Afghanistan is a landlocked country, largely
pastoral and agricultural, of about 250,000 sq. mi., lying between
Iran, Pakistan, and the U.S.S.R. Its population, about 12,000,000,
is predominantly Moslem.
Pakistan, which had recalled its ambassador to
Afghanistan three years previously in connection with a border
dispute, decided in the first week of March 1952 to resume
diplomatic relations on an ambassadorial level.
Broadcasts from Karachi — traditionally
critical of the rule of the Shah of Afghanistan — reported on August
2 that the underground "democratic" movement in Afghanistan had
warned Shah Mohammed Zahir that he might suffer a fate similar to
that of King Farouk of Egypt.
At the end of August, the Afghan Ambassador to
Moscow, Sultan Ahmed Khan, had talks with Soviet Foreign Minister
Vishinsky relating to the presence of United States specialists
working with a United Nations mission in Afghanistan. On September
18, a dispatch from Torkham alleged that the Soviet Union had
threatened Afghanistan and requested the expulsion of UN and U.S.
technical advisers from an area in north Afghanistan bordering on
Soviet Asia. In this area, which lies between the Hindu Kush
Mountain range and the Oxus River, several U.S. and UN technical
development projects were under way to aid Afghanistan in the
development of its natural resources. One of these projects
consisted in a search for oil. The Moscow newspapers denounced the
presence and activity of Americans in the area as highly suspicious.
Economic and Technical
In his capacity as Mutual Security Director, W.
Averell Harriman disclosed in January 1952 that economic and
technical assistance funds were being withheld from Afghanistan as
well as from some other countries, but that assistance to those
countries would be promptly resumed as soon as "satisfactory
assurances" were received.
On June 30, the Technical Co-operation
Administration of the Department of State allocated $348,740 to
Afghanistan under the Point Four Program. Of this amount, $93,446
were specifically earmarked for the supply of American technicians
and equipment needed in settling families on existing land as well
as on some 800,000 acres of newly arable areas that were expected to
become available as a result of irrigation works financed by the
government of Afghanistan and the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The
allocation also included $69,519 for education, $75,675 for Afghan
trainees, and $43,300 for locust control.
T.C.A. was also co-operating with the United
Nations in offering technical assistance to the country. Mr. Philip
Beck of Trinway, Ohio, was chosen to head the UN technical
assistance program mission to Afghanistan. One project under way was
a system of dams and canals, with laterals and ditches, involving
the use of the Helmland and Arghand Ab rivers. The Arghand Ab Dam
and a diversion dam had been completed by the end of 1952, and the
remaining structure across the Helmland River — the Kajaki Dam — was
expected to be ready for water storage in 1953.
American engineering firm, Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, Ida., was
continuing its large-scale construction work started some six years
earlier upon the invitation of King Mohammed Zahir Shah, who had
used foreign exchange accumulated during World War II and an
Export-Import Bank loan to finance the project.