Ahmad Shah Durrani, also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali or Ahmad Khan Abdali, was the founder of the Durrani Empire and the contemporary state of Afghanistan.
Between 1748 and 1767, Ahmad Shah Abdali (or Ahmad Shah Durrani), who was elected as Nadir Shah’s successor following the latter’s death in 1747, invaded India many times.
Ahmad Shah Abdali (so called because of the name of his tribe ooloos) was a young Afghan officer of noble lineage.
Nadir Shah held high opinion about his merits and once said, “I have not found in Iran, Turan or Hind any man equal to Ahmad Shah Abdali in capacityand character.”
After the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747, Ahmad Shah declared himself as ruler of Kandhar.
Ahmad Shah Abdali
Abdali was born in Multan (then Mughal Empire, now Pakistan) in 1722 to Mohammad Zaman Khan, governor of Herat and leader of the Abdali clan.
Durrani’s forebears were Sadozais, while his mother was Alakozai.
The Abdali soldiers led by Zulfiqar surrendered to Nader Shah Afshar, the emerging new ruler of Persia, in June 1729. However, they soon started a rebellion and took over Herat and Mashhad.
He defeated Ibrahim Khan, a military leader, and Nader Shah’s brother, in July 1730.
Since roughly 1729, Nader Shah had been enrolling the Abdalis in his army. Durrani and his brother Zulfiqar were liberated and given prominent positions in Nader Shah’s government after the conquest of Kandahar in 1738.
Durrani continued as Nader Shah’s personal attendant, while Zulfiqar was appointed Governor of Mazandaran.
Durrani distinguished himself in Nader Shah’s service, rising from the rank of a personal attendant (yaswal) to head the Abdali Regiment, a cavalry of 4,000 troops and commanders.
During Nader Shah’s invasion of the Mughal Empire in 1738, the Abdali Regiment formed part of his troops.
The Durrani Kingdom, also known as the Sadozai Kingdom and the Afghan Empire, was a Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and South Asian empire created and constructed by Ahmad Shah Abdali.
The empire reigned over modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as areas of northeastern and southeastern Iran, eastern Turkmenistan, and northern India at its peak.
The Durrani Empire was the strongest Muslim empire of the second part of the eighteenth century, second only to the Ottoman Empire.
Ahmad Shah Abdali unified the many Pashtun tribes and established the Durrani Empire with his Baloch allies, which comprised modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as sections of northeastern Iran, eastern Turkmenistan, and northwestern India, including the Kashmir area, at its zenith.
During the early half of the nineteenth century, the Durranis were succeeded by the Barakzai dynasty.
Ahmad Shah and his descendants descended from the Durrani Popalzai line (formerly known as the Abdalis), making them the second Pashtun kings of Kandahar after the Hotak dynasty.
The Durranis rose to prominence in the second part of the 18th century, owing mostly to the leadership of Ahmad Shah Durrani.
Ahmed Shah Abdali – Indian Invasion
Between 1748 and 1767, Ahmad Shah Durrani invaded India eight times.
Following Nadir Shah’s demise, Ahmad Shah Durrani ascended to the Afghan throne and began pillaging wealth from neighbouring territories.
He also issued coins bearing his name. Soon after he seized Kabul and founded the modern kingdom of Afghanistan. He enlisted a large army of 50,000. As the rightful successor of Nadir, he laid claim to Western Panjab.
Ahmad Shah Abdali’s first invasion of India in 1748 ended in a fiasco. Abdali was not a man to be easily baulked. Early in 1749 he again crossed the frontier and defeated Muin-ul-Mulk, the Governor of the Panjab. However, he was induced to return on a promise by Muin-ul-Mulk of an annual remittance of fourteen thousand rupees.
As he did not get regularly the promised tribute, Abdali invaded India the third time in 1752. Fearing a repetition of Nadir’s outrages, the Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah appeased Abdali by surrender of the Panjab and Sindh. To restore order in the Panjab which had been a prey to anarchyafter the death of Muin-ul-Mulk, in November 1753 Wazir Imad-ul-Mulk appointed Adina beg Khan as Governor of the Panjab.
