Afghanistan timeline 1931-1940

From Academic Kids

Timeline of Afghan history


King Nadir Shah further consolidates his position, and continues to bring the country into a more settled state, as is noted by traders at the end of the year. Relations with foreign powers continue to be friendly, but the immigration of Europeans is not encouraged, and only a small number of European advisers are retained in the country. King Nadir devotes special attention to the reorganization of the army and the control of the national finances.

May 1931

A consignment of 10,000 rifles and large quantities of ammunition arrives in Afghanistan from France.

July 1931

After a campaign of eight months, the king's brother, Shah Mahmud, succeeds in driving Ibrahim Beg, "the Robin Hood of Bokhara," who has been stirring up disaffection in the northeast, across the Oxus into Soviet territory, where he is interned. Shah Mahmud's victory is celebrated at the annual festival of national independence in August.


Kabul University is established. Initially, only a faculty of medicine exists.

February 1932

Towards the end of the month the new Fundamental Rules of the Afghan government are promulgated in an issue of the Islah of Kabul. These declare Afghanistan to be completely independent both in external and internal affairs, with Kabul for its capital. Islam is to be the religion of the country, and the Sharia (Islamic law) is to be binding. Afghan subjects are to enjoy liberty of the person and freedom in all matters of trade, industry, and agriculture, and slavery and forced labour are prohibited. There is to be a Council of State (Majlis-i-Shora-Milli) of 120 elected representatives from the provinces, to which proposals for new laws are to be submitted, and a 40-member Chamber of Notables (Majlis-i-Ayan) selected and appointed by the king. Primary education is made compulsory, and foreign newspapers which do not offend against the religion and policy of the state will be free to enter Afghanistan.

End of September 1932

Sardar Ala Gholam Nabi Khan, son of Abdor Rahman's famous general, Haidar Khan Charkhi, who was himself for many years Afghan minister at Moscow under King Amanullah, and made an abortive attempt to restore that monarch in May 1929, with Russian assistance, returns to Kabul from Berlin, where he had been living since the accession of Nadir Khan. Early in November he is arrested on a charge of fomenting rebellion among the tribes of the southeast among whom his family has great influence, and of intriguing with the Soviet government, with a view to procuring the restoration of King Amanullah. He is brought to trial before the Loya Jirga, or Great Assembly, early in November, and, incriminating documents being produced, he is condemned to death and shot. One of his brothers, Gholam Jilani Khan, who recently returned from Moscow, is also arrested, and another, Gholam Zaddiq Khan, who was minister in Berlin, is dismissed from his post. The king's brother, Sardar Shah Mahmud, takes energetic steps to combat disaffection in the south, where one or two pretenders have appeared.


February 1933

Towards the end of the month a "Crazy Fakir" appears in the Khost district in the south of Afghanistan, proclaiming that the ex-king Amanullah will soon arrive. At his instigation a number of tribesmen take up arms with the intention of marching on Kabul, and they receive considerable reinforcements from the Wazir and Mahsud tribes across the Indian border. They meet the government troops which were sent south to oppose them in the neighbourhood of Matun, and some sharp fighting takes place at the end of February and beginning of March. The tribesmen from across the border then begin to withdraw at the bidding of some of their elders who were sent by the British authorities to recall them, and the rising soon comes to an end. Later in the year one of the ringleaders, Tor Malang, is executed with some of his associates, but the "Crazy Fakir," who fled abroad, is allowed to return with the assurance of a free pardon, on account of his advanced age.

July 1933

Afghanistan becomes a party to the Eight-Power Pact of Nonaggression formulated by the Soviet Union.

October 6 1933

The first Afghan minister, Habibullah Tarzi, arrives in Tokyo. It was decided earlier in the year to establish an Afghan legation there on account of the increasing demand in Afghanistan for Japanese textiles, chemicals, and machinery.

