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Mohammed Nadir Shah

Mohammed Nadir Shah (born Mohammed Nadir; April 9, 1883 - November 8, 1933), was king of Afghanistan from October 15, 1929 until his assassination in 1933.

Origins and rise to power

Mohammed Nadir Khan was born in Dehra Dun (north of Delhi), India, on April 9, 1883 to Muhammad Yusuf Khan and his first wife Sharaf Sultana. His paternal grandfather was Yahya Khan and his great grandfather was Sultan Muhammad Khan Telai, the brother of Dost Mohammed Khan, who sold Peshawar to the Sikhs.

Mohammed Nadir first set foot in Afghanistan at the age of 18 when his grandfather Mohammed Yahya was authorized to return to Afghanistan from exile by the British and Abdurrahman.

Nadir Khan became a military general in Amanullah Khan's monarchy after the British planned it for him so he can suppress it to enhance his reputation. When the Anglo-Afghan war started in 1919, Nadir volunteered to lead the National Army to the south and to fight the enemy. When Nadir crossed the border, the British left every single fort on the other side of the durand line so Nadir could capture them. This made Nadir Minister of War after the war. Amanullah Khan became suspicious about Nadir’s incantations and Amanullah Khan understood his schemes and considered his staying unnecessary in Kabul. Nadir was appointed as the Ambassador of Afghanistan in Paris, and his brother Hashim was sent to Moscow as the cultural attaché. Both of the brothers considered the mentioned appointments as exile. Thus, after those appointments they strengthened their relations with the British. Eventually, Nadir before leaving Kabul met in person with the British Ambassador, Humphreys, at his office. During the mentioned meeting, which is written in the declassified document of the British, Nadir promised to follow whatever role would be given to him by the British. After this, Nadir, in Paris, proposed numerous plans to the British, to topple Amanullah Khan's government and the King of Afghanistan.

Shortly after a rebellion by Pashtun tribesmen and forces of Habibullah Kalakani began against the monarchy, Mohammad Nadir was exiled due to disagreements with King Amanullah. After the overthrow of Amanullah Khan's monarchy by Habibullah Kalakani, Mohammed Nadir returned to India and acquired military support from the British. He returned to Afghanistan with his British supported armies and took most of Afghanistan from Habibullah Kalakani. By October 13 of 1929, Mohammad Nadir Khan captured Kabul and subsequently sacked the city. Nadir Shah then asked for a truce with Habibullah Kalakani and asked him to join him so that they could discuss the political upheavals and come to a resolution. Nadir signed an oath on the Qur'an that he would honor his truce. Kalakani accepted Mohammed Nadir's truce and went to Nadir's meeting accompanied by Nadir's religious envoy. Despite Nadir's oath on the Qur'an and the religious envoy, upon his arrival Habibullah Kalakani was shot and hanged. Mohammad Nadir Khan then declared himself King, or Shah, of Afghanistan on October 16, 1929.


Mohammed Nadir Shah quickly abolished most of Amanullah Khan's reforms, but despite his efforts to rebuild an army that had just been engaged in suppressing a rebellion, the forces remained weak while the religious and tribal leaders grew strong. In 1930, there were uprisings by the Pashtun Shinwari tribes of the south and as well as by a Tajiks of Kabul province and north of Kabul. The same year, a Soviet force crossed the border in pursuit of an Uzbek leader whose forces had been harassing the Soviets from his sanctuary in Afghanistan. He was driven back to the Soviet side by the Afghan army 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 his family, and in September 1930 he called into session a loya jirga of 286 which confirmed his accession to the throne. In 1931 the King promulgated a new constitution. Despite its appearance as a constitutional monarchy, the document officially instituted a Royal oligarchy, and popular participation was merely an illusion.

Although Nadir Shah placated religious factions with a constitutional emphasis on orthodox denominational principles, he also took steps to modernize Afghanistan in material ways, although far less obtrusively than Amanullah. He improved road construction, especially the Great North Road through the Hindu Kush, and methods of communication. He forged commercial links with the same foreign powers that Amanullah had established diplomatic relations with in the 1920s, and, under the leadership of several prominent entrepreneurs, he initiated a banking system and long-range economic planning. Although his efforts to improve the army did not bear fruit immediately, by the time of his death in 1933 Nadir Shah had created a 40,000-strong force from almost no national army at all.

He waged a large scale campaign under British influence against the non-Pashtun ethnic living in Afghanistan in attempt to continue the Pashtunization plan of his predecessor Abdur Rahman Khan. During his reign thousands of Afghan intellectuals were either imprisoned or killed. Many fled abroad, especially to the Soviet Union. The already-in-crisis press was heavily censored and power was distributed among his own relatives and family members.

During his reign, Nadir Shah had to suppress attempts to reinstate Amanullah Khan to the throne. His strategy in suppressing his opposition was to set ethnic groups against each other, mainly Pashtuns versus Tajiks. This led to the destruction of the Shamali plains north of Kabul.


On November 8, 1933 while distributing awards within the palace grounds, the King was shot dead by a teenager named Abdul Khaliq. The assassination plot was hatched by the Charkhi family, supporters of former king Amanullah Khan, who had been feuding with Nadir Khan. According to one account, the family promised Abdul the hand of their daughter in marriage in exchange for his help in carrying out the plot. After the assassination, Abdul Khaliq was apprehended. Yet another account suggests that Abdul Khaliq was the son of Ghulam Nabi Charkhi's servant. This theory suggests that Abdul Khaliq was manipulated through blackmail, inducing him to carry out the assassination. The family behind the plot was exiled and Abdul Khaliq was executed, rather gruesomely by many accounts. The family would later be pardoned and invited back to Afghanistan by Nadir Khan's son and successor, Mohammad Zahir Shah.


Muhammad Nader Shah was criticised by many Afghan Historians as an agent of Britain in Afghanistan. During his reigen hundred thousands of innocent people were killed in Afghanistan. His family had the highest Positions during his regien. His Brother Sardar Hashim was Prime minister of Afghanistan, Sardar Mahmud was Defence Minister of Afghanistan. And most of his Ministers were from his tribe called Mohammadzai. Most of the people call him a Dictator.

References and footnotes

External links

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