(Last Updated on : 29/01/2009)
Ahmed Shah Abdali, also known as Ahmad Shah Durrani was the founder of the great Durrani dynasty. His birth took place in Multan, which is a city in the province of Punjab
and now is a part of the modern Pakistan. He was the second son of the Chief of the Abdalis, Mohammed Zaman Khan. In his youth, Hussain Khan, the governor of Kandahar for Ghalzais, imprisoned Ahmed Shah Abdali and his elder brother. Later on Nadir Shah freed them, after his conquest of Kandahar in 1736-37. In the following ages they distinguished themselves in different battles and pledged their loyalty to nadir Shah.
After the assassination of Nadir Shah in 1747, one of his generals, Ahmad Shah Abdali rose to power and successfully established himself as the independent ruler of Afghanistan. He styled himself as Durr-i-Durran or 'the pearl of the age' and henceforth came to be known as the Durrani. When Ahmad Shah Abdali accompanied Nadir to India he witnessed the weakness of the empire and soon after he led several expeditions to India. Besides establishing political authority there were other motives, which encouraged him for this expeditions. He invaded India for the first time in January 1748, for the second time in 1750 A.D. and then again for the third time in December 1751. Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded India for the fifth time in October 1759. The invasions of Ahmad Shah Abdali affected India in several ways: the dismemberment of the tottering Mughal Dynasty
, serious check to the rapidly spreading Maratha imperialism, indirectly helped the rise of Sikh power and kept the East India Company
under great anxiety both during the lifetime of Ahmad Shah Abdali and even after his death.
The victory in the Battle of Panipat
was the high point of both the power of Ahmed Shah Abdali and that of the Afghans. In fact his empire was among the largest Islamic empires in the world at that time. But soon the mighty empire began to unravel and as early as by the end of 1762 the dynasty collapsed like a pack of cards. After this Ahmed Shah Abdali, had to hasten westward to quell an insurrection in Afghanistan and also had to buy peace with the Uzbek emir of Bukhara. In 1772 Ahmed Shah Abdali retired to his abode in Maruf in the mountains lying to the east of Kandahar. He expired in the month of October in the same year and was succeeded by his son Timur Shah Durrani. The successors of Ahmad Shah Abdali proved incapable of governing the empire and faced foreign invasions from all sides and within 50 years of Ahmad Shah Abdali's death it came to an end. The achievements of Ahmad Shah Abdali were considerable and the monarch had been successful to a remarkable extent in balancing tribal alliances and hostilities and also in directing tribal forces away from rebellion. The Koh-i-noor diamond became the possession of Ahmed Shah Abdali through devious means after the death of Nadir Shah and after a series of long battles he held on to the great diamond as a symbol of his authority. His inclination towards art and literature is evident from the collection of odes in his native Pashto language and he was also the author of several Persian poems.