Ahmad Shah Durrani

Ahmad Shah Durrani

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Ahmad Shah Durrani (Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

/), also known as Ahmad Shāh Abdālī (Pashto/Persian: احمد شاه ابدالي) and born as Ahmad Khān, was the founder of the Durrani Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...

 (Afghan Empire) in 1747 and is regarded by many to be the founder of the modern state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

.

Ahmad Khan enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom
Afsharid dynasty
The Afsharids were members of an Iranian dynasty of Turkmen origin from Khorasan who ruled Persia in the 18th century. The dynasty was founded in 1736 by the military commander Nader Shah who deposed the last member of the Safavid dynasty and proclaimed himself King of Iran. During Nader's reign,...

 and quickly rose to become a commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 of four thousand Abdali
Durrani
Durrani or Abdali is the name of a chief Pashtun tribal confederation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Originally known by their ancient name Abdali later as Durrani they have been called Durrani since the beginning of the Durrani Empire in 1747. The number of Durranis are estimated to be roughly 16%...

 Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 soldiers. After the death of Nader Shah Afshar
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

 of Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 in June 1747, Abdali became the Emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

 of Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

. Rallying his Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 tribes and allies, he pushed east towards the Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 and the Maratha Empire
Maratha Empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....

 of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 as well as west towards the disintegrating Afsharid Empire of Persia and north toward the Khanate of Bukhara
Khanate of Bukhara
Khanate of Bukhara was a significant state in Central Asia from the second quarter of 16th century to the late–18th century. Bukhara became the capital of the short-lived Shaybanid empire during the reign of Ubaydallah Khan . The khanate reached its greatest extent and influence under its...

. Within a few years he had conquered all of today's Afghanistan and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, including much of northeastern Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the Punjab region
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 in the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. He defeated the Maratha
Maratha
The Maratha are an Indian caste, predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has three related usages: within the Marathi speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; outside Maharashtra it can refer to the entire regional population of Marathi-speaking people;...

s eight times, one of his major victory was at the 1761 Battle of Panipat which was fought north of Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 in India.

After his natural death in 1772-73, his son Timur Shah
Timur Shah Durrani
Timur Shah Durrani , was the second ruler of the Durrani Empire from October 16, 1772, until his death in 1793. An ethnic Pashtun, he was the second and eldest son of Ahmad Shah Durrani.- Early life :...

 took control of the empire. Ahmad Shah's mausoleum
Mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

 is located at Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

, Afghanistan, adjacent to the famous Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed
Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed
The Shrine of the Cloak is located adjacent to the Friday Mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It contains a cloak that was once worn by Islam's Prophet Muhammad, which is widely considered as one of the holiest Islamic sites in Afghanistan, and even considered by some as the "heart of Afghanistan".The...

 in the center of the city. The Afghans
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 often refer to him as Ahmad Shah Bābā (Ahmad Shah the "Father").

Early years


Abdali was born as Ahmad Khan between 1722 and 1723 in either Multan
Multan
Multan , is a city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan and capital of Multan District. It is located in the southern part of the province on the east bank of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic centre of the country and about from Islamabad, from Lahore and from Karachi...

, Mughal India
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

, or the city of Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 in Afghanistan. Some claim that he was born in the current Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i city of Multan and taken as an infant with his mother (Zarghuna Alakozai
Alakozai
Alakozai is the name of a Pashtun tribe in Afghanistan. Spelling variations include Alakozay, Alekozai, Alikozai, Alokozay, Alekuzei, Alkozai, Alokzai, Halakozai, Alecozay, Alakuzei,and Alikusi.-History:The Alakozai are a sub-tribe of the Abdali Pashtuns of Afghanistan...

) to the city of Herat where his father, Mohammed Zaman Khan, was chief of the Abdalis and governor of the province. On the contrary, Dr. Ganda Singh, Willem Vogelsang
Willem Vogelsang
Willem Vogelsang specialises in the history and cultures of Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan. He has written numerous books and articles on the subject. In the 1970s he studied Indian and Iranian languages and cultures at the University of Leiden. He also studied at the University of Cambridge...

