Sunday, January 14, 2018

Haji Khan Kakar

Hajee Khan Kauker, the renowned Nusireoodoulah, by J. Atkinson, Sketches in Afghaunistan, lithographed by Louis and Charles Haghe, 1842

Taj Muhammad Khan, alias Haji Khan Kakar of Toba Kakari (hereafter Haji Khan Kakar),belonged to the Ahmadzi section of the Targhara Kakars. Though originally a person of no consequence, he rose to prominence and gained the attention of the local 'Khans' and chiefs. Later, he played a conspicuous part in the First Afghan War. For the first time he is mentioned in 1809, when Mir Mustafa Khan Brahui, son of Mir Nasir Khan the 'Kkan of Kalat', raised a contingent of 500 Afghan mercenaries and named it ‘The Afghan Horse’. He appointed Han Khan Kakar commander of this contingent. Since he gained the favours of the local chiefs through intrigue and deceit, he is always mentioned by writers as the ‘notorious Haji Khan Kakar‘. The above-mentioned ‘Afghan Horse’ in 1810, led by Mir Mustafa Brahui and assisted by Haji Khan, raided the Afghans of the Ziarat and Harnai valleys where Haji Khan took active part against his own kith and kin. He destroyed the Harnai Fort and took the local Afghan chiefs prisoner ;

Mir Mustafa calls them the ‘robbers of Harnai’. With the murder of Mir Mustafa Khan in 1812 by his brother,  Haji Khan moved first to Kandahar and later to Kabul to seek his fortune in the infighting of the Barakzi Sardars. In 1822, he was in the service of Abdullah Khan Achakzaey. About 1825 he left him to serve the Kandahar Sardars. The same year, with the connivance and blessings of  Purdil Khan Barakzaey of Kandahar, Haji Khan Kakar, bribedd by the Khajiaks, became instrumental in the murder of Habib Khan Baruzaey‘, the chief of the Pannis of Sibi. On behalf of his masters in 1828, he attacked the decaying Afghan Panni Confederacy of Sibi and devastated the Afghan settlements. Captain John Jacob writes:-

 “Adjoining the town is large and substantial fortress, which is still a place of great strength even in its present decayed condition. Both (fortress and town) are now wholly deserted, having been plundered and burnt by the notorious Hajee Khan Kakur in 1828, when he was governor of the province on behalf of the Candahar (Kandahar) Chiefs. ”

Raverty writes:
" But during the struggle, after the down fall of the Sadduzi, between Dost Muhammad Khan Barakzaey and his brothers, in the year 1828, that notorious intriguer and deserter Haji Khan, the Targhari Kakar (whose original name was Taj Khan and whose branch of the Kakar tribe dwelt in Toba and parts of adjoining) being then nominally on the side of Dost Muhammad Khan (but was really to join whichever of the brothers turned out to be the strongest or most successful, considered himself governor of the parts eastward. He seized that opportunity to attack Siwi, which he sacked and set fire to. From that time, both the fort and the town were deserted, but the fort in its decayed condition was a place of strength. "["Notes on Afghanistan", p-637-8]

Discerning political acumen and leadership qualities in Dost Muhammad Khan he abandoned his masters, the Kandahar Sardars, and probably in 1830, joined Dost Muhammad Khan and supported the latter in his designs on Kabul. Earlier, on more than one occasions, he had saved him (Dost Muhammad Khan) from being blinded, if not put to death, by his brother Sher Dil Khan. Dost Muhammad Khan, on accession to power, in return for his services, bestowed upon him the district of Bamian with its dependencies as ͑ jagir’ for the support of himself and troops, limited to three hundred and fifty cavalry.

Haji Khan Kakar was anxious to extend his influence up to Turkistan and take Seghan and Kahmerd. He had entrusted his affairs in those areas to his 'naibs ’ or deputies. His designs were thwarted by one of the Tajik chiefs, namely, Muhammad Ali Baig of Seghan. The latter was a man of considerable political dexterity and military enterprise. With no other legitimate resources than a scanty revenue derived from his small territory, and duty levied on the passing ‘kafilas" he maintained four hundred horse for his forays into the Hazara districts to the south and south-west of Seghan, carrying off men, women, and children whom he sold to the Uzbeks. The locals, particularly the Hazaras, detested him.

