The Durrani Empire (Pashto: د درانیانو واکمني, also referred to as the Afghan Empire) was a monarchy centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the modern state of Pakistan as well as the Punjab region of India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief of the Abdali tribe. After the death of Ahmad Shah in about 1773, the Emirship was passed onto his children followed by grandchildren and its capital was shifted to Kabul. Ahmad Shah and his descendants were from the Sadozai line of the Abdalis (later called Durranis), making them the second Pashtun rulers of Kandahar, after the Ghilzai Hotakis.
With the support of tribal leaders, Ahmad Shah Durrani extended Afghan control from Meshed to Kashmir and Delhi, from the Amu Darya to the Arabian Sea.Next to the Ottoman Empire, the Durrani was the greatest Muslim Empire in the second half of the eighteenth century The Durrani Empire is considered the foundation of the current state of Afghanistan,with Ahmad Shah Durrani being credited as "Father" of Afghanistan.]Even before the death of Nader Shah of Persia in 1747, tribes around the Hindu Kush region had been growing stronger and were beginning to take advantage of the waning power of their distant rulers.
Nader Shah's Turkmen Afsharid rule ended in June 1747 after being murdered by his Persian soldiers. In October of 1747, when the chiefs of the Afghans met at a loya jirga (grand council) in Kandahar to select a new ruler for the Abdali confederation, the young 25-year-old Ahmad Shah Abdali was chosen. Despite being younger than other claimants, Abdali had several overriding factors in his favor:
• He was a direct descendant of Asadullah Khan, patriarch of the Sadozai clan, the most prominent tribe amongst the Pashtun people at the time;
• He was unquestionably a charismatic leader and seasoned warrior who had at his disposal a trained, mobile force of 4,000 loyal cavalrymen
• Not least, he possessed a substantial part of Nadir Shah's treasury.
One of Abdali's first acts as chief was to adopt the title Padshah durr-i durrān ('King, "pearl of the age" or "pearl of pearls"). The name may have been suggested, as some claim, from Abdali's dream, or as others claim, from the pearl earrings worn by the royal guard of Nadir Shah. The Abdali Pashtuns were known thereafter as the Durrani, and the name of the Abdali confederation was changed to Durrani.
Ahmad Shah began his rule by capturing Ghazni from the Ghilzais, and then wresting Kabul from the local ruler. In 1749, the Mughal ruler was induced to cede Sindh, the Punjab region and the important trans Indus River to Ahmad Shah in order to save his capital from Afghan attack. Having thus gained substantial territories to the east without a fight, Ahmad Shah turned westward to take possession of Herat, which was ruled by Nader Shah's grandson, Shah Rukh of Persia. Herat fell to Ahmad after almost a year of siege and bloody conflict, as did Mashhad (in present-day Iran). Ahmad Shah next sent an army to subdue the areas north of the Hindu Kush mountains. In short order, the powerful army brought under its control the Turkmen, Uzbek, Tajik and Hazaras tribes of northern Afghanistan. Ahmad invaded the remnants of the Mughal Empire a third time, and then a fourth, consolidating control over the Punjab and Kashmir regions. Then, early in 1757, he sacked Delhi, but permitted the Mughal dynasty to remain in nominal control of the city as long as the ruler acknowledged Ahmad Shah's suzerainty over Punjab, Sindh, and Kashmir. Leaving his second son Timur Shah to safeguard his interests, Ahmad Shah left India to return to Afghanistan.
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