Ahmad Shah Durrani


Ahmad Shah Durrani : biography

1722 – 16 October 1772

His successors, beginning with his son Timur and ending with Shuja Shah Durrani, 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 and those of other Durrani lineages. Until Dost Mohammad Khan’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 or Muhammad of Ghor and make India the base for his empire.

In Pakistan, a short-range ballistic missile Abdali-I, is named in the honour of Ahmed Shah Abdali.http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/GI03Df02.html

Early years

Ahmad Shah was born in 1722 to Muhammed Zaman Khan Abdali, a chief of the Abdalis and governor of Herat, and Zarghuna Alakozai. It is believed that Durrani was born in the city of Herat, in present-day Afghanistan. Some claim that he was born in Multan in the Mughal Empire (present-day Pakistan) and taken as an infant with his mother Zarghuna Alakozai to Herat city where his father had served as the governor. On the contrary, several historians assert that he was born in Herat. One of the historians relied on 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 Shah’s father, Zaman Khan Abdali, was killed in a battle with the Hotakis around the time of Ahmad Shah’s birth. His family were from the Sadozai section of the Popalzai clan of the Abdalis. Ahmad Shah’s mother was from the Alakozai clan of the Abdalis. In 1729, after the invasion of Nader Shah, the young Ahmad Shah fled with his family south to Kandahar and took refuge with the Ghilzais.Fall of the Mughal Empire, Volume 1, by Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1964), p. 124 He and his brother, Zulfikar, were later imprisoned inside a fortress by Hussain Hotaki, the Ghilzai ruler of Kandahar. Shah Hussain commanded a powerful tribe of Pashtun fighters, having conquered the eastern part of Persia in 1722 with his brother Mahmud Hotaki, and trodden the throne of the Persian Safavids.

In around 1731, Nader Shah Afshar, the rising new ruler of Persia, began enlisting the Abdali Pashtuns from Herat in his army. After conquering Kandahar in 1738, Ahmad Shah and his brother were freed by Nader Shah and provided with leading careers in his administration. The Ghilzais were expelled from Kandahar city and the Abdalis began to settle in the city.C. Collin-Davies (1999). "Ahmad Shah Durrani". Encyclopaedia of Islam (CD-ROM Edition v. 1.0).

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 from the Ghilzais and then wresting Kabul 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 three times between the years 1747–1753, he captured Herat in 1750 and both Nishapur (Neyshābūr) and Mashhad in 1751.

Durrani first crossed the Indus River in 1748, the year after his ascension – his forces sacked and absorbed Lahore during that expedition. The following year (1749), the Mughal ruler was induced to cede Sindh 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. 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, 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.Sykes, Percy (2008)A History of Persia READ books. ISBN 978-1-4437-2408-1