, he is allowed to remain in peaceful occupation of the throne. A section of the Shinwaris shows a disposition to revolt early in the year, but they are suppressed by their own fellow tribesmen. Trouble continues for some time among the Kohistanis and Kohidamanis, the tribesmen of the amir Habibullah, but they are decisively defeated in July. The confidence inspired by the new regime leads to a revival of trade during the year, which is assisted by good harvests. An appeal addressed by the king to wealthy merchants to make voluntary contributions to the Treasury meets with considerable success. Telegraphic, telephonic, and wireless connections, both internally and with foreign countries, are re-established.

Early May 1930

The Anglo-Afghan Treaty of Rawalpindi, concluded in 1921, is reaffirmed, and shortly afterwards the British minister to Afghanistan, Richard Maconachie, reaches Kabul. Nadir Shah maintains friendly relations both with Russia and with Britain.

End of 1930

When unrest breaks out among the Afridis and other tribes in the northwest of India, King Nadir successfully uses his influence among the tribesmen to dissuade them from joining in any incursions into Indian territory.

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