Sultan Ali Keshtmand

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Sultan Ali Keshtmand
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
In office
21 February 1989 – 8 May 1990
President Mohammad Najibullah
Preceded by Mohammad Hasan Sharq
Succeeded by Fazal Haq Khaliqyar
In office
11 June 1981 – 26 May 1988
President Babrak Karmal
Haji Mohammad Chamkani
Preceded by Babrak Karmal
Succeeded by Mohammad Hasan Sharq
Minister of Planning
In office
28 December 1979 – April 1982
Preceded by Muhammad Siddiq Alemyar
In office
30 April – 23 August 1978
Preceded by Ali Ahmad Khurram
Succeeded by Muhammad Siddiq Alemyar
Personal details
Born (1935-05-22) May 22, 1935 (age 79)
Kabul, Kingdom of Afghanistan
Political party People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan

Sultan Ali Keshtmand (Persian: سلطان‌علی کشتمند‎), sometimes transliterated Kishtmand, born May 22, 1935 in Kabul, was an Afghan politician. He served twice as Chairman of the Council of Ministers during the 1980s, from 1981 to 1988 and from 1989 to 1990 in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

Early years[edit]

Part of a series on
People of Bamyan-3.jpg Hazara people




Keshtmand was born in Kabul. He is a member of the Hazara ethnic group. He studied economics at Kabul University and became involved in the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. He joined the Parcham Faction of that party, which was led by Babrak Karmal. He sought and received political asylum from the British Prime Minister John Major. He lives in the UK.[1]

Role in politics[edit]

Immediately after the April 1978 coup d'état in which the People's Democratic Party came to power, Keshtmand became the minister of planning in the newly formed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

He lost that post in August 1978 when he was arrested for an alleged plot against President Nur Mohammad Taraki, a member of the rival Khalq faction of the party. The PDPA Politburo ordered the arrest of Keshtmand and Public Works Minister Muhammad Rafi'i for their part in the possible anti-regime conspiracy. He and the other inmates went through severe torture and long imprisonment. He remained in prison and was sentenced to death, but this decision was revoked and he was resentenced to 15 years in prison.

On December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, bringing Babrak Karmal and the Parcham faction to power. Keshtmand was released from jail, and was once again joined the Politburo.

Friction among the People's Party members rose in 1980 when Karmal removed Assadullah Sarwari from his position as First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and replaced him with Sultan Ali Keshtmand. Keshtmand, a Parchami, soon became one of the most important leaders of the regime. In June 1981, Karmal retained his other offices, but resigned as Council of Ministers chairman and was succeeded by Keshtmand. A 21-member Supreme Defense Council headed by Mohammad Najibullah effectively assumed power.

The rise in the deficit greatly concerned the government, and as Council of Ministers chairman Keshtmand noted in April 1983, the tax collections were inadequate in view of the increased state spending. The security situation in the country, however, prevented the government from improving its tax collections.

In September, 1987, the Kabul government sponsored a large convocation of Hazaras from various parts of the country and offered them autonomy. In his speech to the group, Keshtmand said that the government was going to set up several new provinces in the Hazarajat that would be administered by the local inhabitants.

Rise and fall of power[edit]

He served as Chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1981 to 1988 and 1989 to 1990, and as vice-President from 1990 until 1991, when he was dismissed shortly before the fall of the government.

A mujaheddin radio station reports intra-Parcham (a faction of the PDPA) (P) clashes in Kabul between supporters of Najibullah and Keshtmand, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.

Non-PDPA member Mohammad Hassan Sharq was selected by President Najibullah to be the new Council of Ministers chairman, replacing Keshtmand. This move was made in order to free spaces in the new government for nonparty candidates.

He then left Afghanistan, first moving to Russia and then to England. There he became an outspoken defender of the rights of Hazaras and other minorities, claiming that the Pashtun majority in Afghanistan had had too much power in all of Afghanistan's regimes, past and present. After the communist Saur Revolution, which toppled Daud Khan's first Afghan Republic, he reportedly said, "Brothers, today the five long centuries of Pashtun political domination has come to an end."

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Unknown
Ministry of Mines and Industry
1960–1972
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
Ali Ahmad Khurram
Minister of Planning
1978
Succeeded by
Muhammad Siddiq Alemyar
Preceded by
Hafizullah Amin
Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers
1980–Unknown
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
Unknown
Minister of Planning
1981
Succeeded by
Unknown
Preceded by
Babrak Karmal
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
1981–1988
Succeeded by
Mohammad Hasan Sharq
Preceded by
Mohammad Hasan Sharq
Chairman of the Council of Ministers
1989–1990
Succeeded by
Fazal Haq Khaliqyar
Preceded by
Haji Mohammad Chamkani
Vice President of Afghanistan
1990–1991
Succeeded by
Abdul Rahim Hatef