Mohammad Zahir Shah and Mohammed Daoud Khan
The Fathers of Modern Afghanistan

Mohammed Zahir Shah

Early Photo of Of Mohammad Zahir Shaw,in 1963, in full dress
uniform. Shaw reigned from 1933 till 1973. He died in 2007.

Mohammad Daoud Khan
Mohammad Daoud Khan

Photo of Mohammad Daoud Khan from the late 1950s to early 1960s. Daoud
Khan ruled Afghanistan from 1973 until 1978, after a bloodless coup in which he
seized power from his cousin Mohammad Zahir Shah. Khan was assassinated
in 1978 by the communists.

For more information on Mohammad Zahir Shah go to:Zahir Shah
For further information on Mohammad Daoud Khan go to:Daoud Khan

Mohammad Zahir Shah was a king of Afghanistan for over forty years. He began his rule in 1933. He introduced several reforms, such as building the first modern university, but most efforts at modernization were defeated by infighting and a desire to not lose too much power. This continued until the 1960s when he introduced a parliament and increased womens rights. He was also hamstrung by the fact that his uncles ran most of the government. In 1973, he was in Italy for surgery and therapy. During this time, his cousin Mohammad Daoud Khan led a bloodless coup d'etat and took control as president. Zahir Shah decided to stay in exile to keep all out civil war from breaking out. Daoud Shah turned out to be a very progressive leader and took great efforts to increase the rights of women in Afghanistan. Like Stalin, Daoud also put in five year modernization plans, but they failed to t​ruly modernize the country. He at first worked with the Soviets to get the weapons and materials that Afghanistan needed to be able to defend itself. When he started talking to the western nations, he was assassinated in 1978 by a communist faction in Afghanistan. Russia invaded soon after. Zahir Shah came back to Afghanistan in 2002 to help start up the new government, but rufused to be king. He did this because NATO supported someone else, so he again gave up power to avoid civil war. He died of cancer in 2007.

In the beginning of the book, The Kite Runner, Amir talks about how his father's favorite picture is the one of Baba and Zahir Shah's father, Nadir Shah. When the book begins it is 1975, so Mohammad Daoud Khan is the leader. On page 93, Amir talks about how the summer of 1976 was the second to last before Afghanistan was torn apart by war. The conflict he is referring to is the infighting between Daoud's supporters and the communist factions that assassinated him. When Amir and Baba flee the country in 1981, it is a result of the Russian Invasion that occured because the communist factions that assassinated Daoud Khan were not carrying out the Soviet