We need not follow the confused course of family jealousies and contests between Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat, nor need we stop to inquire into the reasons that induced Dost Muhammad to march to Attock in aid of the Sikhs against the British in the Panjab campaign It will suffice for our purpose to state that Dost Muhammad, for the first eight years after his return to Kabul, was Amir only of that province from Ghazni to Jalalabad He did not conquer Balkh till 1851 - the first step in his scheme of a consolidated Afghanistan Three years later, he made overtures for an alliance with the British Government, and these being well responded to, in January, 1855, he sent his son and heir-apperent, Ghulam Hydar Khan, to Peshawar, and a treaty of friendship was concluded there through the Commissioner of the Panjab, Sir John Lawrence. In August of the same year, Kuhndil died at Kandahar, and the Amir, three months later, took the place and annexed it to his dominions. This second step gained, he was now anxious to secure Herat also, which was threatened by Persia, but before he had time to arrange matters, the Persians took possession of the place On this Dost Muhammad appealed to the Bntish Government for aid to recover this important frontier of his kingdom, and following this up came to Peshawar, and there, in the beginning of 1857, concluded a treaty with Sir John Lawrence Shortly after his departure, war was declared against Persia, and Lumsden's mission was sent to Kandahar, where it remained for fourteen months at the court of the heir-apparent, Ilydar Khan.
After the evacuation of Herat by the Persians, the place was made over to Sultan Khan, Barakzar, who was an enemy of the Amir, and notoriously a protege of the Shah. In 1858 he received and hospitally entertained the Russian exploring expedition under M. Khamkoff The Amir, disappointed in his hopes of Herat, turned his attention in another direction, and, in 1859, annexed Kunduz, and secured the submission of Badakshan, a thud step towards the consolidation of his kingdom Herat only remained to complete it, and this place he took in 1863 after a siege of ten months. The Amir, by this last victory of his long, and active, and adventurous life, attained the desire of his heart, a consolidated Afghanistan. For his success he was indebted entirely to the alliance and support of the British Government But this fact did not in in any way draw closer the relations between the two States. On the contrary, the Amn never ceased his vigilance in closing his country against the European , and whilst pleading the hostility of his people against the race, lost no oppoitunity of abusing them himself, and openly encouraged his fanatic priesthood in vilifying them. His repeated, and almost dying, injunction to his heir-apparent, Sher Ali, was to keep on good terms with the British and hold fast by their alliance, but on no account, as he valued his throne, to let an Englishman set foot in the country.
Dost Muhammad was not destined to enjoy the fruits of his success at Herat. He died there on the 9th June, 1863, only a few days after the place fell into his hands. His son, Sher Ali, whom he had nominated heir-apparent, against the advice of his nobles and most loyal adherents, succeeded as Amir. He had, it is true, a consolidated kingdom ready to hand, but with it was to come the storm that had been predicted on all sides for years past Perhaps it is well it was so, for Sher Ali had no taste for the tame life of home government, and could not have resisted the bent of his desire for foreign conquest had he not been more seriously engaged at home.
He was never a popular man As a child he was wayward and quarrelsome. As a youth he was under the restraint of captivity in India, but his selfish and whimsy temper prevented his deriving any benefit from the cultivated society he was there brought into relations with As a man in his capacity of Governor of Ghazni, he acquired an evil reputation; his rule was hard, and his punishments were spiteful and cruel; whilst his temper was such that it was sometimes thought he was wrong in the head. He had fits of vice and piety alternately, with intervals in which his best friends dreaded to meet the whims of his temper. For weeks together he would be shut up in his Harem with drugs and wines, and then for weeks he would be employed with the priests performing prayers, reading the Kuran, and listening to theological dissertations He hated the English, and did not conceal the fact even when outwardly on the most friendly terms with them, and when the British were in the midst of their troubles with the mutiny in India, he was the most violent advocate in the old Amir's durbar for an attack upon them at Peshawar Such was Sher Ali at the time he succeeded his father as Amir, not of Kabul, but of Afghanistan.