Najibullah's Leadership, 1986-92
Factionalism had a critical impact on the leadership of the PDPA.Najibullah's achievements as a mediator between factions, an effective diplomat,a clever foe, a resourceful administrator and a brilliant spokesman who copedwith constant and changing turmoil throughout his six years as head ofgovernment, qualified him as a leader among Afghans. His leadership qualitiesmight be summarized as conciliatory authoritarianism: a sure sense of power, howto get it, how to use it, but mediated by willingness to give options to rivals.This combination was glaringly lacking in most of his colleagues and rivals.
Najibullah suffered, to a lesser degree, the same disadvantage that Karmalhad when he was installed as General Secretary of the PDPA by the Soviets.Despite Soviet interference and his own frustration and discouragement over thefailure to generate substantial popular support, Karmal still had retainedenough loyalty within the party to remain in office. This fact was shown by thefierceness of the resistance to Najibullah's appointment within the Parchamfaction. This split persisted, forcing Najibullah to straddle his politicsbetween whatever Parchami support he could maintain and alliances he could winfrom the Khalqis.
Najibullah's reputation was that of a secret police apparatchik withespecially effective skills in disengaging Ghilzai and eastern Pushtuns from theresistance. Najibullah was himself a Ghilzai from the large Ahmedzai tribe. Hisselection by the Soviets was clearly related to his success in running KHAD, thesecret police, more effectively than the rest of the DRA had been governed. Hisappointment thus, was not principally the result of intra-party politics. It wasrelated to crucial changes in the Soviet-Afghan war that would lead to theSoviet military withdrawal.
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