(b. 1872, Tashkent, Russian Turkistan [now in Uzbekistan]--d. Feb.
20, 1919, Kalagosh, Afg.), ruler of Afghanistan from 1901 to 1919.
Maintaining satisfactory relations with British India, he introduced
needed reforms in Afghanistan and steered his country on a moderate
The eldest son of 'Abdor Rahman Khan, Habibollah succeeded peacefully
to the throne after his father's death in October 1901. At the time,
British India was deeply involved in Afghan affairs, and Habibollah
agreed to accept British guidance in foreign affairs in return for
an annual subsidy of 160,000. He was able to retain full control
of his country's internal affairs.
With the outbreak of World War I (1914-18), there was widespread
support in Afghanistan of Ottoman Turkey against the British. Habibollah,
however, was able to maintain a policy of noninvolvement throughout
the war. He meanwhile moved to open Afghanistan to technology from
the West, founding schools, a military academy, and a weekly newspaper.
He also introduced electricity, automobiles, and Western medical
methods to the country.
Habibollah's antiwar policy was unpopular with the young anti-British
elements in the population. In 1919 he was assassinated while on
a hunting trip.
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