Glossary of Names and Terms
mentioned in the Historical Overview

[AGSA] [Ahmad, Dr Faiz] [Amin, Hafizullah] [Bala Hissar] [Bala Hissar insurrection]
[Bhutto, Zulfiqar Ali] [Daoud, Prince] [Forward Policy] [Fundamentalist] [Hekmatyar, Gulbuddin] [Hizb-i-Islami] [Ikhwani] [Islamist] [Jamaat-i Islami Pakistan] [Jihad] [Karmal, Babrak] [Khad] [Khalq] [Khalqi] [Khyber, Mir Akbar] [Mujahedin] [Najibullah] [Parcham] [Parchami] [Pashtunistan] [PDPA] [Polygon] [Puzanov, Alexandre] [PYO] [Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan] [SAMA] [Saur] [Sazman-i Rihayi Afghanistan] [Sholai Jawaid] [Sholayi] [Social-imperialism] [Sokhandan, Saydal] [Taraki, Noor Mohammad] [Taroon, Daoud] [Zahir Shah, King] [Zia-ul-Haq]

AGSA: Acronym for Afghanistan Gattho Satoonkai Aidara [Afghanistan Interests Safeguarding Administration] the dreaded secret police of the Tarkai-Amin regime.

Ahmad, Dr Faiz: Founder and leader of the Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan which in 1981 was reorganised and renamed Afghanistan Liberation Organisation. A veteran of the Sholai Jawaid political current, he was betrayed on November 12, 1986 into the hands of the Hizb-i-Islami by a traitor and immediately butchered to death.

Amin, Hafizullah: Taraki's sycophant and megalomaniacal lieutenant. Amin had a key role in assuring the success of the April 1978 coup d'état and dubbed himself the Brave Commander of the Saur Revolution. He was the key policy maker of the Khalq faction of the PDPA and murderer of Taraki when they fell foul of each other.

Bala Hissar: [The High Fortress] A military citadel rich in history located inside Kabul city. It was the seat of Afghan rulers throughout the 19th century and was in continuous use as a military garrison during most of the 20th century.

Bala Hissar insurrection: A military uprising in the Bala Hissar on August 5, 1979 which was brutally crushed by the Taraki regime. The uprising was engineered by the Jabhai Mobarezien-i Mujaheed-i Afghanistan [The Afghan Mujahdin Freedom-fighters' Front (AMFF)] a united front of four struggling politico-military organisations including the Marxist ALO. The uprising was meant to be one in a string of simultaneous insurrections in key garrisons in the capital and major military bases in the provinces. The objective of the uprisings was to deal a crippling military and political blow to the PDPA regime and to pave the way for its military overthrow. The plan for the general uprising had been worked out in detail by a committee of military experts from participating parties but was found out by AGSA agents only 24 hours before the plan was due to go into action. The de-activation alert was flashed to all concerned military bases but failed to reach the Bala Hissar garrison which, true to its commitment, went into action at the appointed hour. The uprising was put down after many hours of fierce fighting in which a large number of ALO cadres and activists including some members of its central leadership were killed. The legitimacy of the ALO's participation in such a putschist venture and its partnership with reactionary parties in such a united front has been hotly criticised and debated within the Afghan Marxist movement and within the ALO itself. The ALO's consensual appraisal of the Bala Hissar insurrection is that it was a mistake inevitable under the then circumstances.

Bhutto, Zulfiqar Ali: President of Pakistan. He gave refuge and support to Ikhwani dissidents, particularly after the quashing of their anti-Daoud insurrections in 1975, but toned down his support after Daoud began making reconciliatory overtures to Pakistan at the end of his rule.

Daoud, Prince: Cousin of King Zahir Shah and prime minister of Afghanistan (1953-1963). In 1973 he staged a bloodless coup d'état and deposing his cousin proclaimed Afghanistan a republic with himself as president. He was killed in the bloody April 1978 coup which brought the PDPA to power.