The Bamian tract being separated from the districts of Kabul by the whole breadth of Bisut, Mir Yezdanbaksh Hazara could cut off all communication between the two places (Bamian and Kabul), and even overrun the former, if hostile. Haji Khan, therefore, at the very outset, sought to cultivate a good understanding with the Hazara chief. Mir Yezdanbaksh was also held in great esteem by all the residents of Kabul, including the Shias, and thus in his overtures to him, he enlisted the support of the Shias of Kabul.

In 1830, Haji Khan nominated one of his relatives, Rahimdad Khan Kakar, as his deputy in Bamian with instructions to neutralise Muhammad Ali Baig. The latter was a brave man. After a brief encounter with the Tajik chief he returned to Kabul and informed Haji Khan Kakar that it was necessary to secure Muhammad Ali Baig's friendship and to take precautions against the designs of Mir Yezdanbaksh. Rahimdad Khan had hitherto been friendly to the Mir, but now became an avowed enemy. It had long been the earnest desire of Mir Yezdanbaksh, and a cherished aspiration of all the Hazaras to exterminate the chief of Seghan, who was infamous for his frequent forays and indulgence in the sale of captives. Muhammad Ali Baig Tajik was aware of his precarious position against the Hazaras. He had only his own feeble resources to Oppose the latter and to save himself from impending destruction, he tried to court the Afghans by winning over Haji Khan to his side.

Mir Yezdanbaksh, on receiving intelligence of the arrangements made between Muhammad Ali Baig and Rahimdad Khan, ejected the soldiers of Haji Khan stationed in the castles of Bisut. Joined by Zafar Khan Hazara of Kalu, he marched into the valley of Bamian via Irak. The locals either voluntarily joined his camp or were intimidated into submission. The most powerful of these was Allahdad Khan Mughal, who occupied an ancient castle now called Syedabad, adjacent to the ruined citadel of Ghulghuleh. This man had always defied the governors of Bamian, and now espoused the cause of Mir Yezdanbaksh with alacrity. All the castles of Bamian were at the disposal of the Mir, except the one in which the governor of Haji Khan resided opposite the celebrated colossal Buddha statues; the Talibans destroyed these in 1999.  Therein he besieged Rahimdad Khan. The crafty Haji Khan used his Shia friends to induce Mir Yezdanbahsh to evacuate Bamian. Through them he made Mir Yezdanbaksh believe that Rahimdad Khan Kakar had acted without his orders and that he replaced him for his anti-Mir , activities. He also sent a copy of Quran by which he swore to forget what had passed and that he would not in any manner molest any of the Hazara and Tajik chieftains who had sided with Mir Yeadanhaksh. He further swore that he would personally exterminate Muhammad Ali Baig and compel him to ask for mercy from the Hazaras.

In 1831, Haji Khan proceeded to Bamian to see the country, and while in there he showed undue generosity to the Hazaras through which he gained lot of respect in the Hazarajat. Nevertheless, Mir Yezdanhaksh refused to meet him and marched to the valley of Seghan to fight Muhammad Ali Beig. The latter withdrew and joined Haji Khan Kakar. Peace was restored in the area and Haji Khan returned to Kabul.

From the transactions at Bamian it was clear that the province was in a precarious state of allegiance and Dost Muhammad Khan thought that it required no less authority than his own to bring it to order, and to teach the several Hazara and Tajik chiefs that they were subjects of  Kabul, not allies or partisans of Mir Yezdanhaksh. His destruction was also, undoubtedly, a secret desire of Dost Muhammad Khan. lie, as planned by Haji Khan, appointed him as collector of the Bisut revenues, and was also to settle the affairs of Bamian. He promised to furnish Haji Khan with fifteen hundred cavalry, two guns and one elephant in addition to his own quota of troops.  Haji Khan's whole attention was now directed to his preparations for the expedition into Bisut and Bamian. He was very anxious to cultivate friendship with Mir Yezdanbaksh and gain his confidence through Khan Shirin Khan, the leader of the Juanshirs (Kizilbashis) at Kabul. His plan worked. The Mir promised to co-operate with him, the annihilation of Muhammad Ali Baig being the main topic in the negotiations. Haji Khan made no less than seven oaths on the Holy Quran on various occasions to convince him of his sincerity. During the month of Muharram (June 1832), factional tight erupted in Kabul and some lives were lost. Haji Khan stood by the Shias. During negotiations, Haji Khan was appointed ‘vakil ’ or agent on behalf of the Afghans while Nawab Jabbar Khan pleaded the Juanshirs’ (shias) case. Haji Khan favoured the Juanshirs and the dispute was solved amicably. This was with a view to establish his pro-Shia feelings to Mir Yezdanbaksh and earn his confidence.

