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Nader Shah, the founder of the short-lived Afsharid dynasty

Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On March 8, 1722 AD, after two centuries and two decades of glorious rule, which bestowed Iran national unity, religious identity, territorial integrity, and cultural affinity, the Safavid Empire was dealt a serious blow by Hotaki Ghilzai rebels from Qandahar (present day Afghanistan), in the Battle of Gulnabad that led to the capture of the capital Isfahan. For seven years, the occupiers, (Mahmoud and after him Ashraf), plunged the country into anarchy, cold-bloodedly murdered the Safavid king, Shah Sultan Hussain, and terrorized the people, until they were driven out from Iran by Tahmasp Quli, who defeated them in the Battle of Damghan in 1729 and later ascended the throne as Nader Shah.
On March 8, 1736 AD, the Safavid general, Tahmasp Quli, who rose to rescue Iran from anarchy by driving out the Hotaki Ghilzai occupiers, crowned himself as Nader Shah – of the short-lived Afsharid dynasty. His many successful campaigns reclaimed Iranian territories in the Caucasus, in Iraq, in Central Asia, on the southern Arab side of the Persian Gulf and in what is now Afghanistan. He also attacked the Mughal Empire of the subcontinent, where the Ghilzai rebels had sought refuge, took Delhi, and returned to Iran with rich booty, such as the Peacock Throne, Koh-e Noor Diamond, and the Tent of Pearls.
On March 10, 1735 AD, an agreement between Nader Shah of Iran and Czarist Russia was signed near Ganja in what is now the Republic of Azerbaijan, according to which the Russian troops were withdrawn from Baku. The Russians also ended their occupation of Daghestan when Nader Shah threatened to march upon Moscow.
On February 13, 1739 AD, the historic Battle of Karnaal was fought near a village of the same name, some 110 km north of Delhi, between the Iranian army of Nader Shah Afshar and the army of the Indian Mughal ruler, Mohammad Shah, known as “Rangeelah” or colourful, because of his patronizing of singers and dancers, at the expense of negligence of state affairs.
The Iranians won a decisive victory losing only 2500 soldiers, while the death toll of the Indian army was over 20,000. The cause of the invasion was the failure and inability of Mohammad Shah to prevent the entry into Mughal-controlled Kabul and the eastern areas of Afghanistan and Punjab, of Hotaki and Ghilzai rebel leaders who were driven out from Iran by Nader Shah, following his ending of the Afghan occupation of the country.
When a series of letters from Nader Shah did not entail any positive result or response from Mohammad Shah, the Iranian army began its invasion from Qandahar, and after taking Kabul and Peshawar, marched unopposed all the way till Karnaal, where the Indian army was defeated in little more than three hours. The battle began after one o'clock in the afternoon, with a discharge of arrows from both sides. The superior artillery power of the Persians that continued for two hours threw the Mughals and their war elephants into disarray. Mughal forces began to disintegrate and of their commanders, Khan-e Dowraan was killed, while Sa’adat Khan Burhan ol-Molk was taken prisoner.
The Persian cavalry was swifter and out-maneuvered the Mughals. As the Indian morale plummeted, soldiers started to flee while Indian camp followers looted their own camps. Mohammad Shah was taken prisoner but was treated with respect by Nader Shah, who entered Delhi along with him and after a stay of some weeks, returned to Iran by restoring the Mughal ruler his rule, but taking with him the fabulous Koh-e Noor Diamond and the famous Peacock Throne.
On March 22, 1739 AD, the untoward incident of the killing of some residents of Delhi occurred when a group of Indians, spreading rumours of Nader Shah’s death, attacked and killed several Iranian soldiers. Weeks earlier, after defeating the Moghul army at the Battle of Karnaal (February 13), Nader Shah had entered Delhi in honour, along with Mohammad Shah. He soon returned to Iran after restoring the inefficient Mohammad Shah to power, when the able Mughal prime minister, Nizam ul-Mulk Asef Jah (Founder of the Deccan State), politely turned down the offer to be Emperor of India. Nader Shah took with him the famous Koh-e Noor diamond, the Peacock Throne and the Tent of Pearls.

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