A picture of life in the old city of Kandahar under the Timurids, the Safavids and the Moghuls has begun to emerge since the British Institute began its excavations in 1974. Bronze ewers, imported glazed ceramics and ornate glass from Persia and imported porcelains from China speak of widespread trade. Locally made glazed wares in the Persian style speak of a cultural orientation toward the west.
On the whole the indigenous Pashtun tribes living in the Kandahar area were more attached to the Persians and, indeed, on those occasions when the Moghuls received the city by means other than conquest, it was disaffected Persian governors who instigated the transfer, not the tribes. The tribes were not above pitting foreigner against foreigner in order to further their attempts to better one another. However, siding sometimes with the Persians, sometimes with the Moghuls, but never with each other, they perpetuated tribal disunity and prolonged foreign domination.
The principal contenders in these tribal disputes came from the two most important Pashtun groups in the Kandahar area, the Ghilzai and the Abdali (later Durrani), between whom there was long-standing enmity. As a matter of fact, because of these quarrels, many of the turbulent Abdali had been forcibly transferred to Herat by the irritated Persians by the end of the 16th century. This left the Ghilzai paramount in Kandahar, but the dispute more hotly contested, the hatred more deeply entrenched, and revenge more fervently sought.
The Persians were adept at manipulating such machinations and their rule at Kandahar was tolerant until the court at Isfahan began to sink in decadence. Mirroring this, the Persian governors of Kandahar became more and more rapacious and, in response, the tribes became more and more restless. Mounting tribal disturbances finally caught the concern of the court and they sent Gurgin, a Georgian known for his uncompromising severity toward revolt, to Kandahar in 1704. Kandahar’s mayor at this time was Mirwais Hotak, the astute and influential leader of the Ghilzai.
Gurgin, advocate of law by force, burnt, plundered, murdered and imprisoned, but the tribes would not be subdued; revolts were crushed only to break out anew and Mirwais, credited with master-minding the rebellions, was sent to Isfahan tagged as a highly dangerous prisoner. Imagine Gurgin’s surprise and dismay when Mir Wais returned to Kandahar shortly thereafter clothed in lustrous robes of honour, symbols of respect and trust. The Shah of Persia thus declared the influence of Mirwais, not Gurgin, at the Persian court. Mirwais had extricated himself from a very nasty situation but, more importantly, he had observed the depths of decay at Isfahan, much as Babur had observed it at Herat, and correctly determined that the Safavid Empire was on the brink of collapse.
Mirwais formulated plans for disposing of the hated Gurgin; only the difficult task of waiting for the right moment remained.
The moment came in April, 1709. Because details of the assassination are varied, this discussion recounts the version popular among Kandaharis today who say that MirWais invited Gurgin to a picnic at his country estate at Kohkran on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Here the guests were fed all manner of rich dishes and plied with strong wines until “everyone was plunged in debauch.” This was the moment. Mirwais struck, killing Gurgin, and his followers killed the Georgian’s escort. The rebels then marched to take possession of the citadel.
Isfahan was astounded and sent emissaries to complain. The emissaries were imprisoned. Isfahan sent armies to take the city. The armies were defeated. The Persian court then sat in stunned idleness while Mir Wais extended his authority throughout the Kandahar region.
If they were to remain free the tribes must be united and to this formidable task the venerable statesman devoted the rest of his life. But not many years were left for Mirwais. He died in 1715. An imposing bluedomed mausoleum at Bagh-i-Kohkran, next to the orchard where Gurgin was assassinated, is a fitting monument to Afghanistan’s first great nationalist.
The qualities which enabled Mirwais to lead the tribes toward a meaningful unity were not, unfortunately, inherited by his ambitious 18 year old son, Mahmud, whose visions only encompassed conquest and power. Killing his uncle, elected successor to MirWais, Mahmud gathered his followers and marched across Persia and seized the Safavid throne (1722). Mahmud met an early death in 1725 and was succeeded by his cousin, Ashraf, who ruled until 1730 when a new soldier-of-fortune, the Turkoman Nadir Quli Beg, ended Ghilzai rule.
Haji Mirwais Neeka, the most prominent head of Afghanistan (1673-1715). He, with wisdom and courage, founded the Afghan national independence,which had been disturbed for some 200 years by neighboring rulers.
