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People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan


afghan marxist political party; also called democratic party of the people of afghanistan.

The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was formed in the period of constitutional reform in Afghanistan (19631973) during which parliamentary elections were held and political parties were allowed to organize. It officially came into being on New Year's Day, 1965, at the home of Nur Mohammad Taraki. Taraki was the first secretary-general of the party's central committee, and Babrak Karmal was its first deputy secretary-general. Although its ideology, judging by the early literature, could be characterized as national democratic and progressive, later, after 1978, the PDPA became openly Marxist, with strong Leninist tendencies.

By 1965, the PDPA had split into two factions, each associated with the name of its newspaper: the Khalq (People) faction, led by Nur Mohammad Taraki and Hafizullah Amin, and the Parcham (Flag) faction, led by Babrak Karmal. The Khalq faction was dominated by Pashto-speaking Afghans from outside of Kabul and had strong ties to the military, whereas the Parcham faction was dominated by Persian-speaking Afghans from Kabul.

On 27 April 1978 the two factions of the PDPA united to stage a coup and take control of Afghanistan. In 1978 and 1979, the PDPA began to institute a series of radical social reforms dealing with land tenure, education, and women's rights. These reforms, coupled with the PDPA's strong antireligious and anticlerical position, proved too progressive for Afghans accustomed to the traditional social system, and by 1979 the Islamic opposition had begun to mount an aggressive guerrilla war against the government. On 2324 December 1979, a large contingent of Soviet military forces entered Afghanistan and did not leave until 1989.

Calling itself a party of national socialism and having changed its name to Fatherland Party, the PDPA had by 1990 largely abandoned Marxism. It ruled Afghanistan until 1992, when its last president, Najibullah, resigned and Kabul was taken over by Islamic rebels.

see also amin, hafizullah; karmal, babrak; parcham.


Hammond, Thomas T. Red Flag over Afghanistan: The Communist Coup, the Soviet Invasion, and the Consequences. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1984.

grant farr

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