Ahmad Shah Durrani

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Ahmad Shah Durrani : biography

1722 – 16 October 1772

Rise of the Sikhs in the Punjab

During the Third Battle of Panipat between Marathas and Ahmad Shah, 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.

Commander in the Afsharid military

Nader Shah favoured Ahmad Shah not only because he came from a well respected noble Afghan family but also due to his handsome features as well as both being Khorasanians. Ahmad Shah 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,Griffiths, John. C (2001) Afghanistan: A History of Conflict p12 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.Singer, Andre (1983) Lords of the Khyber. The story of the North West Frontier "Nader Shah used to say in admiration that he had not met in Iran, Turan, and Hindustan any man of such laudable talents as Ahmad Abdali possessed.", by Jaywant D. Joglekar, pg. 81. Lulu.com, 2006. ISBN 1-8472-8302-0

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 Shah 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 Shah 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,Olaf Caroe, The Pathans (1981 reprint) and headed back to Kandahar. On their way back to Kandahar, the Abdalis had decided that Ahmad Shah would be their new leader, and already began calling him as Ahmad Shah.