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THE HISTORY OF THE DELIMITATION OF THE DURAND LINE

AND THE
OF THE AFGHAN STATE (1838-1898)
by
ZALMAY AHMAD GULZAD
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
(History)
at the
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON
1991
by zalmay Gulzad 1991
All Rights Reserved
ii
iii
Dedicated to my family and especially to the memory of my
younger brother Nangalai Jan.
iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
As I draw towards the conclusion of my graduate studies,
I realize of all the people that have contributed towards this
achievement, I am most grateful to Professor Joseph Elder, who
truly surpassed his role as my mentor. Joe was not only a
source of inspiration but encouraged freedom of thought.
Also, he unhesitantly provided solace to me especially during
the most difficult times. I am indebted to Joe for his
invaluable comments on the dissertation and most of all for
his persistent faith in me throughout my graduate studies.
I consider myself fortunate to have known both Joe and Joann
Elder and will always be grateful for their constant support.
I would also like to extend my thanks to Professor Andre
Wink, who was most gracious in accepting to join my committee
at the later stages. Nevertheless, his comments and valuable
criticism truly played an important role towards the
ref inement of this work. I express my utmost thanks to
Professor David Gibbs, whose reassurance and comments were
always readily available. He has truly been of great
assistance in my work. I would also like to acknowledge
Professor Kemal Karpat for his contribution in my studies.
Throughout my graduate career Professor David Knipe has always
been reassuring and receptive of my work. I am most obliged
to Professor Stephen Humphreys for his invaluable guidance
v
during his tenure in Madison. Professor Humphreys' seminars
contributed immensely towards my research and studies.
Finally, Professor Manendra Verma was most effective in my
lanuage training.
lowe a tremendous amount of gratitude to my family for
their continuous support, love and committment in this
endeavor; Especially my brother, Zaffar Gulzad, who
unhesi tantly offered his encouragement and support. My
special thanks to Lata, who has been a true companion
personally and academically. To my comrade and friend Rick
Rozoff, I am most obliged for his insightful suggestions.
without the generous funding of the American Institute of
Indian Studies (AIlS), this study would not have materialized.
I must thank Kaye Hill and Pradeep Mahendirata for all their
help during my AIlS fellowship. I would also like to extend
my gratitude to the Indian Government and the Afghan
Government for allowing me to have access to documents
pertaining to my study. Dr. Ravindra Kumar, the Director at
the Nehru Memorial Library, contributed immensely to my
research in India. I must acknowledge the staff at the
National Archives in India and at the India Office Library and
Public Records Office in London, who were most generous in
their assistance. The staff at the Memorial Library,
especially Judy and Dineen, were most patient and helpful in
the use of the facilities.
vi
Finally, without the guidance of Judy Corchoran and the
aide of the History Department staff, this study would not
have been possible.
Afghanistan's specific historical experience has
contributed towards its current political quagmire. Almost
every family has experienced the loss of a loved one, the
psychological consequences are inexplicable. The colonial
legacy of the region has only intensified the conflict, which
if history must not repeat itself, Afghans everywhere must
work towards uni ty and the restoration of peace in their
country.
vii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 0 • • • 0 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • iv
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0. . . . ~ Q • • • • • • • • • • 1
CHAPTER ONE:
CHAPTER TWO:
CHAPTER THREE:
CHAPTER FOUR:
CHAPTER FIVE:
CHAPTER SIX:
CHAPTER SEVEN:
CHAPTER EIGHT:
CHAPTER NINE:
CHAPTER TEN:
The Establishment of Afghanistan
Under the Suddozais •••• e •••••••••
The First Anglo-Afghan War: The
Rise of the Imperial Frontier ••••
Sner Ali's Internal Reforms Prior
to the Second Anglo-Afghan War •••
The Second Anglo-Afghan War
23
69
117
(1879-1880) •••••••••••••••••••••• 150
The Origins of RUSsophobia and
Its Impact on Anglo-Russian
Relations in the Nineteenth
century •••••••••••••••••••••••••• 181
Anglo-Russian Imperial Rivalry in
central Asia ••••••••••••••••••••• 206
The Power Structure and social
Change During the Reign of Amir
Abdur Rahman (1880-1901) ••••••••• 244
The Delimitation of the Russo-
Afghan Boundary •••••••• e ••••••••• 292
The Drawing of the Durand Line ••• 309
The Durand Line and the Aftermath 348
CONCLUSION. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 397
APPENDICES •••••••••••••••••••••••••• 0................ 406
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHy •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 424
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Map 2.
