Islamic HistoryMuslim EmpiresWorld history

How did Kabul Become the Capital Of Afghanistan p2

Timur Shah chose Kabul as his capital. Then he also tried to limit the influence of Durrani tribe in his court. He recruited a Turkman Shiite group into his army. He also recruited soldiers from Hazaras and the Persian-speaking western tribes. He also wanted to secure his harem. He employed thousands of slaves for the security of his harem. These slaves were mostly Turks or Mongols. He was doing all this for his own protection. He wanted to foil any possible conspiracy against him.

A conspiracy was really brewing against him. The conspiracy also involved a saint who had crowned Timur Shah’s father. Timur Shah didn’t know that some of his courtiers were conspiring against him. They were against Timur Shah’s policies. They didn’t like the influence of non-Pashtuns in the court. Some powerful religious people also opposed Timur Shah’s lifestyle. Timur Shah was an alcoholic. The religious class didn’t like a drunken ruler. Many courtiers and the chiefs of the Mohmand tribe joined the conspiracy.

They plotted to overthrow him. Arsala Khan, the former Durrani Governor of Sindh, led the conspiracy. The powerful religious figure Mian Omar Chamkani also supported them. In January 1775, Timur Shah was in Peshawar fort. The conspirators tried to carry out their plan. Arsala Khan attacked the fort with 2,500 fighters from his Mohmand tribe. Timur Shah was sleeping in the fort. Arsala Khan asked the guards to open the fort gate for a parade in the fort. The guards refused, Arsala Khan started arguing with them.

Meanwhile the rebels tried another door. They broke through a postern gate, killed the guards and entered the fort. Then they started breaking down the inner gate of the fort. They could kill Timur Shah after breaking this door. But suddenly the tables turned. The noise awoke Timur Shah. He climbed a fort tower, took off his turban and waved it in the air. Thus he signaled to his slave, the Qazalbashs, to rescue him.

They slaves attacked the Mohmand tribesmen. The tribesmen were caught unawares. Many Mohmand rebels died, the rest were captured. And all of them were killed. Timur Shah wanted to execute Mian Muhammad Omar Chamkani too. But his courtiers opposed it. They thought it politically wrong to kill a senior religious figure. Therefore, Mian Muhammad Omar was spared.

Arsala Kha was safe among his Mohmand tribesmen. He blocked the Khyber Pass and cut off Timur Shah from Kabul. Timur Shah realized the difficulty of fighting him in the Khyber Pass. He took an immoral step. He sent a delegation to Arsala Khan with the Holy Quran. The delegation offered Arsala Khan a pardon if he went in person to Timur Shah. Because of the oath given on the Holy Quran,

Arsala Khan went to Peshawar. But he was immediately arrested and killed. This incident infuriated the Mohmand tribes. The people of Mohmand tribe never forgot Timur’s treachery in the name of Quran. Clashes continued between Durranis and the Mohmand tribes until Timur’s death. But there was another incident which the people of Peshawar never forgot.This decaying tomb is located in Wazir Bagh, Peshawar.

The locals call it Beju’s Tomb. This tomb belongs to Bibi Jan, a concubine of Timur Shah Durrani. You can also call her the Anarkali of Peshawar. She met the same fate as Anarkali in Lahore. Now you know the love legend of Prince Saleem and Anarkali. Anarkali was a slave girl whole loved Prince Saleem, son of Emperor Akbar. Akbar allegedly entombed Anarkali alive. Similarly, Bibi Jan was also a slave girl and she loved Timur Shah Durrani.

Bibi Jan was famous for her beauty and intelligence. She wasn’t only the mistress of Timur Shah but his advisor as well. Timur Shah affectionately called her ‘Bebo’. But the queen, Mughal princess Zahra Begum was so jealous of this love. She insultingly called Bibi Jan ‘Bejo’, instead of ‘Bebo’. Bejo means monkey in Persian. One day Zahra Begum forced Bibi Jan to drink poison. Timur Shah grieved over Bibi Jan’s death. But he couldn’t punish his queen. According to the legend, he built this tomb for Bibi Jan.

Timur Shah and Bibi Jan’s love story is is still a folk lore in Peshawar. Timur Shah struggled throughout his reign to save his throne and his father’s empire. During his reign, the Durrani Empire was crumbling. Sikhs had recaptured Punjab, while Sindh’s rulers had declared independence. Balochistan and Kashmir were also in open rebellion.

Part 3

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