Babrak Karmal (Persian: ببرک کارمل, born Sultan Hussein; 6 January 1929 – 1 or 3 December 1996) was an Afghan politician who was installed as president of Afghanistan by the USSR when they invaded in 1979. Karmal was born in Kamari and educated at Kabul University. When the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was formed, Karmal became one of its leading members, having been introduced to Marxism by Mir Akbar Khyber during his imprisonment for activities deemed too radical by the government. He eventually became the leader of the Parcham faction. When the PDPA split in 1967, the Parcham-faction established a Parcham PDPA, while their ideological nemesis, the Khalqs, established a Khalqist PDPA. Under Karmal's leadership, the Parchamite PDPA participated in Mohammad Daoud Khan's rise to power, and his subsequent regime. While relations were good at the beginning, Daoud began a major purge of leftist influence in the mid-1970s. This in turn led to the reformation of the PDPA in 1977. The PDPA took power in the 1978 Saur Revolution.
Karmal was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, synonymous with vice head of state, in the communist government. The Parchamite faction found itself under significant pressure by the Khalqists soon after taking power. In June 1978, a PDPA Central Committee meeting voted in favor of giving the Khalqist faction exclusive control over PDPA policy. This decision was followed by a failed Parchamite coup, after which Hafizullah Amin, a Khalqist, initiated a purge against the Parchamites. Karmal survived this purge but was exiled to Prague. Karmal remained in exile until December 1979, when the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan (with the consent of the Afghan government) to stabilize the country.
Karmal was promoted to Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and Chairman of the Council of Ministers on 27 December 1979. He remained in office until 1981, when he was succeeded by Sultan Ali Keshtmand. Throughout his term, Karmal worked to establish a support base for the PDPA by introducing several reforms. Among these were the Fundamental Principles of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, introducing a general amnesty for those people imprisoned during Nur Mohammad Taraki's and Amin's rule. He also replaced the Khalqist flag with a more traditional one. These policies failed to increase the PDPA's legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people.
These policy failures, and the stalemate that ensued after the Soviet intervention, led the Soviet leadership to become highly critical of Karmal's leadership. Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union deposed Karmal and replaced him with Mohammad Najibullah. Following his loss of power, he was again exiled, this time to Moscow. He was allowed to return to Afghanistan in 1991 by the Najibullah government. Back in Afghanistan he became an associate of Abdul Rashid Dostum, and helped remove the Najibullah government from power. Not long after, in 1996, Karmal died from liver cancer....LESS