The Info List - Zahir Shah

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Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
(Pashto: محمد ظاهرشاه‎, Persian: محمد ظاهر شاه‎; 16 October 1914 – 23 July 2007) was the last King of Afghanistan, reigning from 8 November 1933 until he was deposed on 17 July 1973. He established friendly relations with many countries, including with both Cold War
Cold War
sides, and modernized the country from the 1950s. His long reign was marked by peace and stability that was lost afterwards. While staying in Italy
for medical treatment, Zahir Shah was overthrown in a surprise coup in 1973 by his cousin and former prime minister, Mohammed Daoud Khan, who established a republic. He remained in exile near Rome
until 2002, returning to Afghanistan
after the end of the Taliban
regime. He was given the title Father of the Nation, which he held until his death in 2007.[2]


1 Family background and early life 2 The last king of Afghanistan 3 Exile 4 Return to Afghanistan 5 Death 6 Family 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Family background and early life[edit] Zahir Shah was born on 15 October 1914, in Kabul, Afghanistan.[2] He was the son of Mohammed Nadir Shah, a senior member of the Muhamadzai Royal family and commander in chief of the Afghan army
Afghan army
for former king Amanullah Khan. Nadir Shah assumed the throne after the execution of Habibullah Ghazi
Habibullah Ghazi
on 10 October 1929.[3] Mohammed Zahir's father, son of Sardar Mohammad Yusuf Khan, was born in Dehradun, British India, his family having been exiled after the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Nadir Shah was a descendant of Sardar Sultan Mohammed Khan Telai, half-brother of Amir Dost Mohammad Khan. His grandfather Mohammad Yahya Khan (father in law of Amir Yaqub Khan) was in charge of the negotiations with the British resulting in the Treaty of Gandamak. After the British invasion after the killing of Sir Louis Cavagnari during 1879, Yaqub Khan, Yahya Khan and his sons, Princes Mohammad Yusuf Khan and Mohammad Asef Khan, were seized by the British and transferred to the British Raj, where they remained forcibly until the two princes were invited back to Afghanistan
by Emir
Abdur Rahman Khan during the last year of his reign (1901). During the reign of Amir Habibullah they received the title of Companions of the King (Musahiban). Zahir Shah was educated in a special class for princes at Habibia High School in Kabul.[4] He continued his education in France where his father had served as a diplomatic envoy, studying at the Pasteur Institute and the University of Montpellier.[5] When he returned to Afghanistan
he helped his father and uncles restore order and reassert government control during a period of lawlessness in the country.[6] He was later enrolled at an Infantry School and appointed a privy counsellor. Zahir Shah served in the government positions of deputy war minister and minister of education.[4] Zahir Shah was fluent in Pashto, Persian, and French.[7] The last king of Afghanistan[edit]

Studio photograph of Zahir Shah in military uniform, seated in a heavy, carved armchair. (1930s)

