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The Dorrani Empire and After

Mirza Firuz Shah
Bahadur Shah II 1837–1857
Stacked Wooden Logs


Amir Dōst Moḥammad Khan was the first to bring the region that today constitutes Afghanistan under the control, occasionally tenuous, of a single central government. It could thus be argued that he laid the foundations of the modern Afghan state, which was developed by his descendants. He managed to rule Afghanistan by playing one segment of society against another. Unruly tribes were forcibly crushed. The chiefs of the Ḡelzī, the main rivals of the Bārakzī, were especially harshly treated, though overall Dōst Moḥammad Khan can be considered merciful in the treatment of his adversaries. He allied himself with Shiʿites, particularly the Qezelbāš and Hazāra tribes, and made use of them in his military and civil administrations. Marriage was another political instrument that he used effectively; at the time of his death he had sixteen wives. The result of these alliances was a great number of offspring, twenty-seven sons and twenty-five daughters at his death, the cause of much discord among the Moḥammadzī. Three of his sons ruled in Afghanistan as amirs: Šēr ʿAlī Khan (1280-82/1863-65, 1285-97/1868-79), Moḥammad Afżal Khan (1283-84/1866-67), and Moḥammad Aʿẓam Khan (1284-85/1867-68). Other noteworthy sons were Moḥammad Akbar Khan, Ḡolām Ḥaydar Khan, and Moḥammad Amīn Khan (Fayż Moḥammad, pp. 230-51; Gregorian, pp. 73-81; Mohan Lal, II, passim).

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