Trade Routes and New Confrontations

  November 27, 2021   Read time 2 min
Trade Routes and New Confrontations
Nadr Muhammad Khan's request for aid had reached Shah Jahan as he was beginning preparations for an attack on Transoxiana with the initial aim of securing the approach route across the Hindu Kush, across Badakhshan and Balkh, a situation of which the khan of Bukhara was completely unaware.

Small wonder, then, that the Indian troops for whose support he was hoping had no other aim in mind than the annexation of his country. The Great Mughals, a Timurid dynasty, had consistently regarded the conquest and occupation of Central Asia as a hereditary commitment handed down from generation to generation, the legacy of their founder Zahir al-Dln Babur, who, it will be recalled, had refused to give up the idea of a return to Samarqand even when it was a practical impossibility.

The Indian advance on Central Asia eventually ended in catastrophe. In Isfahan this led to a revival of the old plan to reconquer Qandahar which had had to be abandoned on the death of Shah SafI. In the autumn of 105 8/1648 the shah moved troops, supported by artillery, into Afghanistan and succeeded in conquering Qandahar and the fortresses of the surrounding district before the arrival on the scene of an Indian relief force under the command of Prince Aurangzlb. A counterattack by the Indians proved ineffectual and had to be abandoned. Even when, two years later, Shah Jahan himself advanced at the head of an army with elephants and cannon, victory was denied him, despite a siege which lasted ten weeks. The Crown Prince Dara Shukuh, who tried his luck in 1653, also failed. His attack was repulsed by Autar Khan, who, as a former member of a diplomatic mission to the country, was well versed in Indian affairs and now turned his experience to account as the shah's governor. Despite all efforts on the part of India, Qandahar remained in Persian hands even after the Safavid dynasty had come to an end, until the middle of the 12th/18th century, when it became a part of the emerging independent state of Afghanistan.

The illness of Shah Jahan in Dhu'l-Qa'da 1067/September 1657 gave rise to a war of succession among his sons, of whom Prince Dara Shukuh attempted to gain military support for his cause from the shah. It may well be the case that some form of intervention was contemplated in Isfahan, for a smallish contingent of troops was detailed for this purpose. However, no measures of great significance were taken and the prince eventually fell into the hands of his brother Aurangzlb, who had him executed in 1069/165 9. It is possible that the prompt despatch of troops from Qandahar might have saved him.

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