Babrak Karmal


1929 – 1996

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Who was Babrak Karmal?

Babrak Karmal was an Afghan politician and statesman during the Cold War. Karmal was born in Kamari and educated at Kabul University, after which he started his career as a bureaucrat. Before, during and after his career as a bureaucrat Karmal was a leading member of the Afghan movement. He was introduced to Marxism by Mir Akbar Khyber during his imprisonment for activities deemed too radical by the government. When the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was formed, Karmal became one of its leading members, and eventually became the leader of the Parcham faction. When the PDPA split in 1967, the Parcham-faction established a Parcham PDPA, while their ideological nemesis, the Khalqs, established a Khalqist PDPA. Under Karmal's leadership, the Parchamite PDPA participated in Mohammad Daoud Khan's rise to power, and his subsequent regime. While relations were good at the beginning, Daoud began a major purge of leftist influence in the mid-1970s. This in turn led to the refoundation of the PDPA in 1977. The PDPA took power in the 1978 Saur Revolution.

Karmal was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, synonymous with vice head of state, in the communist government. The Parchamite faction found itself squeezed by the Khalqists soon after taking power and shortly after, in June, a PDPA Central Committee meeting voted in favour of giving the Khalqist faction exclusive right to formulate and decide PDPA policy. This decision was followed by a failed Parchamite coup, which in turn led Hafizullah Amin, a Khalqist, to initiate a purge against the Parchamites. Karmal survived this purge, probably due to his contacts with the Soviets, and was sent to exile in Prague. Karmal would remain in exile until December 1979, when the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan to stabilise the situation in the country, they killed Amin, the leader of the PDPA and the Afghan government.

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Jan 6, 1929
  • Afghanistan
  • Kabul University
Dec 3, 1996

on July 23, 2013


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