The Afghan tribal revolts of 1944–1946 or the Khost disturbances were a series of tribal revolts in the Kingdom of Afghanistan by Zadran, Mangal, and Safi tribesmen which lasted from 1944 to 1946. The causes laid, among other factors, in the worsening conditions of farmers. Conflict began in April 1944, when government forces were ambushed by a tribal leader named Mazrak, who led the Zadran tribe in revolt. The Zadran uprising was followed by additional uprisings by the Mangal and Safi. The Afghan government extensively deployed its air force against the rebels, using aircraft to drop leaflets, gun down tribesmen and drop incendiary bombs. In late 1944, the conflict spilled over into the British Raj, though the rebels were ultimately forced back into Afghanistan due to British aerial bombardment. Mazrak surrendered in late 1946.
The causes of the revolts laid in the worsening conditions of farmers. Farmers and landlords were required to forfeit one-third of their harvest to the government, a practice referred to as sekoti. They would then have to transport the harvests to government warehouses in Bar Kunar (Asmar) and Kuz Kanar (Khewa) districts. At the time, this could only be achieved with animal-powered transport. It was very commonplace for officials to delay acceptance of the deposit and question the quality of their produce. In order to be relieved from dues, farmers and landlords would often have to pay bribes.
According to British records, the Safi uprising was caused by the Afghan government's attempts to institute conscription among the Safi, trading monopolies granted to Afghan merchant companies, and government surveillance. However, Whit Mason attributes the Safi uprising to "extremely brutal taxation, oppression and poverty".
Operations in the Southern Province against Mazrak
The operations which would be officially dubbed the Operations in the Southern Province against Mazrak began in April 1944. There are multiple accounts as to how this conflict began. According to British records, it began shortly after the Afghan government moved troops into the southern province to reassert their authority in the area, which by then was a safe haven for smugglers. En route, the government force was attacked by a Zadian tribal leader named Mazrak. According to a later Pakistani inquiry, the conflict began after the Afghan government raided Mazrak's summer homes at the Taragharai hills and his winter home at Almara, since Mazrak was suspected of housing Amanullah loyalist elemnts. In either case, after his ambush, Mazrak was forced to retreat into the hills following a counterattack by the Afghan government on 22 April 1944. For the following 3 months, Mazrak would carry out small raids from his new headquarters in Surkot. On 25 April, the Afghan government dispatched 6 Hawker Hind aircraft to Gardez to deal with the uprising, which returned on 21 June. During that operation, the Hind aircraft were focused on dropping leaflets and incendiary bombs. No large explosives were dropped, but there were several instances of hostile tribesmen being gunned down by the aircraft. 2-3 villages were said to have been destroyed by incendiary bombs during this time. On request of the Afghan government, the British Raj took precautions to prevent Waziri tribesmen from aiding Mazrak.
During the period of 1 August to 31 October 1944, no major aerial operations against Mazrak were undertaken, other than reconnaissance flights. Around this time, Mazrak was subject to heavy bombardment in British territory, where he was sheltered by local tribesmen, after which he retreated back to Afghan territory. During his brief stay in the British Raj, Mazrak was joined by Sultan Ahmed, a rebel chieftain from Balochistan. They were later joined by another rebel leader nicknamed Pak.
In November 1944, the appearance of a mysterious Malang who posed as the brother of Amanullah temporarily helped boost Mazrak's fortunes, but lack of money with which to bribe the tribes caused the failure of the movement, and Malang had disappeared into obscurity by March 1945. By this time, the situation of the Afghan government was the most critical since the Ghilzai rebellion of 1938 - their aerial capacity was limited by a shortage in bombs, their resources were stretched between the southern and eastern provinces, and the general population was discontented by high prices and a shortage of commodities. Further aerial operations against Mazrak, which included reconnaissance and bombing runs, took place in the Kunar valley from 24 June to 31 October 1945. Sultan Ahmad surrendered in November that same year, and was returned to Balochistan in custody. Despite Ahmad's surrender, Mazrak continued to fight. Ultimately, after 2 and a half years of resistance, Mazrak and his brother Sher Muhd Khan surrendered to the Afghan government in late 1946.
The Safi rose up in either 1944 or 1945 (see Duration), when they ambushed and captured government troops intended to gather conscripts. On 24 June 1945, 4 aircraft were dispatched to Jalalabad to deal with the Safi. Bombs and incendiaries caused extensive damage to Safi villages. One aircraft with 3 bombs, 1 vickers machine gun and 1 Lewis gun was lost during operations against the Safis. Among the villages bombed was the village of Pacheyano Banda as well as Tanar. In one of the bombardments of the latter village, 11 members of a family were killed and the rest of the family members were unable to bury the dead in the village graveyard due to the threat of further bombardment. Instead they buried the dead in front of the family home, where they remained as of 2011. During this rebellion, it was rumoured among the Safi that the government intended to ship women off to Kabul to become prostitutes. Among the more enthusiastic rebel fighters were younger men with more to gain and less to lose from fighting the government. The Safi elected a monarch of their own, named Shahswar, as well as a Prime Minister (Salemai) and a Minister of Defence (Amanul Mulk).
