By: Shukria Kohistani
Starting in 1919, Amani era has been one of the golden periods in the history of contemporary Afghanistan as immediately in the wake of gaining independence, King Amanullah Khan carried out remarkable economic activities.
In an exclusive interview with The Kabul Times reporter, talking on the importance of economic steps in Amani era, university lecturer, economist Saifudin Saihoon said, after gaining of Afghanistan political independence, King Amanullah Khan concentrated his attention on economic and education sectors including establishment of a radio station, local telephone networks, constructions of railway, main roads, streets, highways, hydropower plants, construction of military factory, collection of balanced taxes, exports of dried and fresh fruits, carpets, rugs, wood, Qarakul skin as well as protection of public properties.
He added, first and the second constitutionalists had believed that after salvation from the yoke of colonialism, they would quickly have access to socio-economic progress.
Amani era had also rapidly led Afghanistan towards modernization and the King managed to establish beneficial economic projects. Amanullah Khan was part of progressive circles that were formed simultaneous with implementation of reforms in Iran, Turkey and India. Amanullah Khan was fond of these progressive reforms and wanted to take positive role in Afghanistan socio-economic progress and modernize Afghanistan. Tendency to socio-economic development was at the top of the King priorities and therefore, Amanullah Khan has been recognized as an innovative, modernist leader and founder of new modernization in Afghanistan.
This expert believes that Amanullah Khan intended to rescue Afghanistan from middle ages backwardness but essential infrastructure was not available to achieve this goal. Despite of this, the young and progressive King started his efforts. After his visit of Europe, Amanullah Khan was strongly affected with modernization and therefore decided to quickly modernize his beloved homeland and undertook a series of reforms in different fields.
“If in that time an awakened and knowledgeable force had existed, Amanullah Khan reforms would have produced positive results. The King wished to establish a Bank, he setup a company to collect taxes, he established central taxes collection body and changed taxes collection mechanism from kind to cash. Due to lack of money commodity was exchanged to commodity but he promoted cash system. He constructed several schools but lacked sufficient teachers.”
King Amanullah Khan established press and said that was don’t need sword but we need pen. He decreased military budget and increased it to publications. He wanted to change Afghanistan to a progressive and modern country in a short time. He planned to make Afghanistan as a connection bridge in the region, Amanullah Khan reforms enjoyed very high importance, Saihoon added.
Talking on Afghanistan trade-economic relations with regional countries, he said, in that time Afghanistan trade relations had took place from two sources, one the British India and the second Russia on the north and Iran on the west plus Germany. “If he had not collapsed, Afghanistan would have been absolutely led to path of prosperity. In 1920 the king purchased three small steam locomotives from Germany and utilized them between Kabul-Darulaman. These locomotives are still kept in Kabul museum.”
Over one hundred and fifty years ago, a proposal was given on construction of a railway in Afghanistan through Russia Trans Caspian to British India via Herat and Kandahar that enable British office to travel to India by rail in 11-12 days. In 1928 another proposal was given on connection of Kabul-Jalalabad and ultimately to Peshawar but due to political changes in 1978 all these plans failed.