15 December 2019

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Afghanistan Independence Declared by King Amanullah Khan 99 Years Ago

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Sunday August 19, 2018

Kabul (BNA) August 19th coincides with the Independence Day of Afghanistan. The name that has connection to the country’s independence is the name of King Amanullah Khan Ghazi, who led the country to full independence from the then British influence. King Amanullah Khan took possession of the throne immediately after his father’s assassination in 1919, at a time when Great Britain exercised an important influence on Afghan affairs. In his coronation address King Amanullah Khan declared total independence from Great Britain. This led to war with the British (Anglo-Afghan Wars), but the then British Indian army exhausted from the heavy demands of World War I and finally a peace treaty recognizing the independence of Afghanistan was signed at Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) in August 1919. After the assassination of his father, he organized a gathering of the people in front of Kabul’s grand mosque and said: “As I am putting on the crown on my head, I am announcing the complete independence of my country and urge you to accompany me in this admirable journey.” This announcement was the start of the Third Anglo-Afghan War which began on 6 May 1919 and ended with a ceasefire on 8 August 1919.
In the aftermath of this war the British Empire lost control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs and it became a completely independence country. Although a charming man and a sincere patriot and reformer, King Amanullah Khan was also impulsive and tactless and tended to surround himself with poor advisers. Shortly after ascending the throne, he pushed for a series of Western-building projects, but was opposed by reactionaries. In 1928 he returned from a trip to Europe with plans for legislative reform and emancipation of women, proposals that caused his popular support to drop and enraged the mullahs and religious figures. During his travels, opposition to his rule increased, an uprising in Jalalabad culminated in a march to the capital, and much of the army deserted rather than resist. In early 1929, King Amanullah Khan abdicated and went into temporary exile in then British India. His brother Enayatullah Khan became the next King of Afghanistan for a few days until Habibullah Kalakani took over.
However, Kalakani’s nine months rule was soon replaced by Nadir Khan on 13 October 1929. Amanullah Khan attempted to return to Afghanistan, but he had little support from the people. From British India, the ex-king traveled to Europe and settled in Italy and later in Switzerland. Meanwhile, Nadir Khan made sure his return to Afghanistan was impossible by engaging in propaganda. King Amanullah Khan died in Zurich, Switzerland in 1960. His body was brought to Afghanistan and buried in the eastern city of Jalalabad. Very few of his many reforms were continued once he was no longer in power.
Lailuma Noori

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