At one point in the rebellion, Safi rebels looted the government treasury in Chagha Serai. Starting in late August 1945, 1,500-2,000 Safi rebels besieged a 400-men strong government garrison at Kunar Khas. This siege lasted 14 days, with the Safi being unable to capture Kunar Khas due to the Afghan air force supplying the settlement with food and ammunition. Had the Safi been able to capture Kunar Khas, that may have resulted in the collapse of government control in the eastern province. By the end of October, most of the Safis, except for a few die-hards had come to terms with the Afghan government. This peace agreement included among other things the abandonment or postponement of Safi conscription. Aerial operations against the Safis in the Kunar valley ended in early November. The last of the Safi were finally defeated in either 1945 or 1946 (see Duration) by Afghan forces led by future president of Afghanistan Mohammed Daoud Khan. Among the Safi rebels arrested for the revolt was Persian poet Khalilullah Khalili. Following this defeat, the Kunar valley was ethnically cleansed of Safi Pashtuns. Other Safis were exiled to Herat, Kabul or to Sholgara District. The events of this uprising are known as the Year of the Safi (Safi kal).
The Safi uprising has received very little attention from scholars and researchers. Among the few texts that do discuss the revolt, there is disagreement about when it started and ended. The following table summarizes different information provided by various texts.
|Start date||End date||Work||Author(s)||Ref|
|1944||1945||Rebuilding Afghanistan's National Army |
(Journal of the US Army War College)
|1944||1946||Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires: A New History of the Borderland||David Isby|||
|1945||1945||Conflict in Afghanistan: A Historical Encyclopedia|| |||
|1945||1946||Islam and Politics in Afghanistan||Asta Olesen|||
|1945||1946||Wanat : Combat Action In Afghanistan, 2008||Combat Studies Institute|||
|1945||6 months after start||The Rule of Law in Afghanistan: Missing in Inaction||Whit Mason|||
|1946||1946||Revolutions & Rebellions in Afghanistan||Unknown|||
|?||Between February and May 1946||British Documents on Foreign Affairs: |
Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print:
Afghanistan, Persia, Turkey and Iraq, 1952
|Paul Preston |
Aerial reconnaissance operations
An incomplete list of aerial reconnaissance operations of note is listed below.
|Start Date||End Date||Duration (in days)||Destination||Aircraft involved||Notes||Ref|
|1944-07-02||1944-07-02||0.083 (2 hours)||Khost||3|||
|1944-07-17||1944-07-17||0.083 (2 hours)||Khost||9|||
|1945-10-13||1945-10-15||3||Matun||3||2 aircraft returned on 14 October, the last returned on 15 October.|||
It was rumoured that on one occasion, Afghan aircraft accidentally fired on government troops or allied tribal levies, causing 40 casualties. There were also a few minor accidents at the Jalalabad airfield, but the aircraft did not incur serious damage. Two aerial officers, Muhd Anwar Khan (pilot) and Abdul Vaqil Khan (observer) were killed in the operations, while another aerial officer, a pilot, fell into the hands of the rebels in the Mazar or Pech Daras, where he was knifed in the back and had his throat cut, but survived after local villagers found him laying unconscious near his aircraft and tended to his wounds.
- Edwards, David B. (2 April 2002). Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad. University of California Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-520-22861-0.
- Clements, Frank; Adamec, Ludwig W. (2003). Conflict in Afghanistan: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-85109-402-8.
- Hill, George (15 November 2013). "Chapter 3, the trip (Bibliography near end of the book)". Proceed to Peshawar: The Story of a U.S. Navy Intelligence Mission on the Afghan Border, 1943. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781612513287.
Engert letter to State Department, 15 July 1944, says that the rebel leader Abdurrahman, known as "Pak," was next in importance to the faqir of Ipi.
- Yapp, Malcolm (2001). British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the foreign office confidential print. From 1946 through 1950. Near and Middle-East 1947. Afghanistan, Persia and Turkey, january 1947-december 1947. University Publications of America. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-55655-765-1.
- Lancaster, Alexander (15 November 1945). "AFGHAN AIR FORCE - HALF YEARLY REPORT". India Office. p. 5. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- Jones, Seth; Muñoz, Arturo (2010). "Afghanistan's Local War" (PDF). rand.org. National Defense Research Institute. p. 41, 42.
- Yapp, Malcolm (2001). British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the foreign office confidential print. From 1946 through 1950. Near and Middle-East 1947. Afghanistan, Persia and Turkey, january 1947-december 1947. University Publications of America. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-55655-765-1.
- The Assassination of Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan: Report of the Commission of Enquiry. Manager of Publications. 1952. p. 11.