Forward Policy: A policy formulated by the government of British India in the 19th century advocating direct intervention in Afghanistan against the interests of Tsarist Russia.

Fundamentalist: rabid Islamist

Hekmatyar, Gulbuddin: An engineering college dropout with a brief Parchami background who first gained notoriety in Kabul for savage acid sprayings onto the faces of young girls going about unveiled. In 1972 he murdered Saydal Sokhandan for which he spent some months in prison but was released when Daoud came to power. He immediately fled to Pakistan where he developed strong links with the Pakistani intelligence establishment. Known for his astute Machiavellian machinations in his lustful pursuit of power, he founded the Hizb-i-Islami in Pakistan and was the spoilt child of the CIA and the Pakistani ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] during the years of the War of Resistance.

Hizb-i-Islami: [Islamic Party] The most dreaded of fundamentalist parties, responsible for thousands of murders of intellectuals and personalities opposed to its policies or standing in the way of its craving for power. Founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Hizb-i-Islami continuously received more than half of all cash and arms assistance pouring in mainly from the West, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and China. This was due to the Hizb's ruthlessness and its unquestioning loyalty to the dictates of the Pakistani military intelligence agency vested with the mandate to organise and direct the anti-Soviet war effort on behalf of western imperialism and regional reaction.

Ikhwani: name given to Islamist activists in Afghanistan. The name has been taken from what the first Islamist group in Kabul University circles called itself in the 1960s, in imitation of the prototype Egyptian Ikhwan al-Muslimeen [Muslim Brotherhood] founded by Hassan al-Bana in the 1920s and reflective of the fact that nearly all the ideologues and linchpins of the group had been educated in Egypt's al-Azhar University, a breeding ground for Islamism and reaction. The group later renamed itself Jawanan-i Mussulman [Muslim Youth] but the popular designation of "Ikhwani" to denote Islamists and educated religious bigots remained ingrained.

Islamist: advocate of political Islam and a socio-political order based on the Quran.

Jamaat-i Islami Pakistan: [Pakistan Islamic Society] A reactionary fundamentalist party in Pakistan which was Zia-ul-Haq's political constituency during his years of military dictatorship. This party acted as a procurer of Afghan Islamist agents for Zia's military intelligence department and regarded Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as the perfect specimen of an Islamist hero. The Jamaat-i Islami was instrumental in catapulting Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to the fame and position of trust he enjoyed with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, which in turn was conducive to the Hizb-i-Islami's armed might and political influence.

Jihad: [Holy War] Islamic equivalent of the Christian crusade. The national liberation War of Resistance against Soviet social-imperialism in Afghanistan was universally termed Jihad due to the immediate religious appeal of the appellation to the deeply religious Afghan masses, and to underscore the leadership of Islamists who from the very beginning of the national liberation struggle were patronised by the pro-Islamist regime of Zia-ul-Haq acting on behalf of world imperialism and regional reaction.

Babrak Karmal with his Russian Master in KremlinKarmal, Babrak: Ace political agent of Kremlin strategists during the Brezhnev era in Afghanistan. Karmal was a co-founder of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) in 1965 and led the Parcham faction against Noor Mohammad Taraki's rival Khalq faction. Karmal's political career was characterised by his servile loyalty to the Soviet Union's social-imperialist policies and the overriding priority he placed on Soviet interests in Afghanistan. He was Moscow's man when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan in the closing days of 1979. Karmal went to great lengths to embellish the image of his puppet regime but he was much too despised as an arch-traitor and a sold-out fifth-columnist to command much respect. He was demoted in disgrace by his own party in 1985 after winds of change began to blow in the Soviet Union with Gorbachov's glasnost and perstroïka. His name has popularly become synonymous with the highest degree of political infamy.

Khad: Dari (Persian) acronym for State Intelligence Services, the local branch of the KGB and the powerful Afghan secret police and counter-insurgency organisation at the time of the Soviet occupation.

