Shah Murad of Bukhara was attacking northern Afghanistan. Any other person would have failed in these circumstances. However Timur Shah proved himself the rightful heir of Abdali. Timur Shah stopped the decline of the Durrani Empire. He couldn’t end it but delayed it considerably. He recaptured Multan from the Sikhs. He also sent his commanders to invade Sindh. The Afghan forces looted the cities and burned crops in Sindh. The local rulers of Sindh agreed to pay tribute after these attacks.
Thus Sindh remained a nominal part of the Durrani Empire. Similarly, Timur Shah regained control of Balochistan and Kashmir. He also repulsed the Shah of Bukhara in northern Afghanistan. Only Punjab remained out of Durrani hands. Though Multan was captured, the rest of the Punjab remained independent. Powerful Sikh factions continued to defeat the Afghan invasions. Timur Shah had made the Durrani Empire strong again. But heavy drinking was spoiling his health.
After the age of 40, his health declined rapidly. It also affected his mental abilities. He constantly feared assassination in his last days. In 1793, he was returning to Kabul from Peshawar after spending Winter. While passing through the Khyber Pass, his horse spooked. The feather on his turban, the mark of a King, fell off. Timur Shah and his soldiers took it a as a bad omen. They thought that the end of Timur Shah was near. Was this omen correct? By the time Timur Shah’s army reached Jalalabad, his kidneys were failing.
He was also suffering from a high fever. He continued his march towards Kabul. But his situation got worse near the city. He looked like a man near his death. He invited some of his sons and important courtiers to his tent. Here he appointed Shah Zaman as his successor. He was his 5th son from his beloved wife Maryam Begum. Like his father, Timur Shah didn’t appoint his eldest son as his successor. Shortly after the announcement of his successor, Timur Shah, 46, died.
This domed building is located on Kabul’s Mandavi Road near the Kabul River. This is the last resting place of Timur Shah Durrani. Timur Shah was fortunate that he had only one contender for the throne. That was his brother Suleiman Shah whom he had easily defeated. But Zaman Shah, Timur Shah’s successor, wasn’t so lucky. Timur Shah had married many times to appease his tribal allies. He had 24 living sons. Many of them were young at the time of his death.
Now Shah Zaman had to fight all these rivals to secure his father’s throne. There were also rumors that Timur Shah’s death wasn’t natural. One of his wives had allegedly poisoned him. These rumors cast a doubt on Shah Zaman’s succession. Apparently these rumors were being spread by Zaman Shah’s opponents They wanted to change the public opinion against him. In Kandahar, Zaman Shah’s half-brother Humayun Mirza declared himself king. Mahmud Mirza, the ruler of Herat also recognized Humayun Mirza as King.
This situation wasn’t encouraging for Shah Zaman. His other half-brothers in Kabul were also conspiring against him. It seemed that Shah Zaman’s government wouldn’t last long. But Shah Zaman’s mother,, Maryam Begum, acted decisively. She strengthened Shah Zaman’s rule. Maryam Begum bribed a former minister, Payanda Khan. Payenda Khan also belonged to the Barakzai branch of the Durrani tribe. Abdali, Timur Shah and Shah Zaman belonged to the Sadozai branch of Durranis.
One of Payenda Khan’s sisters was married to Timur Shah. So, Payenda Khan was a close relative of Shah Zaman. He arranged a meeting between the princes in Kabul and Shah Zaman. It was arranged that the issue of succession would be decided in this meeting. The princes agreed and came to Bala Hisar with their supporters. They had come to negotiate with Shah Zaman. However, when they all gathered, Shah Zaman’s soldiers locked them in the room.
They remained their without food and water for 5 days. They were regularly asked if they were ready to pledge their loyalty to Shah Zman. The growing hunger and thirst finally convinced everyone. They were now ready to serve Shah Zaman. So they all pledged their loyalties. All the other people were allowed to go but the King’s brothers remained captives. Now only 2 brothers were left to deal with. These were governors of Kandahar and Herat. Shah Zaman gathered a large army to fight them.
He captured Kandahar and Herat from his half-brothers. Mahmud Mirza, fled and took refuge with the Iranian ruler Fateh Ali Shah. Humayun Mirza wasn’t so lucky. He was captured by Shah Zaman. He was blinded and imprisoned along with other princes in Bala Hisar. Now Shah Zaman had a strong grip over the government. Now Shah Zaman wanted to restore the former glory of the Durrani Empire.
He wanted to restore those areas captured by his grandfather, Abdali. This mission was impossible without capturing Punjab. So Shah Zaman decided to invade Punjab. A task even his grandfather couldn’t fulfill. But another grandson was also in Punjab to fight Shah Zaman. How was the fight between these grandsons? How did the East India Company conspired against Afghans? How did the Afghans lose Peshawar?