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Wazīr Akbar Khān (1816–1845; Pashto: وزير اکبر خان‎), born Mohammad Akbar Khān (محمد اکبر خان) and also known as Amīr Akbar Khān (امير اکبر خان), was an Afghan prince, general, and finally emir for about three years until his death. His fame began with the 1837 Battle of Jamrud, while attempting to regain Afghanistan's second capital Peshawar from the Sikh Empire.[1][2]

Wazir Akbar Khan
وزير اکبر خان
Emir of Afghanistan
Prince Akbar Khan.jpg
An old drawing of Wazir Akbar Khan
Emir of Afghanistan
ReignMay 1842–1845
PredecessorShuja Shah Durrani
SuccessorSher Ali Khan
Died1845 (age 28 or 29)
Jalalabad, Afghanistan
HouseBarakzai dynasty
FatherDost Mohammad Barakzai
MotherMermən Khadija Popalzai
ReligionSunni Islam

Wazir Akbar Khan was militarily active in the First Anglo-Afghan War, which lasted from 1839 to 1842. He is prominent for his leadership of the national party in Kabul from 1841 to 1842, and his massacre of Elphinstone's army at the Gandamak pass before the only survivor, the assistant surgeon William Brydon, reached the besieged garrison at Jalalabad on 13 January 1842. Wazir Akbar Khan became the emir of Afghanistan in May 1842, and ruled until his death in 1845.

Early lifeEdit

Akbar was born as Mohammad Akbar Khan in 1816 to Emir Dost Mohammad Barakzai of Afghanistan and Mermən Khadija Popalzai. Dost Mohammad Barakzai had 2 wives, 8 sons (including Wazir Akbar Khan) and 2 daughters.[3]

Adult lifeEdit

In 1836 Dost Mohammad Barakzai's Muslim forces, under the command of his son Wazir Akbar Khan, fought the Sikhs at the Battle of Jamrud, fifteen kilometers west of present-day Peshawar.[1] Dost Mohammad Barakzai did not follow up this triumph by retaking Peshawar, however, but instead contacted Lord Auckland, the new British governor general in India, for help in fighting the Sikhs. With this letter, Dost Mohammad formally set the stage for British intervention in Afghanistan. At the heart of the Great Game lay the willingness of Britain and Russia to subdue, subvert, or subjugate the small independent states that lay between them.[2]

Akbar Khan led a revolt in Kabul against the British Indian mission of William McNaughten, Alexander Burnes and their garrison of 4,500 men. In November 1841, he besieged Major-General William Elphinstone's force in Kabul.

Elphinstone accepted a safe-conduct for his British force and about 12,000 Indian camp followers to Peshawar; they were ambushed and annihilated in January 1842. At least one set of British war memoirs bore witness to Akbar Khan’s double dealing, saying that, during the retreat, Akbar Khan could be heard alternately commanding his men, in Persian to desist from, and in Pashto to continue, firing.[4]

In May 1842, Akbar Khan captured Bala Hissar in Kabul and became the new emir of Afghanistan.[1] He ruled until his death in 1845. Some[who?] believe that Akbar Khan was poisoned by his father, Dost Mohammed Barakzai, who feared his ambitions.[5]

In fictionEdit

The historical figure Akbar Khan plays a major role in George MacDonald Fraser's novel Flashman.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Adamec, Ludwig W. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Afghanistan. Scarecrow Press. p. xxi. ISBN 0-8108-7957-3. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  2. ^ a b "THE GREAT GAME". Library of Congress Country Studies. 1997. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  3. ^ Christopher Buyers. "Afghanistan, The Barakzai dynasty, genealogy". The Royal Ark. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
  4. ^ Hopkirk, Peter (1990). The Great Game. Oxford University Press. pp. 263–264. ISBN 0-19-282799-5.
  5. ^ "Biography: Mohammad Akbar Khan". Afghanistan Online. 2001. Retrieved 5 December 2006.

External linksEdit

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Shuja Shah Durrani
Emir of Afghanistan
May 1842-1845
Succeeded by
Dost Mohammad Khan