Ahmed Shah Abdali’s rise to power

Ahmed Khan (Later Ahmed Shah) was the second son of Zaman Khan Abdali from Saddozai clan of Afghanistan. He was born in 1722 AD at Multan and was orphaned within months of his birth.

            In 1732 he And his elder brother both left for Qandahar, where they became victim of tribal enmity and were arrested by local chief. Ahmed Khan was only 10 years old and was forced to spend his teenage under captivity. Six years later, in 1738, Nader Shah attacked Qandahar and learned about the Abdali brothers. Nader had maternal connection to the Abdali tribe, and he came to their rescue. He gave a good sum of money to the family and offered a job to Ahmed Khan.

Ahmed was well built and suitable for the post of orderly (Yaswal). He accompanied Nader Shah on several battles from Turkey to India. His bravery and skills in battlefield attracted Nader Shah’s attention, who then started training him in advanced battle techniques as well as administration.

After the victory of Delhi on 9th of March 1739, Nader Shah appointed Ahmed Khan the treasurer and Ahmed became on of the key people in Nader’s court.

While in Delhi Nader shah was informed about the prophecy of one great saint, Nizam – ul – Malook (A master in face reading), about Ahmed Khan, that one day he may become King. Nader Shah was also kept an eye on Ahmed Khan from this angle.

Nader Shah realized that some people wish to assassinate him and that his wealth might be the cause of his end. He then alerted all his nobles about his safety.

On the night of 19-20 June 1747 AD. Nader Shah was Murdered by his own personal guards, Salih Khan and Mohammed khan. Both escaped after killing the king. When Ahmed Khan came to know about this news he rushed to the tent of Nader Shah and saw the blood covered body of Nader shah. He immediately removed the royal seal from the finger of Nader Shah and took possession of Kohinoor Diamond along with other important papers and property and rushed to his place before anybody else could see him.

Due to Ahmed Khan’s quality of leadership, wisdom, bravery and skills he was elected the leader of all afghan tribes. The first thing he did was to declare that all the afghan chiefs and their tribes are now independent, free from the slavery of Persians.

In July 1747 Ahmed Khan was coronated by Darwesh Sabir Shah as Shah of Afghanistan by all tribes and chiefs. Now Ahmed Khan became Ahmed Shah Abdali.

He started the expansion of his empire from Qandahar. He could capture the city with minimum resistance. Herat at that time was left for next expedition and he headed for Kabul, 500 kilometers from Qandahar.

Ahmed Shah also started the unification of Afghan tribes. He continued his expansion towards Ghazni and Kabul.

Nawab Nasir Khan was ruling Kabul on behalf of the Mughal emperor Mohamed Shah of Delhi. Earlier, when Nader shah captured Delhi, then according to agreement the ruling powers of Kabul were transferred to Nader Shah but on arriving at Kabul Nader allowed Nasir khan to carry on the governorship under his banner. Now the things were changing rapidly after the assassination of Nader Shah. Nasir Khan was not ready to accept to work under Ahmed Shah. Soon He left his deputy there and left for Peshawar to assemble a new army to stop Abdali. However, by now, all Afghan tribes and few Persian groups had pledged their allegiance to Abdali. Disappointed Nasir Khan fled to Lahore, where on 15th, Nov. 1747, he met with few chiefs. Nawab of Lahore, Shah Nawaz Khan was already corresponding with Ahmed Shah Abdali secretly. Hence, he did not pay much attention to the proposals of Nasir Khan of Kabul. Disappointed again, Nasir Khan proceeded to Delhi and reached here on 19th December 1747.

Now it was easy for Abdali to capture Kabul with some small skirmishes and less opposition. This was a good start and he succeeded in extending the boundary of his kingdom. Later, he advanced to Darra-i-Khyber (Torkham) via Surobhi and Jalalabad. By the second week of Dec. 1747 Abdali reached Peshawar. His next target was Hindustan.

He had already seen the richness of India. His eyes were on it and the lust of expanding the borders of his empire was not letting him sleep. He started recruiting the young and brave afghans for his army from all the parts of the country. Soon, his army was 40,000 strong. He studied the geography of upper Punjab and further up to Delhi which mostly he knew when he accompanied Nader Shah. He also sent messages to the afghans and their chiefs living or ruling the various parts of India, that they should support him whenever he arrives there. This was a part of his strategy to invade India.

He invaded India eight times during 1747 – 1762 AD. In my future articles, I will write more about some of these invasions.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *