|Intro||First Emir of Afghanistan (1823-1863)|
|A.K.A.||Dost Mohammad, Dost Mohammad Khan, Dost Mohammed|
|Birth||23 December 1793, Kandahar, Afghanistan|
|Death||9 June 1863, Herat, Afghanistan (aged 69 years)|
Dost Mohammad Khan (Pashto: دوست محمد خان, December 23, 1793 – June 9, 1863) was the founder of the Barakzai dynasty and one of the prominent rulers of Afghanistan during the First Anglo-Afghan War. With the decline of the Durrani dynasty, he became Emir of Afghanistan from 1826 to 1839 and then from 1843 to 1863. An ethnic Pashtun, he was the 11th son of Sardar Payendah Khan (chief of the Barakzai tribe) who was killed in 1799 by Zaman Shah Durrani. Dost Mohammad's grandfather was Hajji Jamal Khan.
The Musahiban family started with his older brother, Sultan Mohammad Khan, nicknamed "Telai", meaning "golden", a nickname he was given because of his love of fine clothing. This brother was the ruler of Peshawar.
Background and rise to power
Dost Mohammad Khan was born to an influential family on 23 December 1793 in Kandahar, Durrani Empire. His father, Payinda Khan, was chief of the Barakzai Tribe and a civil servant in the Durrani dynasty. Their family can be traced back to Abdal (the first and founder of the Abdali tribe), through Hajji Jamal Khan, Yousef, Yaru, Mohammad, Omar Khan, Khisar Khan, Ismail, Nek, Daru, Saifal, and Barak. Abdal had Four sons, Popal, Barak, Achak, and Alako. Dost Mohmmad Khan's mother is believed to have been from the Qizilbash group.
His elder brother, the chief of the Barakzai, Fateh Khan, took an important part in raising Mahmud Shah Durrani to the sovereignty of Afghanistan in 1800 and in restoring him to the throne in 1809. Dost Mohammad accompanied his elder brother and then Prime Minister of Kabul Wazir Fateh Khan to the Battle of Attock against the invading Sikhs. Mahmud Shah repaid Fateh Khan's services by having him assassinated in 1818, thus incurring the enmity of his tribe. After a bloody conflict, Mahmud Shah was deprived of all his possessions but Herat, the rest of his dominions being divided among Fateh Khan's brothers. Of these, Dost Mohammad received Ghazni, to which in 1826 he added Kabul, the richest of the Afghan provinces.
From the commencement of his reign he found himself involved in disputes with Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of the Punjab region, who used the dethroned Sadozai prince, Shah Shujah Durrani, as his instrument. In 1834 Shah Shujah made a last attempt to recover his kingdom. He was defeated by Dost Mohammad Khan under the walls of Kandahar, but Ranjit Singh seized the opportunity to annex Peshawar. Dost Mohammad sent his son Akbar Khan to defeat the Sikhs at the Battle of Jamrud in 1837. The non- recovery of the Jamrud Fort became the Afghan Amir's worst concern.
European influence in Afghanistan
At the intersection of British, Russian and, to a lesser degree, French imperial interests, political maneuvering was necessary. Rejecting overtures from Russia, he endeavoured to form an alliance with Great Britain, and welcomed Alexander Burnes to Kabul in 1837. Burnes, however, was unable to prevail on the governor-general, Lord Auckland, to respond to the emir's advances. Dost Mohammad was enjoined to abandon the attempt to recover Peshawar, and to place his foreign policy under British guidance. He replied by renewing his relations with Russia, and in 1838 Lord Auckland set the British troops in motion against him. To enable such an action, the British manufactured the evidence needed to justify the overthrow of the Afghan ruler.
In 1835, Dost Mohammad Khan, the youngest and the most energetic of the Barakzai brothers, who had supplanted the Durrani dynasty and become Emir (lord, chief or king) of Kabul in 1825, advanced up to Khaibar Pass threatening to recover Peshawar. In 1836 Hari Singh Nalva, the Sikh general who along with Prince Nau Nihal Singh was guarding that frontier, built a chain of forts, including one at Jamrud at the eastern end of the Khyber Pass to defend the pass. Dost Muhammad erected a fort at `Ali Masjid at the other end. In the beginning of 1837, as Prince Nau Nihal Singh returned to Lahore to get married and the Maharaja and his court got busy with preparations for the wedding.
Dost Muhammad Khan sent a 25,000 strong force, including a large number of local irregulars and equipped with 18 heavy guns, to invest Jam rud. The Sikh garrison there had only 600 men and a few light artillery pieces. The Afghans besieged the fort and cut off its water supply, while a detachment was sent to the neighbouring Sikh fort of Shabqadar to prevent any help from that direction. Mahan Singh Mirpuri, the garrison commander of Jamrud, kept the invaders at bay for four days and managed meanwhile to send a desperate appeal for help to Hari Singh Nalva at Peshawar. Nalva rose from his sick bed and rushed to Jamrud.
In the final battle fought on 30 April 1837, the Afghans were driven off, but Hari Singh Nalva was mortally wounded. In 1838, the Sikh monarch became a party to the Tripartite Treaty, as a result of which Shah Shuja` was reinstalled on the throne of Kabul in August 1839 with British help. Dost Muhammad Khan was exiled to Mussoorie in November 1839, but was restored to his former position after the murder of Shah Shuja` in April 1842. He thereafter maintained cordial relations with the Lahore Darbar. The second Anglo Sikh war reawakened Dost Muhammad's ambition to seize Peshawar and the trans Indus territories, although overtly he sympathized with the Sikhs and even hired out an irregular Afghan contingent of 1,500 horses to Chatar Singh, leader of Sikh resistance against the British.
He was then set at liberty, in consequence of the resolve of the British government to abandon the attempt to intervene in the internal politics of Afghanistan. On his return from British India, Dost Mohammad was received in triumph at Kabul, and set himself to re-establish his authority on a firm basis. From 1846 he renewed his policy of hostility to the British and allied himself with the Sikhs. However, after the defeat of his allies at Gujrat on 21 February 1849, he abandoned his designs and led his troops back into Afghanistan. In 1850 he conquered Balkh, and in 1854 he acquired control over the southern Afghan tribes by the capture of Kandahar.
On 30 March 1855, Dost Mohammad reversed his former policy by concluding an offensive and defensive alliance with the British government, signed by Sir Henry Lawrence, Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, first proposed by Herbert Edwardes. In 1857 he declared war on Persia in conjunction with the British, and in July a treaty was concluded by which the province of Herat was placed under a Barakzai prince. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Dost Mohammad refrained from assisting the insurgents. His later years were disturbed by troubles at Herat and in Bukhara. These he composed for a time, but in 1862 a Persian army, acting in concert with Ahmad Khan, advanced against Herat. The old amir called the British to his aid, and, putting himself at the head of his warriors, drove the enemy from his frontiers. On 26 May 1863 he re-captured Herat, but on the 9th of June he died suddenly in the midst of victory, after playing a great role in the history of South and Central Asia for forty years. He named as his successor his son, Sher Ali Khan.
"We have men and we have rocks in plenty, but we have nothing else"— Dost Mohammad Khan to John Lawrence