Between Haji Khan Kakar and Dost Muhammad Khan a mutual distrust had existed since some time. The latter a man of great ability, was suspicious of Haji Khan’s rising influence and power. His jagir was originally fixed at 72,000 rupees per annum, Bamian being valued at 55,000 rupees per annum, half of transit-duties of Charikar in the Kohistan at 10,000 rupees per annum and Robat, near the latter place, with villages at the Sar-Chishma and Loghar tracts, completing the amount. Haji Khan derived from Bamian, as he assured Chales Masson, 120,000 rupees per annum; half of the transit-duties of Charikar also much exceeded the sum fixed, as did the revenues of all his villages. There could be little doubt that at that time he was in receipt of a ‘Iakh ' and half of rupees from his ‘jagir’ valued at less than half the amount. The quota of troops he was expected to maintain was limited to three hundred and titty cavalry; he had in pay above seven hundred cavalry and a thousand soldiers in his service.

Dost Muhammad Khan was aware that Haji Khan was entirely a soldier of fortune and his fame drew a number of his kinsmen around him. Haji Khan always sent such men to Bamian who could live of the inhabitants. To many be assigned lands; some formed villages, and, had his plans matured, Bamian would have been colonised by the Kakar Afghans. His activities attracted the attention of Dost Muhammad Khan. The whole political deportment of Haji Khan roused the mistrust of a chief in whose character jealousy was a principal ingredient. He had induced Dost Muhammad Khan to despatch his brother, Dost Muhammad Kakar on a mission to Lahore. Reports from Lahore to Dost Muhammad Khan suggested that his envoy was pushing his brother's interest rather than that of his mission. Dost Muhammad Khan's suspicion increased. Haji Khan, moreover, maintained a regular correspondence with foreign princes in Baluchistan and Sind and particularly with Diwan Atmar, the Hindu minister and confident of Mir Muhammad Murad Baig of Kunduz, his intrigues and connections with the various factions in Kabul were also well known to Dost Muhammad Khan. The latter repented having appointed him for the collection of the Bisut revenue. To annul the appointment would have been ungracious and imitating. so he decided to clip his wings. However. Shah Shuja's march on Kandahar prevented Dost Muhammad Khan from executing his plans. Unwillingly, but without resources. he allowed Haji Khan to proceed to Bamian, and to hinder him in his operation as much as possible, instead of fifteen hundred cavalry as originally promised, only three hundred were commissioned for the service of Bisut.

Nevertheless, Haji Khan succeeded in winning the friendship of Mir Yezdanbaksh. It is said that the real intentions of Haji Khan on quitting Kabul were not to return there. He knew that he had become an object of suspicion for the Amir and he knew that no Afghan spares even a supposed enemy if he possesses the power to destroy him. He considered it possible with the aid of Mir Yezdanbaksh to maintain himself independently at Bamian, or, if he preferred a connection with the Uzbeks for which he had paved the way by his secret correspondence with Diwan Atmar. The appearance of Shah Shuja in the field, if other chances failed, would give him an opportunity to take Bamian and command the resources of Bisut and transfer allegiance to Shah Shuja and claim his favours upon his accession to the throne. He was essentially the child of circumstances; his main aim was to raise himself to the position of an independent chief.

Haji Khan at this time had four brothers, namely, Gul Muhammad Khan at Toba in the Kakar country, Daud Muhammad Khan, Khan Muhammad Khan (in the service of Amir Muhammad Khan Barakzaey at Ghazni), and Dost Muhammad Khan Kakar. The latter had accompanied him to Bamian. The two brothers from Ghazni, it was arranged, would join his camp in Bisut with their followers. He had no intention of returning to Kabul and had asked Gul Muhammad to move from Toba to Bamian with as large a body as possible. That he had become very critical of Dost Muhammad Khan of Kabul and his ambition knew no bounds. He told to Charles Masson,

