Afghanistan Table of Contents

The man who seized Kabul from Amanullah is usually described by historians as a Tajik bandit. A native of Kala Khan, a village thirty kilometers north of Kabul, the new Afghan ruler dubbed himself Habibullah Khan, but others called him Bacha-i Saqqao (Son of the Water Carrier). His attack on Kabul was shrewdly timed to follow the Shinwari rebellion and the defection of much of the army. Habibullah was probably the first Tajik to rule this region since before the Greeks arrived (although some historians believe the Ghorids of the twelfth century to have been Tajiks).

Little is written of Habibullah Khan's nine-month reign, but most historians agree that he could not have held onto power for very long under any conditions. The powerful Pashtun tribes, including the Ghilzai, who had initially supported him against Amanullah, chafed under rule by a non-Pashtun. When Amanullah's last feeble attempt to regain his throne failed, those next in line were the Musahiban brothers, who were also Muhammadzai Barakzai and whose great-grandfather was an older brother of Dost Mohammad.

The five prominent Musahiban brothers included Nadir Khan, the eldest, who had been Amanullah's former minister of war. They were permitted to cross through the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to enter Afghanistan and take up arms. Once on the other side, however, they were not allowed back and forth across the border to use British territory as a sanctuary, nor were they allowed to gather together a tribal army on the British side of the Durand Line. However, the Musahiban brothers and the tribes successfully ignored these restrictions.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Nadir and his brothers finally raised a sufficiently large force--mostly from the British side of the Durand Line--to take Kabul on October 10, 1929. Six days later, Nadir Shah, the eldest of the Musahiban brothers, was proclaimed monarch. Habibullah fled Kabul, was captured in Kohistan, and executed on November 3, 1929.

Custom Search

Source: U.S. Library of Congress