Khalq: [The Masses] Name of the first mouthpiece publication of the PDPA, owned by Noor Mohammad Taraki. The weekly was banned after a few issues but the "people's democratic ideas" set forth in those few issues were propounded by adherent of the PDPA who shortly afterwards split into two rival factions, one led by Noor Mohammad Taraki and the other by Babrak Karmal. Because the newspaper was owned by Taraki, his faction came to be denoted by the name of his newspaper. The name was the emblem of the Taraki-Amin regime after the PDPA seized power in 1978 but was changed after the Russians invaded Afghanistan.

Khalqi: [Populist] A follower of, or pertaining to, the Khalq faction of the PDPA.

Khyber, Mir Akbar: One of the founding fathers of the PDPA and key figure in the Parcham faction. Known as a moderate, he outshone Karmal as an ideologue. His assassination in April 1978 was, like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, the spark that lit the conflagration that has reduced Afghanistan to ashes during the past 19 years. It is widely suspected that the KGB engineered Khyber's assassination to galvanise the newly-reunited PDPA rank-and-file and to bait Daoud into open confrontation with the PDPA, and at the same time to eliminate a powerful rival to Karmal's fanatic pro-Soviet leadership of the Parcham faction.

Mujahedin: [Holy Warriors] Participants in the Jihad.

Najibullah: A leader of the Parcham faction of the PDPA who rose to lead the PDPA after Karmal was disgraced in 1985. Trained as a doctor and known as Dr Najib he was the Parcham faction's prize orator in the pre-reunification PDPA. He was banished as ambassador to Iran by Hafizullah Amin a few months after the PDPA seized power but was brought back together with Karmal by the Soviet army in 1979 and given the top-sensitive and highly powerful post of head of Khad. He used this post to build a strong power base and was directly involved in massacres of civilians and executions of thousands of captured opponents of the regime, and in frequent acts of sabotage both in Peshawar, the logistical and political base of the resistance movement, and elsewhere in Pakistan. He came out as party strongman after Karmal was dismissed in disgrace and, inspired by Gorbachov, set out on a perestroïka of his own. Having seen the writing on the wall he determined to salvage what he could. He therefore announced a national reconciliation policy and purposefully began scraping off the red paint from the image of the PDPA and the regime. His Machiavelism and powerful oratory powers may have carried the day but his past as operator of the regime's infamous torture machine could never be forgotten by the people. From spymaster and hangman he metamorphosed into a statesman and signed up to UN efforts to undo the damage he had been so instrumental in causing. That was never to be and he failed in his last-ditch attempt to flee the country with UN aid immediately before the armed fundamentalist opposition poured into Kabul. He remained holed-up in the deserted UN compound in Kabul for over four years until he was dragged out and butchered in the first victorious act of the ultra-fundamentalist Taliban after they had chased the Rabbani regime out of Kabul in September 1996.

Parcham: [The Banner] Mouthpiece publication of the PDPA after their first weekly paper was banned. Unlike the first newspaper Khalq, Parcham was both owned and edited by PDPA members who followed Babrak Karmal after the party split into two rival factions. For this reason, Babrak Karmal's faction of the PDPA came to be designated by the name of their newspaper.

Parchami: [Bannerist] A follower of, or pertaining to, the Parcham faction of the PDPA.

Pashtunistan: Daoud's dispute with Pakistan and favourite foreign policy issue. Pashtunistan means "land of the Pashtuns"; Pashtuns are a conglomeration of kindred tribes straddling the ill-defined Durand Line border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over half the population of Afghanistan are Pashtuns and the Pashtun elite have been the traditional rulers of Afghanistan since the second half of the 18th century. At one time all Pashtun areas had been under the jurisdiction of kings of Afghanistan but during the 19th century the eastern part of Pashtun territory became annexed with British India (later to become part of Pakistan) while the bigger western portion became part of Afghanistan. The separation has always been resented but over the years a resigned attitude set in as tribes on both side of the border accommodated themselves to the status quo. Daoud picked upon this issue and made it the centrepiece of his foreign policy. His gravitation towards the Soviet Union in the late 1950s was to a large extent conditioned by the Soviets' support for his policy in regard to what he called Pashtunistan. This was an ill-defined and thinly masked policy of irredentism couched in terms of support for the self-determination of Pashtuns and Balouches on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line.

