Afghan Statesman. Karmal, born Sultan Hussein, served as president of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1986. He was the son of an Afghan army general and as a young student at Kabul University in the 1950s, became involved in Marxist political activities. Karmal was imprisoned for this for five years and after his release, both served in the army and worked toward his law degree. In 1965 he helped found the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan and served in the National Assembly from 1965 to 1973. When the party broke into two differing factions in 1967, Karmal became leader of the more moderate Pro-Soviet faction "Parcham". In 1973 upon the coup which ousted the monarchy, "Parcham" supported the new leader Mohammad Daoud Khan, but relations soon soured. The two factions of the PDPA came back together in 1977 and one year later, helped oust the Daoud Khan government. Karmal became deputy prime minister in 1978, but later that year, was sent to Czechosolvakia to be ambassador. The infighting in the party led to the death of President Nur Mohammad Taraki and the rise to power of Hafizullah Amin in 1979. In December of 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Amin government, which led to the naming of Karmal as president. Even though he tried to reconciliate with the rebels who were fighting the Soviets, he was unsuccessful. In 1986, after being seen as a "burden" and the cause of the nation's problems, Karmal resigned from office. He went to Moscow after this, but came back to Afghanistan in 1991 where he helped topple the Najbullah government, which had replaced him in 1986.
Bio by: Mr. Badger Hawkeye