by Wadsam | August 21, 2019 6:58 pm
King Amanullah Khan dreamed of modernizing Afghanistan. He was a self-described revolutionary but was forced into exile in 1929, with his reforms being abrogated. Amanullah Khan had a western-centric approach to modernize Afghanistan. He envisioned a modernized state which could co-exist with Islam.
He industrialized Afghanistan by reorganizing and rationalizing the tax system including the abolition of arbitrary taxes. He also introduced the first Afghan currency Afghani which replaced the valueless rupee. He improved agricultural productivity and achieved a policy of land reform, where public land was sold to poor peasants at only ten afghanis per jerib (0.5 acres) of irrigated land.
He began planning for infrastructure requirements for an industrialized economy with the construction of communication networks such as roads, telephone lines and postal services. He began the development of the Great North Road which provided a direct connection between northern and southern Afghanistan through the Hindu Kush. Afghanistan also became connected to Tashkent, Tehran, and India by air at the time of King Amanullah Khan. King Amanullah Khan purchased equipment to establish industries such as woodworking, textiles, and papermaking. Amanullah Khan event sent students abroad to work as apprentices in European and Persian factories to gain technical skills. This would develop new industries in Afghanistan as Afghan citizens would have more skills.
All the plans that Amanullah Khan wanted to implement in Afghanistan were very comprehensive and would take a long time even in a centralized nation, let alone a decentralized nation such as Afghanistan. Amanullah Khan did not have any political experience and his plan was based on theories that he had only read about. He rushed the long-term reform process as well because his judgment got clouded by the tenacious ideology of Afghanistan being backward. Amanullah Khan had 76 decrees issued which covered every aspect of his modernization program but only 57 were issued.
Amanullah Khan rushed to reform Afghanistan so he did not know how he would implement all his plans. His abolition of slavery act worked in Kabul however the neighboring provinces in Afghanistan still had slavery. There was a lack of an effective bureaucracy in Afghanistan and hence Amanullah Khan’s plans on reforming Afghanistan were reached throughout Afghans in rumors, which made a negative impact.
Amanullah Khan authorized costly projects as well such as Dar-ul-Aman which cost 10 million rupees. Amanullah Khan funded these projects by increasing land tax fourfold, and livestock tax two to five-fold. Amanullah Khan’s reform program made him lose popularity in Afghanistan and gained him powerful enemies.
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