(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 Kingdom, and his rule was marked by dramatic political and
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.
Russia 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 India on May 3,
1919, beginning the third
After initial successes, the war
quickly became a stalemate as the United Kingdom was still dealing
with the costs of World War I
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
. He also advanced
a modernist constitution
incorporated equal rights
individual freedoms with the guidance of his father-in-law and
Foreign Minister Mahmud Tarzi
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 Khost 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.
time, Afghanistan's foreign policy was primarily concerned with the
rivalry between the Soviet
Union 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
consisting of donated Soviet planes.
Amanullah and his wife in Berlin,
After Amanullah travelled to Europe
1927, opposition to his rule increased. An uprising in
Jalalabad 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 India.
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 Italy, and later
Meanwhile, Nadir Khan made sure his return
to Afghanistan was impossible by engaging in a propaganda war.
Nadir Khan accused Amanullah Khan of kufr
his pro western policies.
Khan died in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1960.
Very few of his many reforms were
continued once he was no longer in power.