Akbar Khan


Akbar Khan was the son of Dost Mohammed who was horrified when his father was overthrown unjustly in 1839. His father initially escaped but gave himself up to the British. He became the focus of resentment against the Shah Shujah regime and its British backers. In November 1841 he returned to Afghanistan at the head of an Uzbeg army. He convinced the British to evacuate Kabul but promised them safe passage back to India. However, in further negotiations he seized and murdered William Macnaghten. The shocked British military commander, William Elphinstone, capitulated to Akbar's even stricter terms and agreed to start the evacuation on January 6th. It is not clear how much control Akbar Khan held over the varying Afghan tribes and how much he was personally leading the campaign against the British or whether it just devolved into a free for all. Either way, he was blamed by the British as the prime instigator of the disaster. Ironically, he may have been murdered by his own father in 1845 through poisoning. Dost Mohammed may have been nervous at the ambition and notoriety of his own son and wished to remove such a serious rival.


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by Stephen Luscombe