Dost Mohammad Khan

Dost Mohammad Khan

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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
Sardar is a title of Indo-Aryan origin that was originally used to denote feudal princes, noblemen, and other aristocrats. It was later applied to indicate a Head of State, a Commander-in-chief, and an Army military rank...

 Pāyendah Khan (chief of the Barakzai tribe) who was killed by Zaman Shah Durrani
Zaman Shah Durrani
Zaman Shah Durrani , , was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1793 until 1800. He was the grandson of Ahmad Shah Durrani and the fifth son of Timur Shah Durrani...

 in 1799. He was the grandson of Hajji
Hajji or El-Hajj, is an honorific title given to a Muslim person who has successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca, and is often used to refer to an elder, since it can take time to accumulate the wealth to fund the travel. The title is placed before a person's name...

 Jamal Khan who founded the Barakzai dynasty in 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...

. He belonged to the 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...

 ethnic group.

Background and rise to power

Dost Mohammad Khan was born to an influential family on December 23, 1793. His father, Payandah Khan, was chief of the Barakzai tribe and a civil servant in the Durrani dynasty
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...

. They trace their family tree to Abdal (the first and founder of the 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...

 tribe), through Hajji Jamal Khan, Yousef, Yaru, Mohammad, Omar Khan, Khisar Khan, Ismail, Nek, Daru, Saifal, and Barak. Abdal had Four sons, Popal
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...

, Barak, Achak, and Alako
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...

. Dost Mohmmad Khan's mother is believed to have been a Shia from the Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 Qizilbash group.

His elder brother, the chief of the Barakzai, Fatteh Khan, took an important part in raising Mahmud Shah Durrani
Mahmud Shah Durrani
Mahmud Shah Durrani was born Prince and ruler of the Durrani Empire between 1801 and 1803, and again between 1809 and 1818...

 to the sovereignty of Afghanistan in 1800 and in restoring him to the throne in 1809. Mahmud Shah repaid Fatteh Khan's services by having him assassinated in 1818, thus incurring the enmity of his tribe. After a bloody conflict, Mahmud Shah was deprived of all his possessions but 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...

, the rest of his dominions being divided among Fatteh Khan's brothers. Of these, Dost Mohammad received Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

, to which in 1826 he added 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...

, the richest of the Afghan provinces.

From the commencement of his reign he found himself involved in disputes with Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.-Early life:...

, the 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"...

 ruler of the Punjab
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...

, who used the dethroned Sadozai prince, 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...

, as his instrument. In 1834 Shuja Shah made a last attempt to recover his kingdom. He was defeated by Dost Mohammad Khan under the walls of 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...

, but Maharaja Ranjit Singh seized the opportunity to annex Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

. The recovery of this fortress became the Afghan amir's great concern.

Problems with British India

Rejecting overtures from Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, he endeavoured to form an alliance with Great Britain, and welcomed Alexander Burnes
Alexander Burnes
Captain Sir Alexander Burnes was a Scottish traveller and explorer who took part in The Great Game. He was nicknamed Bokhara Burnes for his role in establishing contact with and exploring Bukhara, which made his name.-Early life:He was born in Montrose, Scotland, to the son of the local provost,...

 to Kabul in 1837. Burnes, however, was unable to prevail on the governor-general, Lord Auckland
George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland
George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, GCB, PC was a British Whig politician and colonial administrator. He was thrice First Lord of the Admiralty and also served as Governor-General of India between 1836 and 1842....

, to respond to the amir's advances. Dost Mohammad was enjoined to abandon the attempt to recover Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

, and to place his foreign policy under British guidance. He replied by renewing his relations with Russia, and in 1838 Lord Auckland set the British troops in motion against him.


In March 1839 the British force under Willoughby Cotton
Willoughby Cotton
Lieutenant General Sir Willoughby Cotton GCB, KCH was a British soldier. During his career, Cotton played major roles in the First Anglo–Burmese War, the 1831-32 slave revolt in Jamaica and the First Anglo-Afghan War....

 advanced through the Bolan Pass
Bolan Pass
The Bolan Pass is a mountain pass through the Toba Kakar Range of Balochistan province in western Pakistan, 120 kilometres from the Afghanistan border....

, and on April 26 it reached Kandahar. Shah Shuja was proclaimed amir, and entered Kabul on August 7, while Dost Mohammad sought refuge in the wilds 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...

. Closely followed by the British, Dost was driven to extremities, and on November 4, 1840 surrendered as a prisoner. He remained in captivity during the British occupation, during the disastrous retreat
Massacre of Elphinstone's Army
The Massacre of Elphinstone's Army was the destruction by Afghan forces, led by Akbar Khan, the son of Dost Mohammad Khan, of a combined British and Indian force of the British East India Company, led by Major General William Elphinstone, in January 1842....

 of the army of occupation in January 1842, and until the recapture of Kabul in the autumn of 1842.

Second reign

He was then set at liberty, in consequence of the resolve of the British government to abandon the attempt to intervene in the internal politics of Afghanistan. On his return from Hindustan, Dost Mohammad was received in triumph at Kabul, and set himself to re-establish his authority on a firm basis. From 1846 he renewed his policy of hostility to the British and allied himself with the Sikhs. However, after the defeat of his allies at Gujrat
Gujrat is a city in Pakistan. It is the capital of Gujrat District and the Gujrat Tehsil subdivision in the Punjab Province. People living in Gujrat refer to themselves as Gujratis, which sometimes leads to confusion with people from the Indian state of Gujarat which adjoins Pakistan...

 on February 21, 1849, he abandoned his designs and led his troops back into Afghanistan. In 1850 he conquered Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

, and in 1854 he acquired control over the southern Afghan tribes by the capture of Kandahar.

On March 30, 1855 Dost Mohammad reversed his former policy by concluding an offensive and defensive alliance with the British government, signed by Sir Henry Lawrence
Henry Montgomery Lawrence
Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence was a British soldier and statesman in India, who died defending Lucknow during the Indian Mutiny.-Career:Lawrence was the brother of John Lawrence, 1st Baron Lawrence and was born at Matara, Ceylon...

, Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, first proposed by Herbert Edwardes
Herbert Benjamin Edwardes
Major-General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes DCL KCSI KCB was an English administrator, soldier, and statesman active in the Punjab, India. He is best known as the "Hero of Multan" for his pivotal role in securing the British victory in the Second Anglo-Sikh War.-Early life:Edwardes was born at...

. In 1857 he declared war on Persia in conjunction with the British, and in July a treaty was concluded by which the province of Herat was placed under a Barakzai prince. During the Indian Mutiny, Dost Mohammad refrained from assisting the insurgents. His later years were disturbed by troubles at Herat and in Bokhara. These he composed for a time, but in 1862 a Persian army, acting in concert with Ahmad Khan, advanced against Kandahar. The old amir called the British to his aid, and, putting himself at the head of his warriors, drove the enemy from his frontiers. On May 26, 1863 he captured Herat, but on the 9th of June he died suddenly in the midst of victory, after playing a great role in the history of Central Asia for forty years. He named as his successor his son, Sher Ali Khan
Sher Ali Khan
Sher Ali Khan was Amir of Afghanistan from 1863 to 1866 and from 1868 until his death in 1879. He was the third son of Dost Mohammed Khan, founder of the Barakzai Dynasty in Afghanistan....



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