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Afghanistan timeline 1976-1980

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Afghanistan timeline

1976

President Daud Khan pursues schemes of economic development and agricultural improvements with substantial aid from China, the U.S.S.R., Iran, and Kuwait, partly in the form of long-term loans and partly in technical aid.

April 1976

Floods and earthquakes devastate the provinces of Herat, Helmand, and Kandahar. Pakistan sends a message of sympathy and contributes substantially to relief operations, indicating a marked relaxation of the previously mounting tension between the two countries, largely due to persuasion by Pres. Nikolay Podgorny of the Soviet Union and the shah of Iran. By mutual consent, both countries refrain from hostile propaganda.

June 7-11, 1976

Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan visits Kabul. There, both countries undertake to follow principles of respect for territorial integrity and noninterference in internal affairs set forth by the 1955 Bandung Conference of Asian and African nations.

August 20-24, 1976

Daud Khan pays a return visit to Islamabad. He and Bhutto reach tentative agreement on a solution to the Pashtunistan problem.

End of November 1976

An attempted coup, instigated by discontented retired officers and led by a retired general, Mir Ahmad Shah, is discovered and some 50 persons are arrested.

January 30-February 15, 1977

Daud Khan's position is further strengthened by the proceedings of the Grand National Assembly (loya jirga). This body of notables nominated by the provincial governors last met in 1973 to ratify the abolition of the monarchy and the birth of the republic. Its task in 1977 is to approve a new constitution, the main features of which are the vesting of wide powers in the president as head of state, henceforward to be elected by the Grand Assembly every six years, and the reaffirmation of Islamic institutions as the core of national life. The Assembly approves the constitution on February 14, having written in several new articles and amended others. It endorses the president's policy of nonalignment in foreign affairs and the cultivation of friendship with other Islamic countries.

March 2, 1977

Agreement on the resumption of air communications between Afghanistan and Pakistan is reached, as relations continue to improve. The idea of a "Pakhtun" state is not abandoned, but support for it is less strident.

March 18, 1977

Daud Khan appoints a new cabinet composed of sycophants, friends, sons of friends, and even collateral members of the royal family. Daud continues to be responsible for the office of foreign minister but relinquishes the defense portfolio.

April 12-15, 1977

Daud Khan pays an official visit to the Soviet Union. A trade treaty is signed in Moscow on April 14. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev criticizes Daud for allowing Western specialists into the northern provinces of Afghanistan.

April 1977

Waheed Abdullah, deputy foreign minister, is promoted to foreign minister.

July 1977

The two major leftist organizations, the Khalq ("Masses") and Parcham parties, reunite against Daud Khan after a 10-year separation to form the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) with Nur Mohammad Taraki as secretary-general. There follows a series of political assassinations, massive antigovernment demonstrations, and arrests of major leftist leaders.

April 27, 1978

In a bloody coup - devised by Hafizullah Amin, a U.S.-educated Khalq leader who, before his impending arrest, contacted party members in the armed forces - the PDPA overthrows Daud Khan's government. Daud Khan and most of his family are killed. Daud dies in Kabul together with the country's vice-president, leading ministers, and the commander of the armed forces, all of whom reportedly tried to resist the takeover. The fighting continues into the following day. On April 30 a Revolutionary Council headed by Taraki assumes control of the government. Amin becomes foreign minister. The country is renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Although Taraki professes a nonaligned policy, there are signs that he is leaning heavily on the Soviet Union for economic aid and advice.

June 1978

Taraki attempts to purge the ruling PDPA of prominent leaders of the Parcham wing of the party. Some are sent abroad as ambassadors, including Deputy Prime Minister Babrak Karmal, who is appointed ambassador to Czechoslovakia.

July 1978

Taraki's reform program - which threatened to undermine basic Afghan cultural patterns - and political repression having antagonized large segments of the population, the first major uprising occurs in Nurestan. Other revolts, largely uncoordinated, spread throughout all of Afghanistan's provinces, and periodic explosions rock Kabul and other major cities.

