Dost Muhammad Khan

Dost Muhammad Khan
   A nineteenth-century Afghan leader who established the Barakzai Dynasty and attempted to add to his realm or defend it, as circumstance dictated, by making alliances with the British Empire and the Russian Empire. He fought against British attempts to put Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk on the Afghan throne and managed in 1824 to put himself in power in Kabul. In 1834, Dost Muhammad defeated Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of the Junjab, in battle at Kandahar but was unable to stop Ranjit’s annexation of Peshawar. He miscalculated in approaching the Russians for assistance when the installation of a Russian representative in Kabul prompted the British to invade. In July 1839, British forces captured Kabul and promptly placed Shah Shuja on the throne.
   After being imprisoned in India for two years, Dost Muhammad was freed and returned to power in Afghanistan to maintain order in the country. In 1846, he turned against the British again, this time in alliance with Sikhs of the Punjab, but in 1849 was again defeated in the Battle of Gujarat. He thereafter worked to consolidate his position back in Afghanistan and by 1854 had established his personal authority over the tribes in the south of the country. In recognition of his position, the British sought and secured an alliance with Dost Muhammad, which paid off. Although he remained neutral during the Indian Mutiny, he aided Britain in its wars with Persia and, in 1863, was responsible for the capture of the city of Herat.
   See also <>, <>, <>.
    Farwell, Byron. Queen Victorias Little Wars. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972;
    Heathcote, T. A. The Afghan Wars, 1839-1919. Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2003.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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