Afghans in India History

Afghans in India History

In 1227, after the death of Genghis Khan, his vast empire fell into pieces. In Afghanistan some local chiefs succeeded in establishing independent principalities and others acknowledged Mongol princes as suzerains.

This state of affairs continued until the end of the 14 century, when Timur (Tamurlane) conquered a large part of the country, Timur’s successors, the Timurids, were great patrons of learning and the arts who enriched their capital city of Herat with fine buildings.

Under their rule (1404-1507) Afghanistan enjoyed peace and prosperity Early in the 16th century the Uzbeks, a Turkish people, rose to power in Central Asia under Muhammad Shaybani, who triumphantly entered Herat in 1507.

Afghan – Medieval Indian History –

Babur a direct descendant of Genghis and Timur and the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, made Kabul the capital of an independent principality in 1504. In December 1510, the Safavid Shah Esmail, to averge an insult, attached Shaybani, besieged him in Merv, and slew him in an ambush.

During the next 200 years Afghanistan had no political identity and was parcelled between the Mughals of India and the Safavids of Persia-the former holding Kabul north to the Hindukush and the latter Herat and Farah Qandahar was for many years in dispute.

Overthrow of Foreign Rule. Periodic indigenous attempts were made to gain independence. In 1709, Mir Veys Khan, an influential leader of the Hotaki Ghilzay tribe, led a successful rising against Gorgin Khan, the Persian governor of Qandahar.

The Hotakis. Mir Veys Khan governed Qandahar until his death in 1715. In 1716 the Abdalis of Herat, encouraged by his example, took up arms against the Persians and under their leader, Asadullah Khan, succeeded in liberating their province.

Mughal dynasty in India,

Mahmud, Mir Veys’s young son and successor, was not content with holding Qandahar, and in 1722 he led about 20,000 men agains Isfahan; the Safavid government surrendered after a six month siege.

Mahmud immediately set out to reorganize the Persian administration and economy, but he died in 1725. His young cousin Ashraf, who succeeded him, came to power at a critical time : the Afghans in Persia were threatened on all sides, the Russians were advancing from the north, and the Ottoman Turks seized part of western Persia.

Afghan chiefs

Internal strife and Jealousy among the Afghan chiefs made the situation worse. Shah Ashraf halted the Russian advance at Darband and in 1726 inflicted a crushing defeat on the Turks, who were marching on the capital.

Meanwhile, news was brought to him that a brigand chief, Nader Qoli Beg, had attacked Tus and was on his way to take Meshed and Herat. Collecting all available troops Ashraf hastened northward to meet him but was defeated at Damghan on October 2, 1729. The Afghan position in Persia was thereafter untenable, and during the retreat Ashraf himself was murdered, probably on orders from his cousin, who was then holding Qandahar.

Nader Shah. After consolidating his position in Persia, Nader Qoli Beg marched against Herat in 1732. The besieged fought desperately, but dissension forced them to sue for peace. Impressed by their valour, Nader treated them with courtesy and recruited many of them into his own army He was elected Shah of Persia, with the name Nader Shah, in 1736.

Separation of Afghanistan from India

Separation of Afghanistan from India, In 1737 Nader Shah advanced with an army of 80,000 men against Qandahar. The city fell after a ycar’s siege, and Nader then came into conflict with the Mughal Empire of India. He seized Ghazna and Kabul and, advancing into India, defeated the Mughals at Karnal, north of Delhi, in 1739 Then, having seized the jewels and treasure of the capital, including the Koh-i-noor diamond and the famous peacock throne, he returned to Persia.
He was assassinated at Khabushan in 1747.

The Durrani Dynasty. The empire disintegrated after the death of Nader Shah. His personal bodyguard of 4,000 Afghans, commanded by Ahmad Khan Abdali, returned to Qandahar, where Ahmad Khan was elected king (shah) by a tribal council.

He adopted the title of Durrani (“Pearl of Pearls”) and was henceforth known as Ahmad Shah Durrani. A highly personable and charismatic leader, Ahmad Shah gained the respect of the tribal leaders and succeeded in establishing his authority throughout the Afghan area.


He also extended Afghan’s rule from Meshed to Kashmir and Delhi, from the Amu Darya to the Arabian Sea. Next to the Ottoman Empire, that of the Durrani was the greatest Muslim empire in the second half of the 18th century.

Ahmad Shah’s popularity, coupled with his indomitable courage and martial virtues, won him the title of baba (“father,” thus implying that he was “father of the nation”).

When Ahmad Shah died in 1772, he was succeeded by his son, Timur Shah, who received but nominal homage from the tribal chieftains. Much of Timur’s reign was spent in quelling their rebellions. Because of this tribal opposition, Timur shifted his capital from Qandahar to Kabul in 1776 Zaman Shah (1793-1800).

After the death of Timur in 1793, his fifth son, Zaman, seized the throne with the help of Sardar Payenda Khan, an influential chief of the Barakzay. Zaman then turned to India with the object of repeating the exploits of Ahmad Shah. The move alarmed the British,

Who induced Fath Ali Shah of Persia to bring pressure upon the Afghan king and to divert his attention from India. The Shah went a step further, helping Mahmud governor of Herat and brother of Zaman, with men and money and encouraging him to advance Qandahar Mahmud assisted by his Vizier,

Fath Khan Barakzay, eldest son of Sardar Payenda Khan, and by Fath Ali Shah, took Qundahar and then pushed on toward Kabul. Zaman, in India, hurried back to Afghanistan. There, after various vicissitudes, he was handed over to Mahmud, blinded, and imprisoned in the Bala Hissar fort at Kabul (1800).

The Durran Empire had begun to disintegrate after 1798, when Zaman Shah appointed a Sikh, Ranjit Singh, as governor of Lahore.

Afghans in India

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