, Frank Clements and others claim that Ahmad Khan was born in Herat. Dr. Singh had used primary sources such as Mahmud-ul-Musanna's Tarikh-i-Ahmad Shahi of 1753 and Imam-uddin al-Hussaini's Tarikh-i-Hussain Shahi of 1798.

Ahmad Khan was from the Sadozai
Sadozai (Pastun tribe)
Sadozai meaning "kings" are the direct lineage of Ahmad Shah Abdali. All the notable Sadozai Durrani Afghan kings and rulers belonedg to the Sadozai tribe....

 section of the Popalzai
Popalzai
Popalzai or Popalzay are Durrani Pashtuns.-Origin:According to Hyat Khan's history of Afghanistan, from their progenitor Bor Tareen, otherwise known as Abdal, are descended two main divisions: the Zirak and the Panjpai...

 clan of the Abdali
Durrani
Durrani or Abdali is the name of a chief Pashtun tribal confederation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Originally known by their ancient name Abdali later as Durrani they have been called Durrani since the beginning of the Durrani Empire in 1747. The number of Durranis are estimated to be roughly 16%...

 Pashtuns. His father and grandfather were both killed in a battle, and the young Ahmad Khan fled to take refuge in Kandahar with the Ghilzai
Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

s. During his teenage years, Ahmad Khan and his elder brother, Zulfikar, were imprisoned inside a fortress by Hussain Hotaki, the Ghilzai governor of the Kandahar Province
Kandahar Province
Kandahar or Qandahar is one of the largest of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in southern Afghanistan, between Helmand, Oruzgan and Zabul provinces. Its capital is the city of Kandahar, which is located on the Arghandab River. The province has a population of nearly...

. Shah Hussain commanded a powerful tribe of Pashtun fighters, having conquered the eastern part of Persia in 1722 with his brother Mahmud, and trodden the throne of the Persian Safavids
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

.

In around 1731, Nader Shah Afshar
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

, the new ruler of Persia, began enlisting the Abdali Pashtuns in his army. After conquering Kandahar in 1738, Ahmad Khan and his brother were freed by the new Persian ruler and provided careers in his administration. The Ghilzais were expelled from the city of Kandahar and the Abdalis were allowed to settle there instead.

Commander in the Afsharid military




Nader Shah favored Abdali not only because he came from a well respected family or tribe but also due to his handsome features as well as both being Khorasanians. Ahmad Khan proved himself in Nader Shah's service and was promoted from a personal attendant (yasāwal) to command a cavalry of Abdali tribesmen. He quickly rose to command a cavalry contingent estimated at four thousand strong, composed chiefly of Abdalis, in the service of the Shah on his invasion of India.

Popular history has it that the brilliant but megalomaniac Nader Shah could see the talent in his young commander. Later on according to Pashtun legend, it is said that in Delhi Nader Shah summoned Ahmad Shah, and said, "Come forward Ahmad Abdali. Remember Ahmad Khan Abdali, that after me the Kingship will pass on to you.

Nader Shah's rule abruptly ended in June 1747 when he was assassinated by his own guards. The guards involved in the assassination did so secretly so as to prevent the Abdalis from coming to their King's rescue. However, Ahmad Khan was told that Nader Shah had been killed by one of his wives. Despite the danger of being attacked, the Abdali contingent led by Ahmad Khan rushed either to save Nader Shah or to confirm what happened. Upon reaching the King's tent, they were only to see Nader Shah's body and severed head. Having served him so loyally, the Abdalis wept at having failed their leader, and headed back to Kandahar. On their way back to Kandahar, the Abdalis had decided that Ahmad Khan would be their new leader, and already began calling him as Ahmad Shah.

Rise to power


In October 1747, the chiefs of the Abdali tribes met near Kandahar for a Loya Jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 to choose a leader. For nine days serious discussions were held among the candidates in the Argah. Ahmad Shah kept silent by not campaigning for himself. At last Sabir Shah, a religious figure from the area, came out of his sanctuary and stood before those in the Jirga and said, "He found no one worthy for leadership except Ahmah Shah. He is the most trustworthy and talented for the job. He had Sabir's blessing for the nomination because only his shoulders could carry this responsibility". The leaders and everyone agreed unanimously. Ahmad Shah was chosen to lead the Afghan tribes. Coins where struck after his coronation as King occurred near the tomb of Shaikh Surkh, adjacent to Nader Abad Fort.

