Democratic Republic of Afghanistan

The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA),[lower-alpha 1] renamed the Republic of Afghanistan[lower-alpha 2] in 1986, existed from 1978 to 1992, during which time the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) ruled Afghanistan.

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1978–1987)
د افغانستان ډموکراتيک جمهوريت  (Pashto)
جمهوری دمکراتی افغانستان  (Dari)

Republic of Afghanistan (1987–1992)
د افغانستان جمهوريت  (Pashto)
جمهوری افغانستان  (Dari)
Motto: کارگران جهان متحد شوید  (Dari)
"Kârgarân-e jahân mottahed šavid!"
("Working men of all nations, unite!")
Anthem: Garam shah lā garam shah
گرم شه, لا گرم شه
(English: "Be ardent, be more ardent")
and largest city
Official languages
State atheism[citation needed] (until 1980)
State secularism (1980–1986)
Sunni Islam (1987–1992)
GovernmentUnitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic
Unitary Islamic-socialist dominant-party republic
General Secretary 
Nur Muhammad Taraki (first)
Hafizullah Amin
Babrak Karmal
Mohammad Najibullah (last)
Head of State 
Nur Muhammad Taraki (first)
Hafizullah Amin
Babrak Karmal
Haji Mohammad Chamkani
Mohammad Najibullah (last)
Head of Government 
Nur Muhammad Taraki (first)
Hafizullah Amin
Babrak Karmal
Sultan Ali Keshtmand
Mohammad Hasan Sharq
Sultan Ali Keshtmand
Fazal Haq Khaliqyar (last)
LegislatureRevolutionary Council (until 1987)
National Assembly (from 1987)
Historical eraCold War
27–28 April 1978
30 April[1] 1978
27 December 1979
 1987 loya jirga
29/30 November 1987
15 February 1989
28 April 1992
1992647,500 km2 (250,000 sq mi)
HDI (1992)0.316
CurrencyAfghani (AFA)
Calling code93
ISO 3166 codeAF
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Republic of Afghanistan
Islamic State of Afghanistan

The PDPA came to power through a military coup known as the Saur Revolution, which ousted the government of Mohammad Daoud Khan. Daoud was succeeded by Nur Muhammad Taraki as head of state and government on 30 April 1978. Taraki and Hafizullah Amin, the organiser of the Saur Revolution, introduced several contentious reforms during their rule, such as land and marriage reform. Amin also added on reforms introduced by Daoud, such as universal education and equal rights for women.[2] Soon after taking power, a power struggle began between the Khalq faction led by Taraki and Amin and the Parcham faction led by Babrak Karmal. The Khalqists won and the Parchamites were purged from the party. The most prominent Parcham leaders were exiled to the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union.

After the Khalq–Parcham struggle, a power struggle within the Khalq faction began between Taraki and Amin. Amin won the struggle, and Taraki was killed on his orders. His rule proved unpopular within his own country (due to the reforms mentioned earlier) and in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union intervened, supported by the Afghan government, in December 1979, and on 27 December Amin was assassinated by Soviet military forces. Karmal became the leader of Afghanistan in his place. The Karmal era, lasting from 1979 to 1986, is best known for the Soviet war effort in Afghanistan against Afghan mujahideen insurgents. The war resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties, as well as millions of refugees who fled into Pakistan and Iran. The Fundamental Principles, a constitution, was introduced by the government in April 1980, and several non-PDPA members were allowed into government as part of the government's policy of broadening its support base. Karmal's policies failed to bring peace to the war-ravaged country, and in 1986 he was succeeded as PDPA General Secretary by Mohammad Najibullah.

Najibullah pursued a policy of National Reconciliation with the opposition, a new Afghan constitution was introduced in 1987 and democratic elections were held in 1988 (which were boycotted by the mujahideen). After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988–1989, the government faced increasing resistance. 1990 proved to be a year of change in Afghan politics: a new constitution was introduced, which stated that Afghanistan was an Islamic republic, and the PDPA was transformed into the Watan Party, which has survived to this day as the Democratic Watan Party. On the military front, the government proved capable of defeating the armed opposition in open battle, as in the Battle of Jalalabad. However, with an aggressive armed opposition, internal difficulties such as a failed coup attempt by the Khalq faction in 1990 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Najibullah government collapsed in April 1992.

Geographically, the DRA was bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; the Soviet Union (via the Turkmen, Uzbek, and Tajik SSRs) in the north; and China in the far northeast covering 652,000 km2 (252,000 sq mi) of its territory.[3]