November 8 1933

King Nadir Shah is assassinated at a school prize-giving in the courtyard of the palace. The assassin proves to be a servant of Yusufzai Sardar Ali Gholam Nabi Khan, who was executed for conspiracy and treason exactly a year previously, and his motive was to revenge his master. He is executed along with a number of his associates on December 22. Nadir Shah reigned for just over four years, during which time he laboured chiefly to instil into his subjects a desire for national unity and for peaceful progress in the arts of civilization. The success of his policy is demonstrated by the fact that his assassination has no political repercussions. His son, Zahir Shah, a youth of 19, is immediately proclaimed king, and receives the allegiance of his three uncles, Sardar Mohammad Hashim Khan, the prime minister, Sardar Faiz Mohammad Khan, the minister for foreign affairs, and Shah Mahmud Khan, the minister of war, and of the rest of the ministry, the Ulemas, and the tribal leaders. Kabul soon resumes its wonted aspect and the rest of the country remains perfectly quiet. One of the new king's first acts is to pardon Ghulam Dastgir, the Kotkai pretender, who had given a good deal of trouble earlier in the year and who now transfers his allegiance from Amanullah to Zahir Shah.


Steps are taken by the semi-official trading company, the Shirkatiashami, to organize the trade in petrol, sugar, and cement. On August 8 a trade exhibition is opened by the king at Kabul.

Early 1934

The religious leaders publish a statement thanking the Afghan nation for having shown wisdom in discharging its duty to the late king by recognizing his son as king. Ghilzais wintering in India also send declarations of their allegiance to the new king to Kabul by leading representatives. A pretender who claims that he is a relative of the ex-king Amanullah appears soon after among the Madda Khel tribe just over the Indian frontier southeast of the Khost, but the Indian government prevents the tribesmen from giving him any support.

September 1934

Afghanistan makes application through its minister in London, Ali Mohammad Khan, to be admitted to the League of Nations. The application is duly granted on September 26. In presenting the report of the subcommittee appointed to deal with it, Tevfik Rüstü Bey says that Afghanistan "was making resolute efforts towards international cooperation, and would give valuable aid to the League's work for peace." Sir Denys Bray says on behalf of India that India will be glad to welcome Afghanistan, which has already shown its will to work for the League's ends during the Disarmament Conference; while Maksim Litvinov, on behalf of Russia, says that it is good to know that all the U.S.S.R.'s neighbours are to be united within the League. British delegate Archibald Skelton says that the Afghan entry is in conformity with a long-felt desire of the United Kingdom, and the representatives of Iraq, China, France, and Italy also add their congratulations.

October 25 1934

The government of the United States extends recognition to the present government of Afghanistan, under date of August 21, 1934.


The country remains peaceful, although there is trouble among the Mohmands just across the frontier. King Zahir Shah, with the assistance of his uncle, the prime minister, continues the policy of his father, and strengthens the defenses of the state while introducing reforms very gradually.

Summer 1935

Dr. W. Baldow, a German civil servant, is engaged by the Afghan government to survey the entire country, as a preliminary to improving the posts, telegraphs, telephones, and road transport generally.

October 1935

Celebrations are held in Kabul in honour of the twenty-first birthday of King Zahir Shah, as also of the anniversary of the restoration of the dynasty by Nadir Shah. The king gives a dinner to the diplomatic corps and the prime minister, and entertains leading local residents and foreigners.


The chief control of affairs remains in the hands of the three uncles of the young king, Zahir Shah, who continue to work together in complete harmony. The country enjoys peace both internally and externally and makes further material progress. New motor roads are built in the Southern Province, and classes in practical agriculture are opened in Kabul under the guidance of a Japanese expert.

January 1936

The minister of foreign affairs visits Turkey.

Early 1936

Direct telegraphic communication is opened with Iran, the Afghan line being connected with the Iranian at Kalk Ala.

April 1936

The American minister in Tehran visits Kabul to negotiate a treaty of friendship between the United States and Afghanistan, and about the same time the governor of the North-West Frontier Province visits Kabul to discuss frontier problems.

June 1936

An agreement, virtually amounting to a trade agreement between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, is concluded between the Afghanistan National Bank and the Soviet Trade Agency, by which arrangements are made for the barter of commodities between the two countries, with imports and exports balancing at a value of 10,500,000 gold dollars over a three-year period beginning on June 1. Afghanistan is to export cotton, wool, opium, and other commodities, and import kerosene, cotton seeds, linen goods, petrol, and sugar.