Despite being younger than other claimants, Ahmad Shah had several overriding factors in his favour:
  • He was a direct descendant of Sado
    Sado
    -People:*Prince Sado, a Joseon Korean crown prince who never acceded*Yutaka Sado, a Japanese conductor-Other:* Sado, Niigata, a city and an island of Niigata Prefecture, Japan...

    , patriarch of the Sadozai clan, the most prominent tribe amongst the Pashtuns at the time;
  • He was unquestionably a charismatic leader and seasoned warrior who had at his disposal a trained, mobile force of several thousand cavalrymen;
  • Haji Ajmal Khan, the chief of the Mohammedzais (also known as Barakzai
    Barakzai
    - History :Barakzai is a common ethnic name among the Pashtuns of Afghanistan/Pakistan and it means . Barakzai is also a Pashtun tribe in Pakistan, and more predominantly, in Afghanistan...

    s) which were rivals of the Sadodzais, already withdrew out of the election


One of Ahmad Shah's first acts as chief was to adopt the title Padshah durr-i dawran ('King, "pearl of the age").

Forming the last Afghan empire




Following his predecessor, Ahmad Shah Durrani set up a special force closest to him consisting mostly of his fellow Durranis and other Pashtuns, as well as Tajiks, Qizilbash and others. Durrani began his military conquest by capturing Ghazni
Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

 from the Ghilzais and then wresting Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 from the local ruler, and thus strengthened his hold over eastern Khorasan which is most of present-day Afghanistan. Leadership of the various Afghan tribes rested mainly on the ability to provide booty for the clan, and Durrani proved remarkably successful in providing both booty and occupation for his followers. Apart from invading the Punjab region
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 three times between the years 1747–1753, he captured Herat
Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

 in 1750 and both Nishapur
Nishapur
Nishapur or Nishabur , is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad...

 (Neyshābūr) and Mashhad
Mashhad
Mashhad , is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name. It is located east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its...

 in 1751.

Durrani first crossed the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 in 1748, the year after his ascension – his forces sacked and absorbed Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 during that expedition. The following year (1749), the Mughal ruler was induced to cede Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 and all of the Punjab including the vital trans Indus River to him, in order to save his capital from being attacked by the Afghan forces of the Durrani Empire. Having thus gained substantial territories to the east without a fight, Ahmad Shah and his Afghan forces turned westward to take possession of Herat, which was ruled by Nader Shah's grandson, Shah Rukh of Persia
Shah Rukh of Persia
Shahrukh Shah Afshar, also spelled Shahrokh was a king of the Afsharid dynasty and a contemporary of the Zand kings. He reigned until 1796....

. The city fell to Ahmad Shah in 1750, after almost a year of siege and bloody conflict; Ahmad Shah and his forces then pushed on into present-day Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, capturing Nishapur and Mashhad in 1751. He then pardoned Shah Rukh and reconstituted Khorasan, but a tributary of the Durrani Empire. This marked the westernmost border of the Durrani Empire as set by the Pul-i-Abrisham, on the Mashhad-Tehran road.

Meanwhile, in the preceding three years, the Sikh
Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

s had occupied the city of Lahore, and Ahmad Shah had to return in 1751 to oust them. In 1752, Ahmad Shah with his forces invaded and reduced Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

. He next sent an army to subdue the areas north of the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

. In short order, the powerful army brought under its control the Turkmen
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

, Uzbek
Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are a Turkic ethnic group in Central Asia. They comprise the majority population of Uzbekistan, and large populations can also be found in Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China...

, Tajik and Hazara peoples of northern, central, and western Afghanistan. In 1752, Kashmiri nobles invited Ahmad Shah Durrani to invade the province and oust the ineffectual Mughal rulers.

Then in 1756-57, in what was his fourth invasion of India, Ahmad Shah sacked Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

 and plundered Agra
Agra
Agra a.k.a. Akbarabad is a city on the banks of the river Yamuna in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, west of state capital, Lucknow and south from national capital New Delhi. With a population of 1,686,976 , it is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and the 19th most...

