Fighting was reported to be still continuing today (28 December) in the streets of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
Fighting was reported to be still continuing today (28 December) in the streets of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Diplomats in neighbouring Pakistan said that Soviet troops had taken part in the armed coup yesterday which overthrew President Hafizullah Amin. It was Afghanistan's third coup in the past two years.
SYNOPSIS: The first of them brought Noor Mohammad Tarakki to power in April 1978. His government was immediately recognised by the Soviet Union, which sent him military and civilian advisers, but denied allegations that it had specifically promoted the coup. Relations between the two countries remained close; and President Tarakki stopped in Moscow on his way to the non-aligned conference in Cuba last September, and again on his way back. It was while he was aboard that the plot was hatched which was to overthrow him, and put his immediate deputy, Hafizullah Amin, in power in his place.
The half million or so people of the city of Kabul are living in a prolonged state of war. A curfew comes into effect at 11 o'clock every night. Few people are about in the streets. Many businesses have closed. Tanks and armoured cars outside the Presidential palace have become a familiar sight. The reason is not only the repeated power struggles for control of the government of Afghanistan. The authorities are also fighting a bitter war with dissident Moslem tribesmen in the eastern part of the country; tribesmen who take little notice as one pro-Marxist regime in Kabul succeeds another, as they regard them all as fundamentally hostile to Islam. and Kabul is dangerously close to rebel-held territory.
Thousands of refuges have fled across Afghanistan's south-eastern border into Pakistan. Their numbers increased rapidly as government forces steeped up bombing raids on rebel-held villages in July and August. When President Amin came to power in September, he promised the tribal elders a new constitution that would safeguard their religion. The new leader, Babrak Karmal, has also undertaken to seek a political solution to the rebellion.
The Afghan authorities displayed weapons and ammunition which they said had been captured from the rebels; and claimed that they had come from China, the United States, West Germany and Pakistan. They accused Pakistan of training guerrilla fighters and sending them back to Afghanistan. Muslim unrest in the country has implications beyond its borders. Afghanistan has frontiers with the Islamic republic of Iran, and the Moslem republics of the Soviet Union.
In the three and a half months that Hafizullah Amin has bean in power, he has made little progress in dealing with the rebellion. His government, though Marxist, was persistently criticised by the Soviet Ambassador in Kabul until President Amin demanded the Ambassador's recall to Moscow. After he was overthrown Hafizullah Amin was tried by a revolutionary court and executed. The man who has taken his place, Babrak Karmal is a former Vice-President who heads another Marxist party, and who was removed rom office by President Tarakki eighteen months ago.