August 17, 1978

It is announced that the defense minister, Gen. Abdul Qadir, one of the coup leaders, has been arrested after the discovery of an alleged plot to overthrow the government. Qadir also belonged to the Parcham faction.

December 5, 1978

After two days of talks in Moscow, Taraki and Brezhnev commit their countries to a 20-year treaty of friendship and cooperation. Among other things, both nations pledge to continue "to develop cooperation in the military field on the basis of appropriate agreements." Taraki says Afghanistan will remain officially nonaligned. However, most political observers believe that Taraki's favourable view of Marxism signifies much more than a mere continuation of Afghanistan's traditional economic ties with its powerful Soviet neighbour to the north.

February 14, 1979

U.S. Ambassador Adolph Dubs is shot and killed after being kidnapped in Kabul by Muslim extremists. The four terrorists reportedly demanded the release of several Muslims in government custody. Though it is not clear who fired the shots that killed Dubs, the U.S. condemns Afghanistan for attacking, rather than negotiating with, the kidnappers. The U.S. also expresses shock over the role of Soviet officials who were reported to have provided the Afghans with weapons and allegedly directed the attack itself. On February 22 the U.S. announces that aid to Afghanistan will be drastically cut. As Western aid dwindles, Soviet and Eastern European trade and economic cooperation increase.

March 10-20, 1979

A mutiny in the Herat garrison by Afghan army officers is crushed.

March 27, 1979

In a cabinet reshuffle, Taraki inducts Foreign Minister Amin as prime minister and himself takes over chairmanship of the Supreme Defense Council.

August 8, 1979

The government has to use its massive Soviet-supplied firepower to crush a rebellion in the army fort of Bala Hissar near the capital, with several hundred casualties.

Early September 1979

A rebel force is routed near Kabul in a major battle, and later an offensive is mounted to destroy guerrillas in districts bordering Pakistan.

Early September 1979

Taraki leaves for Havana, Cuba, to represent Afghanistan at the sixth summit conference of nonaligned nations, leaving the government in the hands of Amin. Returning via Moscow, Taraki is advised by Brezhnev to get rid of Amin, whose anti-Islamic policy is considered dangerous. Taraki, however, fails in this as Amin is tipped off about the plot and manages to turn the tide of events to his own favour.

September 16, 1979

Taraki is overthrown in a coup, and Amin becomes president of the Revolutionary Council, which is nominally in charge of running the government, together with the Central Committee of the Khalq party and the Council of Ministers. Contradictory reports suggest that Taraki is killed during the takeover, although his death is only announced on October 9, and stated to be the result of "a severe and prolonged illness." On September 17 Amin announces that his rule marks the beginning of a "better Socialist order."

September 19, 1979

A general amnesty is declared in an ineffective effort to placate the Muslims. This is followed by an administrative purge and a further attempt at reconciliation with Islam. Kabul radio accuses Pakistan and Iran of sending armed infiltrators to undermine the government. Pakistan is also charged with arming the Afghan refugees and tribal rebels in the border areas with the help of Saudi Arabia, China, and the U.S. Afghan refugees in Pakistan are at one time estimated to number 140,000.

December 27, 1979

Amin is overthrown and killed in a coup backed by Soviet troops. Viktor Karpukhin carries out the taking of the presidential palace, in which two Soviet soldiers are killed. Ex-deputy prime minister Karmal, who has been in exile in Czechoslovakia, is picked as Amin's successor. The Soviets have begun a massive military airlift into Kabul, and at least two motorized divisions have crossed the Soviet-Afghan border. Karmal, whose Parcham party spearheaded the coup against Daud but later lost power to the faction led by Taraki and Amin, is considered more pro-Soviet than Amin had been. In one of his first speeches, he denounces Amin as an agent of U.S. imperialism. At year's end reports from Kabul indicate that some 40,000 Soviet troops are fanning out through the country in an apparent attempt to crush the Muslim rebels. On December 31 U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter declares it is imperative that world leaders immediately make it clear to the Soviet Union that its actions will have "severe political consequences."