, Mathura, and Vrndavana. However, he did not displace the Mughal dynasty, which remained in nominal control as long as the ruler acknowledged Ahmad's suzerainty over the Punjab, Sindh, and Kashmir. He installed a puppet emperor, Alamgir II
Alamgir II
Aziz-ud-din Alamgir II was the Mughal Emperor of India from 3 June 1754 to 29 November 1759. He was the son of Jahandar Shah....

, on the Mughal throne, and arranged marriages for himself and his son Timur
Timur Shah Durrani
Timur Shah Durrani , was the second ruler of the Durrani Empire from October 16, 1772, until his death in 1793. An ethnic Pashtun, he was the second and eldest son of Ahmad Shah Durrani.- Early life :...

 into the imperial family that same year. He married the daughter of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah
Muhammad Shah
Muhammad Shah also known as Roshan Akhtar, was a Mughal emperor of India between 1719 and 1748. He was son of Khujista Akhtar Jahan Shah, the fourth son of Bahadur Shah I. Ascending the throne at 17 with the help of the Sayyid Brothers, he later got rid of them with the help of Nizam-ul-Mulk Chin...

. His de facto suzerainity was accepted by the East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. Leaving his second son Timur Shah (who was wed to the daughter of (Alamgir II) to safeguard his interests, Durrani finally left India to return to Afghanistan.

On his way back he attacked the Golden Temple
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 in Amritsar
Amritsar
Amritsar is a city in the northern part of India and is the administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of Punjab, India. The 2001 Indian census reported the population of the city to be over 1,500,000, with that of the entire district numbering 3,695,077...

 and filled its sacred pool with the blood of slaughtered cows. Durrani captured Amritsar in 1757, and sacked the Harmandir Sahib
Harmandir Sahib
The Harmandir Sahib also Darbar Sahib , also referred to as the Golden Temple, is a prominent Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab . Construction of the gurdwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev...

 at which point the famous Baba Deep Singh
Baba Deep Singh
Baba Deep Singh is revered among Sikhs as one of the most hallowed martyrs in Sikhism and as a highly religious person. He is remembered for his sacrifice and devotion to the teachings of the Sikh Gurus....

 and some of his loyalists were killed by the Afghans. This final act was to be the start of long lasting bitterness between Sikhs and Afghans.

Third battle of Panipat




The Mughal power in northern India had been declining since the reign of Aurangzeb
Aurangzeb
Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir , more commonly known as Aurangzeb or by his chosen imperial title Alamgir , was the sixth Mughal Emperor of India, whose reign lasted from 1658 until his death in 1707.Badshah Aurangzeb, having ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for nearly...

, who died in 1707. In 1751–52, the Ahamdiya treaty was signed between the Marathas and Mughals, when Balaji Bajirao was the Peshwa
Peshwa
A Peshwa is the titular equivalent of a modern Prime Minister. Emporer Shivaji created the Peshwa designation in order to more effectively delegate administrative duties during the growth of the Maratha Empire. Prior to 1749, Peshwas held office for 8-9 years and controlled the Maratha army...

. Through this treaty, the Marathas controlled virtually the whole of India from their capital at Pune
Pune
Pune , is the eighth largest metropolis in India, the second largest in the state of Maharashtra after Mumbai, and the largest city in the Western Ghats. Once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire, it is situated 560 metres above sea level on the Deccan plateau at the confluence of the Mula ...

 and Mughal rule was restricted only to Delhi(Mughals remained the nominal heads of Delhi). Marathas were now straining to expand their area of control towards the Northwest of India. Ahmad Shah sacked the Mughal capital and withdrew with the booty he coveted. To counter the Afghans, Peshwa Balaji Bajirao sent Raghunathrao. He succeeded in ousting Timur Shah and his court from India and brought Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and other subahs on the Indian side of Attock under Maratha rule. Thus, upon his return to Kandahar in 1757, Amidst appeals from Muslim leaders like Shah Waliullah
Shah Waliullah
Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlvi was an Islamic scholar and reformer. He was born during the reign of Aurangzeb. He worked for the revival of Muslim rule and intellectual learning in South Asia, during a time of waning Muslim power...