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Map 3.
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Map 4.
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347
- INTRODUCTION -
Afghanistan (modern), Khurasan (medieval), or Aryana
(antiquity) were geographic and cultural expressions that
were used historically by outsiders to denote the area and
its inhabitants.
1
Because of its geographic location,
Afghanistan was subjected to a continuous flow of population
migrations and invaders. In the tenth and ninth centuries,
prior to the development of maritime trade, overland trade
routes across Afghanistan intersected at centers like Kabul,
Peshawar, Balkh, Kandahar, Farah, Ghazni and Herat, forming
a series of market networks.
2
It was along these networks
that dynasties like the Ghaznawids (963-1148) and the
Ghurids (1173-1206) established their power in
Afghanistan.
3
The Ghaznawid military base and more so that
of the Ghurid rested largely on Afghan tribal support.
4
As important partners of the rulers, these Afghan tribes
acquired capital and more importantly land, which in turn
strengthened their position within the country. Under the
Ghaznawid and Ghurid dynasties, various campaigns into India
helped stimulate Afghanistan's economy by bringing capital
and products into the region. Consequently, Afghanistan's
commerce became linked to the Indiari trade.
Early attempts to organize an indigenous state are
evident around the Ghor and Suleiman Mountains in the tenth
century when Sheikh Hamid Lodi organized the local Afghans.
1
2
But the credit goes to his successor, sultan Bahlol Lodi,
who later built an empire in India patterned after the early
kingdom of Sheikh Hamid Lodi.
s
with the advent of the Mongol invasions beginning in
the 1220's, Afghanistan suffered tremendously. Flourishing
urban centers like Ghazni, Balkh, Bamian and many more were
laid to waste repeatedly by the Mongols.
6
Such instability
contributed to a decline in commerce causing Afghan society
to return to a more simple structure. Under the reign of
Timur-i-Lang (1336-1405), the irrigation system was
destroyed to the extent that Seistan, once fertile, became a
desert. However Timur's successor, Shahrukh (1407-1444),
encouraged development in the arts and commerce. During
this period large scale migrations of populations to the
north and east strengthened the Kabul-Ghazni-Kandahar axis.
By the sixteenth century the area today identified as
Afghanistan was divided between the Mughals, Safawids, and
Uzbek Khanates. However it was during this period that
literary sources mention indigenous struggles against the
Mughals around the Kabul-Peshawar-Kandahar axis. The
Roshani movement (1545-1585), interpreted by several
scholars as a national, religious, or class struggle, is an
example of tribes coalescing to overthrow Mughal power in
the region.?
Afghanistan's geographic location exposed its people to
3
many foreign invaders and populations. More importantly,
Afghan interaction with foreigners affirmed their sense of
identity as Afghans, which appeared in poetry and literature
around the 17th century. The Pushto poet, Khushhal Khan
Khattak's (1613-89) compositions illustrate the development
of an Afghan identity.8 Kushhal Khan Khattak's writings
relect a struggle between the Afghan nation and internal
tribal discord. In this dissertation, a nation is defined
as:
a community of people who feel that they belong
together in the double sense that they share
deeply significant elements of a common heritage
and that they have a common destiny for the
future. In the contemporary world that nation is
for great portions of mankind the community with
which men most intensely and most unconditionally
identify themselves, even to the extent of being
prepared to lay down their lives for it, however
deeply they may differ among themselves on other
• 9
J.ssues. .. .
