Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The role of Pashtuns in the war of succession of Mughals



The retreat of Dara from agra made Aurnagzeb the master of Indian empire. On being defeated at Samugarh , Dara at once decided to retreat from Delhi to Punjab, then held by his faithful deputy Ghairat Khan. From Lahore he wrote to tribes of Peshawar to enlist and send robes of honour, iviting them to join him [1]. Khattak chief Khushal Khan didn’t oblige Dara and refused any kind of help and assistance.  Howevere Malik Bahaku, chief of Yusufzai tribe, assured all kind of help and assistance to Dara [2].  Aurangzeb after a hurried coronation ceremony in Delhi started towards the Punjab in persuit of Dara.

Many of the Dara’s treacherous officers began to desert him and joined Aurangzeb army. The future seemed absolutely dark for Dara Shikoh. His allies under the leadership of Malik Bhaku Yusufzai were waiting for Dara at Indus near Attock when Khushal’s uncle Feroz Khan attacked them. In this battle Yusufzais were defeated. Said Khan, brother of Bhaku Khan got killed in the battle and Khattaks seized the boats. [3].Dara after assessing unfavorable circumstances , proceeded to Multan instead of Peshawar.

Aurangzeb awarded a large number of his nobles in order to win them over. The Pashtun leading men also became recipient of many favours, their mansabs were raised. When Aurangzeb set out in persuit of Dara Shikoh. Who had fled to Multan and afterward Bhakkar, he took in his train some noted Afghan tribal chiefs also. Hazbar Khan, Purdil Khan, Janbaz Khan Kheshgi and other Afghan chiefs went along with him. [4].

When Dara fled to Bhakkar, Aurangzeb deputed a strong force to pursue him. Purdil Khan, Inayat Miyana, and Diler Khan with about 10,000 soldiers were sent against against him. In this war of succession Afghans remained loyal to Aurangzeb. In one of the battle Daler Khan showed exemplary courage and got greatly wounded but Dara had to flee from battle field. [5].

Subsequently Dara was handed over to the respresntatve of Aurangzeb by Malik Jewan Panni, a Pashtun zamindar of Sibi. [6]. Malik Jewan was granted the title of Bakhtiar Khan , a robe of honour and the rank of hazarai in 1659 AD bt the Emperor. Thus Aurangzeb fully utilized the support of many Pashtun tribes against his rivals , in war of succession , yet he continued to look towards Pashtun chiefs with some distrust and suspicion.