Like other countries, Afghanistan has always had its share of controversial figures. However, people have constantly
distorted history to shape those figures into what they wish them to be. Ahmad Shah Abdali is one such figure whose
actions were not carefully scrutinized by those of his own ethnicity. The Pashtuns have bestowed on him unwarranted
honor and value at the expense of the lives of his victims which consists of the people of Afghanistan , Pakistan and Indian
which includes Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. To the rest of the world, his actions convey the fact that he was nothing
more than a looting, barbaric criminal.
Ahmad Khan, born in today's Multan of Pakistan, was the son of Zaman Khan, hereditary chief
of the Abdali tribe. Zaman Khan took Ahmad Khan and his family to Kandahar where most of the people were of the Ghilzai
tribe. There was major animosity between the two tribes that Zaman Khan and his family were consequently jailed by the
Ghilzais. Then, Nadir Shah invaded Kandahar and fought with the Ghilzais. He figured the Abdali tribe to be his
allies, considering the enemy of his enemy to be his friends. He released the Abdali prisoners from jail and took a
lot of boys with him, including Ahmad Khan whom he considered to be one of the prettiest boys. After being rescued by
Nadir Shah in 1738, Ahmad Khan consequently fell into his services. Nadir Shah was known to be a child molester and
it was no surprise that he took 12-year old Ahmad Khan under his wing and the two had a very close physical relationship.
He gave Ahmad Khan command over a group of Abdali tribesmen. Nadir Shah had many servants but Ahmad Khan was
favored above the rest because of his young, handsome features. All the servants of Nadir Shah wore pearl earrings,
a feminine touch that he was very fond of. He gave Ahmad Khan the title "Dur e Durrani" (Pearl of Pearls) and which
would later on lead Ahmad Khan into changing the Abdali tribe name to the Durrani tribe.
Nadir Shah's assassination in 1747 things became a bit chaotic: Nadir Shah's generals starting fighting amongst themselves,
rumors circulated that they might have had been involved in the assassination; Ahmad Khan didn't want to take part of the
conflict and he chose the easy way out and took Nadir Shah's treasures and went to the region of Kandahar where there was
essentially a power vacuum. In Kandahar, there was tension between the Pashtuns and they couldn't stop their fighting.
They adamantly wanted to find a commonality to bind them together and looked for common leadership but couldn't agree
on a person. Saber Shah, a spiritual leader from today's Lahore who used to live in Kabul, was present during the tribal
meetings in Kandahar. The tribal leaders asked him to make the decision in choosing from the number of possible leaders.
Saber Shah knew that the region was in conflict and there weren't many good choices among the various people. The
only possibility for him was Ahmad Khan because Ahmad Khan had Nadir Shah's treasures along with a trained army under his
command. And most importantly, Ahmad Khan was an outsider and he had no claim in local problems. So despite his
young age and rumors of his being involved in Nadir Shah's assassination, Ahmad Shah became that leader for those tribes of
Pashtuns and he was no longer known as Ahmad Khan but as Ahmad Shah. Led by Ahmad Shah, the tribes violently seized
richer revenue-producing areas such as Kabul, Herat, Punjab, Kashmir, and Turkistan.
These actions exemplify the fact that to declare him as the king or founder of Afghanistan is condemnable.
Ahmad Shah was the first Pashtun ruler of that region but he was not the founder of Afghanistan because there was Khorasan
during his time, not Afghanistan. Most of the history claiming Ahmad Shah as the founder of Afghanistan was produced
in the past half century. It was in the ruling class of Pashtuns’ interest to claim Ahmad Shah was the founder
of Afghanistan. Monshi Mahmud Al Hussien Al Monshi Ben Ibrahim Al Jami was the official historian of Ahmad Shah’s
court. Under Ahmad Shah’s supervision, Monshi Mahmud wrote “Tareekhi Ahmad Shahi” (Ahmad Shahi History),
an important two volume account of history written in Farsi. Most likely Ahmad Shah went over every single sentence
of each of the volumes to make sure it was exactly as he wanted it to be because he knew they were to go down as historical
texts. So it is evident which books would be more valid and accurate, it is more reasonable to use Ahmad Shah’s
own words than someone’s fabricated lies written two centuries later. And in Ahmad Shah’s historical books,
there is not even one mention of ‘Afghanistan.’ If Ahmad Shah was the king of Afghanistan, there is no doubt that
he would have used the name ‘Afghanistan’ and would have included it in his account of history. Afghanistan
was purely a British invention which came about during Yaqub Khan’s reign. The Gandomak Treaty which he signed
with Britain in 1879 was the first document to mention the name ‘Afghanistan’ or ‘Afghanland.’ Before
1879, every ruler of the region, including Abdali, had referred themselves as the Amirs and rulers of Khorasan. So Ahmad
Shah was solely for the Pashtun tribes and had virtually nothing to do with the non-Pashtuns, except for oppressing them,
stealing their land, etc. He held the title of "King of the Afghans" not "King of Afghanistan" because at that time,
"Afghanistan" did not indicate a state but instead territories.
