V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1792–1914 > 2. The Middle East and Egypt, 1796–1914 > c. Afghanistan
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1793–1800)
c. Afghanistan
MAHMUD SHAH (FIRST REIGN). He assumed power during a period of instability, when the Afghan territories were fragmented among various family members supported by tribal factions. Affairs of state were directed by the powerful prime minister Fath Khan of the Afghan Barakzay clan.  1
SHOJA SHAH (FIRST REIGN). He came to power after he ousted his brother Mahmud.  2
1809, June 17
A treaty of friendship between the Afghans and the British was signed. Shoja Shah met at Peshawar with the British representative, Mountstuart Elphinstone, to negotiate a joint defense against the threat of a combined invasion of India by Napoleon and Alexander I of Russia.  3
MAHMUD SHAH (SECOND REIGN). He was returned to power with the help of Fath Khan, who became immensely powerful. Their efforts to consolidate the state collapsed in 1818 with the assassination of Fath Khan by the ruler's jealous son Kamran. This precipitated a badal (vendetta) between Afghan clan factions in which the brother of the murdered prime minister, Dost Muhammad, drove Mahmud Shah out of Kabul. Mahmud withdrew to Herat, which he ruled until his death in 1829. His son Kamran continued to rule there until 1842, when the area fell to Iran.  4
The Sikhs captured Kashmir.  5
DOST MUHAMMAD, FOUNDER OF THE BARAKZAY (OR MUHAMMADZAY) DYNASTY. The collapse of the ruling Sadozay family brought to power the Barakzay clan of the Durranis, whose power had increased since the late 18th century and was to remain dominant into the 20th century.  6
The chief aim of Dost Muhammad was the reunification of the country, a task for which he needed both a stronger Afghan economy and an army reformed according to European example. He turned formerly tax-exempt land grants held by local Durrani clans into prime sources of state revenue through violent confiscation and the appointment of special tax agents. Tax collection in the provinces was overseen by his sons. Dost Muhammad was determined to increase the size of his standing army to lessen his dependence on unruly clan support.  7
Capture of Peshawar by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. The loss of Peshawar and the fertile land near the Indus River weakened the economy of Afghanistan by severing a lucrative source of revenue. With the loss of its Indian territories, the Afghan kingdom became a more compact territory whose difficult mountainous terrain and plateaus made it easier to defend against military threats from Iran, Russia, and Britain.  8
Dost Muhammad took the title emir al-mu'minin (commander of the faithful) in preparation for his holy war against the Sikhs. His attempt to recapture Peshawar failed.  9
Official mission of the Russian diplomat Ivan Vitkevich to Kabul, part of the Russian competition with Britain over influence in Afghanistan.  10
FIRST BRITISH-AFGHAN WAR (See 1839–42). With the aim of overthrowing Dost Muhammad and reinstalling the Sadozay ruler Shah Shoja, the British launched an ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan. A British-Indian army took Qandahar and Kabul, installed Shah Shoja as a British puppet (Aug. 1839), and deported Dost Muhammad (1840). But Afghan resistance culminated in an uprising in Kabul in Jan. 1842 and a retreat of the British troops that ended in their virtual destruction. Shah Shoja was assassinated, and Dost Muhammad returned to power in Kabul.  11
DOST MUHAMMAD (SECOND REIGN). The restored Barakzay ruler reconsolidated the Afghan state by recapturing Qandahar and then taking Herat from Iran (1863).  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.