Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, (August 6, 1947September 28, 1996) was the fourth and last President
President of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has only been a republic between 1973 and 1992 and from 2001 onwards. Before 1973, it was a monarchy that was governed by a variety of kings, emirs or shahs...

 of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was a government of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1992. It was both ideologically close to and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and was a major belligerent of the Afghan Civil War.- Saur Revolution :...

. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan
Republic of Afghanistan
Republic of Afghanistan was the official state government of Mohammed Daoud Khan from 1973 to 1978. Daoud Khan became Afghanistan's first President in 1973 after he deposed Mohammad Zahir Shah in a non-violent coup...


Early years

Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai
Aḥmadzai is a Pashtun tribe. There are many separate and distinct clans, sub-clans, tribal fractions, large families etc. that trace their ancestry to different Aḥmads.-Afghanistan:...

 sub-tribe of the Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 tribe. Though born in Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

, his ancestral village was located between the towns of Said Karam and Gardēz in Paktia Province
Paktia Province
Paktia , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, in the east of the country. Its capital is Gardez. The population is predominantly Pashtun.- History:...

, this place is known as Mehlan. He was educated at Habibia High School ,St.Joseph's School Baramulla Kashmir and Kabul University
Kabul University
Kabul University is located in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. It was founded in 1931 but officially opened for classes in 1932. Kabul University is currently attended by approximately 7,000 students, of which 1,700 are women. As of 2008, Hamidullah Amin is the chancellor of the university...

, where he graduated with a doctor
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 degree in medicine in 1975.

Political career

In 1965 Najibullah joined the Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

 faction of the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 (PDPA) and in 1977 joined the Central Committee
Central Committee
Central Committee was the common designation of a standing administrative body of communist parties, analogous to a board of directors, whether ruling or non-ruling in the twentieth century and of the surviving, mostly Trotskyist, states in the early twenty first. In such party organizations the...


In 1978 the PDPA took power in Afghanistan, with Najibullah a member of the ruling Revolutionary Council. However, the Khalq
Khalq was a faction of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Its historical leaders were Presidents Nur Muhammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin. It was also the name of the leftist newspaper produced by the same movement. It was supported by the USSR and was formed in 1965 when the PDPA was born...

 faction of the PDPA gained supremacy over his own Parcham
Parcham was the name of one of the factions of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. The Parcham faction seized power in the country after toppling Hafizullah Amin....

 faction, and after a brief stint as ambassador in Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, he was dismissed from government and went into exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

 in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...


He returned to Kabul after the Soviet intervention
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 in 1979. In 1980, he was appointed the head of KHAD
Khadamat-e Etela'at-e Dawlati translates directly to English as: "Government Information Agency". However, this phrase is more correctly translated as Government Intelligence Service...

, the secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

. Under Najibullah's control, the KHAD arrested, tortured and executed tens of thousands of Afghans. It has been reported that Najibullah sometimes executed prisoners himself. In 1981 he was promoted to full membership in the Politburo
Politburo , literally "Political Bureau [of the Central Committee]," is the executive committee for a number of communist political parties.-Marxist-Leninist states:...

. Meanwhile, a change had taken place in Kabul. On May 4, 1986, under pressure from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal
Babrak Karmal was the third President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is the best known of the Marxist leadership....

 resigned as secretary general of the PDPA and was replaced by Dr. Najibullah. Karmal retained the presidency for a while, but power had shifted to Najibullah.

President of the Republic (November 1986 - April 1992)

In November 1986, Najibullah was elected president and a new constitution
Constitution of Afghanistan
The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

 was adopted. Some of the innovations incorporated into the constitution were a multi-party political system
Political system
A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems...

, freedom of expression, and an Islamic legal system
Legal systems of the world
The legal systems of the world today are generally based on one of three basic systems: civil law, common law, and religious law – or combinations of these...

 presided over by an independent judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...


However, all of these measures were largely outweighed by the broad powers of the president, who commanded a military and police apparatus under the control of the Homeland Party (Hizb-i Watan, as the PDPA became known in 1988). In September he set up the National Compromise Commission to contact Afghan Arabs
Afghan Arabs
Afghan Arabs were Arab and other Muslim Islamist mujahideen who came to Afghanistan during and following the Soviet-Afghan War to help fellow Muslims fight Soviets and pro-Soviet Afghans....

