The shadowy central committee which assumed power after deposing King Zahir Shah remains as shadowy as ever, while Mohammad Daud, President and Prime Minister, runs the country in much the same authoritarian style as when he was the King's Prime Minister between 1953 and 1963.
It seems that these officers asked Daud
quite late in the day to accept their political leadership in the event of a successful coup.
This may explain the blandness of his
first statement after the event.
Apart from declaring that the republic he
was proclaiming conformed "to the true spirit of Islam," and that he
had always been "in search of ways" to give all the people of Afghanistan a real share in the country's progress "without privilege or discrimination," he
said nothing to define the goals of the new regime.
put it, "the new order has with it basic reforms, the details of which are not possible in this short time.
promised friendship with all, except to add the caveat that Pakistan is "the only nation with which we have a political difference over the Pashtunistan issue.
This was a reference to the demand that Kabul has been making off and on since 1947 that tribal regions in Pakistan should have the right of self-determination. 
The rise of Daud
to power was galling to other would-be successors, such as Sardar Abdul Wali who was quickly put behind bars.
But Daud evidently feels that further work should be deferred until he is in a better position to cope with controversies that a constitutional debate may start.
may be waiting for a time when he
can show that his
regime has brought material benefits to the people.
says, it will take another 18 months to two years "to reap the fruit" from the programs for "all-around social progress" on which his
regime has embarked.
The changes he
has made in his
cabinet since mid-1974 appear to be motivated by the same concern for side-stepping controversies.
It appeared just once in public when Daud
was leaving for Moscow in June 1974 on his
only visit abroad so far, but they were grouped so far away at the farewell ceremonies that diplomats present on the occasion had no chance to identify the individuals.
It is believed that the members do not meet as a committee but tender advice individually to Daud
If this is indeed the case, the reason may be that he
does not want it to exercise its collective authority.
This situation also helps the cabinet, handpicked by Daud
, to emerge as the focus of power.
There is no question of Daud
being merely the first among equals; he
is the charismatic father figure whose personal acceptability to the Afghan people gives the regime its sanction.
not prohibited the use of feudal titles, he
should have been addressed as "Sardar" or Prince.
is a cousin of the deposed King Zahir Shah whose sister is his
When Hashim Khan relinquished the job in 1946, another uncle, Shah Mohammad, took over the office, leaving it in 1953 to make way for Daud
The earlier misgivings about the regime's relationship with Moscow arose from a number of incidental circumstances, such as the fact that the Soviet Union was the first (and India the second) country to affirm its recognition of Daud
as head of state.
But this may have been because other nations-taking their cue from the U.S.-preferred to wait and see whether Daud
would last or give way like Neguib to an Afghan Nasser.
It took western observers in Kabul some six months to recognize that he
was there to stay.
Daud's mention of the Pashtunistan dispute with Pakistan in his
broadcast proclaiming the republic also contributed to misgivings, the suspicion being that he
had done so to win favor with Moscow and New Delhi.
But anyone familiar with his
record as Prime Minister should have known that he
has very strong feelings on this issue.
Western dignitaries who have talked to Daud
return to power have come away convinced that he
has a deep emotional commitment to the cause of Pashtunistan.
These were revived only in May 1963 when an accord was reached through the Shah of Iran's good offices, three months after Daud
laid down office as Prime Minister.
Even if Daud
had not taken over, there would still have been the same angry exchanges that have been going on in the past months.
These points were firmly made by the Indian
foreign minister during his
visit to Kabul in October 1973; the first such visit after the take over by Daud
It was not touched upon, for instance, in the speeches made by Podgorny during his
visit to Kabul two months before the 1973 coup d'etat, or more recently in welcoming Daud
to Moscow in June 1974.
Economics apart, Daud
needs a close and cooperative relationship with its Islamic neighbors for two reasons.
First, Arab impatience with the Pashtunistan dispute, as evident at the Islamic summit in Lahore in February 1974, is a plus factor for Bhutto.
Kabul is, therefore, anxious to neutralize, if not win over, these countries.
needs to show his
people at home that he
is on excellent terms with the Islamic world to refute Pakistan's propaganda that his
regime is anti-Islamic because of its connections with the Soviet Union.
Great importance is attached, therefore, to the ties developing with Saudi Arabia because of King Faisal's special position in the Islamic world as the custodian of Mecca Sharif
is diversifying Afghanistan's international ties in other directions as well.
brother Nairn as a special envoy to Peking in December 1974 where he
met Chou En-lai in the hospital, and heard the vice-premier, Li Hsien-nien, praise Kabul for consistently pursuing the policy of peace, neutrality and non-alignment.
The same banquet speech called upon South Asian countries to sharpen their vigilance against the wild ambitions of the super powers, and advised them to seek "a peaceful and negotiated settlement of existing issues between their countries.
Meanwhile, Chinese aid commitments are being honored and may be expanded.
The dialogue in Peking shows that the wheel has now turned full circle.
is in full control, and he
is going to exercise his
authority to advance Afghan national interests as he
needs friends, the more the better, but is not willing to kowtow to any of them.
was asked in the summer of 1974 by an Indian journalist to define Pashtunistan's territorial extent, his
terse reply was: "this is well known."
Nothing has been said in public since, but it appears that Daud
is waiting for a suitable opportunity to announce that he
has ratified the treaty.