Muhammad Zahir Shah (məhămˈəd zäˈhĕr shä) [key], 1914–2007, last king of Afghanistan. In 1933 he became king after his father, Muhammad Nadir Shah, was assassinated. During his reign power was exercised mainly by the king's uncles and a cousin, serving as prime ministers, until 1963, when the king asserted his power. Zahir Shah ended the absolute monarchy in 1964 and adopted some liberalizing reforms. In 1973 he was overthrown while abroad by his cousin (and former prime minister) Muhammad Daud Khan. The king returned to Afghanistan in 2002, after the ouster of the Taliban, and held the ceremonial position of "father of the country" from 2004 until his death.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.