Soviet Scheme for a New Afghan Government
The Soviet leaders, through their agents in AGSA, must have known of the rift. The ambassador Alexander Puzanov worked to promote the Soviet scheme. That scheme was to unite the two factions of the party by sending Amin abroad as an ambassador and preparing the ground for the formation of a new government to be composed of the Taraki and Karmal factions. The scheme made it necessary for Taraki and Karmal to meet. The task of arranging a meeting between the two was made easier when Taraki stopped in Moscow on 10 September 1979 on his way home from Havana, where he had attended a meeting of the heads of the nonaligned countries. Karmal had been summoned from his hideout somewhere in Czechoslovakia, where he was spending his life of exile after the same Taraki had deprived him of Afghan citizenship a year earlier.
Anwar states that at the Moscow airport a meeting chaired by Gromyko was arranged between the hitherto antagonistic leaders. This is not true. Taraki stayed in Moscow for two days (10 and 11 September) and met twice with Brezhnev, Gromyko, and Brezhnev’s foreign affairs adviser, Andrey Alexander, in the Kremlin. The first meeting was also attended by Afghan Foreign Minister Shah Wali and Sayyed Mohammad Daoud Tarun, President Taraki’s aide de camp. This meant that it was an ordinary meeting. But the second meeting went awry. When the Afghans, as before, took seats, they were told that all should leave except for President Taraki. Shah Wali and Tarun still remained, thinking that as senior officials they would also be taking part as before. But the security guards roughly pushed them out. The meeting must have been exceptional. The exclusion of Shah Wali probably meant the inclusion of Karmal. The joint communiqué issued following the meetings made no reference to the formation of a government representing a “national democratic front.” Afghan sources stated that Taraki and Brezhnev had agreed to change the Afghan government. Probably, as Anwar states, Soviet leaders had advised Taraki to send Amin and his supporters into diplomatic exile and appoint Karmal prime minister and deputy general secretary of the party, while he was to remain as head of the party and the state. What is now certain is that “Moscow urged Taraki to put Amin in his place, with help from ambassador Puzanov,…General Ivanov, and General Pavlovsky.” At the time, the latter two were on missions in Kabul as representatives of the KGB and the Soviet Ministry of Defense respectively. The phrase “to put Amin in his place” could mean anything. It was hoped that these changes would result in a government representing a “national democratic front.” Taraki had to put the scheme into operation.
On the day when Taraki’s plane was about to land at Kabul airport, Sarwari had arranged that a death squad would gun down Amin when he was on his way to receive Taraki. But in this game Amin proved superior to his rivals. Since the official next to Sarwari in AGSA worked secretly for him, Amin knew of Sarwari’s moves against him. Also, through the efforts of Sayyed Daoud Tarun, Amin was informed of Taraki’s moves. Amin had received an encoded telegram from Tarun in Moscow, stating that the Moscow meeting had decided on his elimination. Although barred from the meeting, Tarun knew of its content through a minute intelligence device that he had planted in his master’s (Taraki’s) pocket. Tarun served more as an attendant of Taraki than as a member of the delegation. Not long afterwards, what had allegedly gone on in Moscow was known in Kabul, and the news of the meeting between Taraki and Karmal spread like wildfire. On the day of Taraki’s arrival in Kabul, Amin had taken control of the airport, replacing its personnel with persons loyal to him. He himself wore an armored shield under his clothes. On that occasion no incident occurred.