This was, however, interpreted as interference in the affairs of the Panjab by Abdali who crossed into Indian territory for the fourth time in November 1756. In January 1757 the invader entered Delhi and plundered as far as Mathura and Agra. In 1757, Abdali seized Delhi and left an Afghan caretaker to keep an eye on the Mughal emperor.
Before his return Abdali recognised Alamgir II as the emperor, Imad-ul-Daula as the Wazir and the Rohilla chief Najib-ud-Daula as his personal “supreme agent” and as Mir Bakhshi of the empire.
In March 1758 Raghunath Rao appeared at Delhi, expelled Najib from the capital and later overran the Panjab, appointing Adina Beg as governor of the Panjab on behalf of the Peshwa. Abdali returned to India in 1759 to avenge on the Marathas.
The third battle of Panipat was fought on 14 January 1761, resulting in the total defeat of the Marathas.
Before leaving Delhi on 20 March 1761 Abdali named Shah Alam II as emperor, Imad-ul-Mulk as Wazir and Najib-ud-Daula as Mir Bakhshi.
The last of Abdali’s invasions came in 1767. Ahmad Shah Abdali’s invasions hastened the downfall of the Mughal Empire. The frequency of his invasions further exposed the rottenness of the Mughal Empire and created anarchy and contusion all round.
So shallow was the reality of the Mughal Empire that the new Emperor Shah Alam II was not allowed to enter Delhi for twelve years and was escorted to his throne in 1772 only by the Marathas. The Rohilla leaders Najib-ud-Daula and later his son Zabita Khan and grandson Ghulam Qadir exercised undisputed power at Delhi.
On 30July 1788 Ghulam Qadir took possession of the royal palace and deposed Shah Alam and later blinded him completely (10 August 1788). It was the Maratha leader Mahadaji Sindhia who recovered Delhi for the emperor once again in October 1788.
In 1803 the English captured the imperial city and Shah Alam II became a pensioner of the East India Company.
Third Battle of Panipat
The battle took place at Panipat (in Haryana)on 14 January 1761, between the invading Afghan forces and the Maratha forces.
The Afghans were led by their king Ahmed Shah Durrani, who got help from the Rohilla Afghans of the Doab and Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Awadh. On the other hand, the Marathas failed to get the support of the Sikhs or the Jats or the Rajputs.
The commander-in-chief of the Maratha camp was Sadashivrao Bhau. Other important commanders in the Maratha side were Vishwasrao (the Peshwa Balaji Bajirao’s son), Malharrao Holkar and Mahadji Shinde.
The fight is regarded as one of the largest fought in the 18th century, with the most casualties known in a single day in a typical formation combat between two armies.
With no supplies and dying warriors, the Maratha leaders pleaded with their commander, Sadashiv Rao Bhau, to let them die in combat rather than starve to death.
The Marathas left their camp to march towards the Afghan camp in a desperate bid to break the siege.
Over 125,000 men were involved in the conflict, which lasted many days. Prolonged clashes erupted, with both forces suffering losses and gaining ground.
After defeating many Maratha flanks, the armies headed by Ahmad Shah Durrani emerged triumphant.
The magnitude of both sides’ casualties is estimated to be between 60,000–70,000 dead in battle, with the number of injured and captives taken varying greatly. The day following the fight, around 40,000 Maratha captives were killed in cold blood.
Durrani returned to his capital after the war and did not stay in India. He ordered the chiefs in India, which included Robert Clive of the East India Company to recognise the Mughal Shah Alam II as the Emperor.
The fight halted future Maratha advances in the north and destabilised their territory for almost ten years.
In 1771, ten years after Panipat, Peshwa Madhavrao led a huge Maratha force into North India in an attempt to re-establish Maratha dominance in the region.
Punish obstinate powers that had either joined with the Afghans, like as the Rohillas, or had shrugged from Maratha dominance following Panipat.
This campaign’s triumph might be viewed as the final chapter in the protracted narrative of Panipat.