Zahir Khan was proclaimed King (Shah) on 8 November 1933 at the age of 19, after the assassination of his father Mohammed Nadir Shah. After his ascension to the throne he was given the regnal title "He who puts his trust in God, follower of the firm religion of Islam".[4] For the first thirty years he did not effectively rule, ceding power to his paternal uncles, Mohammad Hashim Khan
Mohammad Hashim Khan
and Shah Mahmud Khan.[8] This period fostered a growth in Afghanistan's relations with the international community as during 1934, Afghanistan
joined the League of Nations while also receiving formal recognition from the United States.[9] By the end of the 1930s, agreements on foreign assistance and trade had been reached with many countries, most notably with the 'Axis powers'; Germany, Italy, and Japan.[10] Zahir Shah provided aid, weapons and Afghan fighters to the Uighur and Kirghiz Muslim rebels who had established the First East Turkestan Republic. The aid was not capable of saving the First East Turkestan Republic, as the Afghan, Uighur and Kirghiz forces were defeated during 1934 by the Chinese Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) commanded by General Ma Zhancang at the Battle of Kashgar and Battle of Yarkand. All the Afghan volunteers were killed by the Chinese Muslim troops, who then abolished the First East Turkestan Republic, and reestablished Chinese government control over the area.[11] Despite close relations to the Axis powers, Zahir Shah refused to take sides during World War II
World War II
and Afghanistan
remained one of the few countries in the world to remain neutral. After the end of the Second World War, Zahir Shah recognised the need for the modernisation of Afghanistan
and recruited a number of foreign advisers to assist with the process.[12] During this period Afghanistan's first modern university was founded.[12] During his reign a number of potential advances and reforms were derailed as a result of factionalism and political infighting.[13] He also requested financial aid from both the United States
United States
and the Soviet Union. Zahir Shah was able to govern on his own during 1963[8] and despite the factionalism and political infighting a new constitution was introduced during 1964 which made Afghanistan
a modern democratic state by introducing free elections, a parliament, civil rights, women's rights and universal suffrage.[12] At least 5 of Afghani little Pul coins during his reign bore the Arabic title: المتوكل على الله محمد ظاهر شاه,[14] "AlMutawakkil 'ala Allah Muhammad Zhahir Shah" which means "The leaner on Allah, Muhammad Zhahir Shah". The title "AlMutawakkil 'ala Allah", "The leaner on Allah" is taken from the Quran, Sura 8, verse 61. By the time he returned to Afghanistan
in 2002, his rule was characterized by a lengthy span of peace, but with no significant progress.[15] Exile[edit] See also: 1973 Afghan coup d'état In 1973, while Zahir Shah was in Italy, undergoing eye surgery and therapy for lumbago, his cousin and former Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud Khan staged a coup d'état and established a republican government. As a former prime minister, Daoud Khan had been forced to resign by Zahir Shah a decade earlier.[15] During August 1974, Zahir Shah abdicated rather than risk a civil war,[15] ending over 200 years of royal rule in Afghanistan. Zahir Shah lived in exile in Italy
for twenty-nine years in a villa in the affluent community of Olgiata on Via Cassia, north of Rome
where he spent his time playing golf and chess, as well as tending to his garden.[6][7][16] He was prohibited from returning to Afghanistan during the late 1970s by the Soviet-assisted Communist government. In 1983 during the Soviet-Afghan War, Zahir Shah was cautiously involved with plans to develop a government in exile. Ultimately these plans failed because he could not reach a consensus with the powerful Islamist factions.[4] It has also been reported that Afghanistan, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and India had all tried to persuade Zahir Shah to return as chief of a neutral, possibly interim, administration in Kabul.[17] In 1991, Zahir Shah survived an attempt on his life by a knife-wielding assassin masquerading as a Portuguese journalist.[15] After the fall of the pro-Soviet government, Zahir Shah was favored by many to return and restore the monarchy to unify the country and as he was acceptable to most factions. However these efforts were blocked mostly by Pakistan's ISI, who feared his stance on the Durand Line issue.[18] In June 1995, Zahir Shah's former envoy Sardar Wali announced at talks in Islamabad, Pakistan that Zahir Shah was willing to participate in peace talks to end the Afghan Civil War,[19] but no consensus was ever reached. Return to Afghanistan[edit]

Zahir Shah is seated at the far right during the oath ceremony of Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
on 7 December 2004.

