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Babrak Karmal

President of Afghanistan

Died when: 67 years 330 days (814 months)
Star Sign: Capricorn


Babrak Karmal

Babrak Karmal (Farsi/Pashto: ببرک کارمل, born Sultan Hussein; 6 January 1929 – 1 or 3 December 1996) was an Afghan revolutionary and politician who was the leader of Afghanistan, serving in the post of General Secretary of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan for seven years.

Born in Kabul Province into a Tajik family, Karmal attended Kabul University and developed openly leftist views there, having been introduced to Marxism by Mir Akbar Khyber during his imprisonment for activities deemed too radical by the government.

He became a founding member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and eventually became the leader of the Parcham faction when the PDPA split in 1967, with their ideological nemesis being the Khalq faction.

Karmal was elected to the Lower House after the 1965 parliamentary election, serving in parliament until losing his seat in the 1969 parliamentary election.

Under Karmal's leadership, the Parchamite PDPA participated in Mohammad Daoud Khan's rise to power in 1973, and his subsequent regime.While relations were good at the beginning, Daoud began a major purge of leftist influence in the mid-1970s.

This in turn led to the reformation of the PDPA in 1977, and Karmal played a role in the 1978 Saur Revolution when the PDPA took power.

Karmal was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, synonymous with vice head of state, in the communist government.The Parchamite faction found itself under significant pressure by the Khalqists soon after taking power.

In June 1978, a PDPA Central Committee meeting voted in favor of giving the Khalqist faction exclusive control over PDPA policy.

This decision was followed by a failed Parchamite coup, after which Hafizullah Amin, a Khalqist, initiated a purge against the Parchamites.

Karmal survived this purge but was exiled to Prague and eventually dismissed from his post.Instead of returning to Kabul, he feared for his life and lived with his family in the forests protected by the Czechoslovak secret police StB.

The Afghan secret police KHAD had allegedly sent members to Czechoslovakia to assassinate Karmal.In late 1979 he was brought to Moscow by the KGB and eventually, in December 1979, the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan (with the consent of Amin's government) to stabilize the country.

The Soviet troops staged a coup and assassinated Amin, replacing him with Karmal.Karmal was promoted to Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and Chairman of the Council of Ministers on 27 December 1979.

He remained in the latter office until 1981, when he was succeeded by Sultan Ali Keshtmand.Throughout his term, Karmal worked to establish a support base for the PDPA by introducing several reforms.

Among these were the "Fundamental Principles of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan", introducing a general amnesty for those people imprisoned during Nur Mohammad Taraki's and Amin's rule.

He also replaced the red Khalqist flag with a more traditional one.These policies failed to increase the PDPA's legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people and the Afghan mujahideen rebels - he was widely seen as a Soviet puppet amongst the populace.

These policy failures, and the stalemate that ensued after the Soviet intervention, led the Soviet leadership to become highly critical of Karmal's leadership.

Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union deposed Karmal in 1986 and replaced him with Mohammad Najibullah.Following his loss of power, he was again exiled, this time to Moscow.

It was Anahita Ratebzad who persuaded Najibullah to allow Babrak Karmal to return to Afghanistan in 1991, where Karmal became an associate of Abdul Rashid Dostum and possibly helped remove the Najibullah government from power in 1992.

He eventually left Afghanistan again for Moscow.Not long after, in 1996, Karmal died from liver cancer.

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