Kabul Press, World Media Home, Associated with RAHA in exile



No Censorship!

Letter to Editor

RAHA PEN CLUB, Afghanistan Centre





E- Afghanistan/Web Hosting

Kamran Mir Hazar        Letter to Editor

Abdali: Figure of Controversy

By: Soraab Balkhi

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.    
After 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 Shahs court.  Under Ahmad Shahs 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 Shahs own words than someones fabricated lies written two centuries later.  And in Ahmad Shahs 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 Khans 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 Kabuland later on Herat as well as other regionsdesperately 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 prices.    
  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 regionsthe Marathas and the Mughulsthat the entire subcontinent of India including today's Afghanistan was colonized by the British for the 19th century and well into the 20 th century.  
  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 primal needs.





  1. Monshi Mahmud Al Hussien Al Monshi Ben Ibrahim Al Jami. Tareekh Ahmad Shahi Volume 1 and 2.

  2. Caroe, Olaf. The Pathans.

  3. Alqawi, Mirza Mohammed Yaqob. Yadasht hay dar Bari Afghanistan.

  4. Kashani, Abul Hussain Ghafari. Gulshan ul Morad, Tareekh Zayed.

  5. Nafsi, Sayeed. Tareekh Ijtemai wa Syasi Iran Dawrahi Mahasir.  Vol. 1&2.

  6. Gandom, Pori Shir Mohammed. Tareekh Khorshidi Jahan Sana 1311 Hejri.

  7. Mahmud, Mahmud. Tareekh Rawabiti Syasi Iran va Englis.

  8. Panipat ki akhiri jang (Unknown Binding) by Kashi Raj

  9. Marathas : Rise and Fall B R Verma and S R Bakshi

  10. Ali, Mubarak. Yes, he did massacre and plunder Indians. Dawn. August 30, 2003.

  11. Singh, Daljeet and Kharak Singh. Ahmad Shah Abdalis Invasions. Sikhism, its philosophy and history.

  12. Singh, Sirdar Kapur. The Golden Temple: Its Theo-political Status.


Letter to Editor                                                             Go back to Index

Festival do Brasil 2006



Photo of the day

Afghanistan Press Ring

Raha PEN Club

Kabul Press

Hot Tea Weekly

Arman e Millie Daily

Free E- Books

Afghanistan Literature

New Persian Time

 E- Afghanistan

Independent Writers

Kabul Press

Art Gallery




Human Rights

AP Last News

E- Afghanistan

Download E-Book

Domain Registration

Web Design

Web Hosting

MG Strong: 5000

Email: 2500


Data Transfer: 150GB

Contact: 0093799390025

Salaam bar shomaa,

I really enjoyed reading Kabul Press on line.  Great work.  I would like to submit a paper for your consideration.  I hope you find it worthy of publishing in Kabul Press.

Best Regards,

Wali Shaaker



Top Global Newspapers: Asia    Latin America    Africa   Europe   USA    Canada    Australia  

As the mind has no boundaries, the RAHA concept does not have frontiers and is opposed to information and cultural control by global communication entities whether media conglomerates, states or local governments, or religions

Kamran Mir Hazar: Editor-in-Chief / Afghanistan/ Kabul/ Mobile: 0093 79390025/ Email: editor at kabulpress.org

info at kabulpress.org   reader at kabulpress.org

Copyright Kabul Press, World Media Home 2004 -2006

ی ی   ی یی ی

Creative Commons License