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1938: Afghanistan

Some slow progress toward improvement in living conditions has been made in Afghanistan during recent years, although the present Government has avoided the excessively-rapid modernization undertaken by King Amanullah before his abdication in 1929. Very little change has been effected in the predominantly nomadic life of the country, the native handicrafts of the towns, or the limited foreign trade. The Government proclaimed new nationality laws in April 1937, providing that children born of foreign parents may acquire citizenship under certain conditions and that Afghan citizens may be deprived of their rights in case of undesirable activities, such as service in a foreign army. Several consignments of military airplanes, purchased from Great Britain and Italy, were delivered early in 1938 at Kabul, after being transported by tractor-drawn trucks over the road from the Khyber Pass. The new airplanes will be flown by Afghan pilots, trained in India.

A serious revolt arose among Waziristan warriors during June 1938, when British Army officers discovered a plot to overthrow the present Afghan dynasty. The leader of the rebellion was Saiyd Muhammad Sadi, a Mohammedan fanatic from Damascus, who was traveling along the frontier ostensibly to collect funds for repairing a Syrian shrine damaged by earthquake. Some suspicion arose that Italian influence was involved, since former King Amanullah, now resident in Rome, has desired to regain the Afghan throne. The Indo-Afghan frontier was closed for several weeks, while British officials undertook punitive air bombings and dispersed the rebellious tribesmen.

Little change in the international position of Afghanistan has taken place in recent years. The Sirdar Mohamed Hashim Khan, Afghan Prime Minister and uncle of King Zahir, visited London in February 1937 and was received by King George VI. The Afghan Government on July 8, 1937, signed the four-power Middle Eastern Pact, by which Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran and Iraq pledged mutual respect of frontiers, non-interference and non-aggression, pacific settlement of disputes, and frequent consultation.

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