PDPA: The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, founded on January 1st, 1965. The founders all claimed to be Marxist-Leninists and unquestioningly supported the policies and positions of the Soviet Union versus the interests of the people of Afghanistan. The role of Soviet agents in setting up the PDPA has not been established but it is an established fact that the leadership developed close ties with the Soviet embassy in Kabul. Noor Mohammad Taraki and Babrak Karmal were the recognised leaders of the party from its inception, but the personality clash between the two and the divergent social backgrounds of their supporters resulted in a split in the party within a year after its founding. The supporters of Noor Mohammad Taraki, known as Khalqis, were mainly of Pashtun stock and came from rural backgrounds while the supporters of Babrak Karmal, known as Parchamis, were mostly non-Pashtun urban petty-bourgeois. They remained divided in everything but name and loyalty to the Soviet Union for over a decade until reunited on instructions from Moscow shortly before the April 1978 coup d'état that brought them to power. The marriage did not last long; the Khalqis rid themselves of the Parchamis but the Soviets favoured the Parchamis and reinstated them in power after they occupied Afghanistan. Thereafter the Khalqis and Parchamis co-existed cat-and-mouse-like until the final debacle of Soviet social-imperialism and the scandalous end of its lackeys. The present devastation of Afghanistan is the direct result of the PDPA's criminal performance when in power.

Polygon: Execution grounds near the notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul where thousands of patriots were shot and buried (many were buried alive) during the Taraki-Amin reign of terror.

Puzanov, Alexandre: Top KGB expert on Afghanistan and Soviet ambassador to Afghanistan in three successive regimes (Zahir Shah, Daoud, Taraki) throughout the 1970s. Puzanov was a KGB coup d'état expert with field experience in more than one country before being posted to Afghanistan. His last mission in high-level intrigue and manipulation in Afghanistan failed when the plan to assassinate Hafizullah Amin in his presence in the presidential palace in Kabul misfired. He was kicked out by Amin and coldly received back in Moscow.

PYO: Progressive Youth Organisation: A Marxist-Leninist Mao Zedong Thought organisation set up in 1965. The PYO was the guiding force behind the Sholai Jawaid political current in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The PYO leadership were sincere revolutionaries but inexperienced in systematic political struggle and organized wor. Due to its manifold shortcomings, the PYO could not develop its political and organisational capabilities to accommodate the vast numbers of urban intelligentsia attracted to it. It failed to build a strong structured organisational apparatus and to balance overt and covert forms of political struggle. Despite the fact that the PYO never openly divulged its name and existence (PYO adherents were known as Sholayis), all its cadres were brought out into the open in student political debates and street demonstrations; the decimation of Sholayi cadres particularly at the hands of Khalqis and Parchamis is to a great extent in consequence of this mistake. The Sholai Jawaid political current expanded on the surface, but the PYO failed in giving depth to the movement by taking it amongst the masses and breaking its intellectual cocoon. The PYO weakened after heightened criticism of its shortcomings and was dissolved as a political organisation in the early 1970s; its political life, however, was continued by Marxist-Leninist organisations and groupings which carried on the struggle. The ALO is one of the successors of the PYO.

Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan: A group formed by Dr Faiz Ahmad after the PYO failed to respond to criticism of its shortcomings. The group espoused the political doctrines of the PYO and set itself the task of succeeding where the PYO had failed. In contrast to the PYO, the Revolutionary Group was highly structured and better disciplined. In its quest for rectifying the mistakes of the PYO, the Revolutionary Group overemphasised the shifting of cadres to work amongst the peasantry in the rural countryside. The coup d'état of April 1978 drastically changed all political priorities and necessitated a rethinking of positions in the interests of the national liberation struggle. The Revolutionary Group entered into alliance with a number of moderate Islamist organisations in a united front against the Soviet-backed Taraki regime. Its cadres and members actively participated in what became known as the Bala Hissar insurrection. The crushing of the insurrection dealt a painful blow at the Revolutionary Group which lost a number of its key members. With the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Army in 1979, the Revolutionary Group heightened its political and military struggle. In order to reflect the new challenges and new priorities facing a revolutionary Afghan Marxist organisation in conditions of unmasked social-imperialist onslaught, the Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan published a detailed political manifesto Mash'al-i Rihayi [The Beacon of Emancipation] in 1980 and declared itself Sazman-i Rihayi Afghanistan [Afghanistan Liberation Organisation (ALO)].

SAMA: Acronym for Sazman-i Azadibakhsh-i Mardom-i Afghanistan [Afghanistan People's Liberation Organisation]. SAMA was the result of the fusion of a number of patriotic Marxist and leftist groupings and circles in 1979 with the popular and charismatic Majid Kalakani playing a key role in its formation. SAMA succeeding in orchestrating spectacular switch-overs of whole military garrisons in Hussain Kot (north of Kabul) and Paktia province to the side of the resistance which won it widespread popular acclaim. It received a deadly blow when Majid Kalakani was captured by Khad agents in Kabul in March 1980 and was executed shortly afterwards. SAMA guerrilla operations, however, did not cease and they had a heavy presence and broad influence, including liberated areas, in a number of provinces.

Saur: [Taurus = the Bull; April 21-March 20], the second sign of the Zodiac and the second month of the solar calendar officially used in Afghanistan.

Sazman-i Rihayi Afghanistan: [Afghanistan Liberation Organisation (ALO)] The ALO is the upgraded Revolutionary Group of the Peoples of Afghanistan, coming onto the political stage and the national liberation struggle arena in its new identity with the publication of its manifesto Mash'al-i Rihayi in 1980. The ALO took active part in the anti-Soviet national liberation war of resistance but due to the harsh dictates of an uncongenial political atmosphere has seldom been allowed to publicise details of its contribution. As with SAMA and other revolutionary Marxist organisations, the ALO's active and selfless participation in the national liberation struggle earned it the implacable ire of both the now-defunct puppet regime and their Russian masters and of the different fundamentalist groupings fighting in the war of resistance, particularly Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami. This latter fundamentalist party had declared the Sholayis as their "principal enemy", therefore the remarkable performance of the Sholayis in a domain they jealously regarded off limits to any but rabid reactionaries was considered intolerable. Physical annihilation of key activists of the ALO was high on their agenda. A number of ALO members and activists were assassinated in Pakistan as were a large number of ALO members inside Afghanistan. In November 1986 Dr Faiz Ahmad, the founder and leader of the ALO, together with a number of key ALO members were delivered into the hands of Hizb-i-Islami by a traitor who formerly worked with the ALO. The deaths of Dr Faiz Ahmad and his close associates dealt a deadly blow to the ALO but the soundness of the organisational structure, the intrepidity and revolutionary training that Dr Faiz Ahmad and the leadership of the ALO had taken pains to build into their organisation stood the ALO in good stead in its hour of trial. The ALO did not collapse, as had been intended, but rallied to carry on the unfinished work of the fallen comrades. After the coming to power of the fundamentalists, the ALO has the stamina and the organisational infrastructure to carry on the revolutionary struggle in this new phase of our people's travail and agony. Despite its acknowledged shortcomings, constraints and handicaps, the ALO is keeping aloft the banner of Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought in Afghanistan.

Sholai Jawaid: [The Eternal Flame] The mouthpiece publication of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO). The revolutionary political current that was set in motion with the publication of 11 issues of Sholai Jawaid in 1968 (and came to be known after the name of the weekly newspaper) advocated New Democracy (Mao Zedong Thought) and gained immediate and widespread support amongst urban workers and intelligentsia, becoming one of the major political currents of its time. After the dissolution of the PYO, the Sholai Jawaid political entity was carried on by a number of disunited successor revolutionary organisations and groupings.