In this age of democracy and knowledge, it is the essential duty of Afghan scholars to further discover and introduce the glorious history and grand culture of Afghanistan to the foreign world. It is unfair for Afghans
to depend on the findings of foreign researchers or journalists, who are leading the torch of investigation in our history, geography and politics which are sometime vague or controversial.
Mentality of the Afghan Tribes
Dr. R. Zirakyar, has stated precisely and accurately that "before the time of' Mirwais Neeka for some 200 years neighboring rulers had planned plots and conspiracies of Afghanistan." There were Shabanis demising and aggression on Uzbaks, Moghols and Persian Safavid who attacked the land and people of Afghanistan. And then there were the super powers of British and Russian aggression to divide Afghanistan. Three wars with England and the most recent invasion of Soviet Union are unforgettable and unforgivable incidents. Every plot of such aggression has put Afghanistan half a century behind its the advancement. It is, however, unfortunate that brainless politicians who made plots for destroying Afghanistan have no knowledge about the mentality of Afghans. The fact is, Afghan people have never been conquered or occupied by enemies (except temporarily or across the borders). Every time the central administration or political unity is disrupted the glow of independent spirit is brought into life. The light of independence sparks in one comer or another. Among the Afghan tribes a leader will rise to unify them for revenge and obtaining the lost jewel of freedom. This experience is repeatedly true during the 5000 years of Afghan history.
Mirwais Khan's Inspirations
From the early 16th Century to the late 18th Century the Land of Afghans was occupied by the Uzbak Turk power. The east of the land was invaded by Moghuls from India. In the West, the Afghan land was under continued aggression of Persian Safavid kings. In this way the unity, independence and the life of Afghans were disrupted and diversely affected under these powers. Famous, learned, intelligent and talented Afghan administrators and politicians were contributing in the courts of these foreign rulers on one hand and waiting for proper opportunity to rise against them on the other hand.
Such intolerance was unacceptable to the Afghan population. It caused uprisings around the country, especially in the Pashtun areas. The eastern movement of Pir Roshan (1579) was supported and continued by Khushal Khan Khattak (1613-1690) and his sons. In the southwest, national independence movements were aggressively headed under the leadership of Mirwais Khan Neeka, (1673-1715).
Roots of Mirwais Khan
Mirwais was born in a well-known, rich and political family with roots in tribal and ethnic affairs. The family was, for ages, involved in social and community services. He is the son of Salim Khan, grandson of Karum Khan and great grandson of Ismail Khan. Mirwais belongs to the famous Afghan Hottaki tribe, as Ismail Khan did, a descendant of Malikyar, the ancient head of Hottaki Afghans. Hottaki is a strong branch of Gharzi or Ghilzai, one of the main dynasties of Afghanistan.
Haji Amanullah Hottak reports in his book(1989) that the Ghilzai tribe are the original residents of Ghor or Gherj. This tribe came down to live in the Kassi Mountain. They migrated later to obtain land in Zabul, Paktia, Ghazni, Kabul, Nangrahar, Kunar and Kandahar and multiplied in these areas. The Ghilzai tribe is one of the main branches of Afghans.
Nazo Anaa is the mother of Mirwais Khan. She was a prominent learned poet and courteous person. Her father, Sultan Malakhai Tokhi, was also a prominent head of his tribe. In this way, Mirwais Khan inherited wisdom and political strength from both sides of his family. His father, Salim Khan, as head of his tribe was a rich businessman too. He sent caravans in route to Delhi, India and Isfahan in Persia. Nazo Anaa's father paid close attention to her education-and-upbringing and induced training-and-full education from the elders and learned personalities of the time in Kandahar. She became a prominent poet and literary figure of Pashto language. Her contribution as a poet is uniquely considered invaluable even today.
On the night Mirwais was born (1673) his mother, Nazo Anaa, dreamed of Bait Neeka (an ancient and famous benevolent leader of Afghans). He told Nazo to take best care of the new baby because when the child grows up, the country would be blessed by his services. Nazo Anaa, from time to time, recalled the miraculous dream to her son and advise him to perform deeds with authenticity. Young Mirwais eternally followed his mother's advice. He became a great leader for the people of Afghanistan.
Mirwais married Khanzada Sadozai , the daughter of Jaffar Khan Sadozai, a chief leader of his tribe. This relationship firmly cemented a unity between the two, sometimes rival tribes.
