Ahmad Khan

Ahmad Khan (c.1723–1773), also known as Ahmad Shāh Durrānī and Ahmad Shāh Abdālī, was the founder of the Durrani Empire, which has become the present Afghanistan.

After fleeing northwards from Persia, Ahmad Kahn assumed as Khorasan's Emir, so founding and leading his own Durrani Empire. He subsequently led regional Pashtun forces, conquering an expansion from Punjab and Delhi at the east, to destroy the Afsharid Empire westwards.

Early lifeEdit

Ahmad Khan was borne at Multan, Punjab, Pakistan; Ahmad Khan was the second son of Sammaun-Khan, the leader of the Abdalis; particularly, the family belonged to the Popalzai clan.

In his childhood, both Ahmad Khan and his elder brother were abducted by the Ghilzais, which had conquered eastern Persia. Ahmad Khan remained imprisoned at Kandahar, until both were freed in 1738 by invading Persian forces. Kandahar was retrieved and the invading Ghilsai fled then, while the Abdalis so returned to the region.

Ahmad Khan soon was promoted from yasāwal (personal attendant) of the Shah, to command a cavalry of the Abdalis; Ahmad Khan's forces quickly grew to comprise four thousand units, and they participated in the invasion of India.

Founding the Durrani tribeEdit

Ahmad Khan managed to the Afghan region, after failing to steal the Persian treasury, when the Persian Shah, to whom the Abdalis had been of the most loyal factions, was assassinated in 1747.

Ahmad Khan then persuaded the mourning Abdali tribes, so they declared their independence; Ahmad Khan became their leader then, with the unanimous vote of all Abdali chieftains. Ahmad Khan was crowned as Ahmad Shah, at Kandahar, in October, 1747, whereas coins were minted for the occasion.

The tribe of the Abdali was quite prestigious within the Persian Empire, so in those years it was known as the Dur-i-Durran (Pear of Pearls); Ahmad Khan changed its name for his kingdom then, for the Durrani.


For his new kingdom, Ahmad Khan fueled his popularity respecting the independence of each Durrani tribe, both with accessible taxation and a fair military service. Also, he was usually engaged in military expeditions, which were mostly successful indeed, and then Ahmad Khan generously distributed the booty of each victory for his files. Furthermore, Ahmad Khan brought invaluable riches, including the Koh-i-Noor diamond, and a stolen convoy which had originally been bringing the treasures of the Persian shah.

Ahmad Khan ruled together with the Assembly of the learned, with which he discussed on religion, civil law, and even science and poetry.


In the beginning, Ahmad Khan made sure to pick his closest collaborators; these were of the most loyal prospect: Durranis, Tājiks, Kizilbāshes, and Yūzufzais. Then, in his early moves Ahmad Khan secured both Ghazni and Kabul for himself, therefore controlling the most of the current Afghanistan.

Just one year after his crowning, Ahmad Khan then led his armies, in a victorious streak:

  • 1748 Lahore
    • after crossing the Indus river for the first time, it was seized without difficulties.
  • 1747-1753, the entire Punjab region, in three campaigns.
    • In 1749, it was ceded by the Mughal shah, after Ahmad Khan threatened with seizing its capital.
  • 1750, Herat city
    • It fell after a year of siege and ferocious confrontations.
  • 1751, Nishapur (Neyshābūr) and Mashhad in 1751.
  • 1751, Lahore
    • Again eastwards, because it had been occupied by Sikhs.
  • 1752, Kashmir
  • Subsequently, the northern Hindu Kush
    • Ahmad Khan sent troops for its invasion.

By then, Ahmad Khan ruled over a territory, which comprised almost the entirety of the Afghan territory.

Invading IndiaEdit

In 1756, Ahmad Khan got engaged for revenging over the Mogul Empire, which had recaptured Lahore; Ahmad Khan then got with his army into the city of Delhi, plundering it for over a month; also the cities of Agra, Mathura, and Vrindavan suffered similar fate.

Disregarding, Ahmad Khan didn't remove the Mughals, as long Punjab, Sindh, and Kashmir remained all submitted to Ahmad Khan; a new Mughal Emperor, Alamgir II, was appointed, just on Ahmad Khan's behalf, and Ahmad Khan also disposed princely marriages for both himself and his children.

Then returning to Afghanistan, Ahmad Khan vandalized the quite venerated Golden Temple of Amritsar, filling its sacred fountains with the blood of slain local people and their cattle.

Warring for PunjabEdit

However, as Ahmad Khan left the region, the Maratha and the Sikh tribes soon overwhelmed the weakened Mughal, which had just been appointed by Ahmad Khan; the Punjab region was so taken (1758), with the ousting of its rulers.

Ahmad Khan forcibly had to come back. Although the enterprise would be difficult against an outnumbering enemy, he declared a jihad holy war, and many regional tribes then answered his call for war. Confrontations ensued since 1759; Ahmad Khan firstly secured Lahore. In January, 1761, Ahmad Khan definitively confronted the Marathas in the massive Battle of Panipat, where each side disposed 100,000 units over a 12-kilometer-wide battlefield; Ahmad Khan was the victor with his army.

Strategically aiding East TurkistanEdit

Ahmad Khan then attended the claim of the Uyghurs of East Turkistan, who were being harassed by the Qing dynasty of China. Ahman Khan responded cutting the commerce with China and dispatching troops towards Kokand; he wouldn't be able to cope though with the exhausted treasury and the lack of available troops, after attending his extensive territory. Neither, Ahmad Khan's diplomatic missions achieved anything at Beijing.

Losing PunjabEdit

By 1761, also the Sikh were revolting, growing stronger over Punjab; Ahmad Khan confronted them in 1762, effectively capturing Lahore and Amritsar. In 1764, Ahmad Khan had to return, defeating the local enemy again.

The struggle then became an obsession for Ahmad Khan, and so his armies struck again in 1766. However, in this occasion the Sikhs avoided a direct confrontation, successfully resorting to hide-and-seek tactics, and so effectively exhausting the camps of Ahmad Khan's army, which was so defeated, and so India was lost.


Despite still attending the matters of his kingdom, since 1764 Ahmad Khan was unable to leave Kabul, undergoing a prolonged, severe illness, which is suspected being facial cancer.

Ahmad Khan passed away in June, 1773, at Murghah, Afghanistan.

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