Ahmad Khan was crowned king in 1747 as Ahmad Shah, Durri Durran, or "Pearl of Pearls," and the title is said to have been adopted from the distinctive custom of the Abdtili tribe of wearing a small pearl studded ring in the right ear.
In the following year he took Kabul from the Persian Governor, who had been left in it by Nadir, and thus established his authority in the home country. The rest of his prosperous reign of twenty-six years was occupied in an unceasing course of conquest and plunder. He repeatedly replenished his leaky coffers by successive invasions of India, raised the name of his nation to a high pitch of renown, opened a career for the ambition and greed of his hungry and luxurious nobles by foreign conquests, and, at his death, left an empire extending from the Sutlej and the Indus on the east to the Persian desert on the west, from the Oxus on the north to the Arabian sea on the south. He had gained as wife for Tymur, his son and heir-apparent, the daughter of the Dehli Emperor, and with her as dowry Lahore and all Panjab, Ahmad Shah's career was one of conquest and plunder throughout. Born and bred a soldier, he lived and died a soldier He provided his restless and lawless people with congenial employment, and opened to his fickle and ambitious nobles rich fields for the gratification of their desires. But he did nothing for the substantial benefit of his country. His code of laws and regulations for the government of the home country was an ideal more than a real one. His people and country remained much the same as they were before, with the difference only that the wealth and pageantry of a newly-created court attracted many from a pastoral and wandering life to one of court etiquette and more settled habits. But as a whole, the people and country in their respective conditions were hardly affected by the new state of things. The one continued to be the lawless, restless, and ambitious people, greedy for wealth without the labour of honestly earning it, which they had always been noted to be - this last quality being a trait in the character of the nation which received a very powerful impetus by the enormous riches they acquired under the successful and repeated expeditions of their king And the other remained undeveloped, without roads, and without security for the traveller.
Ahmad Shah died in 1773, and was succeeded by the heir of his choice, his second son Tymur The first act of the new king was to put down the opposition of his elder brother, Suleman, by putting out his eyes He then gave himself up to pleasure and the pageantry of court life, and left the government of the country to his ministers and provincial admmistrators He changed the capital from Kandahar to Kabul, and generally spent the winter at Peshawar, which became a sort of second capital. The reign of Tymur was a complete contrast to that of his father. The repeated military expedi. tions and hauls of treasure, the restless activity and constant annexations of territory, which characterized the former, now gave way to luxury and pageantry at home, to minstrels and bayaderes, to pigeon-fancy and cock-fighting Province after province of the conquered states cut adrift and fell away from the newly-raised empire. Finally the treasury, failing to be replenished as heretofore from abroad, ran dry, discontent became rife, and the first signs of the coming storm began to show themselves Tymur personally was despised as an effeminate voluptuary, but he was tolerated as the son of his father; and this fact, more than any other, shows the high estimation in which Ahmad Shah was held by his people, for he is now hardly known except by name, the commotions and usurpations of succeeding years having fixed the minds of the people to more recent heroes, though of meaner calibre.
Indeed the events of the short decade of Nadir Shah's rule over this country are better known than those of the full quarter-century of the Durrani sovereigns' reign. The one was a conqueror who destroyed and subjugated, who planted Persian governors of a comparatively civilized stamp, and who ruled as an autocrat. The other was the leader of a banditti, who ravaged and plundered, and was subservient to the will of his supporters and followers. The deeds of the one are remembered - of the other forgotten.
Tymur died in 1793, after a reign of twenty years, and left a score or so of sons, and a larger number of daughters Of his sons, Zaman was governor of Kabul, Abbas of Peshawar, Kuhndil of Kashmir, Humayun of Kandahar, and Mahmud of Herat And this was all that remained of the Durrani Empire of Ahmad Shah at the death of his successor It was merely the native or Pukhtun country, with Kashmir added.
Zaman Shah succeeded to the throne through the support of Panada Khan, the prime minister of his father. This able and astute minister was the son of the celebrated Haji Jamal, Barakzar, who had been the most active partisan and supporter of Ahmad Shah when he was first made king; and his object in now taking Zaman in hand was to use him as a puppet whilst he matured his own ambitious designs Zaman, however, had no sooner ascended the throne than his light was contested by Humayun at Kandahar, and by Mahmud at Herat He immediately marched against Kandahar and reduced the former, and then proceeded to Herat, where he was forced to a compromise owing to rebellion at Kabul. In the midst of these troubles, Agha Muhammad Khan, the founder of the present Cajar dynasty, came to the throne of Persia, and, having seized Khurasan, demanded the cession of Balkh, which still nominally pertained to the Kabul Government. Zaman, unable to resist, ceded the province in the hope of making a friend of the Persian for the furtherance of his own ulterior designs on India, for it seems to have become clear to him that the Durrani Empire, founded on the plunder of India, could not be kept a-going without periodical supplies from that inexhaustible source "With the alienation of Balkh came the revolt of the Panjab, which was an appanage of the Empire as dower of Tymur's wife, and Zaman was content to appoint Ranjit Sing as his ruler at Lahore.