Nadir Shah Afshar could not establish control over the present-day Afghanistan

According to Mirza Ata Muhammad Shikarpuri (an eyewitness to the First Anglo-Afghan war and a follower of Shah Shuja Durrani), Nadir Shah Afshar could not establish effective rule and control over the kingdom of Khurasan i.e. the present-day Afghanistan in 18th century. In the context of the failure of the British to maintain their occupation of Afghanistan (which Mirza Ata refers to as ‘kingdom of Khurasan’ in his work) in 1842, he writes:

“It is not easy to rule Khurasan (سلطنت خراسان). Nadir Shah (Afshar), despite his might, abundant funds, and military weapons, was not able to control all of Khurasan. Whenever he captured one mountainous region, insurgence would break out in another. He (Nadir Shah) fought for many years but was never able to establish control over the land of Khurasan. So how could British officers, with crow-faced Indian soldiers, gain control of Khurasan in fifteen months? “

At the end of his account, Mirza Ata asserts: “Khurasan is the land of falcons, and the Kingdom of Hindustan is the land of crows; falcons cannot become friends with crows.” 

Nadir Shah Afshar and Afghanistan

In original Persian text of the passage, you can see the word “Yaghi” (یاغی) there. Although it is thought to be corruption of ‘baghi’ (rebel), it carried the specific meaning of independent and having no masters. The term was applied to the independent Pashtun tribes of hills whose homeland was often called ‘Yaghistan’. He is most likely referring to hill tribes like Safis who resisted the invasion of their lands by Nadir Shah tooth and nail.

Nadir Shah Afshar and Afghans

Naway Ma’arek of Mirza Ata Muhammad Shikarpuri is a a valuable source for the history of First Anglo-Afghan war and is extensively quoted by William Dalryample in his book “Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan”. It has not been translated into any other language.

Reference: Literacy in the Persianate world: writing and the social order.

Nadir Shah Afshar and Yaghistan

Portrait of Nadir Shah Afshar, 1740 (c)
Portrait of Nadir Shah Afshar, made in 1740 (c). Source
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