And so it was that the Durrani Empire sunk and disappeared, but not so the Durrani rule. This merely passed from one family of the race to another - from the Saddozai to the Barakzai. With this transfer of rule, however, there came a complete change over the status of the country. The empire had passed away and was replaced by the principality. The Shah gave way to the Amir - the Emperor to the Prince. But besides this, there was a change of a more noteworthy and important character The home kingdom which was all that remained of the empire, no longer continued an integral whole acknowledging the central authority at Kabul. On the contrary, it became split up into the independent chiefships of Herat under Kamran - the last representative of the Saddozai family; Kandahar under Sherdil and his brothers joint partners in the government - Kuhndil and Rahmdil; and Kabul under Dost Muhammad. Peshawar still remained in the hands of Sultan Muhammad, but he held the place only as governor under Ranjit Sing, who, during the confusion following on the murder of Fath Khan, seized Kashmir in 1819 and this place four years later.
When Dost Muhammad took up the reins of government at Kabul - the recognized capital of the country - he assumed the leadership of the divided nation, and adopted the title of Amir - the first Amir of Afghanistan The word is an Arabic one, and means "Commander" It was first introduced as a military title by the Khalifs under the form Ammul-Mummin, or "Commander of the Faithful," and was bestowed upon provincial governors who were subordinate to the Khilafat, or Caliphate, as most Europeans write the word. Subsequently it became adopted as a princely title by independent rulers of the minor states which looked to the head of the Faith as their paramount power. And latterly it came to carry with it a sense of subordination in the ranks of sovereignty.
With the assumption of this title Dost Muhammad acquired nothing more than an acknowledged pre-eminence among the local chiefs of the country of which he held the capital He acquired no extra power or territorial dominion with it, for, as a matter of fact, his authority was limited to Ghazni on one side of his capital, and Jalalabad on the other.
Whilst Afghanistan was being thus partitioned between the sons of Fath Khan, the course of affairs between Herat and Persia did not run smoothly; and in 1834 a Persian army under Abbas Mirza, the son and heir-apparent of Fath Ali Shah, the reigning Cajar Sovereign, marched against Herat, but was withdrawn on a compromise with the isolated Kamran. About this time Shuja, the refugee at Ludhiana, seeing the dismembered and disorganized state of the country, set out with a large army to recover his lost kingdom, and marched against Kandahar. Here Kuhndil, holding out, summoned the aid of Dost Muhammad from Kabul, and on his arrival, Shuja, being defeated with the loss of most of his army, was forced to fly to Herat. His nephew Kamran, however, closed the gates against him, and the disappointed Saddozai had to turn back and find his way across the Sistan desert to Calat or Kelat, where Nasir Khan gave him asylum, and sent him on to Ludhiana.
This victory at Kandahar established the authority of the Barakzai, whilst the conduct of Kamran reduced the cause of the Saddozai to a hopeless condition, and raised the hopes of the Persian king in his ultimate views regarding Herat While these events were enacting in Afghanistan, Fath Ali Shah was succeeded as king of Persia by his grandson Muhammad Shah And he, instigated by General Simonich, the Russian Minister at Tehran, marched against Herat and laid siege to the foitress It was gallantly defended by the garrison under the guidance and encouragement of Lieut Eldred Pottinger, who happened to be there at the time. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Dost Muhammad sent an army against the Sikhs at Peshawar to recover the Indus provinces which they had taken from the Kabul Government with the consent of Shuja The Afghan army defeated the Sikhs at Jamrud near the mouth of the Khybar, but as Dost Muhammad suspected that his success might rouse the jealousy of the Government of Lord Auckland, he endeavoured to strengthen himself by communicating with the Government of Russia, without, at the same time, ceasing his correspondence with the Government of India.
These two important events - the Persian siege of Herat and the Afghan defeat of the Sikhs, both at opposite ends of the kingdom of the Durrani - caused the British Government some anxiety and, in 1837, Sir Alexander Burnes was sent to Kabul as British Envoy to settle affairs between Dost Muhammad and Ranjit Sing This was the first instance of a British Envoy being installed at Kabul. He had not been there long when there arrived, towards the close of the same year, a Russian agent named Vitcovich. He was a mysterious individual, and acted in a mysterious way. He travelled by Herat and Kandahar, and in the latter place made a treaty with the ruler, Kuhndil Khan, to defend Herat in the Persian interest At Kabul he was so successful in his intrigues that he diverted the Amir from his contemplated alliance with the British, and, estranging Dost Muhammad from Burnes, persuaded him to break off negotiations with the British Envoy.
In the meantime, the siege of Herat, which had continued for three or four months without much success, was abandoned by the Persians in consequence of the action of the British fleet in the Persian Gulf, and, Dost Muhammad proving obdurate, the British Government took up the cause of Shujaul-Mulk, the refugee at Ludhiana, as the rightful sovereign of Afghanistan, and decided on restoring him to his usurped throne in the hope of his proving a loyal ally and effective buffer against the Persians and Russians. As a first step towards this proceeding, the famous Tripartite Treaty was concluded Shuja, on his own part, made a treaty with Ranjit Sing, ceding to him all the Indus provinces which the Sikhs had taken from the Afghans, and Ranjit, on his part, agreed to assist the British advance on Kabul to set Shuja in the place of Dost Muhammad.