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1952: Afghanistan

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.

Foreign Relations.

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 Assistance.

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.

An 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.