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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Will the King's return be good for Afghanistan?
Afghanistan's former king Mohammad Zahir Shah is set to return to his homeland in the next few weeks after over 29 years in exile.

His official role is intended to be a figurehead rather than reigning monarch who would oversee the selection of a longer term government.

Many believe he will be the national figurehead which could help unify the traumatised nation.

But it is feared that opponents of the king are planning to cause trouble on his arrival in order to weaken the interim government's power.

Will the presence of the former king help to ease residual hostilities in Afghanistan?

Or are such high expectations doomed to disappointment?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The king in his hay days ruled the country with a light hand.

Thiruvengadam Ramakrishnan, US
The king in his hay days ruled the country, a confederation of tribes on the watershed between central, west and south Asia, with a light hand. He was modernist and progressive but did not force the pace. Those who wanted faster and radical change brought about the palace revolution and the Communist putsches, with disastrous consequences. Kings and queens may be an anachronism for these irreverent times. The soothing hand of an old pro, however, cannot but help in forging unity between the Pathans on both sides of the border, and between the Pathans and the Northern Alliance.
Thiruvengadam Ramakrishnan, US

I think that the former Afghan King Muhammad Zahir Shah is one of the most important Afghan personalities. He can grant the Afghan people security, certainty and peace, relax, dignity, and ... He is not a criminal as others are. In his times the pace of life was slow, but it was acceptable for the Afghans. After all, he left a built Afghanistan 30 years ago, but now he wants to go back to a destroyed Afghanistan, and the only reason is to help his people. I do not think Afghans need to bring the communists and the fundamentalists back to power. The people of Afghanistan also want to get rid of the criminals who are in government right now. Thanks to the King, we will have our peace, security and dignity back!!!

In my opinion the only people who have the right to decide for the king's return to Afghanistan are the Afghans who have lived all these horrible years in the region. However, if his comeback to Afghanistan will bring peace and stability then I think no one should oppose his return.
Palwasha Samimi, U.S.A

Zaher Khan is the only option and hope for Afghanistan. It is not the question whether he was a good or bad ruler but what is clear Afghans and the world have no alternative!
Abdul Hameed, Afghanistan

He did nothing for the Afghan people in the past

Safiullah, Afghan living in London
The King has no role to play in Afghan politics. He did nothing for the Afghan people in the past. He has been living a life of luxury in Rome while many Afghan children die of starvation! My message to the King "Give up your life of luxury and donate all your wealth to the Afghan children."
Safiullah, Afghan living in London

Yes, the return of the King, in his capacity as a uniting figurehead, would be a good thing. It will be a final nail in the coffin of the Taliban and Jehadi influence amongst the peoples of Afghanistan.
Rahul Mahajan, UK/India

The King is a toothless tiger who is already seen as a pawn in many circles. Unfortunately, by adding him to the mix, the common people will be placated while the war-lords continue their behind-the-scenes struggle for power. The king can only act as a figure-head and nothing more. Unfortunately, he who has no guns in Afghanistan today has no voice. This applies to the king, Karzai and the common people.
Samsher Khan, Canada

I think this is a blessing, it will give the people of Afghanistan a hope for the future, he is not just a king he is the hero of the Afghan people and they have so much respect for him. I think him being there will open so many doors for the people of Afghanistan. God bless him and his family.
Mariam Malikyar-Frejek, USA

First of all, we are not sure if he will really go back to Afghanistan. Secondly, what good did he do in his 40 years reign? Everything in Afghanistan, unfortunately, is in the USA's hands. The US thinks he is good for her "national interest" she will make good out of his return - if she finds he is of no use, then US will reverse the decision. The Ex-King has no self-freedom, it is those around him who dictates what he does and they surly have their own self-interest and agendas.
Hatarud Eshraaq, Afghanistan/Canada

I fail to understand why anyone in the 21st century would want a king back.
Tridiv, Germany/India

I feel that the king's return to Afghanistan will go a long way towards healing the wounds that have been afflicted upon the nation. And, opponents? Well, they are always there and they will remain there. Their existence should not stop any progress towards the good of the nation!
Agha Ata, USA

South Asia Debate
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Political uncertainty






See also:

16 Mar 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
02 Nov 01 | South Asia
19 Nov 01 | South Asia
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