- Mason, Whit (14 April 2011). The Rule of Law in Afghanistan: Missing in Inaction. Cambridge University Press. pp. 85, 86. ISBN 978-1-139-49552-3.
- "Report on Afghan Air Force for the May/July quarter, 1944". Retrieved 30 September 2019 – via Qatar Digital Library.
- Giustozzi, Antonio (2008). "AFGHANISTAN: TRANSITION WITHOUT END" (PDF). p. 13.
- Khan, Sarfraz; Ul Amin, Noor (Winter 2014). "THE CONTRIBUTION OF INDIAN MUSLIMS IN DEVELOPING PRINT MEDIA AND SPREADING ENLIGHTENMENT IN AFGHANISTAN(1870-1930)" (PDF). Central Asia Journal. p. 130.
- Muḥammad, Fayz̤; McChesney, R. D. (1999). Kabul under siege: Fayz Muhammad's account of the 1929 Uprising. Markus Wiener Publishers. ISBN 9781558761544.
- Olesen, Asta (1995). Islam and Politics in Afghanistan. Psychology Press. pp. 196, 198. ISBN 978-0-7007-0299-2.
- "QUARTERLY REPORT ON THE AFGHAN AIR FORCE FOR THE PERIOD 1st FEBRUARY, 1944 TO 30th APRIL, 1944". British Legation, Kabul. 10 May 1944.
- "REPORT FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL 1944 FOR THE DOMINIONS, INDIA, BURMA, AND THE COLONIES AND MANDATED TERRITORIES". Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. 25 May 1944. p. 6. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019.
- Preston, Paul; Partridge, Michael; Yapp, Malcolm (1997). British Documents on Foreign Affairs--reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print: Eastern Affairs, January 1944-June 1944. University Publications of America. p. 141. ISBN 9781556556715. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
- Lancaster, Alexander (15 August 1944). "Quarterly Report of the Afghan Air Force for the period 1st May to 31st July 1944". British Legation, Kabul.
- Lancaster, Alexander (1944). "Quarterly Report on the Afghan Air Force for the period 1st August to 31st October 1944". India Office. p. 1.
- Preston, Paul; Partridge, Michael; Yapp, Malcolm (1997). British Documents on Foreign Affairs--reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print: Eastern affairs, July 1944-March 1945. University Publications of America. p. 348. ISBN 9781556556715.
- Yapp, Malcolm (2001). British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the foreign office confidential print. From 1946 through 1950. Near and Middle-East 1947. Afghanistan, Persia and Turkey, january 1947-december 1947. University Publications of America. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-55655-765-1.
- Yapp, Malcolm; Preston, Paul; Patridge, Michael; Office, Great Britain Foreign (1999). British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print. From 1946 through 1950. Near and Middle-East. University Publications of America. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-55655-765-1.
- Yapp, Malcolm; Preston, Paul; Patridge, Michael; Office, Great Britain Foreign (1999). British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print. From 1946 through 1950. Near and Middle-East. University Publications of America. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-55655-765-1.
- Lancaster, Alexander (15 November 1945). "AFGHAN AIR FORCE - HALF YEARLY REPORT". India Office. pp. 2, 3, 4, 5. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
- Ahmed, Akbar (27 February 2013). The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam. Brookings Institution Press. p. 201. ISBN 978-0-8157-2379-0.
- Edwards, David B. (2 April 2002). Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad. University of California Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-520-22861-0.
- Edwards, David B. (2 April 2002). Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad. University of California Press. pp. 163, 164. ISBN 978-0-520-22861-0.
- Edwards, David B. (2 April 2002). Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad. University of California Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-520-22861-0.
- "Half Yearly Report on the Afghan Air Force for the period 1st November 1945 to 30th April 1946". India Office. 11 May 1946. p. 4.
- Reddy, L. R. (2002). Inside Afghanistan: End of the Taliban Era?. APH Publishing. p. 75. ISBN 978-81-7648-319-3.
- Isby, David (15 July 2011). "Chronology". Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires: A New History of the Borderland. Pegasus Books. ISBN 978-1-68177-007-9.
- Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College. U.S. Army War College. 2002. p. 86.
- Institute, Combat Studies (15 August 2014). "Chapter 1 - Historic and Campaign Background of the Waygal Valley". Wanat : Combat Action In Afghanistan, 2008 [Illustrated Edition]. Pickle Partners Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78289-494-0.
- Revolutions & Rebellions in Afghanistan. Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley. 1984. ISBN 978-0-87725-157-6.
- Preston, Paul; Partridge, Michael (2006). British Documents on Foreign Affairs--reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print: Afghanistan, Persia, Turkey and Iraq, 1952. LexisNexis. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-88692-720-2.
- Давыдов, Александр Давыдович (1967). Аграрный строй Афганистана: основные этапы развития (in Russian). Наука; Глав. ред. восточной лит-ры. p. 159. Archived from the original on 14 August 2019. Retrieved 31 July 2019.