Mohammed Daoud Khan

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Mohammed Daoud (Daud) Khan or Muḥammad Dāwud Ḫān (July 18, 1909 – April 28, 1978) was an Afghan prince and politician in Afghanistan who overthrew the monarchy of his first cousin Mohammed Zahir Shah and became the first President of Afghanistan from 1973 until his assassination in 1978 as a result of the Saur Revolution led by the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). Daud was known for his progressive policies, especially in relation to the rights of women, for initiating two five-year modernization plans.[1]


Early life

HRH Prince Mohammed Daoud (also spelled Daud) was born at Kabul, the eldest son of the diplomat HRH Prince Mohammed Aziz Khan (1877–1933) (an older half-brother of King Mohammed Nadir Shah). He lost his father to assassination in Berlin in 1933, while his father was serving as the Afghan Ambassador to Germany. He and his brother Naim Khan (1911–78) then came under the tutelage of their uncle HRH Prince Hashim Khan (1884–1953). Daud proved to be an apt student of politics. Educated in France, he served as the Governor of the Eastern Province from 1934–35 and in 1938–39, and was Governor of Kandahar from 1935–38.

In 1939, Daud was promoted to Lieutenant-General, and commander of the important Kabul Army Corps until 1946. From 1946–48, he served as Minister of Defence, then Minister of the Interior from 1949-1951. In 1948, he served as Ambassador to France. In 1951, he was promoted to General and served in that capacity as Commander of the Central Forces in Kabul from 1951–53.[2][3]

Royal Prime Minister

He was appointed Prime Minister in September 1953 in an intra-family transfer of power that involved no violence. His ten-year tenure was noted for his foreign policy turn to the Soviet Union, the completion of the Helmand Valley project, which radically improved living conditions in southwestern Afghanistan, and tentative steps towards the emancipation of women.

By 1956, having been rebuffed by the US for both sales of arms and loans, and in view of the independence of the former parts of the British Empire in South Asia.

Daud supported a nationalistic and one-sided reunification of the Pashtun people with Afghanistan, but this would have involved taking a considerable amount of territory from the new nation of Pakistan and was in direct antagonism to an older plan of the 1950s whereby a confederation between the two countries was proposed. The move further worried the non-Pashtun populations of Afghanistan such as the minority Tajik and Uzbek who suspected Daud Khan's intention was to increase the Pashtun's disproportionate hold on political power. During that time, the Pashtuns (or Afghans) consisted roughly 35 - 42 percent of Afghanistan's ethnic demographics but they represented over 80 percent of the government and held all important ministries, such as the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Economic Affairs, Defense and even most of the banks.

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