And so, Ahmad Shah's reign of terror
began. With his newfound powers, Ahmad Shah seized the opportunity to make his mark. He captured Ghazni from
the Ghilzai Pashtuns and then Kabul from the local ruler. He forced himself upon those areas, moving in like a parasite
would and depleting the regions. His invasions brought forth waves of chaos and havoc. The people of Ghazni and
Kabul—and later on Herat as well as other regions—desperately fought back as they did during the invasions of
Changiz Khan. For those people, there was no difference between the atrocities committed by Changiz Khan and those
committed by Ahmad Shah about six centuries later. He murdered innocent women and children, destroyed families and
homes, and stole everything in sight because he had no honor. Human life meant nothing to him as he left piles of dead
bodies in his wake. In a civilized society, a criminal like Ahmad Shah would have been punished for his crimes. Instead,
the Pashtuns bestow a twisted tribute to him, celebrating his inhumanness and taking pride in his barbaric, animalistic behavior.
People became destitute, were killed, and unnecessarily suffered greatly because of his greed and cruel behavior and
these actions are respected and admired by many Pashtuns today.
He invaded Khorasan and ransacked
the Persian treasures, making his own crown with the stolen "Koh e Noor." Maintaining leadership of various Afghan
tribes meant that one has to keep the tribes busy and satisfied. Therefore, Ahmad Shah took his fellow barbarians continuously
into India to raid and loot, telling them to take whatever and everything they can get their hands on. In 1748, he first
crossed the Indus River to take modern-day Lahore which was Hindustan at that time. In 1749, in order for the Mughul
ruler to prevent his capital from being attacked by Ahmad Shah, he was forced to relinquish Sindh and all of Punjab west of
the Indus River to the invader. In 1751, he invaded Lahore once more and looted the city from top to bottom, leaving
almost nothing left. Apart from invading Punjab three times from 1747-1753, Ahmad Shah also captured Herat in 1750
after almost a year of bloody conflict and seized both Nishpar and Meshad in 1751. To this day, the people of North
India, Panjub, and Sindh of Pakistan which include Muslim, Hindu and Sikhs associate the name Abdali with the Devil. Ahmad
Shah and his tribesmen tortured, killed, looted, and raped the people of today's Eastern Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Northern
India. They took back their booty to Kandahar and enjoyed their stolen goods. In the course of his criminal career,
he raided India nine times, stealing the valuable treasures of the Mughul Empire and everything else he could get his hands
on. His raids would last for days with unending turmoil; nobody was left with clothes to wear or food to eat; many
died from inflicted wounds or even by committing suicide while others suffered in the harsh climates because they had lost
their homes. Their livelihood, their grains, their possessions were taken by the looters and sold back to them at exorbitant
Aside from monetary possession, he was also fond of possessing women. In
1756/57 Ahmad Shah sacked Delhi during his fourth invasion of India and burgled every corner of the city. He arranged
marriages for himself and his son, Timor, into the Imperial family. Ahmad Shah had many wives to begin with but he
just couldn't resist adding the princess from the Imperial family into his collection. Despite her being royalty, he
treated her the same way he treated his other wives and his daughters. He had no respect for anybody and only way he
received respect was through leading looting sprees for his tribesman, encouraging them to steal as much as they could from
India and taking any woman they desired. His gang of barbarians would dig up people's houses to find hidden treasures,
leaving the residents homeless and despaired. Torture and beating were common practices to extort his booty which consisted
of jewels, diamonds, ornaments, etc. Leaving Timor behind to be in charged, Abdali then left India to return to Kandahar.
On his way back, he couldn't resist attacking the Golden Temple in Amristar and filled its sarovar (sacred pool) with
the blood of slaughtered cows and people. The Golden Temple is to the Sikhs what Mecca is to the Muslims so his transgressions
were of great proportions. Now, what kind of honorable man would commit such an atrocious act? He had no reason
to attack the Golden Temple but did it purely because of the evilness that ran in his blood. He knew that cows were
considered sacred by the Sikhs but he disregarded their beliefs and their values. How can such a person stand for a
model for the non-Pashtuns of Afghanistan?