1980

Karmal faces increasing friction within the Revolutionary Council and other wings of the government. One of the most striking evidences of Khalq-Parcham feuding comes when Karmal removes his deputy prime minister, Assadullah Sarwari, a prominent Khalqi, and three other Khalq followers from the scene by appointing them as ambassadors. Sarwari, who was once considered a potential Soviet choice to replace Karmal, is named envoy to Mongolia after a sojourn in the Soviet Union. There are reports of assassinations of Khalqis by Parchamites and vice versa, and bitter interparty fighting is said to have spread to army units and government agencies in various parts of the country. Karmal reshuffles his cabinet, promoting Sultan Ali Keshtmand, a trusted Parchamite colleague, to replace Sarwari as first deputy prime minister.

January 14, 1980

A special session of the UN General Assembly passes a resolution (104-18) calling for the immediate withdrawal of "foreign troops" in Afghanistan. Similar resolutions are passed in subsequent years until November 10, 1987, when the vote in favour reaches a record 123.

January 29, 1980

An emergency session of the Conference of Islamic States, convening in Islamabad, Pakistan, condemns "Soviet military aggression against the Afghan people" and demands that all Soviet troops be withdrawn immediately. The foreign ministers also suspend Afghanistan from their organization and ask that their respective governments sever diplomatic relations with it.

February 1980

Anti-Soviet feeling among the Afghans rises to a high pitch, when a general strike and violent demonstrations are staged against the Soviet presence in Kabul and other major towns. The mass uprising is quelled as Afghan armed forces and Communist militia inflict heavy casualties on the demonstrators. As cases of Soviet soldiers disappearing begin to increase, the Soviet troops assume more and more direct control of the security situation from the Afghan Army. The Soviets unleash a series of offensives against insurgents in the provinces of Paktia, Konarha, Ghazni, Herat, Kandahar, and Badakhshan. The demonstrations are repeated at the end of April, this time staged by students from Kabul University and other educational institutions. The April demonstrations, which occur during the anniversary celebrations of the Saur (April) Revolution launched by former president Taraki on April 27, 1978, result in the brutal killings of more than 50 students.

May 1980

Attempts to bring about a peaceful solution of the Afghan crisis and Soviet withdrawal from the country are made by the Islamic Conference in Islamabad, Pakistan. No headway can be made, however. Pakistan refuses to have any direct talks with the Karmal regime, since this would involve recognition of the Soviet-backed government. Karmal insists that all subversive activities against his country must stop before any international discussion on the crisis could be held.

June 1980

The Soviet Union announces a token withdrawal of

one of its divisions, but this fails to placate the Afghans. Despite intense propaganda by President Karmal, Afghan state organs, and the Soviet government to the effect that the Soviet presence had a "limited" purpose and the troops would pull out as soon as peace was restored, the Karmal regime is finding itself more and more isolated from the people. Except for a small percentage consisting of ruling PDPA cadres, bureaucrats, and intellectuals, no section of the population accepts the government's thesis: that all the country's ills either are caused by saboteurs and agents from Pakistan and the U.S. or result from the tyrannical measures adopted by the short-lived regime of Karmal's predecessor, Hafizullah Amin. Increasingly, Karmal is finding himself in a dilemma, because the very Soviet troops who are arousing such resistance from his countrymen are the only force preventing the collapse of his government. Meanwhile, several regional groups, collectively known as mujaheddin (from the Persian word meaning "warriors"), have united inside Afghanistan, or across the border in Peshawar, to resist the Soviet invaders and the Soviet-backed Afghan Army.

June 1980

The Afghan Army's strength is down to 32,000 from an estimated 80,000 at the time of the Soviet intervention, due to large-scale desertions.

September 1980

Outside estimates place the number of Afghans seeking shelter in Pakistan at over 900,000.

October 16, 1980

Karmal begins an extended visit to Moscow, where he is welcomed by Soviet Pres. Leonid Brezhnev. Their subsequent discussion and joint signature of a document in the Kremlin is seen as a formal acknowledgment of the Afghan government's puppet status.

November 1980

It is disclosed that Egypt is sending arms to the mujaheddin.
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