Habibullāh Kalakāni

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Habibullah Kalakani
حبیب‌الله کلکانی
List of monarchs of Afghanistan
Habibullah Kalakani.jpg
King of Afghanistan
Reign17 January 1929 – 16 October 1929
Coronation17 January 1929
PredecessorInayatullah Khan
SuccessorMohammed Nadir Shah
Born19 January 1891
Kalakan, Kabul Province
Died1 November 1929(1929-11-01) (aged 38)
Kabul, Kabul Province
Full name
Habibullah Kalakani
Part of a series on the
History of Afghanistan
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King Habibullah Kalakani (Dari: حبیب‌الله کلکانی‎), (19 January 1891 – 1 November 1929), was King of Afghanistan from January to October 1929 after deposing Amanullah Khan[1] He was executed nine months later by Nadir Khan.[2][3] Khalilullah Khalili, a Kohistani poet laureate, depicts King Habibullah Kalakani as a robber of homes, a "and robber of govermental imports and exports."[2] Kalakani was nicknamed Bacha-e Saqaw (literally son of the water carrier) and bandit king.[4]

Early years[edit]

Amir Habibullah Kalakani was born in 1891 in the village of Kalakan, north of Kabul. An ethnic Tajik, his father was called Aminullah who delivered water to people's homes.

During his adolescence, Kalakani ventured out of his village and traveled to the city of Kabul. In the south, he met an old Sufi who told the young Habibullah that he would become king one day. Later, he returned to Kabul and joined King Amanullah Khan's army.


While the Afghan National Army was engulfed in battle with Pashtun outlaw tribes in Laghman and Nangarhar in the east of the country, Kalakani his friends began to attack the unprotected Kabul from the north in 1928. The revolt caught steam and the country was thrown into a civil war. Wild tribesmen from Waziristan had the southern areas of Kabul surrounded, and Kalakāni's forces were moving into the heart of Kabul from the north.

In the middle of the night, on 14 January 1929, Amanullah Khan handed over his kingdom to his brother Inayatullah Khan and escaped from Kabul towards Kandahar in the south, fearing people's wrath. Two days later, on 16 January 1929, Kalakani wrote a letter to King Inayatullah Khan to either surrender or prepare to fight. Inayatullah Khan responded by explaining that he never wished to become king, and agreed to abdicate.


Habibullah Kalakani during 1929
The national flag under Kalakani's brief rule


After nine months in power, Nadir Shah's troops surrounded Kabul and took over. Kalakani and his brother and aides were shot by a firing squad on November 1, 1929.[5]

His remains were laid below a hilltop mausoleum at an undisclosed location for 87 years, until a campaign in 2016 by some Tajiks and scholars who wanted him to be reburied in a better place.[6] This caused days of political and slight sectarian tensions in Kabul - Persians and religious scholars, who consider Kalakani to have been a devout Muslim, wanted him to be buried at the Shahrara hill and asked President Ashraf Ghani to plan a state burial. Opponents to Kalakani, mostly Pashtuns and secularists, were against this plan, including vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum who claimed that he could not be buried at a hilltop important to Uzbek heritage.[7] He was eventually buried at the hill on September 2, with four injuries and one death in clashes between his supporters and pro-Dostum soldiers.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Habibullah Kalakani". Afghanistan Online. Retrieved 3 September 2006.
  2. ^ a b Adamec, Ludwig W. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan. Scarecrow Press. p. 183. ISBN 0-8108-7957-3. Retrieved 2012-08-28.
  3. ^ Dupree, Louis: "Afghanistan", page 459. Princeton University Press, 1973
  4. ^ https://www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-dispute-legacy-bandit-king-kalakani-ethnic-divide/27934257.html
  5. ^ http://www.executedtoday.com/2016/11/01/1929-habibullah-kalakani-tajik-bandit-king/
  6. ^ Constable, Pamela; Salahuddin, Sayed (20 August 2016). "The Fight Over a Shrine for a Tyrannical Afghan King". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/09/kabul-burial-Persian-king-kalakani-stirs-tension-160902060337424.html
  8. ^ http://www.dawatmedia.com/bandit-king-kalakani-associates-reburied-in-kabul/

External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Inayatullah Khan
King of Afghanistan
17 January 1929 – 16 October 1929
Succeeded by
Mohammed Nadir Shah