It gave strength and popularity to Mirwais' leadership in and outside of his community. Khanzada in characteristics and education was a distinguished lady like Nazo Anaa. She played a great role in her husband Mirwais Khan's social and political life.
Mirwais Khan's Personality
Mirwais Neeka was born near Kandahar City in 1673 and died by natural causes at the age of 42 (in 1715) after he established the power of the Hottaki tribe in Afghanistan.
He ruled the land either for six or eight years. Mirwais Neeka defeated the Persian Safavid in the Southwest and Moghuls of India in the east of Afghanistan. After achieving the unification and independence of Afghanistan, on the basis of natural modesty, he did not accept the title of king or emperor. Rather, he preferred the simple word of "Mashr", meaning elder of the people or a Counsel of State.
His people generously suffixed another word to his name, "Neeka," meaning Grandfather of the Nation. In this way, his ambition was to abolish kingdom or monarchy, and replace it with a national leadership and indigenous democracy instead.
Mirwais Khan As a Youth
Since his youth, Mirwais Neeka became famous for genius thinking and analysis of events. He was honorable, gentle, kind, benevolent, just and honest. His speeches were fruitful, convincing and inspirational. People were grateful for his social courtesy and endurance. Mirwais Neeka had the appearance of a descendant of the original Ariana tribe. He was tall, well-built, light-brown skin, black hair, dark-brown eyes, and a long, straight but slender nose.
He is well-known as a strikingly handsome, strong man who wore richly decorated and embroidered clothes.
Mirwais Neeka proposed peace and unity and wanted stable relations between the government administration and the people of Afghan tribes. He recognized the need to build a strong and prosperous nation which would be able to stand on its own feet.,, He wished to strengthen Afghanistan's position in international affairs through economics. During his father's time as well as after that Mirwais; Neeka wisely continued business transactions and acquainted himself with influential dignitaries in the governmental circles of Persia and India.
Mirwais Khan earned several tides from his people, such as:
Mirwais Khan (Chief)
Mirwais Baba (Father)
Mirwais Neeka (Grandfather)
Meer Khan (Grand Chief)
Haji Mir Khan (Chief Who Pilgrimage to Mecca).
Gorgin in Kandahar
Persian king, Sultan Hussian Safavid, appointed Gorgin of the Giorgi tribe as governor of Kandahar, Afghanistan (1709). He soon became the most brutal and truculent authority in the region. Gorgain was a ruthless and contemptuous person. He proved this as soon as he entered Kandahar with 20,000 Persian savage soldiers.
Persia exercised this political force to demonstrate its power to Afghans and to establish a strategic stand to the Moghol's empire in India- The intoicrable acts of Gorgin forced the Afghan nation to seek peace and safety. In unity, they turned towards Mirwais Neeka authorizing him to find a remedy. Mirwais contacted the Persian ruler, King Hussian Safavid, about the murderous administration of Gorgin going on in Kandahar and over the Afghan people.
Reedi Khan Momand, a learned political poet, has mentioned in his book of poetry that Mirwais contacted the Persian court four times in vain about the cruelty of Gorgin.
Governor Gorgin received reports about this political and secret action of Mirwais. He planned to send Mirwais and his prominent followers to Persia to be detained in Persia so that Afghanistan would be ruled peacefully. But Mirwais had better plans for Gorgin's future.
The Fall of Gorgin
In Isfahan, the Court of Persia, Mirwais made plans to invoke opposition of King Hussian towards Gorgin. He treated all dignitaries in that court with courteous manners and used his political charisma and wealth to achieve his goals. He offered all those involved in decision making with gifts. Soon he became close to the authorities and even was consulted as political advisor in all the political affairs of the court. The king himself was fascinated with Mirwais's vigor of political talent and marvelous manners.
Mirwais knew that Gorgin had friends in the king's court. He kept his opposition of Gorgin secret from them and instead gifted them as others in authority. Mirwais had no problem in the Persian court and the need for his consultation increased continuously. This successful policy and logical approach by Mirwais paved the way for granting royal permission to go to Arabia. There he performed the Hajj(pilgrimage) Ceremony, the fifth pillar of the religion of Islam that obligates every able Muslim to go to Mecca once in life time for pilgrimage. During the Haij offering in Arabia, Mirwais Khan was able to visit several political and religious influential persons. They offered support for Mirwais Khan's secret plan to free Afghanistan from the hands of Persians. The Ulama in Arabia approved in writing of launching a war by Afghans against Corgin of Persia. Mirwais kept this document secret and returned to Persia- Tbe document is called Fatwa 1(4(Religious authorization, in this case, for war against the enemy).