In April 2002, four months after the end of Taliban
rule, Zahir Shah returned to Afghanistan
to initiate the Loya Jirga, which met during June 2002.[20] After the end of the Taliban, there were proposals for a return to the monarchy.[15] Zahir Shah himself let it be known that he would accept whatever responsibility was given him by the Loya Jirga.[20] However he was obliged to publicly renounce at the behest of the United States
United States
as many of the delegates to the Loya Jirga
were prepared to vote for Zahir Shah and block the U.S.-backed Hamid Karzai.[20] While he was prepared to become chief of state he made it known that it would not necessarily be as monarch: "I will accept the responsibility of head of state if that is what the Loya Jirga
demands of me, but I have no intention to restore the monarchy. I do not care about the title of king. The people call me Baba and I prefer this title."[15] Hamid Karzai, who was favored by Zahir Shah, became president of Afghanistan
after the Loya Jirga.[21] Karzai, from the Pashtun Popalzai clan, provided Zahir Shah's relatives with major jobs in the transitional government.[22] Following the Loya Jirga
he was given the title "Father of the Nation" by Karzai,[23] symbolizing his role in Afghanistan's history as a symbol of national unity. This title ended with his death.[24] In August 2002 he relocated back to his old palace after 29 years.[21] In an October 2002 visit to France, he slipped in a bathroom, bruising his ribs, and on 21 June 2003, while in France for a medical check-up, he broke his femur. On 3 February 2004, Zahir was flown from Kabul
to New Delhi, India, for medical treatment after complaining of an intestinal problem. He was hospitalized for two weeks and remained in New Delhi
New Delhi
under observation. On 18 May 2004, he was brought to a hospital in the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
because of nose bleeding caused by heat. Zahir Shah attended the 7 December 2004 swearing-in of Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
as President of Afghanistan. During his final years, he was frail and required a microphone pinned to his collar so that his faint voice could be heard.[15] During January 2007, Zahir was reported to be seriously ill and bedridden. Death[edit]

Tomb of Zahir Shah

On 23 July 2007, Zahir Shah passed away in the compound of the presidential palace in Kabul
after prolonged illness. His death was announced on national television by President Karzai,[15][25] who said "He was the servant of his people, the friend of his people, he was a very kind person, kind hearted. He believed in the rule of the people and in human rights."[26] His funeral was held on 24 July. It began on the premises of the presidential palace, where politicians and dignitaries paid their respects; his coffin was then taken to a mosque before being moved to the royal mausoleum on Maranjan Hill in eastern Kabul.[27] Family[edit]

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He married his first cousin Humaira Begum (1918–2002) on 7 November 1931 in Kabul. They had six sons and two daughters:[1]

Name Birth Death Marriage Their children

Date Spouse

Princess Bilqis Begum (1932-04-17) 17 April 1932 (age 85)

1951 'Abdu'l Wali Khan HH Princess Humaira Begum

HH Princess Wana Begum

HH Princess Mayana Khanum

Crown Prince Muhammed Akbar Khan 4 August 1933 26 November 1942(1942-11-26) (aged 9)

Crown Prince Ahmad Shah Khan (1934-09-23) 23 September 1934 (age 83)

Princess Maryam Begum (1936-11-02) 2 November 1936 (age 81)

Prince Muhammed Nadir Khan (1941-05-21) 21 May 1941 (age 76)

6 February 1964 Lailuma Begum HRH Prince Mustapha Zahir Khan

HRH Prince Muhammad Daud Jan

Prince Shah Mahmoud Khan 15 November 1946 7 December 2002(2002-12-07) (aged 56) 18 April 1966 Safura Begum HRH Princess Bilqis Khanum

HRH Princess Ariane Khanum

Prince Muhammed Daoud Pashtunyar Khan (1949-04-14) 14 April 1949 (age 68)

2 February 1973 Fatima Begum HRH Prince Duran Daud Khan

HRH Princess Noal Khanum

Prince Mir Wais Khan (1957-01-07) 7 January 1957 (age 61)

In January 2009 an article by Ahmad Majidyar of the American Enterprise Institute included one of his grandsons, Mustafa Zahir, on a list of fifteen possible candidates in the 2009 Afghan Presidential election.[28] However Mostafa Zaher did not become a candidate.