 "in order to complete the Saur Revolution in its new phase". Allegedly some 40,000 afghan arabs were contacted.

In this way, Najibullah had stabilized his political position enough to begin matching Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

's moves toward withdrawal. On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country was announced.

It was also during his Administration that the peak of the fighting came in 1985-86. The Soviet forces launched their largest and most effective assaults on the Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 supply lines adjacent to Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Major campaigns had also forced the mujahedeen back to defensive positions near Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 and Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...


Najibullah made an expanded reconciliation offer to the resistance in July 1987, including twenty seats in State (formerly Revolutionary) Council, twelve ministries and a possible prime ministership and Afghanistan's status as an Islamic
Islamic State
An Islamic state is a type of government, in which the primary basis for government is Islamic religious law...

Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 state. Military, police, and security powers were not mentioned, and the offer still fell far short of what even the moderate mujahedeen parties would accept.

Najibullah then reorganized his government to face the mujahedeen alone. A new constitution took effect in November, 1987. The name of the country was reverted to the Republic of Afghanistan, the State Council was replaced by a National Assembly for which multiple parties could freely compete. Mohammad Hasan Sharq
Mohammad Hasan Sharq
Mohammad Hasan Sharq born in 1925 was an Afghan politician during the communist regime of Afghanistan. Sharq became Prime Minister of the Soviet-backed government, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

, a non-party politician, was named Prime Minister.

On June 7, 1988, President Najibullah addressed the UN General Assembly in request of support for a peace solution of the crisis in Afghanistan.

Soviet withdrawal and Civil War

With Afghanistan's mujihadeen rejecting offers of reconciliation, Najibullah declared an emergency immediately after the Soviet departure
Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan
The Withdrawal of Soviet combatant forces from the Afghanistan began on May 15, 1988 and successfully executed on February 15, 1989 under the leadership of Colonel-General Boris Gromov who also was the last Soviet general officer to walk from the Asfghanistan back into Soviet territory through the...

. Prime Minister Sharq and the other non-party ministers were removed from the cabinet. The Soviet Union simultaneously provided a flood of military and economic supplies. Sufficient food and fuel were made available for the next two difficult winters.

Much of the military equipment belonging to Soviet units evacuating Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 was shipped to Afghanistan. Assured adequate supplies, the Afghan National Army Air Corps, which had developed tactics minimizing the threat from American-supplied Stinger missiles, now deterred mass attacks against the cities. Medium-range missiles, particularly the Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

, were successfully launched from Kabul in the defense of Jalalabad
Jalalabad , formerly called Adinapour, as documented by the 7th century Hsüan-tsang, is a city in eastern Afghanistan. Located at the junction of the Kabul River and Kunar River near the Laghman valley, Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province. It is linked by approximately of highway with...

, 145 kilometres away.

Victory at Jalalabad dramatically revived the morale of the Kabul government. Its army proved able to fight effectively alongside the already hardened troops of the Soviet-trained special security forces. Defections decreased dramatically when it became apparent that the resistance was in disarray, with no capability for a quick victory.

Soviet support reached a value of $3 billion a year in 1990. Kabul had achieved a stalemate which exposed the mujahedeen weaknesses, political and military. Najibullah's government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 survived for another 2 years. Divisions within his own ranksincluding the defection of General Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former pro-Soviet fighter during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and is considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community and the party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan...

helped weaken the government's resolve. Eventually, determined American support for the mujahedeen would prove decisive.

In March 1990 his government successfully withstood a Khalqi coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, headed by Defense Minister Shahnawaz Tanai
Shahnawaz Tanai
Lieutenant General Shahnawaz Tanai is a former communist general. He was chief of Afghanistan's army under the russians-backed Republic of Afghanistan...

. According to Halimzai, a few months before the coup Mohammad Zahir Ofoq, the head of a small communist party, met with Shahnawaz Tanai to make a strategy for the coup. Halimzai says "When we were discussing how to take over the control, I told them that the coup will be unsuccessful unless we have control of departments like Media, Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in our hand. I told them that I am not willing to bring about such change. I said that you both should be aware of the all circumstances. We can't take over Kabul, and once we fail no power will stop Ashrar (Mujahedeen) to enter Kabul. Eventually they agreed and said that they will first create grounds for a coup afterwards will act. But they were actually planning the coup and just before the coup Mr. Ofoq went to India and after failing Mr. Tanai fled to Islamabad. And I was right, Dr. Najib's regime became weaker and in March 1992, Ashrar were wandering in the streets of Kabul, who were now Mujahedeen." Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

 was one of the main supporters of the coup.