After a short stay in Persia, Mirwais convinced the king that he needed to leave for Kandahar, his home, to advise Gorgin in person on major issues. Otherwise, Gorgin might plan covert action against Persia to get independence in Kandahar with the help of Moghols.
The concern of the Persian king had become gigantic and he was afraid that Gorgin will seek cession from Persia with the help of Moghols in India. The king accepted the political analysis of Mirwais and allowed him to go to Kandahar. There he was to council and advise Gorgin very closely. Gorgin +ad to listen and obey Mirwais' advice. Mirwais went to Kandahar with the new orders for Gorgin.
The Afghan people were relaxed that Gorgin was limited in power and Mirwais was now his boss in important decisions.
Historic Loya Jirga
In competing with Mirwais' friendship in the Persian court, Gorgin jealously stepped up his dictatorship and ruthless warlordism. Mirwais, now among his people, made contacts through meetings and secret visits with the heads of the numerous tribes and reinforced the idea of national unity against the tortures of Gorgin and foreigners. All Afghans gave assurance of their determination and requested Mirwais to lead the way. Mirwais promptly invited a Loya Jerga (a traditional grand national assembly). The Loya Jirga gathered under Mirwais Khan near his hometown of Shari Safa which is in the vicinity of Manja Village near Kandahar.
Members in Loya Jirga
According to Said Kasim, Rishtia 'Loya Jirga" was gathered in Shahri Safa in 1707. According to Mir Ghulam M. Ghobar this Loya Jirga was gathered in Manja in 1709.
This difference will be cleared in future research. Both small cities are adjacent to each other and situated (30-32 km) east of Kandahar City. Also both cities were under the authority of Kandahar provincial administration. Mr. Amanullah Hottak reports that Reedi Khan in his book Mahmoud Nama mentioned the following prominent people as members of Mir Wais's Loya Jirga:
1. Saidal Khan Nasir, Chief of Hottaki Army
2. Babu Jaan Baabi, Chief of Hottaki Army
3. Mir Alarn Khan Nasir. Chief of Turnak Army
4. Sado Khan Nasir, Chief of Turnak Army
5. Yusuf Khan Hottak, Chief of Turnak Army
6. Bahadur Khan Anderh, Conqueror of Shall, Zoob,Derajat
7. Mullah Peer M. Mianji, Chief Religious Leader
8. Gul Khan Babar, Chief of Babar Tribe
9. Noor Khan Barizhi, Chief of Barizhi Tribe
10. Nassro Khan Alakozai, Chief of Shorawak City
11. Yahya Khan, Brother of Mirwais Neeka
12. Haji Noor M. Khan, a Nephew of Mirwais Neeka
13. Aziz Khan Noorzai, a Hero from Delaram City
14. Yusuf Khan Hottak, Chief of Seyori City
15. Gull Khan Barizhi, Chief of Barizhi Tribe
16. Yunus Kakar, Chief of Kakar Tribe and Representative from Zoob and Baluchistan.
Also the following names have been reported by other sources of which HaJi Amanullah Hottak makes no mention.
1- Mir Abdullah Khan of the Barizhi Tribe.
2- Tarin Representative from Payshin City.
3- Kasim Khan from Shall Kote City.
4- Sayyed Ali Khan from Hazara Tribe.
5- Zaberdast Khan from Han a Tribe.
Why Call It Loya Jirga?
Dr. Zirakyar, in his research on Mirwais Khan indicates several logical analysis for raising the status of this "national assembly" to the status of Loya Jirga(grand national assembly holding session on special essential occasion). His statements are deemed considerate and agreeable. They are as follows:
- The establishment of the Mirwais grand meeting was highly necessary as it was against foreign invasion.
- Mirwais' proposed grand national assembly deserves the status of Loya Jirga because it was for overthrowing Gorgin and the Persian invasions .
- This grand national meeting tricked Gorgin to come out of Kandahar Port to an open battle field where Afghan armies can attack the enemy to avoid civilian casualties.
