Of the history of the Ghilji as a distinct people in Afghanistan little or nothing is known till the beginning of last century, when they revolted against the Persian Governor of Kandahar. The Persians, it appears, had for several years been most oppressive in their rule over the people of this province, and the Ghilji sent numerous petitions to the court of Ispahan praying for a removal of their grievances These petitions receiving no attention, the Ghilji deputed one of their chief men, named Mir Vais, or Wais, to lay their complaints before the Shah, and obtain for them some redress for the sufferings they groaned under The mission of Mir Vais proved unsuccessful, but his journey was not altogether without advantage, for his residence at the Shah's court opened his eyes to the weakness of the government and the venality of its officers.
Mir Vais returned to Kandahar by way of Mecca, the pilgrimage to the sacred shrines of which city added the title of Haji to his name, and much increased his influence amongst his countrymen, and, immediately on his arrival at home, he set to work to raise the people in revolt. The rising proved successful, the Persian Governor was slain, his troops were defeated and dispersed, and Mir Vais became independent ruler of Kandahar, He reigned eight years, during which he repulsed three Persian armies sent against him, and died in 1715 AD, leaving the government to his son and successor Mahmud The repeated failures of the Persian government to recover their authority at Kandahar, encouraged Mahmud to assume the offensive, and in 1720 he invaded Persia by way of Kirman, but was signally defeated and driven back by the Governor of that province.
Two years later, however, he renewed the attempt with a larger and better equipped army, and with complete success. He overran the whole of Southern Persia, taking city after city, and spreading terror and devastation wherever he went, till, at the end of the second year's campaign, he became master of Ispahan, the Persian sovereign, Shah Husen, abdicating the throne and surrendering his capital to the conqueror. Flushed with his rapid and great successes, the pride and ambition of Mahmud increased, and giving way to unbridled excesses of all kinds, he soon became an insane and bloody savage.
His cruelties and unreasonable despotism at length became intolerable to his own chiefs, who assassinated him, and put his nephew, Mir Ashraf, on the throne in his place. He had not long enjoyed the government when he had to face a better man, a soldier of fortune, who was soon to make himself of world-wide repute as a great conqueror. This was Nadir, a Turkman highwayman by birth and occupation, who entered the service of Tamasp, the heir of Shah Husen, as general of his army. As soon as Nadir took the field Ashraf boldly advanced to meet him, but was completely defeated. The Ghilji, however, did not give up the game as lost, but vigorously maintained the contest for some years, till, finally, having sustained a succession of crushing defeats, his heterogeneous and rabble army was either destroyed or dispersed, and he himself forced to flee the country with only three or four personal attendants He took the way to Kandahar by Sistan, and was murdered in that district by a petty Baloch chief And thus ended the Ghilji rule in Persia, after a term of only seven years, but it was a period of terror and savagely, and sufficed to steep the country in the blood of its inhabitants, and to over spread its surface with desolation and rain After he had cleared Persia of the Ghilji invaders and secured his successes against the Russians and the Turks, Nadir assumed the crown himself, and then set out on his conquest of India. In 1738, after a siege of a year and-a-half, during which he devasted the districts around, he took the strong city of Kandahar and razed it to the ground. He then proceeded to Kabul and India, and took a strong contingent of Ghilji troops along with his army At Kabul he left as chundaul, or " rear guard a detachment of twelve thousand of his Kizilbash (so named from the red caps they wore), or Mughal Persian troops. After the death of Nadir they remained at Kabul as a military colony, and their descendants still occupy a distinct quarter of the city, which is called Chandaul These Kizilbash hold their own ground here as a distinct Persian community of the Shia persuasion against the native population of the Sunni profession. They constitute an important element in the general population of the city, and exercise a considerable influence in its local politics. Owing to their isolated position and antagonism to the native population, they are favourably inclined to the British authority.
On the death of Nadir Shah and the rise of the Durrani to the independent sovereignty of Afghanistan, the Ghilji were bought over by Ahmad Shah, and acquiesced in his elevation to the throne On the death of the Abdali king, however, their long suppressed discontent burst out, and, impatient of their position as a subordinate lace in the seat of their recent supremacy, they openly contested the sovereignty against his successor, the Shah Tymur The struggle was continued in a desultory and intermittent manner for many years, till, finally, the Ghilji power was crushed by Shah Zaman in the early part of the present century by a decisive battle fought in 1809 at Jaldak near Kalat-i-Ghilzi.
Since that time - coeval with the establishment for the first time of diplomatic relations between the Governments of India and Afghanistan - the Ghilji have made no effort to recover their lost position, or to attain to the dominant authority in the country, but they have, in consequence, by no means sunk into insignificance. On the contrary they have maintained a considerable amount of tribal independence, and have uniformly exercised a very powerful influence in the councils of the Durrani rulers, so far, at least, as concerns the guidance of state affairs Our own experience of this people on each occasion of our contact with them in Afghanistan has been that of unmitigated hostility and the deepest treachery, not acting by themselves alone, but in conceit with the Durrani.
The trouble they gave us in harassing our communications between Kabul and Kandahar during our occupation of the country in 1839-42, the unrelenting ferocity of their attacks upon our defenceless and retreating army in 1842, and their persistent opposition to our avenging force later in the same year upon the Khybar route, are all matters of history, and need not be here further referred to. But with all this against them, the Ghilji is not an implacable foe to us, and by judicious management can be converted into a very useful friend.