The Badaber uprising (26–27 April 1985, Badaber, Pakistan) was an armed rebellion by Soviet and Afghan prisoners of war who were being held at the Badaber fortress near Peshawar, Pakistan. The prisoners fought the Pakistan army and the Afghan Mujahideen of the Jamiat-e Islami party in an unsuccessful attempt to escape. All the prisoners were killed in the ensuing siege and the fortress was destroyed.
The Badaber fortress, 24 km south of Peshawar, was a military training centre of the Afghan Mujahideen who opposed Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The Mujahideen were trained by military instructors from the United States (Operation Cyclone), Pakistan, the People's Republic of China and Egypt. The fortress was controlled by the Tajik-dominated Jamiat-e Islami party. Burhanuddin Rabbani was the party leader and self-declared president of Afghanistan. The military commander of the fortress was Ahmad Shah Massoud.
In 1983 and 1984, Soviet and Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) prisoners were brought to the fortress from holding cells (zindans). The prisoners were forced to perform hard labour, for example, quarrying and loading ordnance. In 1985, 12 Soviet (shuravi) and 40 Afghan prisoners were held at the Badaber fortress.
On 26 April 1985, at about 6 pm, only two of seventy mujahideen guards were on duty. The others were gathered at the drill square for evening prayers (namaz). In an uprising, prisoners entered the fortress armory, took weapons and ammunition, and tried to escape. Some may have tried to capture the fortress' radio center to report their location. However, the head guard, Haist Gol, raised the alarm and prevented the escape of the prisoners. The prisoners did seize key locations within the fortress.
Afghan Mujahideen, Pakistani infantry and tank units, and artillery forces of the XI Corps blockaded the fortress. Several attempts to recapture the fortress were repelled by the prisoners. At 9pm, Burhanuddin Rabbani, arrived at the base and negotiated with the prisoners. He suggested they surrender and their lives would be spared. The prisoners demanded a meeting with the Soviet and Afghan ambassadors to Pakistan and representatives from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The prisoners threatened to ignite the armory if their demands were not met. Rabbani rejected the prisoners' demands and fighting continued.
On 27 April 1985 at around 8am, Rabbani's bodyguard was wounded by rockets fired by the prisoners. Rabbani prepared to attack the fortress using rockets (9K51 Grad), tanks, and Pakistan Air Force helicopters. The uprising ended when the fortress was destroyed by an explosion. It may be that artillery shells struck the armoury or it may be that the explosion was caused by the prisoners themselves. Any survivors of the explosion were dragged to the walls and killed.
The identities of the prisoners are uncertain. One was Nikolay Saminj, a Soviet forces junior sergeant, who was posthumously awarded Kazakhstan's Order of Valor, 3rd degree on 12 December 2003. Another was Alexandr Zverkovich, a Soviet forces private, who was posthumously memorialised on the 10th anniversary of the withdrawal of the Soviet Army from Afghanistan.
According to Russian sources, between 100 and 120 Afghan Mujahideen were killed. The Badaber fortress, its armory and its ordnance (including three 9K51 Grad multiple rocket launchers, thousands of shells and rockets, approximately forty cannons, mortars and machine guns), and its chancellery, including a list of the prisoners, were destroyed. Soviet satellite data from 28 April 1985 showed an 80m crater at the site.
On 29 April 1985, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the President of Pakistan, classified all information related to the uprising. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the head of the Hezbi Islami, said,
"Do not capture shuravi
soldiers in the future, but annihilate them at the taking place."
Yousaf Mohammad, a colonel in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence service said,
"[the incident] could quickly get out of hand, or lead to international confrontation."
Details of the uprising were suppressed in Pakistan until 1992 when six names of participants in the uprising were handed to Alexander Rutskoy by Shahryar Khan, the deputy minister of foreign affairs of Pakistan.
On 9 May 1985, a representative of the International Red Cross visiting the Soviet Embassy in Islamabad, confirmed the uprising had occurred. On 11 May 1985, Vitaly Smirnov, the Soviet ambassador, issued a warning to Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. He said,
"The Soviet side holds full responsibility for what had happened [with] the Government of Pakistan and expects that it will make appropriate conclusions about the effects posed by [its] complicity in the aggression against the DRA and thereby against the Soviet Union."
On 16 May 1985, the DRA's permanent representative to the United Nations sent a letter concerning this incident to the United Nations Secretary-General, which was circulated as an official document of the General Assembly and the Security Council.
In 1987, in Pakistan, a series of retaliatory actions by Soviet forces resulted in 234 deaths. On 10 April 1988, the Ojhri Camp, an ammunition depot near Islamabad, was destroyed, killing or injuring more than 1,300 people. On 17 August 1988, President Zia-ul-Haq's plane crashed in an incident that Pakistan suggested was caused by Afghanistan's KHAD and the Soviet KGB secret services.
In 2002, the Warriors-Internationalists Affairs Committee sent three names of uprising participants, Igor Vaskov, Nikolai Dudkin and Sergei Levchishin to Sergei Ivanov, the defense minister of Russia. He said,
"Unfortunately, there is no basis to proceed with the application for [the] award."
The Russian–Kazakhstani movie, Peshavar Waltz (1994) was loosely based on this uprising.