A cultural identity of this sort was activated by Ahmad Shah
Durrani when he established a kingdom in the 18th century.
The Kabul-Ghazni-Kandahar axis became the basis of the
Durrani empire established in the 18th century by the
Suddozai clan. Under the Suddozais, much of the area known
today as Afghanistan was ruled by a tribal confederacy that
owed quasi-allegiance to the Suddozai clan. Then, in the
19th century, that area began to feel the repercussions of
European imperialism.
At that time Europe, after its industrial revolution,
4
held an economically and militarily dominant postion vis-a-
vis non-Europe. From this position, European powers, and
particularly Britain, were able to tap into market networks,
extract raw materials, and impose political power in
practically all continents. various authors have suggested
that British imperialism arose primarily to satisfy
metropolitan interests.
10
While economic motives may have
played an important role in the making of the British Indian
empire, they were only one of the many propelling factors
that may have guided British expansion.
D. K. Fieldhouse contends that imperialism stems from
peripheral factors, not from metropolitan interests
alone. 11 He elaborates:
A basic weakness of many Eurocentric theories of
imperialism is that they treat non-Europeans as
lay figures, whereas modern research has
emphasized the vast and decisive importance of the
way in which indigeneous peoples reacted to the
intrusion of Europeans and its associated
problems. Such reactions are intrinsic to a
peripheral approach to European expansion, for in
many places it is clear that the main if not the
only stimulus to alien occupation and formal rule
was the problem of deteriorating relations with
non-Europeans. 12
Previous studies of Anglo-Afghan relations, while stressing
the primacy of peripheral reasons for Britain's expansion of
its northwest frontier, virtually ignore Afghanistan's role
in generating this policy.13 Most of these stutiies view
Britain's relations with Afghanistan as a sub-category of
Britain's regional rivalry with Russia.
14
This study
proposes that, while imperial rivalry in the region
influenced British policy makers to pursue an aggressive
role towards Afghanistan, ultimately Anglo-Afghan relations
provided the major stimulus for imperial policy in the
region.
In order to analyze Afghanistan's active role in
influencing British imperial policy this study focuses on
Anglo-Afghan relations from 1838 to 1898, a period
predominated by British attempts to annex Afghanistan into
the British Indian empire. Twice during this period in
(1839 and 1879) British Indian authorities endeavored to
conquer Afghanistan. In neither instance did Russia
threaten India or its interests in the region. Nor did
economic factors figure prominently in the British decision
to try to annex Afghanistan. Instead, evidence suggests
that as early as in the 1830's British Indian officials
feared Afghanistan's capacity to instigate internal
instability, especially among the Muslim populations in
India.
Later in the nineteenth century, the British realized
that the large fighting force at the Amir of Afghanistan's
disposal posed a threat to imperial interests. It was to
neutralize this threat that British Indian authorities
initially proposed stationing British troops or personnel
5
6
inside Afghanistan. But, Afghan resistance to such efforts
led the British to adopt a policy of pre-emptive annexation.
Only after the British failed (twice) to conquer
Afghanistan, did they abandon their policy of annexation and
embark on a policy that separated a large number of eastern
tribes from the rest of Afghanistan and created an
Afghanistan dependent on British India.
By 1901, at the end of Amir Abdur Rahman's reign,
Afghanistan had evolved from a tribal confederation into a
territorial state with the gradual extension of governmental
authority within a fixed territory.lS Afghanistan's
territorial boundaries today are largely legacies of
nineteenth century European imperialists, " ... who often drew
lines without regard for cultural or ethnic realities and
sometimes even dissected meaningful, contiguous, geographic
units.".16 Afghanistan had acquired boundaries and other
basic features of a state. But at that time it still lacked
much of the infrastructure necessary for the development of
a modern polity.
