The legacy of Sardar Mohammad Ayub Khan – The Victor of Maiwand


In November 1878, Britain, for a 2d time in 40 years, declared warfare on Afghanistan. A 12 months later, Britain determined to dismember Afghanistan as soon as and for all. As in step with the plan, Herat and Seistan (present-day Nimruz province and its atmosphere) could be passed over to Persia, and Qandahar could be offered to a Durrani sardar below British suzerainty. The destiny of the rest of Afghanistan was once, on the other hand, unclear. The British Cupboard showed those measures in December 1879.[i] Britain, thus, sought after to neutralise any and all threats emanating from Russia, via Afghanistan, to its Indian empire.

Britain assumed direct keep an eye on of Kabul in October 1879, when the Afghan ruler Yaqub Khan (Ayub Khan’s elder brother) abdicated pointing out ‘he would moderately be a grass-cutter within the English camp than ruler of Afghanistan.’[ii] After 8 months of direct profession, in June 1880 Britain established touch with Abdur Rahman (Yaqub Khan’s and Ayub Khan’s cousin) to peer if Kabul may well be passed over to him. Whilst negotiations between Abdur Rahman and the British have been in growth, information reached the latter in Qandahar that the Herat governor Ayub Khan was once on his strategy to Ghazni from Herat with hundreds of troops and would cross via Qandahar.

For the reason that negotiations with Persia in regards to the switch of Herat and Seistan had now not made a lot growth, in Would possibly 1880 the British showed Sardar Mehrdil Khan’s son[iii] Sardar Sher Ali Khan (to not be improper for his part cousin, former Afghan ruler Amir Sher Ali Khan, who had died in February 1879 in Mazar-e-Sharif) as governor of Qandahar. On the affirmation rite, Sher Ali wanted for a chance to make use of his sword in protection of the British executive—a want that will quickly be granted.

As a way to stop a common rebellion round Qandahar, the British determined to intercept Ayub Khan sooner than he reached Qandahar. Round this time, Sher Ali’s personal troops have been busy amassing taxes in Zamindawar. As Ayub Khan approached the realm, Sher Ali’s troops abandoned en masse and joined Ayub Khan. The troop desertion disadvantaged Sher Ali of the chance to make use of his sword in protection of the British executive and the British of an important supply of native give a boost to.

Whilst Ayub Khan was once about to confront the British, Abdur Rahman was once wrapping up his correspondence with them. The British discovered Abdur Rahman compliant sufficient to ascend the throne of Kabul in July 1880. In his correspondence with Abdur Rahman, the British agent in Kabul Mr. Griffin obviously mentioned that Qandahar would now not be a part of Abdur Rahman’s dominions, and that the British could be accountable for his overseas affairs. Abdur Rahman didn’t check in any objections to both of those diktats.

The Afghan and British troops, by means of accident, got here head to head close to Maiwand, halfway between Qandahar and Girishk. Within the resulting struggle—referred to as the Struggle of Maiwand—on July 27, 1880 the Afghans below Ayub Khan defeated the British. The Afghan victory at Maiwand was once strategically vital for Afghanistan. First, it was once the primary and remaining pitched struggle in an open box between common Afghan and British troops which resulted in Afghan victory. 2d, the Afghan victory stored Afghanistan from being dismembered by means of Britain, and stored Qandahar from an everlasting British profession. The defeat at Maiwand would compel the British to withdraw from Qandahar in 1881.

The Afghan victory additionally generated ‘pleasure’ among the Pashtun tribes alongside the Indo-Afghan frontier, and the British sensed ‘uneasiness’ all over India. That being stated, of the 934 lifeless British squaddies at Maiwand, 624 have been so-called ‘local’ (basically Pashtun; Punjabi, each Muslim and Sikh; and Gurkha) and simplest 310 have been Eu.[iv] It was once ordinary to peer the ‘natives’ combating for a overseas energy, who had subjugated and colonised them, in opposition to their Afghan neighbors, who have been combating for his or her freedom. This was once an unlucky trend repeated in all Anglo-Afghan wars, and a vintage instance of the brown guy shouldering his white grasp’s burden.

