Afghanistan Table of Contents
Factionalism had a critical impact on the leadership of the PDPA. Najibullah's achievements as a mediator between factions, an effective diplomat, a clever foe, a resourceful administrator and a brilliant spokesman who coped with constant and changing turmoil throughout his six years as head of government, qualified him as a leader among Afghans. His leadership qualities might be summarized as conciliatory authoritarianism: a sure sense of power, how to get it, how to use it, but mediated by willingness to give options to rivals. This combination was glaringly lacking in most of his colleagues and rivals.
Najibullah suffered, to a lesser degree, the same disadvantage that Karmal had when he was installed as General Secretary of the PDPA by the Soviets. Despite Soviet interference and his own frustration and discouragement over the failure to generate substantial popular support, Karmal still had retained enough loyalty within the party to remain in office. This fact was shown by the fierceness of the resistance to Najibullah's appointment within the Parcham faction. This split persisted, forcing Najibullah to straddle his politics between whatever Parchami support he could maintain and alliances he could win from the Khalqis.
Najibullah's reputation was that of a secret police apparatchik with especially effective skills in disengaging Ghilzai and eastern Pushtuns from the resistance. Najibullah was himself a Ghilzai from the large Ahmedzai tribe. His selection by the Soviets was clearly related to his success in running KHAD, the secret police, more effectively than the rest of the DRA had been governed. His appointment thus, was not principally the result of intra-party politics. It was related to crucial changes in the Soviet-Afghan war that would lead to the Soviet military withdrawal.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress