Early career of Haji Khan Kakar

Taj Muhammad Khan, alias Haji Khan Kakar of Toba Kakari (hereafter Haji Khan Kakar), belonged to the Ahmadkhel section of the Targhara section of the Kakar tribe [1]. Though originally a person of no consequence, he rose to prominence and gained the attention of the local ‘Khans’ and chiefs. Later, he played a conspicuous part in the First Anglo-Afghan War. For the first time he is mentioned in 1809, when Mir Mustafa Khan Brahui, son of Mir Naseer Khan the ‘Khan of Kalat’, raised a contingent of 500 Afghan mercenaries and named it ‘The Afghan Horse’. He appointed Haji Khan Kakar commander of this contingent. Since he gained the favours of the local chiefs through intrigue and deceit, he is always mentioned by writers as the ‘notorious Haji Khan Kakar ‘. The above-mentioned ‘Afghan Horse’ in 1810, led by Mir Mustafa Brahui and assisted by Haji Khan, raided the Pashtuns of the Ziarat and Harnai valleys where Haji Khan took active part against his own kith and kin. He destroyed the Harnai Fort and took the local Pashtun chiefs’ prisoner; Mir Mustafa calls them the ‘robbers of Harnai’. With the murder of Mir Mustafa Khan in 1812 by his brother, Haji Khan moved first to Kandahar and later to Kabul to seek his fortune in the infighting of the Barakzi Sardars. In 1822, he was in the service of Abdullah Khan Achakzai. About 1825 he left him to serve the Kandahar Sardars. The same year, with the connivance and blessings of Purdil Khan Barakzai of Kandahar, Haji Khan Kakar, bribed by the Khajiaks, became instrumental in the murder of Habib Khan Baruzai‘, the chief of the Pannis of Sibi. On behalf of his masters in 1828, he attacked the decaying Afghan Panni Confederacy of Sibi and devastated the Afghan settlements [2]. Captain John Jacob writes: –

 “Adjoining the [Sibi] town is large and substantial fortress, which is still a place of great strength even in its present decayed condition. Both fortress and town are now wholly deserted, having been plundered and burnt by the notorious Hajee Khan Kakur in 1828, when he was governor of the province on behalf of the Candahar Chiefs.” [1]

Discerning political acumen and leadership qualities in Dost Muhammad Khan he abandoned his masters, the Kandahar Sardars, and probably in 1830, joined Dost Muhammad Khan.


1- “Notes on Afghanistan”, H.G.Raverty, p-637-8
2- “Afghans of the Frontier Passes”, by A.Aziz.Luni, Vol-II, p-118
3- Memoirs on Sind, Volume 1, 1855, p-127

Haji Khan Kakar
Hajee Khan Kauker, the renowned Nusireoodoulah, by J. Atkinson, Sketches in Afghaunistan, lithographed by Louis and Charles Haghe, 1842
Haji Khan Kakar
Hajee Khan Kauker the renowned Nusireoodoulah. Source
Kakar tribe
Haji Khan Kakar, 1840 (c). Painting by James Atkinson. Source


“A man of mean extraction and the son of a goatherd”

‘Hajee Khan Kauker. – Taj Mahomed Khan, more generally known as Hajee Khan, belongs to the Kauker tribe of Afghans, near neighbours to the Beeloochees to the south eastward. A soldier of fortune, he was originally in the service of a follower of the Khan of Kelat, then in that of Nuwab Jubbar Khan, and having brought himself to notice during the struggles of the Barukzye brothers for supremacy, became an anherent of Sher dil Khan, one of the Sirdars of Candahar. But the influence of the Kuzzilbash faction in Cabul, being in favour of Dost Mahomed Khan, the Hajeejustly concluded that he would succeed in establishing himself in power; and being aware of the determination of his brethren to seize and blind this their most formidable rival, he determined on founding a claim to his gratitude, and accordingly warned Dost Mahomed by a sign to retire when he was about to enter the apartment, where his fate would have been sealed. To avoid accompanying the Candahar Chiefs when they quitted Cabul, he retired to the shrine, and assumed the grab of a religious mendicant, avowing his determination to renounce the world, but no sooner had they left the city than the persuasions of Dost Mahomed to assist him with his advice prevailed, and the district of Bameean was conferred on him as a reward. The consummate treachery by which he inveigled into his power and murdered the Huzzareh Chief of that country rendered his ultimate intentions suspicious to Dost Mahomed himself, and intimation of this feeling on the part of his chief having reached the Hajee, in doubt of the reception he might meet with should he place himself in his power, he deemed it prudent to retire to Koondooz, but after remaining there for some time with Moorad Beg, he decided on returning to Cabul. On his arrival, the Umer at once dismissed him his service, and he was in consequence driven to seek employment under the Peshawur Chiefs. Their fortunes declining on the capture of that city by the Sikhs, he once more joined Dost Mahomed, but unable to recover his last position, he proceeded to Candahar, where notwithstanding his faithless conduct on a former occasion, he was honourably received by the Sirdars. In their employ he remained until the advance of a British force induced him to proffer his allegiance to Shah Shoojau, and he was by that monarch ennobled by the title of Nusseerood Dowla and a large estate at the same time bestowed on him. During the halt of the army at Candahr, he intrigued with the Giljee Chiefs to ensure himself in case of a reverse, but after the capture of Guznee, he expressed himself so hostile to Dost Mahomed that it was supposed he would gladly complete the ruin of a man he apparently so much detested. Under this impression he was ordered to accompany a small party of British officers under Major Outram, sent in pursuit of the flying Umeer, but his backwardness and duplicity plainly shewed he had no intention of allowing his former chief to be captured. For his treachery on this occasion, the king placed him in confinement and afterwards banished him to Honoostan.

Late events have induced the Indian government to determine on the release of all the Affghan prisoners, and Jajee Khan willthus have an opportunity of again entering the political arena, but whether the good fortune which has hitherto befriended him throughout his long career of perfidy and dissimulation will still attend him, may be doubted’.(1)

(James Atkinson, Captain Lockyer Willis Hart, The Character and Costume of Afghaunistan, lithographed by Charles Haghe, 1843, description of plate IX)

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