Zahir, born in 1914, was the king of Afghanistan from 1933 to 1973. He succeeded to the throne, after the assassination of his father,
Mohammad Nadir. Despite the fact that Mohammad Zahir was the king, his uncles (Mohammad Hashim, and Shah Mahmud) were the ones ruling the country for many years. In July of 1973, while he was out of the country, his cousin
Daoud Khan overthrew him;
Zahir Shah decided instead to live in exile (Italy) for decades instead of
regaining his throne. There is evidence to suggest that Zahir Shah actually had
previous warning of the impending coup and perhaps left to avoid death. After many years of silence, in the late 1990s and early 2000s he initiated a plan to bring peace to Afghanistan. He wanted to try to set up a Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly), however his efforts were criticized by such groups as the Afghan
Mellat Party, and the Taliban Movement. The current
constitution gives him the title "Father of the Nation", however, it holds no political power and it cannot be passed down to an heir.