The research for this study was conducted primarily in
New Delhi, at the National Archives of India, where the
Foreign Department Proceedings and Consultations were
extensively used. Of these the most important were the
Secret, Secret-F, Political - A & B, Frontier - A & B,
Memoranda - A & B, and Miscellaneous categories. The private
manuscripts of Lytton, Durand, Ripon, and Landsowne were
invaluable to this study. British Indian government
publications such as: The Annual Reports on the
Administration of the punjab; Gazetteer of the North west
Frontier; Report on the External Land Trade of the Punjab;
and Punjab Trade Reports were also used.
7
The Parliamentary Papers at the Nehru Memorial Library
in New Delhi were consulted, especially for the early period
in Anglo-Afghan relations.
In London, the documents in the India Office Library
and Records and the Public Records Office provided detailed
information regarding many decades of official
correspondence between London and India.
This study is divided into ten chapters. Chapter One
explores British policies towards Afghanistan in the early
nineteenth century. In the early years of the century, the
East India Company, established relations with Afghanistan
mainly because of its geo-political location, situated at
the crossroads in the overland trade between India and
Central Asia. The Board of Directors of the East India
Company felt that any extension of British influence in
Afghanistan would facilitate the East India Company's access
to the Central Asian markets, thereby enabling it to control
a large share of this important part of the world trade.
During this same period, Afghanistan, under the
8
Suddozais, emerged as a regional power, with socio-economic
and political institutions that combined Islamic and Pushtun
principles of organization. The British local political
officers in India concluded that a strong Afghanistan might
generate internal instability in India. Furthermore, French
Russian economic and political competition in the region
provided the British with justification for expanding their
Indian empire's borders, in order to compete more
effectively with such foreign rivals.
Chapter Two traces the formulation of the British
policy calling for the conquest of Afghanistan. In 1839,
under the pretext of removing Russia's influence from
Afghanistan, the British declared war on Afghanistan and
sent their military forces into Afghanistan in order to pave
the way towards greater British control over Central Asia's
economy. The British were surprised when the Afghans, under
the leadership of Amir Dost Mohammed Khan, his son, Akbar
Khan, tribal sirdars, and mullahs, defeated the British
army. The British now had to address the problem of a strong
Afghanistan they could not readily conquer.
Chapter Three analyzes Amir Sher Ali's attempts to
develop the Afghan state with limited resources and in the
shadow of Anglo-Russian rivalry. Amir Sher Ali embarked on
a modernization program that aimed to revive Afghanistan's
economy and introduce political and social reforms. These
9
changes laid the foundations for a modern centralized Afghan
state, with the introduction of a rudimentary parliament
that functioned to advise the ruler in state affairs. A new
political elite emerged in urban centers, more loyal to the
Afghan Amir than to their tribal groups. Although Pushtun
dominance remained solid, other tribes emerged as
influential partners of the state, diluting Qizilbash
dominance in the bureaucracy.
At the economic level, Sher Ali standardized the
monetary system and encouraged the payment of taxes in cash.
He also reorganized the Afghan military and made it into one
of the strongest institutions in the country. Subsequent
Afghan rulers concentrated much of their state resources on
the military. This diversion of funds left other
institutions relatively unattended. Later, when Amir Sher
Ali Khan did implement internal reforms, the British took
advantage of the situation and gradually penetrated into the
frontier region, pacifying some of the Pushtun tribes and
gaining control of several of the strategic passes. The aim
of this policy was to separate a number of the major tribes
from the Afghan Amir, and ultimately to increase British
control over Afghanistan.
Chapter Four probes into the forces leading up to the
second Anglo-Afghan war (1879-1880). In 1869 the British and
Russians began negotiations with the intention of carving
10
out their respective spheres of influence in Central Asia.
In 1873, they reached an agreement in which Afghanistan came
under British jurisdiction with a delimited northern
boundary separating it from Russia. Ironically, the Amir of
Afghanistan, Sher Ali, had no knowledge of this Anglo-
Russian pact until later.
