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Amanullah Khan (Pashto: ) (June 1, 1892 – April 25, 1960) was the ruler of the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1919 to 1929, first as Amir and after 1926 as Shah. He led Afghanistan to independence over its foreign affairs from the United Kingdommarker, and his rule was marked by dramatic political and social change.

Amanullah Khan was the third son of the Amir Habibullah Khan. Amanullah was already installed as the governor of Kabul and was in control of the army and the treasury, and gained the allegiance of most of the tribal leaders.

Russiamarker had recently undergone its Communist revolution, leading to strained relations between the country and the United Kingdom. Amanullah Khan recognized the opportunity to use the situation to gain Afghanistan's independence over its foreign affairs. He led a surprise attack against the British in Indiamarker on May 3, 1919, beginning the third Anglo-Afghan war. After initial successes, the war quickly became a stalemate as the United Kingdom was still dealing with the costs of World War I. An armistice was reached in 1921, and Afghanistan became an independent nation.

Amanullah enjoyed quite a bit of early popularity within Afghanistan and he used his influence to modernize the country. Amanullah created new cosmopolitan schools for both boys and girls in the region and overturned centuries-old traditions such a strict dress codes for women. He increased trade with Europe and Asia. He also advanced a modernist constitution that incorporated equal rights and individual freedoms with the guidance of his father-in-law and Foreign Minister Mahmud Tarzi. His wife, Queen Soraya Tarzi played a huge role in regard to his policy towards women. Unfortunately, this rapid modernization created a backlash and a reactionary uprising known as the Khostmarker rebellion was suppressed in 1924. He also met with many Bahá'ís in India and Europe 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.

At the time, Afghanistan's foreign policy was primarily concerned with the rivalry between the Soviet Unionmarker and the United Kingdom. Each attempted to gain the favor of Afghanistan and foil attempts by the other power to gain influence in the region. This effect was inconsistent, but generally favorable for Afghanistan; Amanullah was even able to establish a limited Afghan Air Force consisting of donated Soviet planes.

Amanullah and his wife in Berlin, 1928.

After Amanullah travelled to Europe in late 1927, opposition to his rule increased. An uprising in Jalalabadmarker culminated in a march to the capital, and much of the army deserted rather than resist. Habibullah Kalakani became the next king of Afghanistan. However, his rule was short lived and was soon replaced by Nadir Khan. In early 1929, Amanullah abdicated and went into temporary exile in Indiamarker. Amanullah Khan attempted to return to Afghanistan, however he had little support from the people. From India, the ex-king traveled to Europe and settled in Italymarker, and later in Switzerlandmarker. Meanwhile, Nadir Khan made sure his return to Afghanistan was impossible by engaging in a propaganda war. Nadir Khan accused Amanullah Khan of kufr with his pro western policies.

Amanullah Khan died in Zurich, Switzerlandmarker, in 1960. Very few of his many reforms were continued once he was no longer in power.

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