Muhammad Nadir Shah, 1929-33

Muhammad Nadir Shah, 1929-33

The new ruler quickly abolished most of Amanullah's reforms, but despite hisefforts to rebuild an army that had just been engaged in suppressing arebellion, the forces remained weak while the religious and tribal leaders grewstrong. In 1930, there were uprisings by the Shinwari Pushtuns as well as byanother Tajik leader. The same year, a Soviet force crossed the border inpursuit of an Uzbek leader whose forces had been harassing the Soviets from hissanctuary in Afghanistan. He was driven back to the Soviet side by the Afghanarmy in April 1930, and by the end of 1931 most uprisings had been subdued.

Nadir Shah named a ten-member cabinet, consisting mostly of members of hisfamily, and in September 1930 he called into session a loya jirgah of 286 whichconfirmed his accession to the throne. In 1931 the king promulgated a newconstitution. Despite its appearance as a constitutional monarchy, the documentofficially instituted a royal oligarchy, and popular participation was merely anillusion.

Although Nadir Shah placated religious factions with a constitutionalemphasis on orthodox denominational principles, he also took steps to modernizeAfghanistan in material ways, although far less obtrusively than his cousinAmanullah. He improved road construction, especially the Great North Roadthrough the Hindu Kush, and methods of communication. He forged commercial linkswith the same foreign powers that Amanullah had established diplomatic relationswith in the 1920s, and, under the leadership of several prominent entrepreneurs,he initiated a banking system and long-range economic planning. Although hisefforts to improve the army did not bear fruit immediately, by the time of hisdeath in 1933 Nadir Shah had created a 40,000-strong force from almost nonational army at all. It is notable that Afghanistan's regeneration was carriedout with no external assistance whatsoever.

Nadir Shah's brief four year reign ended violently, but he neverthelessaccomplished a feat of which his great-great-uncle, Dost Mohammad, would havebeen proud: he reunited a fragmented Afghanistan. Nadir Shah was assassinated in1933 by a young man whose family had been feuding with the king since hisaccession to power.

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