July 1936

The minister of war visits London.

November 1936

The prime minister visits Paris and Berlin.

End of 1936

It is reported that the Afghan government has granted to the Inland Exploration Company of New York a 75 year concession for oil covering 270,000 square miles (700,000 km²).


The year is one of unusual quiet in this turbulent land. Motor traffic is extending, and various factory industries are being opened up. The trade with India through the frontier passes is considerable, exports being fruit, carpets, wool, and skins; imports, cotton and piece goods, metals, sugar, and tea.

End of January 1937

The prime minister, Sardar Mohammad Hashim Khan, the uncle of the king, having gone to Berlin to undergo an operation, takes the opportunity before returning home to visit London, spending a week there as the guest of the government, and confirming Afghanistan's friendly relations with Britain.


Afghanistan makes rapid strides towards western civilization. Roads are being laid out for motor traffic; industries, based originally on military requirements, are being developed; and education is spreading. There are three colleges in Kabul, and schools are being set up everywhere.

Early 1938

Treaties of friendship are concluded with Liberia and with Brazil, and the treaty with Turkey is extended for ten years. On the other hand, on the proposal of the Soviet government, the Afghan consulates in Russia and the Soviet consulates in Afghanistan are closed.

June 1938

A number of Wazirs from South and West Waziristan cross the Afghan frontier with the object of looting and of stirring up a rising against the reigning Afghan house. This movement is the result of an agitation carried on for some months in Waziristan by one Syed Mohammad Sadi, commonly known as the Shami Pir (Syrian imam), a priest from Damascus whose family is connected with the ex-king Amanullah. A rebellion breaks out in southeast Afghanistan, headed by the Suleiman khel, and the number of the insurgents soon rises to 2,000. The government, which has been watching the activities of the Shami Pir, is not taken unawares, and quickly sends to the scene of the disturbances two brigades with ten aeroplanes, which are soon after reinforced by two more brigades. The insurgents are defeated in two battles on June 22 and 24, and the revolt soon comes to an end.


A year of otherwise peaceful progress is broken by echoes of the trouble in Europe. The government declares its neutrality, but is reported to have ordered a general mobilization and to be exercising special vigilance on the Soviet frontier. In its attitude generally, Afghanistan is keeping touch with the other signatories of the Saadabad Pact of Friendship (Turkey, Iraq, and Iran).

May 1939

It is announced that the government has decided to sell all government-owned factories, chiefly textile and sugar concerns, to private capitalists.

September 7 1939

Within a week after the German invasion of Poland, hostilities against the government are opened on the eastern border by a tribal gathering from Tirah, but it is suppressed in little more than a week by joint action on the part of the Afghan and British authorities.

December 1939

The government announces the opening of a twice-weekly bus service between Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, in Afghan Turkestan, a distance of 382 miles (615 km), by a road traversing the Hindu Kush which was first planned by King Nadir Shah.


Internal economic development is furthered by increasing the availability of land for cultivation, by assistance to the sugar-beet industry, and by official sanction of a scheme for the formation of a joint-stock company to coordinate the work of the country's cotton pressing, spinning, and weaving factories. Special taxation is imposed for the purchase of arms from abroad and the construction of two radio stations and three railway lines.

January 1940

Obligatory national service for all males over 17 is decreed.

Early 1940

Archaeology benefits by the discovery of the long-buried city of Begran, the ancient capital at the time of the Greek domination, by the French research expedition (withdrawn in July) under Prof. Josef Hackin.

July 1940

A trade agreement with the U.S.S.R. is signed, under which Afghanistan exchanges wool, casings, skins, and herbs against textiles, salt, sugar, and kerosene.

August 17 1940

Parliament is opened at Kabul, and the king says that the country is pursuing a policy consistent with a declaration of neutrality, and that political and economic relations between Afghanistan and the belligerent powers are very cordial. However, he stresses the necessity of being prepared and united in view of current external events.

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