- The unusual meeting of Mirwais had the full unity and cooperation of all the Afghan tribes. Even those who could not attend it, agreed to the decisions which would benefit all Afghans.
- The meeting was for all Afghan tribal, religious, military and learned or professional leaders. Mirwais was able to express his desire of war and show in person the permission of the war which he brought in writing from Arabian religious authorities.
The Fruits of Loya Jirga
As soon as the accord and consent of the emergency Loya Jerga of Mirwais Khan was approved by the participants, all the tribes unified. A strong Afghan army was installed. Mirwais Khan with the association of Saidal Khan Nasir brought an indispensable assail on Gorgin. The two armies struck each other at Sheikh Kali Village of Arghasan town near Kandahar. The assail of Mirwais prevailed easily because Gorgin's army came out of the reinforced Port of Kandahar. Gorgin was arrested and then convicted in court. Gorgin was then immolated by Murad Khan for his transgressions and inhuman sins (1709). The Persian king sent two separate envoys to Kandahar to obtain the news account of Gorgin and protested to Mirwais. Both protests were neglected and both men were arrested one after the other. Mirwais took the reins of government in his hands (1709-1715), calling himself a "Misher" chief of the people. His son, Mahmoud then took possession and ruled courageously. In 1722, he even conquered Isfahan, the capitol of Persia. Mahmoud died in 1725. He was succeeded by his cousin, Ashraf. In 1730, an Afghan Baluch killed Ashraf for the Persians. Thus, the Afghan rule in Persia and Afghanistan ended. Turmoil from neighboring kings and disorder in the national unit lasted until 1747 when Ahmad Shah Durani came into power and gave leadership to new Afghanistan.
Tomb of Mirwais Neeka
Mirwais Neeka rests in peace in a distinguished mausoleum in Kohkaran Garden. It is surrounded by the Valley of Arghandab River joining Helmand River near Kandahar City. It is also amid the wonderful excursions recreation spots around Sarpoza Bazaar in KaridAar.
Opposite the tomb is the curious attraction of Chilzeena (forty steps) curving from the bottom to the top of a high mountain. The mountain is very rough and the steps are steep for tourists.The steps lead to the niche known as the Thom of Babur, and a stone lion on each side. The place and building of the historic mausoleum was done by the influential and beloved Governor Wazir Muhammad Gull Khan Momand. His other creative service is the establishment of Pashto Language Academy(1932), the progressive research and publishing of Pashto literature and culture.
Examples of Mirwais
The achievements of Mirwais Neeka prove that in the mountains of Afghanistan there are always able leaders of intelligence, political wisdom, and genius leadership, with golden performances. They will fight the odds with endurance to save the nation and independence. Such examples are: Shah Mahmoud Hotak, Ahmad Shah Durani, Akbar Khan, Ayub Khan and Amir Amanullah Khan.
Now, Afghans seriously need such a leader to unify and stabilize Afghanistan which once again is under the atrocities of civil war by the hands of selfish and opportunistic war organizations since the Soviet invasion.
After the Soviets left, six years ago, the selfish parties are impeding unification and causing civil war with tremendous casualties.
Ali, Mohammad, A New Guide to Afghanistan; Kabul; 1958
Ali, Mohammad; Afghanistan: A Historical Sketch; Kabul; 1957
Benawa, Abdul Raouf-, The Hottakis; Kabul-, 1956
Dupre, Louis; Afghanistan; Princeton Press; New Jersey; 1980
Ghubar, Ghularn M.; Afghanistan Dar Maseer-i-Tarikh; Kabul; 1968
Habibi, Abdulhai; Tarikh-i-Afghanistan baA az Islam; Kabul; 1967
Habibi, Abdulhai; Afghan and Afghanistan; Kabul; 1969
Hottak, Haji Amanullah; D'Khapalwakai Lmar Srak; Queta; 1989
Lockhart, L.; The Fall of the Safavid Dynasty and the Afghan Occupation of Persia; Cambridge, 1958
Nazari, Rahmattullah; A Glance at Kandahar City; the History,
Geography and Economics; Thesis; Kabul University; 1964
Rishtya, Said Qassim; Afghanistan Dar Nozda Qam, Kabul; 1958
Zirakyar, Rahmat; Mirwais Neeka; Sabawoon, Pashtoo Part; Issue 7