“He dwelled on his many efforts to prevail upon Dost Muhammad Khan to aggrandise himseIf at the expense of his brothers at Kandahar and Peshawar, remarking, that any one who had read the histories of Gengis Khan, (Chingiz Khan) Taimoor Lang, Nadir Shah, or any other great man who had become Padshah (king), would see the necessity of disregarding family ties; that it was by the slaughter of kinsmen they had reached the summit of power: and he who would be, like them, would be fortunate. "[Charles Masson, "Travels", Vol-II, p-345]

Subsequently, Haji Khan Kakar mentioned to Charles Masson,
“The Khan (Haji Khan) explained, that he was favoured by visions, and had been instructed in them that he was to become a great man; that the country whether Afghan or Uzbek, was " bi-sahib " or without a master; and he proposed that he and I should benefit by such a state of things, and turn ourselves into Padshah and Wazir (minister). I forget which of us was to have been the Padshah, but in proof of his sincerity, he offered me the charge of his signet, which I modestly declined, assuring him it could be in no better custody than his own. "
“The Khan further observed that Dost Muhammad Khan could not assail him at Bamian; that he had, indeed, left the greater part of his wives with his family at Kabul, but that when he fled from Herat Prince-Kamran did not molest them, and he should hope Dost Muhammad Khan would, in like manner, respect them, and permit them to join him, if not, he coolly remarked , that he could get plenty more".

Haji Khan's own troops at this time were about four hundred Kakar Cavalry; the chiefs, Rahimdad Khan, the former Governor of Bamian, Naib Sadullah, Ghulam Akhundzada, Pir Muhammad Khan, Abdul Rasul Khan, Mirza Izur, the Khan's secretary and the Khan's brother Dost Muhammad Khan. He had also, of his own retainers, about one hundred soldiers, thirty of whom were Hindustanis who furnished his personal guard. The ‘Ghulam Khana’ troops were two hundred and twenty in number. Besides these, the troops furnished by Dost Muhammad Khan included Shakur Khan with fify horse-jazailchis and Juma Khan Yousufzaey with twenty foot-jazailchis to guard the two guns, one of heavy and one of light calibre, with about twenty gunners. Attached to the artillery detachment was one elephant. The whole force totalled above eight hundred fighting men. The ‘Khan' had about thirty servants who officiated as ‘Shahghasis, nazirs, peshkidmats, chillam-berdars, sandukdars,’ and most of whom were really effective as soldiers, being armed and mounted. He was also attended by six or seven youths, his nephews, called ‘Khanzadas' each of these had their own attendants. The Hazara force consisted of about two thousand cavalry under the orders of the Mirs Yezdanbaksh and Baz Ali and other petty Chieftains. Five Hindu ‘munshis’ or secretaries accompanied the ‘Khan ’. These formed his commissariat department.

The ‘Khan 's  establishment comprised a physician, Syeds, tailors. It had also musicians, and accompanying him as friends were a Syed from Mastung in Balochistan, some Hajis of Hindustan, Din Muhammad, a Juanshir merchant, who came, hoping to recover some property plundered by the Deh Zanghi Hazaras the preceding year on his route from Herat to Kabul. Haji Khan’s nephews were under the direction of Mullah Shahab-ud-Din, who claimed descent from Sheikh Jam (one of the Kakars’ ancestors) and himself officiated as Kazi. During the march the ‘Khan’ was generally the last to mount, bringing up the rear with a more or less strong party. His march was announced by the beating of ‘nagharas' (big drums), which was repeated on his approach to any inhabited spot, as well as on his nearing the new encampment.

It was usual to send in advance during the night the ‘peshkhana ’ or a tent with servants attached to the ‘harem sarai ’ and ‘karkhana ’ or kitchen establishment that his wives (accompanied by two of his wives) on arrival at the ground might be forthwith accommodated land that the food for the evening's meal be ready. His wives rode on the march in ‘kajawas’ (cradles) carried by horses and attended by a small escort. On reaching the pre-chosen halting place, the ‘Khan's grooms, under the direction of Naib Gul Muhammad, Hazara, superintendent of the stables, demarcated by long lines of ropes an oblong square to which the Khan's horses as they arrived were picketed. Within the area of this square were put up the tents of the ‘Khan' and his establishment while other individuals selected spots at their own. The Ghulam Khana troops always encamped separately as did the Hazaras. The camp was arranged so that every one was occupied with his own immediate affairs until ‘nizam-i-sham ’ (evening prayers).