Ancestors of Mohammed Zahir Shah

16. Sultan Muhammad Khan Telai, Governor of Kabul, Peshawar and Kohat (= 24)

8. Sardar Mohammad Yahya Khan, Governor of Kabul
(= 12)

17. a Popalzai lady (= 25)

4. Sardar Mohammed Yusuf Khan, Governor of Herat

18. Muhammad Akbar Khan (= 26)

9. Hamdan Sultana Begum (= 13)

19. (= 27)

2. Mohammed Nadir Shah

20. Ayub Shah Durrani

10. Ali Ahmad Mirza, Khan Bahadur

5. Sharaf Sultana Hukumat Begum

1. Mohammed Zahir Shah[29]

24. Sultan Muhammad Khan Telai, Governor of Kabul, Peshawar and Kohat (= 16)

12. Sardar Mohammad Yahya Khan, Governor of Kabul
(= 8)

25. a Popalzai lady (= 17)

6. Sardar Muhammad Asif Khan

26. Muhammad Akbar Khan (= 18)

13. Hamdan Sultana Begum (= 9)

27. (= 19)

3. Mah Parwar Begum

7. Murwarid Begum

See also[edit]


Kingdom of Afghanistan


^ a b Royal Ark ^ a b c Encyclopædia Britannica, "Mohammad Zahir Shah" ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, " Afghanistan
Mohammad Nader Shah (1929–33)" ^ a b c d "The King of Afghanistan". Daily Telegraph. 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  ^ "Mohammad Zahir Shah, 92, Last King of Afghanistan".  ^ a b Judah, Tim (2001-09-23). "Profile: Mohamed Zahir Shah". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  ^ a b McCarthy, Michael (2001-09-24). "War On Terrorism: Opposition – Exiled king declares himself ready to return". The Independent. London: Look Smart: Find Articles. Archived from the original on 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-07-23.  ^ a b Chesterman, Simon; Michael Ignatieff; Ramesh Chandra Thakur (2005). Making States Work: State Failure And The Crisis Of Governance. United Nations University Press. p. 400. ISBN 92-808-1107-X.  ^ Jentleson, Bruce W.; Paterson, Thomas G. (1997). The American Journal of International Law. Oxford University Press: 24. ISBN 0-19-511055-2.  Missing or empty title= (help) ^ Dupree, Louis: Afghanistan, pages 477–478. Princeton University Press, 1980 ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911–1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. pp. 123, 303. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.  ^ a b c "Profile: Ex-king Zahir Shah". BBC. 2001-10-01. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  ^ Judah, Tim (2001-09-23). "Profile: Mohamed Zahir Shah". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-02-01.  ^ Mercuguinness ^ a b c d e f g h Barry Bearak, "Former King of Afghanistan
King of Afghanistan
Dies at 92", The New York Times, 23 July 2007. ^ Gall, Sandy (2007-07-23). "Mohammad Zahir Shah". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/07/world/india-to-provide-aid-to-government-in-afghanistan.html ^ US-Pakistan Relations: Pakistan’s Strategic Choices in the 1990s by Nasra Talat Farooq ^ https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2014/01/16/Af_chronology_1995-.pdf ^ a b c Dorronsoro, Gilles. "The Return to Political Fragmentation". Afghanistan: Revolution Unending, 1979–2002. C. Hurst & Co. p. 330. ISBN 1-85065-683-5.  ^ a b "Former Afghan king returns to palace". BBC. 4 August 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2018.  ^ https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/06/06/the-man-in-the-palace ^ https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20020805/local/former-afghan-king-moves-into-his-old-palace.169602 ^ "The late King was always fondly referred to by all Afghans, cutting across ethnic boundaries, as "Baba-e-Millat" or 'Father of the Nation', a position given to him in the country's Constitution promulgated in January 2004, about two years after the collapse of Taliban
rule. The title of the 'Father of the Nation' dissolves with his death." "Last King of Afghanistan
King of Afghanistan
dies at 92". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) ^ "Mohammad Zahir Shah, Last Afghan King, Dies at 92" ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHbb6ju5tv8 ^ "Afghanistan's King Mohammad Zahir Shah Laid to Rest", Associated Press (Fox News), 24 July 2007. ^ Ahmad Majidyar (January 2009). "Afghanistan's Presidential Election". American Enterprise Institute. Archived from the original on 2009-09-18. Zaher is the grandson of the late King Muhammad Zaher Shah. He is currently head of Afghanistan’s environment preservation department and a member of the UNF. There has been speculation that the UNF will nominate Zaher as its candidate for the upcoming election. Despite being an heir to the royal family, he lacks a popular base.  ^ Royal Ark

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mohammed Zahir Shah.