After the struggle, the Afghans buried the lifeless British squaddies and erected a monument, a pillar of sun-dried bricks, of their honor and reminiscence.[v] This beneficiant gesture by means of the Afghans below Ayub Khan most often is going left out by means of the British, whose colonial officers and squaddies left no stone unturned to painting the Afghans as a ‘savage’ and ‘wild’ humans. After the Struggle of Maiwand, Ayub Khan complex on Qandahar, however was once not able to dislodge the British from it. In a next struggle on September 1, 1880 in reward day Arghandab district, Basic Roberts defeated Ayub Khan, who withdrew to Herat.

Regardless of Roberts’s victory at Qandahar, the British place in southern Afghanistan was once nonetheless untenable. The effects of the defeat at Maiwand, which have been about to play an important function in converting the British strategic calculations relating to Qandahar, have been dawning on British policymakers. Had the British cling on Qandahar now not been challenged and shaken by means of Ayub Khan, Qandahar would slowly have develop into part of the British occupied subcontinent.

Taking into account the defeat at Maiwand and Sher Ali’s sheer incompetence and loss of native give a boost to, the British now had two alternatives: withdrawal from Qandahar or an everlasting, direct profession of it. The latter selection, along with opposition from Afghan tribes, ran the danger of scary Russia to transport nearer to Afghanistan’s northern borders.

Subsequently, after heated discussions in Britain, in March 1881 the Space of Commons determined to withdraw British troops from Qandahar. The British, on the other hand, endured to occupy the districts of Pishin and Sibi. Prior to the British withdrawal, in November 1880 Sher Ali determined to depart Qandahar and settle along with his circle of relatives in Karachi.[vi]

After the British withdrawal, their handpicked ruler of Kabul Amir Abdur Rahman occupied each Qandahar and Herat in 1881. Ayub Khan took safe haven in Persia, the place he lived till 1888. The British in 1888 organized for Ayub Khan’s switch from Persia to India, the place he spent the remainder of his lifestyles. Upon arrival in Karachi, Ayub Khan was once gained by means of the similar Sher Ali who had left Qandahar completely and settled in Karachi just about a decade in the past.[vii] From Karachi, Ayub proceeded to Punjab, to settle in a lifetime of exile, the place died in 1914.

Ayub Khan, along side his mom and different members of the family, was once buried in Peshawar’s Durrani cemetery. The cemetery is positioned with reference to Wazir Bagh, a royal Durrani lawn constructed by means of the Afghan ruler Shah Mahmud Durrani’s wazir Fateh Khan Barakzai within the 1810s, when Peshawar served because the iciness seat of the Durrani rulers of Afghanistan. In appreciation of Ayub Khan’s products and services, the Afghan executive renovated his grave about 15 years in the past. Then again, it was once reported remaining 12 months that the marble items from Ayub Khan’s grave were stolen.

After partition, a number of of Ayub Khan’s descendants have served in quite a lot of capacities in Pakistan. As an example, two of Ayub Khan’s grandsons Hissamuddin Mahmud and Ismail Khan have served as Basic Officials Commanding (GOCs) within the Pakistan Military. It’s attention-grabbing that each the main Afghan characters of the Struggle of Maiwand (Ayub Khan and Sher Ali) settled in northern India, which after partition turned into a part of Pakistan. The presence in their descendants, with Pakistani citizenship and Afghan ancestry, in Pakistan is but any other indication of shut people-to-people members of the family between Afghans and Pakistanis.


[i] Sir William Okay. Fraser-Tytler, Afghanistan: A Find out about of Political Building in Central Asia, P. 148.

[ii] Frederick Roberts, 40-one years in India: From Subaltern to Commander-In-Leader, P. 414.

[iii] Arnold Fletcher, Afghanistan: Freeway of Conquest, P. 136.

[iv] Frederick Roberts, 40-one years in India: From Subaltern to Commander-In-Leader, PP. 470-71.

[v]  Arnold J. Toynbee, Between Oxus and Jumna, P. 65.

[vi] Sir William Okay. Fraser-Tytler, Afghanistan: A Find out about of Political Building in Central Asia, P. 154.

[vii] Sardar Abdul Kadir Effendi, Royals and Royal Mendicant: A Tragedy of the Afghan Historical past, 1791-1949,

    P. 249. The writer is Ayub Khan’s eldest son. In a while after partition, Effendi’s e book was once revealed by means of Lion Press  

    in Lahore. In it, Effendi supplies an account of his circle of relatives’s involvement (most commonly because the Afghan ruling elite) from

    Sardar Painda Khan all the way down to his personal father Sardar Ayub Khan.





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