Amanullah Khan was the Sovereign of the Kingdom of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Emir and after 1926 as Malik (King). He led his country to full independence from British rule. The history of the rule of Afghanistan is important to be read for the IAS Exam preparation. This article will provide you with details about Amanullah Khan, his reign, his military conquests and more.
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Who was Ghazi Amir Amanullah Khan?
- Amanullah Khan was crowned as the Amir of Afghanistan after his father, Amir Habibullah was assassinated in February 1919.
- He was fiercely anti-British and wanted to destroy an old agreement which gave the British control over Afghanistan’s foreign policy. The British resisted this move, and so began the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919).
- After the Third Anglo-Afghan War, Afghanistan was able to pursue an independent foreign policy free from the influence of the United Kingdom, and his rule was marked by dramatic political and social change.
- He was the first Afghan ruler who attempted to modernize Afghanistan on Western designs. However, he did not succeed in this because of a popular uprising by Habibullah Kalakani and his followers.
Amir Amanullah Khan – Social Reforms
- Amanullah enjoyed early popularity within Afghanistan and he used his influence to modernise the country.
- New cosmopolitan schools for both boys and girls in the region were built and he overturned centuries-old traditions such as strict dress codes for women. His wife, Queen Soraya Tarzi played a huge role in regard to his policy towards women.
- He increased trade with Europe and Asia. He also advanced a modernist constitution that incorporated equal rights and individual freedoms.
- This rapid modernisation created a backlash and a reactionary uprising known as the Khost rebellion which was suppressed in 1925.
- He also met with many followers of the Baha-i-Faith in India and Europe, from where he brought back books that are still to be found in the Kabul Library. This association later served as one of the accusations when he was overthrown.
- Afghanistan’s foreign policy was primarily concerned with the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. Each attempted to gain the favour of Afghanistan and foil attempts by the other power to gain influence in the region. This effect was favourable for Afghanistan.
- Amanullah established a limited Afghan Air Force consisting of donated Soviet planes.
- He even reduced banditry in the fringe regions of the country by carrying out harsh punishments on the perpetrators.
GAAK – Civil War
- During Amanullah’s visit to Europe, opposition to his rule increased to the point that an uprising in Jalalabad culminated in a march to the capital, and much of the army deserted rather than resist.
- In January 1929, Amanullah abdicated and went into temporary exile in the British India. His brother Inayatullah Khan became the next king of Afghanistan for a few days until Habibullah Kalakani, a leader of the “Saqqawists” opposition movement, took over.
- While in India, Kalakani battled anti-Saqqawist tribes. Around 22 March, Amanullah returned to Afghanistan assembling forces in Kandahar to reach Kabul and dispose of Kalakani. However, his forces failed to advance and on 23 May 1929, he fled to India again, this time never to return to his country.
Amir Amanullah Khan – Death
- On 14 January 1929, Amanullah abdicated and fled to neighbouring British India as the Afghan Civil War began to escalate.
- From British India, Amanullah Khan went to Europe where after 30 years in exile, he died in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1960. His body was brought to Afghanistan and buried in Jalalabad.
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