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Afghanistan October 1978 - April 1980

Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Jamburiat Demokratik

Last modified: 2006-07-01 by ian macdonald
Keywords: afghanistan | wreath | star (yellow) | text: pashto | coat of arms | khalq | da saur enklab 1317 | sawr revolution |
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[Afghanistan 1978-1980] 1:2 image by Mark Sensen

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I believe this may have been the only version of the Afghani national flag which did not feature black in its design until the Taliban's white banner came into use.
Daniel S. Padovano
, 1 November 1997

The writing on the red flag [خلق] is pronounced Khalq meaning Masses. It is an Arabic word incorporated into the Dari and Pashtu languages. Khalq was the party that overthrew the Republic in 1973. Its two party and government leaders were Nur Muhammad Taraki and then Hafizullah Amin. After the Soviets invaded the country in December 1979, the flag changed back to the tricolor pattern.
Mir Hekmatullah Sadat
, 6 May 1999

A horizontal version of this flag is pictured in Smith 1981 with the emblem centered near the top of the flag.
Marcus Wendel
, 6 September 1999

According to Baert 2001, on 17 July 1973 Zahir Shah's cousin, Prince Mohammed Daoud, overthrew the King (...) and the Republic was proclaimed. Daoud was initially supported by Soviet Union, which was the first country to recognize the new Republic. On 27 April 1978, however, a coup overthrew Daoud and Afghanistan became a Marxist-Leninist state. Daoud was killed in his palace during the coup.

The new regime initially used the Republican flag, but without the emblem. New symbols were adopted on 19 October 1978. The national flag, also used as state and war flag, was a 1:2 red flag with a yellow Soviet-like emblem in the canton. Red symbolized the fight against imperialism, feudality and all other kinds of oppression.

The arms included the Pashtu word خلق (Khalq, the People), surrounded with a wreath of wheat spikes. The spikes were linked with a red scroll bearing in gold Da Afghanistan Jamburiat Demokratik (The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan) and Da Saur Enklab 1317 (The Revolution of April 1978). The five-pointed star placed on the top of the emblem symbolized the five nations of the country.

The flag was not welcomed by the Afghans since it did not include the traditional colours of the country. It was abolished on 21 April 1980. On 27 December 1979, the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan. The new leader, Babrak Karmal, promised on January 1980 to re-establish the Islamic green on the national flag.

The image in Baert 2001 is similar to the one above.
Ivan Sache
, 12 April 2002

The April 1978 revolution in which the communists seized power is known in Afghanistan as the Sawr Revolution, because that was the month by the Afghan solar (not Islamic lunar) calendar in which it occurred. I would assume that the Sawr flag must have been one of the flags flown during the communist period.
Joe McMillan, 2 December 2005


[Afghanistan Sep.1928-Jan.1929, coat-of-arms]
(Click on image to see full size detail)
by Peter Laursen