27 December

The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, renamed in 1987 to the Republic of Afghanistan, existed from 1978 to 1992 and covers the period when the socialist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) ruled Afghanistan. The PDPA came to power through a 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, the most notable being equal rights to women, universal education and land reform. Soon after taking power a power struggle began between the Khalqists led by Taraki and Amin and the Parchamites led by Babrak Karmal. The Khalqists won and the Parcham faction was 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. 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.