Mohammed Zahir Shah
Died: July 20, 2007 (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Best Known as: former King of Afghanistan
Former king of Afghanistan, who earned the title “father of the nation” in Afghanistan’s current constitution. Educated in France, Zahir was exposed to the democratic system and Western culture. During his 40-year reign he introduced a constitutional monarchy and advocated greater political tolerance. His changes included new rights for women in voting, education, and the workforce. In Afghanistan’s traditional Islamic society his changes were not liked by everyone, but his reign was characterized by a long period of peace, which the nation did not often experience. His reign ended in 1973 when he was overthrown by his cousin, Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan. He returned to Afghanistan in 2002, but was chronically ill, and had to leave the country often to seek medical care.
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