The Marathas were the native Indians who fought against foreign
invaders, as would any group who had to suffer through torture from foreigners. When the Maratha chiefs declared war
on Ahmad Shah, he took this as an opportunity to cross the Indus again and attack them, setting their villages on fire.
In 1758, the Marathas gained possession of Punjab, but the victory was short-lived. On January 6, 1761, they lost to
Ahmad Shah in the great battle of Panipat. It was a tortuous time for the inhabitants of the region. The plunder
and the savage slaughtering began once more. Ahmad Shah's tribes went home to home, breaking down doors, capturing
those inside and burning them alive or cutting off their heads. There was bloodshed and destruction everywhere and nothing
and no one was spared. Men of high esteem were disintegrated into nothing, noblemen were left destitute, men's wives
and children were made captive and/or killed. In a later raid, Ahmad Shah inflected a severe defeat upon the Sikhs but
had to immediately head westward back to Kandahar to quell a rising insurrection. Meanwhile, the Sikhs rose again in
power and Ahmad Shah was forced to abandon his hopes of retaining the command over the Punjab.
Over the course of 25 years, he weakened India and its Raj and local government. He
ventured into India numerous times and each time, he returned with gold, camels, women, etc. He left a great number
of people dead, destroyed cities and lives and families. All of this seemed like fun to him and his people. Therefore,
when he died in 1773, his descendants began fighting over the throne. The British took this moment of weakness to step in
and create more division. Abdali's sons were busy fighting against and killing each other and the British aided the
brothers in staying enemies and gradually they weakened the state and took over. It is because of Ahmad Shah and his
gang of marauders who crushed the indigenous people of the regions—the Marathas and the Mughuls—that the entire
subcontinent of India including today's Afghanistan was colonized by the British for the 19th century and well into the 20
This led to the creation of modern-day Afghanistan. Since then, the non-Pashtuns
of Afghanistan have had to deal with these treacherous and corrupt Pashtuns who have occupied our land. Most Pashtuns
impose Abdali the Father of the Nation. But why should we, the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, etc. accept that title and
claim? Abdali is not the Father of our Nation. He was an untrustworthy opportunist, an invader who raided and
destroyed our land. We are still left to deal with the remaining savage descendants of Abdali such the Taliban and Mellatis.
The Father of our Nation is Saman Khuda, the man who wrestled our land back from the Arabs and established a civilized
and prosperous land. Ahmad Shah Abdali was the enemy of our nation, the destroyer of our nation. For non-Pashtuns
to celebrate and honor Abdali would be treason.
Abdali symbolizes what it means to be an "Afghan."
It doesn't matter if the definition of the word Afghan is changed to fit the modern-day needs. The fact is the
connotations behind Afghan are one that signifies a looter, criminal, barbaric murderer. He had to prove his leadership
qualities by destroyed the homes and lives of other people. He knew he had no control over his own tribesman and the
only way to obtain control was to send them on horrific raids into India. These actions illustrate that Abdali and his
Pashtun tribes were nothing more than a pack of wild, uncivilized animals that were only brought together by their uncontrollable
Al Hussien Al Monshi Ben Ibrahim Al Jami. Tareekh Ahmad Shahi Volume 1 and 2.
Caroe, Olaf. The Pathans.
Alqawi, Mirza Mohammed Yaqob. Yadasht
hay dar Bari Afghanistan.
Kashani, Abul Hussain Ghafari. Gulshan
ul Morad, Tareekh Zayed.
Nafsi, Sayeed. Tareekh Ijtemai wa Syasi
Iran Dawrahi Mahasir. Vol. 1&2.
Gandom, Pori Shir Mohammed. Tareekh Khorshidi
Jahan Sana 1311 Hejri.
Mahmud, Mahmud. Tareekh
Rawabiti Syasi Iran va Englis.
Panipat ki akhiri jang (Unknown Binding)
by Kashi Raj
Marathas : Rise and Fall B R Verma
and S R Bakshi
Ali, Mubarak. “Yes, he did massacre
and plunder Indians.” Dawn. August 30, 2003.
Singh, Daljeet and Kharak Singh. “Ahmad
Shah Abdali’s Invasions.” Sikhism, it’s philosophy and history.
Singh, Sirdar Kapur. “The Golden Temple:
Its Theo-political Status.”