By: Mir M.Hosseini
Karim Khan Zand is known to be the best ruler in Iran since the invasion of Arabs. He was a high ranking officer in Nader Shah's army. After the assassination of Nader Shah, he supported whoever he thought of as a real heir to the throne but he never proclaimed king and only took the title "the advocate of people". He suppressed some uprisings around the country and set his capital in Shiraz. All of Iran was united under his control except Khorasan that he left to Nader's grandson, Shahrokh Afshar.
During his reign Iran entered a period of peace and tranquility after 40 years of war and some serious infrastructural work was done. There are lots of literature that portray Karim Khan as a compassionate ruler who was very concerned with the welfare of people.
During his reign, there was a power struggle going on in Baghdad between Iran and Ottomans where each side was trying to install their preferred rulers. After mistreatment of Shiite pilgrims to Karbala, Karim Khan Zand captured Basra, consequently; the Ottomans declared war on Iran in June 1776. The Turkish Sultan Abdulhamid tried to turn governors of Azerbaijan and Georgia against Iran while attacking the Iranian territory from Mosul and Baghdad. However, regional disputes among local rulers stopped him from a full scale war. Karim Khan who was a man of politics, restored ties with Britain but rejected Russian alliance against Ottomans before his death on Mar, 1, 1779, after which civil war broke out once again, and none of his descendants were able to unite the country which later fell in the hands of Qajar dynasty.
Although he reportedly had no education, some of his greatest achievements are as follows:
1. He succeeded in restoring trade security by establishing a police force in every city.
2. He created a juristic system based on "The ears of Vakil" to which every citizen could report injustice.
3. He created a safe passage in the Persian Gulf where foreign trade with Europe, specially with the UK was secured. Some export items were: silk, cotton, dried fruits and nuts, pharmaceuticals, copper, and sulphur.
4. Exports to Ottomans reached its peak in a way that people used Turkish currency in most of the northwest cities of Iran. Major export items were : tobacco, wool, rosewater, bamboo and horses.
5. Because gold was scarce, measures were taken to have less gold leave the country.
6. He fixed prices of essentials throughout the country so that the level of general welfare rose considerably. Tax rates on the other hand were kept as low as possible.