Nasrullah Khan (Afghanistan) bigraphy, stories - Emir of Afghanistan

Nasrullah Khan (Afghanistan) : biography

1875 - 1920

Nasrullah Khan (1874–1920), sometimes spelt as Nasr Ullah Khan, was shahzada (crown prince) of Afghanistan and second son of Emir Abdur Rahman Khan. He held the throne of Afghanistan as Emir for one week, from February 21 to February 28, 1919.

Succession and death

In February 1919, Emir Habibullah Khan went on a hunting trip to Afghanistan's Laghman Province. Among those in his retinue were Nasrullah Khan, Habibullah's first son Inayatullah, and Habibullah's commander-in-chief Nadir Khan. On the evening of February 20, 1919, Habibullah was assassinated while in his tent by persons unknown, leaving Nasrullah the heir successor to the Afghan throne.

The remainder of Habibullah's party journeyed south-east to Jalalabad, and on February 21, 1919 reached that city, whereupon Nasrullah immediately declared himself Emir, supported by Habibullah's first son Inayatullah.

Upon receiving the news, Amanullah Khan, third son of Habibullah by Habibullah's first wife, immediately seized control of the treasury at Kabul and staged a coup. He took control of Kabul and the central government and imprisoned Nasrullah's supporters. On February 28, 1919, Amanullah proclaimed himself Emir, and on March 3, 1919 Nasrullah was arrested by Amanullah's forces.

On April 13, 1919, Amanullah held a Durbar (a royal court) in Kabul which inquired into the death of Habibullah. It found a colonel in the Afghanistan military guilty of the crime, and had him executed. It also found Nasrullah complicit in the assassination. Nasrullah was sentenced to life imprisonment, and was assassinated approximately one year later while in the royal jail.

During Habibullah's reign

On October 3, 1901 Nasrullah's father Abdur Rahman died, aged 57, and Nasrullah's brother Habibullah peacefully ascended the throne of Afghanistan by right of primogeniture.

Prior to his death, Abdur Rahman had sought to totally subdue any sources of opposition to his reign and the stability of Afghanistan with strict laws and restrictions. Among those affected by Abdur Rahman's restrictions was the religious establishment. Upon Abdur Rahman's death, the religious establishment sought to regain its power, and saw in Nasrullah a potential ally. Nasrullah was by this stage deeply religious and had qualified as a Hafiz, or "Repeater of the Qur'an", one who has memorised a substantial portion of the Islamic regligious texts. Throughout his adult life he advocated an Afghan policy strongly aligned with Islamic principles.

Recognising his brother as a potential contender for the throne, Habibullah went to lengths to placate and gain the support of Nasrullah. Upon Habibullah's succession to the throne he named Nasrullah commander-in-chief of the Afghan army, and also gave him the title of President of the State Council. Later in his reign, Habibullah named Nasrullah his heir to the throne in preference to Habibullah's own sons. By contrast, Nasrullah's younger brother Mohammed Omar Jar, and Mohammed's mother the Queen Dowager Bibi Hallima, both of whom were powerful political forces potentially of danger to Habibullah, were kept by Habibullah as "practically state prisoners" confined in private quarters under the guise of protection by a strong detachment of the Imperial Bodyguard (Mohammed Omar Jar having been stripped of his own personal bodyguard – and state positions – by Habibullah in 1904).

The level of influence Nasrullah enjoyed led Angus Hamilton in his 1910 book Afghanistan to describe Habibullah as a "weak-willed" ruler, and the possibility of Nasrullah making an attempt on the throne caused Hamilton to describe him as a "stormy petrel in the Afghan sea of domestic politics".

Visit to England

In 1895 the Emir Abdur Rahman Khan had intended to undertake a state visit to England to pay his respects to the ageing Queen Victoria. However, his health prevented him from making the trip, and so he instead sent his son the Shahzada Nasrullah Khan. Nasrullah departed Bombay on April 29, 1895, with an entourage of over 90 dignitaries, including "five or six" high-ranking Afghan nobles and a group of priests for the observance of religious functions. On May 23 the Shahzada landed at Portsmouth in England.

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