Babrak Karmal

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Babrak Karmal (1929 - 1996)

Afghanistan politician.

Karmal became involved in Marxist political activities while a student at Kabul University, where he gained a law degree.

Karmal was a founding member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and served in the National Assembly 1965-1973. When the party split (1967) into the Khalq and the Parchamfactions, he became leader of the more moderate Parcham faction. The factions reunited in 1977, and in 1978 seized control of Afghanistan. Karmal was initially deputy prime minister but was soon sent as ambassador to Prague.

The PDPA was attempting to modernize the country in line with Marxist ideas, but there was major unrest. In December 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and called Karmal back to be president.

Following the fighting with the mujahedin in the 1980s Moscow came to regard Karmal as a failure and blamed him for the problems. In November 1986 he resigned from office and was replaced by Mohammad Najibullah. Karmal moved to Moscow, where he remained until his death.