, Ahmad Shah chose to return to India and confront the Maratha Confederacy.

He declared a jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

 (Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic holy war) against the Maratha
Maratha
The Maratha are an Indian caste, predominantly in the state of Maharashtra. The term Marāthā has three related usages: within the Marathi speaking region it describes the dominant Maratha caste; outside Maharashtra it can refer to the entire regional population of Marathi-speaking people;...

s, and warriors from various Pashtun tribes, as well as other tribes such as the Baloch, Tajiks, and Muslims from South Asia answered his call. Early skirmishes ended in victory for the Afghans against the smaller Maratha garrisons in northwest India. By 1759, Durrani and his army had reached Lahore and were poised to confront the Marathas. By 1760, the Maratha groups had coalesced into a big enough army under the command of Sadashivrao Bhau
Sadashivrao Bhau
Sadashivrao Bhau was son of Chimaji Appa and Rakhmabai and nephew of Peshwa Baji Rao I and served as the commander of the Maratha army.-Birth and early years:...

. Once again, Panipat
Panipat
Panipat بَنِبَت is an ancient and historic city in Panipat district, Haryana state, India. It is 90 km north from Delhi and 169 km south of Chandigarh on NH-1. The three battles fought at the city were turning points in Indian history. The city is famous in India by the name of "City of...

 was the scene of a battle for control of northern India. The Third battle of Panipat
Third battle of Panipat
The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 January 1761, at Panipat , about 60 miles north of Delhi between a northern expeditionary force of the Maratha Confederacy and a coalition of the King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Abdali with 2 Indian Muslim allies—the Rohilla Afghans of the Doab, and the...

 (January 1761), fought between largely Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 armies of Abdali and Nawabs and largely Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 Maratha army was waged along a twelve-kilometre front, and resulted in a decisive victory for Ahmad Shah.

East Turkistan and the Uyghurs



Plagued by the plight of the Uyghurs whose lands were conquered by the warring Qing dynasty, Ahmad Shah laboriously attempted to rally Muslim nations to check Qing expansion. Ahmad Shah halted trade with Qing China and dispatched troops to Kokand
Kokand
Kokand is a city in Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan, at the southwestern edge of the Fergana Valley. It has a population of 192,500 . Kokand is 228 km southeast of Tashkent, 115 km west of Andijan, and 88 km west of Fergana...

. However, with his campaigns in India exhausting the state treasury, and with his troops stretched thin throughout Central Asia, Ahmad Shah did not have enough resources to check Qing forces. In an effort to alleviate the situation in East Turkistan, Ahmad Shah sent envoys to Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, but the talks did not yield favorable prospects for the Uyghurs.

Rise of the Sikhs in the Punjab


During the Third Battle of Panipat
Third battle of Panipat
The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 January 1761, at Panipat , about 60 miles north of Delhi between a northern expeditionary force of the Maratha Confederacy and a coalition of the King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Abdali with 2 Indian Muslim allies—the Rohilla Afghans of the Doab, and the...

 betwee Marathas and Abdali
Abdali
Abdali may refer to:* Abdali Urban Regeneration Project, district in Amman, Jordan* Durrani, one of the two largest Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan* Ahmed Shah Abdali, founder of the Durrani Empire...

, The Sikhs did not support either side and decided to sitback and see what would happen. The exception was Ala Singh of Patiala, who sided with the Afghans and was actually being granted and crowned the first Sikh Maharajah at the Sikh holy temple.

The victory at Panipat was the high point of Ahmad Shah's and Afghan power, this situation was not to last long; the empire soon began to unravel. As early as by the end of 1761, the Sikhs had begun to rebel in much of the Punjab. In 1762, Ahmad Shah crossed the passes from Afghanistan for the sixth time to crush the Sikhs. He assaulted Lahore and Amritsar. Within two years, the Sikhs rebelled again, and he launched another campaign against them in 1764, resulting in an even battle. During his 8th invasion of India, the Sikhs vacated Lahore, but faced Abdali's army and general, Jahan Khan. The fear of his Indian territory falling to the Sikhs continued to obsess the Durrani's mind and he let out another campaign against Sikhs towards the close of 1766, which was his eighth invasion into India.

