Thesis: Experiment in democracy – King Zahir Shah

Sample Thesis Paper

These changes were not well-received by Afghanistan’s powerful Islamic and tribal leaders which King Amanullah was forced to give up the throne to a cousin, Nadir Shah, who supported the conservative interests. In 1933, King Nadir Shah was assassinated by a Kabul student. His son, Mohammed Zahir Shah, assumed the throne and reigned until 1973.

In 1964, King Zahir Shah introduced an “experiment in democracy” by proposing a constitution that provided for a two-pronged legislature in which the King appointed one-third of the representatives, with the people directly electing another third, while the final third was to be selected by provincial assemblies. Nyrop (2001) observed that the King’s liberalization effort did not result in meaningful and lasting reform. However, it sparked the emergence and rapid growth of extremist parties. Through this development, various conflicts plagued Afghanistan over the next 40 years.

One of the most powerful emerging parties was the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). PDPA is a Marxist organization with close ties to the Soviet Union. The PDPA, despite its influence, was driven by its own internal battles, and in 1967 split into two warring factions that Nyrop (2001) contended as significant for their ethnic and class divisions relative to their ideological differences. Meanwhile, Sardar Mohammad Daoud, who had served as Prime Minister under King Zahir Shah between 1953 and 1963, initiated a military coup in 1973 with the assistance of the PDPAs Parcham party faction. King Shah was sent fleeing into exile, eventually landing in Italy.

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