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    1946: Afghanistan

Major Events of the Year. 

Little Afghanistan, pivotal in the land defense of India and increasingly valuable in the eyes of British, Soviet, and United States statesmen, broke into the headlines four times in 1946. In January, Dean Acheson of the United States State Department said that Afghanistan was the only neutral to comply one hundred per cent with the United States' request to deport objectionable Germans. Late in the summer the Afghanistan government startlingly described the new improvement plans for their country, already well under way. And in November, Afghanistan with Iceland and Sweden were welcomed into membership in the United Nations.


Small, landlocked, proud Afghanistan has moved definitely out of her ultra conservatism. These efforts had bridged several years; in 1929 a revolution overthrew the late king Amanullah for going too fast in westernization. The succeeding king, Nadir Shah, was assassinated in 1933. Nadir Shah's brother, H.R.H. Sirdar Mohammed Hashim Khan, who was Prime Minister for seventeen years, came to power. He undertook definite but more moderate national improvements, was considered anti-Russian, and when he resigned was succeeded in turn by his brother, H.R.H. Sirdar Mahmud Shah Khan Gazi, prime minister in 1946. He, with the 33 year old king, Mohammed Zaher Shah (son and heir of the late King Nadir Shah) have embarked upon a nationwide repatterning of the country. 

Economic Conditions. 

The national income is estimated at 22 million dollars (approximately $3 per person). Piece-goods are scarce, as is food, and the prices of food have been rising. Possibilities of great national development are reported: oil, iron, copper and silver have been discovered. During the war neutral Afghanistan could spend less since imports were all but impossible, and money reserves set aside became handy in 1946. The Soviet Union operates the only air service into Afghanistan, but the Prime Minister wants his country to be a stop on a trans-Asiatic or World-girdling service. There are no railroads in Afghanistan, but the Soviet frontier post of Kuskba is the terminus of a branch of the vital Trans-Caspian Railway. 

Treaty with Russia.

 Thus the treaty with Russia could have important meanings. Under its terms Afghanistan abandons sovereignty over the Kushka district, secures water rights on the Kushka River, and Russia promises to build a dam on the Murgab River. The Kushka district is 60 to 90 miles from the Khararadzhat and the Tirpul oil fields in the Afghanistan province of Herat. However, Russian influence on the Afghans is reported small; a few factories in the north use Russian-made machinery; northern towns trade across the border; and although many of the northern Afghans are of the same racial stock as residents of the Turkmen, Uzbek and Tadzhik Soviet Republics, they remember that they fled to Russia to escape war and violence. The Soviet has apparently adopted a new diplomatic pattern in Afghanistan, chiefly cultural and social; their embassy staff numbers about 130.

 Modernization Program. 

The Minister of National Economy, Abdul Majid, has announced a six billion afghani (about 40 million dollars) ten-year modernization program, employing American methods and American technicians. The English language will be required subject in primary schools, colleges, and universities under a new and revolutionary public school program; American text books are being ordered and American teachers are being sought. Specialists are solicited to help construct and operate cement plants, foundries, an oil refinery, bakeries, and modern hospitals. The Prime Minister, in full accord with the program, proposes to reduce the army to the status of an internal police force feeling that "America's championship of the small nations guarantees my country's security against aggression."