Najibullah had been working on a compromise settlement to end the civil war with Ahmad Shah Massoud, brokered by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. However, talks broke down and the government fell, and by 1992 Najibullah agreed to step down in favor of a transitional government. He also announced that a bicameral parliament would be established "within a few months," on the basis of "free and democratic elections."


The regime collapsed, as Kabul was short of fuel and food at the end of winter in 1992. Najibullah, on March 18, announced his willingness to resign in order to make way for a neutral interim government. On April 16, having lost internal control, was forced to resign by his own ruling party, following the capture of the strategically important Bagram air base
Bagram Air Base
Bagram Airfield, also referred to as Bagram Air Base, is a militarized airport and housing complex that is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, southeast of Charikar in Parwan province of Afghanistan. The base is run by a US Army division headed by a major general. A large part of the base,...

 and the nearby town of Charikar
Charikar is the main town of the Kohdaman Valley and the capital of Parwan Province in northern Afghanistan. The city lies on the road 69 km from Kabul to the northern provinces. Travelers would have to pass by the city when going to Mazari Sharif, Kunduz or Puli Khumri. Charikar is at the...

, by the Jamiat-e Islami
Jamiat-e Islami
Jamiat-e Islami , is an Islamic political party in Afghanistan along the line of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. Jamiat-e Islami means "Islamic society" in the Persian language and is also known as just Jamiat for short. Jamiat is the oldest Islamic political party in Afghanistan...

 guerrilla group.

Najibullah tried to meet Benon Sevan
Benon Sevan
Benon Vahe Sevan was the head of the United Nations' Oil-for-Food Programme, established in 1996 and charged with preventing Iraq's government from using the proceeds from oil exports for anything but food, medicine and other items to benefit the civilian population.Born into an Armenian-Cypriot...

 - director and senior political advisor to the UN Secretary-General's representative on the Afghan conflict at Kabul International Airport
Kabul International Airport
-Facilities:The airport has two terminal buildings, the modern for international flights and the Soviet built one for domestic flights. Several hangars along the runway are for military aircraft...

, but he was blocked by Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum
Abdul Rashid Dostum is a former pro-Soviet fighter during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and is considered by many to be the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek community and the party Junbish-e Milli-yi Islami-yi Afghanistan...

. On April 17, he sought sanctuary in the UN compound in Kabul. The newly created interim government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan left him unharmed.


When the Taliban were about to enter Kabul Ahmad Shah Massoud offered Najibullah twice to flee Kabul. Najibullah refused believing the Taliban would spare his life. General Tokhi, who was with Dr. Najibullah until the day before his torture and murder, wrote that when three people came to both Dr. Najibullah and General Tokhi and asked them to come with them to flee Kabul, they rejected the offer after losing their trust in Ahmad Shah Massoud who knowingly fired rockets at the UN compound where Najibullah and Tokhi had taken refuge. This proved to be a fatal mistake. Najibullah was at the UN compound when the Taliban soldiers came for him on September 27, 1996. He was castrated and his fingers were broken, before the Taliban dragged him to death behind a truck in the streets. His blood-soaked body was hanged from a traffic light. His brother Shahpur Ahmadzai was also with him throughout this whole ordeal at the UN compound, and was shot to death.

International reaction

There was widespread international condemnation, particularly from the Muslim world
Muslim world
The term Muslim world has several meanings. In a religious sense, it refers to those who adhere to the teachings of Islam, referred to as Muslims. In a cultural sense, it refers to Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-Muslims living in that civilization...


India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, a close ally of Najibullah, strongly condemned the public execution of Najibullah and began to extensively support Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmed Shah Massoud
Ahmad Shah Massoud was a Kabul University engineering student turned military leader who played a leading role in driving the Soviet army out of Afghanistan, earning him the name Lion of Panjshir. His followers call him Āmir Sāhib-e Shahīd...

's Northern Alliance
United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan
The United Islamic Front , known in the West and Pakistan as the Northern Alliance, was a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996 under the leadership of Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud...

 in an attempt to contain the rise of the Taliban.

External links

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