Ahmad Shah (1722-73), Abdali Durani. First Emir of Afghanistan and founder of the Sadozay dynasty of the Abdali tribe. In october 1747 elected King (Shah) of Afghanistan by an assembly of Pashtun chiefs the new leader of the Afghans changed his title from khan (chief) to shah (king in Persian) and assumed the name Durrani (Pearl of Pearls). Immediately he began to consolidate and enlarge his kingdom. He seized Kabul. He wrested from the Moghuls their territories west of the Indus. The Pashtun tribesmen rallied to his banner, and AhmadShah led them on nine campaigns into India in search of booty andterritorial conquest. He added Kashmir, Sind, and the Western Punjab to his domains and founded an empire which extended from eastern Persia tonorthern India and from the Amu Darya to the Indian Ocean. In 1756 he occupied Delhi and carried off as much wealth as possible, thereby enriching his treasury. By 1761, his kindom was larger than present Afghanistan.
He led a contingent of his tribesmen in the service of Nadir Shah, king of Persia, who won control of most of Afghanistan and part of India. When Nadir died, Ahmad founded an independent Afghan kingdom. He invaded the Indian Punjab six times between 1748 and 1752, and he seized and sacked Delhi. In 1761 he defeated an Indian army at Panipat, India. Although he was a powerful military leader, Ahmad never succeeded in permanently ruling India; he subsequently withdrew into Afghanistan.
Ahmad Shah was an outstanding general and a just ruler. He governed with the help of a council of chiefs, each responsible for his own people. Thus all matters of national issues were centralized, but each chief ruled his own tribe. This kind of arrange-ment won the support of the people, and was prevailing political pattern in Afghanistan until the monarchy ended in 1973. Ahmad Shah's vast realm soon broke apart. Afghans were better fighters than administrators.
Ahmad Shah left twenty-three sons, but failed to nominate an heir. Ahmad Shah died of a natural death in April 1772. During the next 25 years the royal princes plotted and intrigued for possession of the Afghan throne while their empire fell apart around them. Three different brothers briefly secured the throne, one of them twice, each soon falling victim to one another, but extended to their royal supporters and advisors. In 1818, the youngest of the Mohammadzai sons, Dost Mohammad, challenged and defeated Shah Mahmud of the Sadozai family near Kabul.