Afghanistan timeline 1966-1970 Timeline of Afghan history
1966 Thanks largely to the intelligent use which is made of the aid given by the U.S.S.R., the United States, West Germany, Britain, China, and the World Bank, the internal economy of the country makes good progress. The first five-year plan, begun in 1956, aimed at encouraging agriculture and irrigation. Experience showed, however, that progress in these spheres could only be partially achieved as long as internal communications remained primitive and the natural resources of the country were largely unexplored. As a result, the major effort was diverted to the construction of roads and airports, and to the systematic investigation of sources of water supply and of mineral wealth. During the course of the second five-year plan, conditions became favourable for almost unchecked advances along a wide economic front. Promising deposits of natural gas and of iron ore were discovered; the power available for industrial use was multiplied many times; and the extension of irrigation led to substantially increased agricultural production. In Afghanistan, as in many other underdeveloped countries, however, this rapid success led to the emergence of new problems unforeseen in the original planning: inflation of prices, difficulties over foreign exchange, and an unhealthy reliance on large-scale external aid for the easing of current domestic shortages. The indications are that the third five-year plan will aim mainly at consolidating what has already been achieved rather than at any new major advances.
January 1966 The complete break with the past represented by the new democratic constitution inaugurated in 1965 is further underlined by the appointment of a woman, Kubra Noorzai, to the cabinet as minister of public health. Under the new constitution, women can both vote and stand as candidates, and in September 1965 four were returned to the new National Assembly. Even so, Miss Noorzai's elevation to cabinet rank is regarded as a striking illustration of the determination of King Mohammad Zahir Shah and of the government headed by Mohammad Hashim Maiwandwal to bring the country into line with modern ideas on the political and social status of women.
April 4-8, 1966 Cordiality with Communist China is cemented by a visit to Kabul by Pres. Liu Shaoqi and Marshal Chen Yi. Afghanistan maintains its traditional policy of friendliness without involvement, its relations with Communist and non-Communist countries being equally cordial. The former friction with Pakistan has also ceased.
End of 1966 The first parliament created under the new democratic constitution adjourns for the winter recess. Its relations with the Maiwandwal cabinet were close and cordial, and it gave full support to the government's efforts to achieve national financial stability. Drastic cuts were made in government expenditure and, due to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the country is able to face with confidence the completion of the second five-year plan and the beginning in May 1967 of the third five-year plan.
1967 Among the difficulties that Afghanistan, together with other developing countries, faces is the shortage of local investment capital. Accordingly, the government offers considerable inducements in the third five-year plan to investors in the private sector. Capital goods for approved industries can be imported free; there is an income-tax holiday for three years after production started; and import tariffs on a protective scale are to shelter locally produced goods from foreign competition. These measures are designed to minimize direct government participation in the sphere of light industry, so that funds can be made available for the completion of projects begun during the second plan and for additional investment in heavy industry. During 1967 about 131 development projects are underwritten at a cost of 5 billion afghanis. These fall into three main groups: mines and industry; irrigation and agriculture; and communications and social services. But in general, emphasis is placed on consolidation. A major objective of the government is to reduce by degrees excessive dependence upon foreign aid for national development. This is likely to take some time, particularly since such aid is readily available from the U.S.S.R., the United States, and the World Bank, to say nothing of West Germany, Britain, and China. Additional assistance in such projects as match manufacture, tanning, shoe manufacture, and furniture making comes from Sweden and France. All this does not change the traditional Afghan determination to treat other nations as friends but not as masters, and to retain complete control over domestic and foreign policies. An example of this is the vesting of the new internal air services linking Kabul with many formerly remote areas in the official Afghan Air Authority. Relations with Pakistan ease further, along with an increase in trade.
March 28, 1967 Maiwandwal meets with U.S. Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson during a visit to Washington, D.C.
May 1967 The Soviet head of state, Nikolay Podgorny, pays a visit to witness the opening of the Soviet-aided Naghlu power plant.
October 11, 1967 Prime Minister Maiwandwal resigns for health reasons, the king asking Abdullah Yaqta, minister of state, to assume the premiership ad interim pending the formation of a new government. Maiwandwal's resignation is widely regretted, since he was looked upon as one of the main architects of the new Afghanistan. He successfully concluded the second five-year development plan and launched the third; he won national confidence in the 1964 constitution, which liberalized the political structure of the country; his visits abroad strengthened Afghanistan's international position and its traditional policy of friendship without involvement. He eased relations with Pakistan and gave a new impetus to the growth of trade between the two countries. Only a few days after Maiwandwal's resignation, the king takes the final step to complete the structure of the government as contemplated in the 1964 constitution by inaugurating the Supreme Court. This body, consisting of eight judges presided over by Abdul Hakim Ziayee, a prominent jurist with experience in diplomacy, completes the separation of powers among the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary.
