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People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan

The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was a popular party that in 1978 overthrew the regime of Mohammad Daoud, King Zahir Shah's cousin.

The PDPA took power in a revolution that was supported by an enormous majority of the population. Accoring to the New York Times, "nearly every Afghan interviewed said [they were] delighted with the coup." The reform program of the party comprised

In the words of Australian journalist John Pilger,
Under tribalism and feudalism, life expectancy was thirty-five and almost one in three children died in infancy. Ninety per cent of the population was illiterate. The new government introduced free medical care in the poorest areas. Peonage was abolished; a mass literacy campaign was begun. For women, the gains were unheard of; by the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up 40 per cent of Afghanistan's doctors, 70 per cent of its teachers and 30 per cent of its civil servants.

The demise of the PDPA began with the rise of the mujaheddin terrorists, who were trained Pakistan camps supported by the US and Britain. Between 1982 and 1992, the number of people recruited by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to join the Afghan jihad topped 100,000. The training of the future Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives was mostly done in a Virginia CIA camp, under the so-called "Operation Cyclone".

The last president of the PDPA was Mohammad Najibullah, who was murdered by the Taliban when this group took power in 1996.

See also: Democratic Republic of Afghanistan