Nur Muhammad Taraki
|“||We want to create a society in which our workers and farmers can afford to appear in handsome attire and enjoy a good life and health; we want this kind of society.||„|
|~ Nur Muhammad Taraki|
Nur Muhammad Taraki (14 July 1917 – 8 October 1979) was an Afghan communist statesman during the Cold War who served as President of Afghanistan from 1978 to 1979.
Taraki was born in Nawa, Ghazni Province. He was the oldest of three children and attended a village school in Nawa before leaving in 1932, at the age of 15, to work in the port city of Bombay, India. There he met a Kandahari merchant family who employed him as a clerk for the Pashtun Trading Company.
Taraki's first encounter with communism was during his night courses, where he met several Communist Party of India members who impressed him with their discussions on social justice and communist values. Another important event was his encounter with Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtun nationalist and leader of the Red Shirt Movement in neighbouring India, who was an admirer of the works of Vladimir Lenin.
In 1937 Taraki started working for Abdul Majid Zabuli, the Minister of Economics, who introduced him to several Russians. Later Taraki became Deputy Head of the Bakhtar News Agency and became known throughout the country as an author and poet.
On his visit to the Soviet Union Taraki was greeted by Boris Ponomarev, the Head of the International Department of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and other Communist Party of the Soviet Union members.
He graduated from Kabul University, after which he started his political career as a journalist. He later became one of the founding members of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and was elected as the party's general secretary at its first congress. He ran as a candidate in the 1965 Afghan parliamentary election but failed to win a seat.
In 1966 he published the first issue of Khalq, a party newspaper, but the government closed it down shortly afterward. Taraki led the Khalq wing of the PDPA. In 1978 he, Hafizullah Amin and Babrak Karmal initiated the Saur Revolution and established the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, supported by Leonid Brezhnev and the KGB.
Taraki's presidency was short-lived and marked by controversies. The government was divided between two PDPA factions: the Khalqists (led by Taraki), the majority, and the Parchamites, the minority. He started a purge of the government and party that led to several high-ranking Parchamite members being sent into de facto exile by being assigned to serve overseas as ambassadors. Taraki launched a land reform on 1 January 1979 that proved highly unpopular. His regime also brutally locked up dissidents and oversaw massacres of villagers. These factors, among others, led to a popular backlash that initiated a rebellion. Despite repeated attempts, Taraki was unable to persuade the Soviet Union to intervene in support of the restoration of civil order.
Taraki's reign was marked by a dictator-like cult of personality centered around him that Amin had cultivated. The state press and subsequent propaganda started to refer to him as the "Great Leader" and "Great Teacher". His relationship with Amin turned sour during his rule, ultimately resulting in Taraki's overthrow on 14 September 1979 and subsequent murder on 8 October, on Amin's orders in which they tied and suffocated taraki with a pillow and according to one of the executors, Taraki helped them with the knots. His death was a factor that led to the Soviet intervention in December 1979 against Amin's regime.
On the day that Taraki was assassinated, 28 men and women from Taraki's extended family (including his wife and brother) were jailed at Pul-e-Charkhi prison. After Karmal came into power, family members including Taraki's widow were released.
On 2 January 1980 edition of the Kabul New Times (the day of the PDPA's 15th anniversary), the education minister Anahita Ratebzad called Taraki "the martyred son of the country", and denounced Hafizullah Amin as "this savage despot, beastly, lunatic, and recognised spy of the imperialism of America"