November 1, 1967 Nur Ahmad Etemadi, first deputy premier and foreign minister, is appointed prime minister. Etemadi, a firm believer in his predecessor's domestic and foreign policies, retains the foreign portfolio and otherwise makes few changes in the personnel of the cabinet.
1968 In domestic affairs the year is marked by a thorough overhaul of the judicial system by the new Supreme Court; this involves reorganizing the powers and functions of the lower courts in line with the requirements of the constitution. In economic affairs the policies laid down in 1967 for encouraging investors in the private sector by substantial inducements - tax holidays, free import of capital goods, and protective tariffs - are continued. Government investment is again directed to the completion of projects begun under the second development plan and to the encouragement of heavy industry. The emphasis is again on consolidation rather than on beginning new projects, and on the gradual replacement of foreign aid by increased exploitation of national resources.
End of January 1968 The Soviet premier, Aleksey Kosygin, visits Kabul. The visit is brief, and appears to imply no more than a continuation of the already substantial Soviet aid to heavy industry and communications.
May 7-11, 1968 French Prime Minister Georges Pompidou pays a visit to Afghanistan.
1969 Domestically, the year is one of quiet administrative and economic progress. The division of powers among the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary laid down in the 1964 constitution, although virtually completed in 1968, entails much detailed work in its precise application to existing institutions. This is especially true in the judicial field, where the structure and functions of the lower courts, previously shaped largely by tradition, are found to need considerable alteration. The changes necessitated in this, as in other branches of the administration, are effected with little friction, due to the popularity of the prime minister and to the steady support which he receives from the king. In the economic field, the policy of mobilizing local resources to replace by degrees the massive foreign aid furnished by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. continues in accordance with Afghan determination to avoid undue dependence on external help. The main difficulty lies in the shortage of capital for investment in the private sector; and in spite of the inducements proffered by the government growth is slow. In foreign affairs, the traditional Afghan desire to preserve complete autonomy regardless of external aid and to maintain friendly relations with other countries remains dominant. India's desire for close relations is shown by a visit from Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and by Indian aid in the restoration of the Bamiyan antiquities. Relations with Pakistan and with its new government after the fall of Pres. Mohammad Ayub Khan are correct rather than cordial because of continued Afghan support for the promotion of "Pakhtunistan." This support again becomes vocal when the Pakistan government incorporates the states of Dir, Swat, and Chitral, hitherto domestically autonomous, into the administrative structure of West Pakistan, in accordance, it is claimed, with the wishes of the states' peoples. The resulting resentment in Afghanistan does not last, and the country's policy of friendly neutrality toward both the Communist and non-Communist worlds continues smoothly.
May 1969 Soviet Premier Aleksey Kosygin arrives to attend the country's 50th independence day celebrations.
Early June 1969 As Afghanistan does not escape the worldwide spread of radical ideas among the student population, the government finds it necessary to close Kabul University temporarily because of student unrest. Secondary schools in the capital are also shut, but there are no serious disturbances.
August 29-September 11, 1969 Afghanistan holds its second free parliamentary election since the introduction of the constitution in 1964, with candidates standing for the 216 seats of the House of the People and for one-third of the House of Elders. Many conservative local landowners who shunned the first election campaign for office and win seats. Often they win at the expense of more liberal, national-minded incumbents; the new parliament, thus, is more conservative than the previous one. Since political parties were not legalized in time for the elections, most of the candidates are men of local prominence again chosen for their personal prestige rather than their political views. Turnout is much higher than in 1965, but still only about 50%; except in times of national crisis political life is so highly localized that interest in central institutions remains minimal, although in Kabul and its environs live broadcasts of the proceedings in Parliament, which result in the confirmation (as required by the 1964 constitution) of Prime Minister Nur Ahmad Etemadi and his new cabinet, attract large crowds of listeners.
1970 Progress in establishing a modern type of administration throughout the country to replace traditional tribal institutions is steady rather than spectacular. The personal popularity of the king and his firm support of the prime minister ensures growing respect for the central government, but this does not prevent occasional outbreaks of severe intertribal hostilities. An important factor in the modernizing process to which the king has committed himself is the steady improvement of communications with the outside world. Several international airlines call regularly at Kabul, and the road from the capital to the Khyber Pass carries increasingly heavy traffic in both directions. The tourist industry receives a great impetus both from the erection on the road between Kabul and Paghman of a luxury hotel with spectacular views, and from the readiness with which the Afghan diplomatic posts in many countries grant tourist visas. External communications are stimulated by a marked improvement in relations with Pakistan. The Afghan government shows increasing interest in the economic success of the Regional Cooperation for Development program (RCD), which is being vigorously pursued by Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey; a visit to Kabul by the Pakistan finance minister, Nawab Mozaffar Ali Khan Qizilbash, leads to a scheme for technical aid in the fields of irrigation, seeds, and fertilizers to help Afghanistan achieve agricultural self-sufficiency as part of its policy of decreasing its reliance on external aid.
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