Afghanistan's last monarchy was overthrown in 1973. King Zahir Shah, who had ruled Afghanistan for 40 years, was overthrown by forces led by his cousin and former prime minister Gen. Mohammed Daoud Khan. Daoud Khan, the leader of the pro-Soviet People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, was in turn overthrown and killed by the rival Communist Party of Afghanistan's forces in 1978.
Zahir Shah was 19 years old when he succeeded to the throne in Afghanistan following his father's assassination. The king attempted to introduce liberal reforms. When he declared a constitutional monarchy and established legislative bodies in 1964, the country quickly polarized.
King Zahir had named his cousin Daoud Khan prime minister in 1953. Daoud Khan sought economic and military aid from both the Soviet Union and the United States, eventually developing closer ties to the USSR. Daoud Khan continued to serve as prime minister until 1963 when his support of controversial reforms such as the establishment of a new Pashtun state on the Pakistani border led to his forced resignation. Ten years later, as head of the People's Democratic Party, he overthrew Zahir, declaring Afghanistan a republic and naming himself the first president and prime minister. King Zahir Shah fled the country, eventually finding asylum in Italy.
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