Sholayi: ["Flame-ist"] A follower of, or pertaining to, the Sholai Jawaid political current. The Sholayis' endorsement of the line of the Communist Party of China in the ideological controversy between the communist parties of the Soviet Union and China earned them the accusation of being supported by China and serving Chinese interests in the same servile way that the PDPA was advocating Russian interests. Opponents believed that the Sholayis maintained links with China and the Chinese embassy in Kabul much on the same lines as the Khalqis and Parchamis maintained liaison with the Soviet Union and with the KGB representative in the Soviet embassy, but during the three decades since, and despite the opening up of secret archival intelligence records in Kabul --and notwithstanding the fact that Khalqis, Parchamis and Ikhwanis have spared no effort in befouling the image of the Sholayis-- there has yet been absolutely no substantiation of the accusation. History is the ultimate arbitrator. The cataclysm of the past two decades in Afghanistan have put the claims, beliefs, assertions and accusations of all political entities through a trial of fire and blood. China was a main arms contributor to the anti-Soviet war effort in Afghanistan, but the Sholayis' challenge to any and all to produce a shred of evidence that a single cent or a single bullet was supplied by the Chinese to a Sholayi grouping before or during the national liberation war of resistance is still open and unmet. Much to the chagrin of Sholayis, many a Sholayi stalwart has been laid low by Chinese-supplied arms in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. The Chinese Communist Party failed miserably in its internationalist duty to succour Afghan revolutionary Marxists in the slightest way during the years of anti-social-imperialist struggle.

Social-imperialism: Socialism in word and imperialism in deed; the essence and policies of the Soviet Union from the mid-1950s onwards.

Sokhandan, Saydal: A science faculty student at Kabul University and prominent Sholayi speaker. His death at the hands of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar himself during a student clash between Sholayis and Ikhwanis on Kabul University campus in June 1972 was the first of thousands committed by Hekmatyar and his Hizb-i-Islami.

Noor M. TarakiTaraki, Noor Mohammad: Founder and leader of the PDPA. An insignificant writer, he headed the Khalq faction of the PDPA and was elected first secretary of the party when the two factions united shortly before the April 1978 coup which brought them to power. Highly susceptible to flattery and sycophancy, he revelled in the bombastic titles of "Great Leader" and "Prodigy of the East" and the signs of adulation Amin (his "loyal pupil" and "devout disciple") heaped upon him after became the first president and prime minister of the "Saur Revolution" regime. Amin very well understood Taraki's weak points and exploited them to gain increasing sway over his "master" and to reduce Taraki to a figurehead. Taraki was awakened to the peril looming over him and with the connivance of the Soviet ambassador hatched a crude conspiracy to get rid of Amin. The conspiracy misfired; Taraki was arrested and smothered to death with a pillow on Amin's orders.

Taroon, Daoud: Aide-de-camp and confident of Hafizullah Amin. He was killed in a presidential palace shout-out in September 1979 while trying to shield the intended victim, Hafizullah Amin, in a conspiracy hatched with the connivance of the Soviet ambassador.

Zahir Shah, King: Last King of Afghanistan [reigned 1933-1973]. He was deposed by his egotistical cousin, Daoud, who had been his prime minister [1953-1963].

Zia-ul-Haq: Military dictator of Pakistan [1977-1988]. He proclaimed martial law in Pakistan after deposing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto whom he hanged on charges of killing a political opponent. Zia had a strong penchant towards Islamists, and being void of any political following made the fundamentalist Jamaat-i Islami Pakistan into his political constituency and power base. He was instrumental in nurturing Afghan fundamentalist parties to the detriment of all other political forces fighting in the national liberation war of resistance against Soviet social-imperialism by giving them the totality of aid flowing in from all over the world for the anti-Soviet war effort. He was killed in a mysterious air crash in 1988.