Mohammad Zahir Shah at the Encyclopædia Britannica Zahir Shah: The last king of Afghanistan, Robert Fisk, The Independent Profile, The Observer " Mohammed Zahir Shah
Mohammed Zahir Shah
collected news and commentary". The New York Times. 

Mohammed Zahir Shah House of Barakzai Born: 16 October 1914 Died: 23 July 2007

Regnal titles

Preceded by Mohammed Nadir Shah King of Afghanistan 8 November 1933 – 17 July 1973 Succeeded by Republic

Titles in pretence

Loss of title Republic

— TITULAR — King of Afghanistan 17 July 1973 – 23 July 2007 Succeeded by Crown Prince Ahmad Shah

v t e

Monarchs of Afghanistan

Hotaki dynasty

Mirwais Hotak Abdul Aziz Hotak Mahmud Hotaki Ashraf Hotaki Hussain Hotaki

Durrani dynasty

Ahmad Shah Durrani Timur Shah Durrani Zaman Shah Durrani Mahmud Shah Durrani Shuja Shah Durrani Ali Shah Durrani Ayub Shah Durrani

Emirate (Barakzai dynasty)

Dost Mohammad Khan Akbar Khan Sher Ali Khan Mohammad Afzal Khan Mohammad Azam Khan Mohammad Yaqub Khan Ayub Khan Abdur Rahman Khan Habibullah Khan Nasrullah Khan


Amanullah Khan Inayatullah Khan Habibullah Kalakani Mohammed Nadir Shah Mohammed Zahir Shah

v t e

Pashtun-related topics


Lodi dynasty Suri dynasty Hotak dynasty Durrani dynasty Barakzai dynasty more

Key figures

Bahlul Lodi Sher Shah Suri Mirwais Hotak Ahmad Shah Khan Ahmad Shah Durrani Dost Mohammad Khan Malalai of Maiwand Saidu Baba Abdur Rahman Khan Mahmud Tarzi Soraya Tarzi Amanullah Khan Mohammed Nadir Shah Mullah Powindah Sartor Faqir Umra Khan Mirzali Khan Bacha Khan Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai Wali Khan Zahir Shah Daoud Khan Abdul Ahad Mohmand Mohammad Najibullah Ghulam Ishaq Khan Mohammed Omar Hamid Karzai Asfandyar Wali Khan Zalmay Khalilzad Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Abdur Rab Nishtar Abdul Waheed Kakar Ayub Khan (President of Pakistan) Karnal Sher Khan Malala Yousafzai


Pashtun culture Pashtun cuisine Pashtunwali Pashto Pashtunization Pashtun dress Pashto
media Pashto
singers Pashtun tribes Loya jirga Adam Khan and Durkhanai Yusuf Khan and Sherbano Jirga


Amir Kror Suri Pir Roshan Rahman Baba Khushal Khattak Nazo Tokhi Abdul Hamid Baba Hussain Hotak Ahmad Shah Durrani Hamza Baba Ajmal Khattak Kabir Stori Ghani Khan

Topics and controversies

Pashtun nationalism Pashtunistan Afghan (ethnonym) Durand Line Bannu Resolution Khudai Khidmatgar Kalabagh Dam Taliban Names of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Anti-Pashtun sentiment

Battles and conflicts

First Battle of Panipat Battle of Gulnabad Third Battle of Panipat Battle of Attock Battle of Multan Battle of Shopian Battle of Nowshera Battle of Jamrud Siege of Malakand Anglo-Afghan Wars Battle of Maiwand Tirah Campaign Battle of Saragarhi Soviet–Afghan War War in Afghanistan
(2001–2014) War in North-West Pakistan War in Afghanistan

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 75691809 LCCN: n2003069136 ISNI: 0000 0000 5559 6615 GND: 136160301 SUDOC: 140042105 BNF: