from South Asia News:
Mohammad Zahir Shah - the last king of Afghanistan, who ushered in a 1964 constitution that brought democracy to Afghanistan before a coup forced him into exile - died on Monday morning at the age of 92.
Crowned in 1933 at 19 after witnessing the assassination of his father, Zahir Shah put into effect a constitution that made Afghanistan a constitutional monarchy with free elections and universal suffrage, a parliament and the emancipation of women.
He kept Afghanistan neutral through World War II and the Cold War before a coup led by a cousin deposed him after 40 years on the throne, ending a 226-year Pashtun dynasty. As his country descended into violence in the following decades, Zahir Shah lived quietly in a villa outside Rome.
He only returned to Afghanistan in 2002 after a US-led invasion ousted the country's fundamentalist Islamic Taliban regime. His reign was remembered with nostalgia by many Afghans as a long period of peace. Monarchists called for his restoration to the throne, but he refused.
Instead, a postwar 'loya jirga,' a traditional council of tribal elders, declared him the 'Father of the Nation,' but he said a title given to him by the people was his favourite.
'They call me 'Baba', which means grandfather or father.' he said. 'That is the title I like best.'