Ahmad Shah äkhmäd´ shä´ [key], c.1723–1773, Afghan ruler (1747–73), founder of the Durani dynasty. His success in commanding Afghan forces in India for Nadir Shah of Iran won him the rule of Afghanistan on Nadir's death (1747). He twice (1756, 1760) occupied and sacked Delhi, the capital of the Mughal empire. He conquered a vast territory, extending roughly from the Oxus (Amu Darya) to the Indus rivers and from Tibet to Khorasan, but he was unable to consolidate this empire and it soon disintegrated. He united and strengthened Afghanistan, however, and is therefore often considered its modern founder. His family retained power until the rise of Dost Muhammad.
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