Tajik Rule, January-October 1929

Tajik Rule, January-October 1929

The man who seized Kabul from Amanullah is usually described by historians asa Tajik bandit. A native of Kala Khan, a village thirty kilometers north ofKabul, the new Afghan ruler dubbed himself Habibullah Khan, but others calledhim Bacha-i Saqqao (Son of the Water Carrier). His attack on Kabul was shrewdlytimed to follow the Shinwari rebellion and the defection of much of the army.Habibullah was probably the first Tajik to rule this region since before theGreeks arrived (although some historians believe the Ghorids of the twelfthcentury to have been Tajiks).

Little is written of Habibullah Khan's nine-month reign, but most historiansagree that he could not have held onto power for very long under any conditions.The powerful Pashtun tribes, including the Ghilzai, who had initially supportedhim against Amanullah, chafed under rule by a non-Pashtun. When Amanullah's lastfeeble attempt to regain his throne failed, those next in line were theMusahiban brothers, who were also Muhammadzai Barakzai and whosegreat-grandfather was an older brother of Dost Mohammad.

The five prominent Musahiban brothers included Nadir Khan, the eldest, whohad been Amanullah's former minister of war. They were permitted to crossthrough the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to enter Afghanistan and take uparms. Once on the other side, however, they were not allowed back and forthacross the border to use British territory as a sanctuary, nor were they allowedto gather together a tribal army on the British side of the Durand Line.However, the Musahiban brothers and the tribes successfully ignored theserestrictions.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Nadir and his brothers finally raised asufficiently large force--mostly from the British side of the Durand Line--totake Kabul on October 10, 1929. Six days later, Nadir Shah, the eldest of theMusahiban brothers, was proclaimed monarch. Habibullah fled Kabul, was capturedin Kohistan, and executed on November 3, 1929.

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