Muhammad Ali Baig, the Tajik Chief, sent a delegation to the ‘Khan' to affect reconciliation. The ‘Khan' accepted his apology after receiving gifts and presents. About that time Mullah Jan Muhammad arrived with letters and presents for the ‘Khan' from Mir Rustam, the chief of Khairpur in Upper Sind, This man had formerly been in the Khan's service and his governor at Bamian. For intriguing with the Hazara chiefs, the ‘Khan ’ had seized him, confiscated his effects and after shaving his beard and subjecting him to a variety of ignominious treatments released him; he went to Sind and found service with Mir Rustam. Whatever the object of his mission might have been, it afforded the ‘Khan’ an opportunity of warning the Hazaras that the following year he would lead an army of one hundred thousand Muslims against the Sikh infidels. Mullah Jan Muhammad brought as presents two Sindi muskets, one mounted in silver, the other in gold, cut-glass ‘Qilayun' bottoms, shawls, silk and cotton mixed Sind fabric and British muslin. The Mullah, en-route from Khairpur had passed by Toba in the Kakar country. He informed the ‘Khan' of the death of his brother Gul Muhammad Khan. This naturally affected the ‘Khan', especially at this juncture when he had expected his arrival at Bamian to help him in achieving of his designs.

The chiefs, atter the delivery of their tribute, joined the camp and received ‘khilats; The ‘Khan', profuse in the distribution of presents, had long since exhausted the stock he brought from Kabul of ‘shawls, lungis ' and ‘chapels ' and it was now amusing to see his servants, by his orders, baring the heads of the Khanzadas, his nephews, and others of his troops, to bestow these upon the Hazaras. Even this resource at last failed, and the ‘peshkidmats ’ (servants) were reduced to the expedient of purchasing a ‘khilat’ from one who had received it, that they might , re-deliver it to the new Hazara chief.

Haji Khan could not achieve his aim and returned to Kabul. He maintained contact with his kinsmen in his native country and indulged in a show of force. Kaye writes ;-

"He gathered a lashkar which might be ascribed to eighty percent of all the Kakars in existence. Haji Khan had built three forts which are blown by his name at the head of the Kwat glen on the Toba plateau in the Chaghi valley, another in Barshor and the third in the Sarwesh area of Pishin. The fort in the Chaghi valley, built by him, has long been dismantled and is now partially in ruins. When built this fort might have given trouble even to a disciplined force. as the thick mud walls would probably stand a good deal beattering ofsmooth-borefield guns. It was abandoned when the Bombay column under General Willshire camped near it (Hough says two and half miles west) on the 25th of October 1838,  and Outram remarks that the place was too paltry to require that it should be destroyed. Close by a small stream irrigated a few fields and to the south was the pretty little hamlet of Khadozi , the only village in Toba. The fort now called Haji Khan Killa is occupied by his descendants‘ ”

In 1839, when seeing the British star rising and that of Dost Muhammad Khan waning, he once again changed his loyalties and joined the British Army of the Indus. An English writer nentions about Haji Khan Kakar as under ;
“One Haji Khan Kakar, otherwise the Nasir-ud-Daulah, or Defender of the State, a person of low origin, who had raised himself from the condition of a seller of melons to that of a state minister and who had passed from the service of Dost Muhammad Khan to that of the Kandahar chiefs, and had now transferred his allegiance to Shah Shuja, was placed at the head of this body. Haji Khan was a guide and adviser as well as commandant of the Shah’s detachment and this Afghan played a double game of which his countrymen are so fond, and which they think so suited to their purpose in dealing with Englishmen. ” ["James Outram-A Biography" 1880, p-179-80]

Probably after the First Afghan War, he was exposed to the British and the new King Shah Shuja and was not heard of thereafter. Abdul Aziz Luni coments on Haji Khan Kakar and generai conduct of his contemporary Pathan chiefs as under:
"The treacherous manner in which they were betrayed to the British by their prime Minister named Mullah Nassu Khan and one of their commanders, the notorious Haji Khan Kakar of Toba Kakari (Pishin) is one of the many disgracefid episodes of the history of nineteenth century of Afghanistan in which only the wicked and treacherous could thrive " [A Aziz Luni "Afghans of the Passes" Vol-II, p-116]

Exceprt from "History of the Pathans", Vol-III, By Haroon Rashid