Death and legacy



Ahmad Shah Durrani died in 1772-73 in Kandahar Province. He was buried at a spot in Kandahar City, where a large mausoleum was built. It has been described in the following way:
In his tomb his epitaph is written:
Ahmad Shah's victory over the Marathas influenced the history of the subcontinent and, in particular, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 policy in the region. His refusal to continue his campaigns deeper into India prevented a clash with the East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 and allowed them to continue to acquire power and influence after their acquisition of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 in 1757. However, fear of another Afghan invasion was to haunt British policy for almost half a century after the battle of Panipat. The acknowledgment of Abdali's military accomplishments is reflected in a British intelligence report on the Battle of Panipat, which referred to Ahmad Shah as the 'King of Kings'. This fear led in 1798 to a British envoy being sent to the Persian court in part to instigate the Persians in their claims on Herat to forestall an Afghan invasion of British India. Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone
Mountstuart Elphinstone was a Scottish statesman and historian, associated with the government of British India. He later became the Governor of Bombay where he is credited with the opening of several educational institutions accessible to the Indian population...

 wrote of Ahmad Shah:
His successors, beginning with his son Timur
Timur Shah Durrani
Timur Shah Durrani , was the second ruler of the Durrani Empire from October 16, 1772, until his death in 1793. An ethnic Pashtun, he was the second and eldest son of Ahmad Shah Durrani.- Early life :...

 and ending with Shuja Shah Durrani
Shuja Shah Durrani
Shuja Shah Durrani was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1803 to 1809. He then ruled from 1839 until his death in 1842. Shuja Shah was of the Sadozai line of the Abdali group of Pashtuns...

, proved largely incapable of governing the last Afghan empire and faced with advancing enemies on all sides. Much of the territory conquered by Ahmad Shah fell to others by the end of the 19th century. They not only lost the outlying territories but also alienated some Pashtun tribes
Pashtun tribes
The Pashtun people are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and the second largest in Pakistan. Pashtun, tribes are divided into four supertribal confederacies: the Arbanee , Betanee , Gharghasht, and Karlanee .Traditionally, according to folklore, all Pashtuns are said to have descended, at...

 and those of other Durrani lineages. Until Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan was the Emir of Afghanistan between 1826 and 1863. He first ruled from 1826 to 1839 and then from 1843 to 1863. He was the 11th son of Sardar Pāyendah Khan who was killed by Zaman Shah Durrani in 1799...

's ascendancy in 1826, chaos reigned in Afghanistan, which effectively ceased to exist as a single entity, disintegrating into a fragmented collection of small countries or units. This policy ensured that he did not continue on the path of other conquerors like Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 or Muhammad of Ghor
Muhammad of Ghor
Sultan Shahāb-ud-Din Muhammad Ghori , originally called Mu'izzuddīn Muḥammad Bin Sām , was a ruler of the Ghurid dynasty who reigned over a territory spanning present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India.Shahabuddin Ghori reconquered the city of Ghazna Sultan Shahāb-ud-Din Muhammad Ghori...

 and make India the base for his empire.

In Pakistan, a short-range ballistic missile
Short-range ballistic missile
A short-range ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a range of about 1,000 km or less. They are usually capable of carrying nuclear weapons. In potential regional conflicts, these missiles would be used because of the short distances between some countries and their relative low cost...

 Abdali-I
Abdali-I
For Ahmed Shah Abdali please see Ahmed Shah AbdaliAbdali-I is a short-range ballistic missile , developed by Pakistan and currently in service of Pakistan's armed forces...

, is named in the honour of Ahmed Shah Abdali.

Ahmad Shah's poetry


Ahmad Shah wrote a collection of ode
Ode
Ode is a type of lyrical verse. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist...

s in his native Pashto language
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

. He was also the author of several poems in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

. The most famous Pashto poem he wrote was Love of a Nation:

Timeline

  • 1722: Ahmad Shah is born as Ahmad Khan in Multan or Herat.
  • 1739: At the age of 16, Ahmad Shah commands a 4,000-strong cavalry contingent in support of Nader Shah's invasion of India.
  • 1762: Ahmad Shah wins his most famous military battle defeating the Marathas at Panipat

External links