Grand celebrations to mark 100 yrs of Afghanistan’s Independence on Monday

New Delhi: The capital city of Kabul has been decorated and a host of big events planned for Monday, including the inauguration of the restored Darul Aman Palace, to commemorate 100 years of Afghanistan’s Independence, officials said.

A senior official at the Afghan Embassy here said the iconic palace, restored over a period of nearly one year, is slated to be inaugurated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“We will complete 100 years of our independence tomorrow as it was on August 19, 1919 that we had achieved our freedom. Entire country is celebrating the occasion and grand celebrations are lined up in Kabul on Monday,” he told PTI.

Besides, plans are also afoot to hold a centenary celebration in New Delhi in September by the Embassy here, officials said.

Afghanistan’s Charge d’Affaires in India Tahir Qadiry, earlier this month at an event here, had asserted that the act of restoring the once-ruined Darul Aman Palace and rebuilding other sites in time for the centenary was also symbolic of the “New Afghanistan” that the war-torn country was seeking to build.

“The new generation also know this Afghanistan that they seek to rebuild, taking it out of its tumultuous past, that had hit the country very hard,” Qadiry said.

“The palace took nearly a year to restore and a lot of women also worked on this project,” he said, adding that the restored palace will be the centrepiece of the celebrations.

As part of the centenary celebrations, 100 selected films are being shown in various theatres in Kabul, Qadiry said.

In Kabul, the city has been decorated and various buildings will be lit up at night. Images of King Amanullah Khan, the first sovereign ruler of independent Afghanistan and his consort Queen Soraya, dot the city, Akhtarabir Akhtar, a Kabul-based journalist, said.

“Both King Amanullah Khan and Queen Soraya are fondly remembered as they tried to modernise Afghanistan with liberal values after independence. Soraya worked for education and rights of women too,” he said.

Akhtar, who works in Kabul, said the whole country is feeling proud and restoration of the Darul Aman Palace has magnified the pride of people, adding its facade had been earlier pock-marked with bullets.

“The palace, located near the Paghman Valley, was built by Amanullah Khan and it had suffered damage during the civil war. It has hosted heads of states and other high-profile guests. It is a veritable landmark.

“Khan had also built the beautiful Paghman Garden. The period of 1920s, under his rule, saw a very progressive and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.

Afghanistan became a free nation after the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, also known as the War of Independence in that country.

The Independence Day of Afghanistan falls on August 19, just four days after India’s Independence Day.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had congratulated Afghanistan on the centenary of its Independence in his speech from ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, while emphasising the ties between the two countries.

The senior Embassy official said after Afghanistan became free from the British rule, Amanullah Khan also urged Indian leaders to fight for independence of India.

“When he (Khan) visited India once, he met several top political leaders and asked them to continuously work towards their goal of earning the freedom from the British rule, and eventually India also won its Independence,” he said.

The country is also remembering Queen Soraya on the centenary as she worked a lot for education and for women’s rights in the country. The Oxford University also gave her an honorary doctorate, the official said.

She was a very progressive woman and daughter of Mahmud Beg Tarzi, a politician, who is also known as the father of journalism in Afghanistan, he said, adding that she used to visit the wounded soldiers in camps during the war.

A large number of Afghans live in Delhi as well, particularly in Lajpat Nagar area. A portrait of King Amanullah Khan can be seen hung at many shops run by Afghans in the area, who are eagerly awaiting to celebrate the centenary of their country’s Independence Day on Monday.