The Viceroy of India, Lytton considered stationing
British personnel in Afghanistan. But ultimately the
proponents of the "forward school" succeeded in convincing
the British administrators that nothing short of occupation
would protect British imperial interests in the region.
Local political agents claimed that Russian advances in
Central Asia necessitated a British extension into
Afghanistan. Convinced that the time had come to assert
British paramount power in Afghanistan, in 1879 Lytton
initiated a war with Afghanistan.
Initial successes, enabled the British to impose the
Gandamak Treaty (1879) on Afghanistan, reducing it to a
protectorate state. But, this short-term victory ended,
when the Afghan nobility, the sirdars and the ulema
coalesced to drive the British out of Afghanistan. For a
second time British attempts to conquer Afghanistan had
failed. But in the process the British became aware of how
fragmented the country had become at all levels. The
British now became convinced that a weak and divided
Afghanistan, subject to British influence, would serve the
imperial objectives in the region.
11
Chapter Five looks at the rise of Russophobia in
nineteenth century British society. Information about
Czarist Russia became available to the British public in the
sixteenth century through the published reports of the
employees of the British Muscovy Company, who commented on
Russia's general backwardness. During the eighteenth
century Anglo-Russian ties were strengthened when the loss
of American raw materials led Britain to SUbstitute
materials obtained from Czarist Russia. By the nineteenth
century Anglo-Russian trade declined as both countries
acquired new colonies. Furthermore, because of competing
economic interests, Britain and Czarist Russia often found
themselves opposing each other.
Russsophobia gained a foothold in Britain in the late
eighteenth century because of events in Eastern Europe,
particularly the partition of Poland (1772). Polish
political refugees in England, advocating support for their
struggle against Russia through literature and political
organizations, aroused anti-Russian sentiments among the
British elites. The British demand for more information
about Czarist Russia, generated an outpouring of literature
on all aspects of Russia. The authors of this literature
generally potrayed Russia as "semi-civilized", ambitious,
12
and power hungry.
The rise of Russophobia in England coincided with the
rise of India's significance to the British Empire. British
political agents capitalized on Russophobic sentiments to
urge policy makers to expand the empire's border to contain
the Russian bogey. Subsequent British invasions into
Afghanistan, were justified to the public in England on the
grounds of an impending czarist Russian threat to India.
But, privately British officials seriously doubted Russia's
capacity to invade India or conquer Afghanistan.
Chapter six compares czarist Russia's expansion into
Central Asia to British Indict's activities in its northwest
frontier. Russian officials feared that British activities
in Afghanistan were aimed at preventing czarist Russian
penetration into Central Asia. Anglophobes, dominating the
Russian military, supported expansion initiated by ambitious
Russian military commanders whose careers, like those of
British political agents, depended on expansion.
Aside from political reasons, economic factors played
an important role in Russian expansion. Russian policy
makers, fearing that British products would come to dominate
the Central Asian market, tried to establish their control
in the region by monopolizing its trade. Although British
authorities potrayed Russia's drive into Central Asia as
part of a set of plans to threaten Afghanistan and India,
13
there was no actual verification of such plans.
By the 1870's it became clear to both imperial powers
of a need for a buffer zone between the two empires. But to
be an effective buffer zone, Afghanistan needed clearly
defined borders.
Chapter Seven analyses the formation of the modern
Afghan state under Amir Abdur Rahman. During his reign the
British and Russians formalized Afghanistan's ill-defined
borders. Having inherited a fragmented country, Abdur
Rahman attempted to consolidate his power and strengthen
the state apparatus and the military. But he was
constrained by the lack of manpower, capital and technology.
Traditionally in Afghanistan, state power was highly
decentralized and tribal units governed themselves according
to their own rules. Abdur Rahman tried to create an
absolutist form of government by breaking tribal power,
eliminating adversaries, and stationing his military
throughout the country. Having received religious approval
for his activities, the Amir tried to use Islam, rather than
tribal consent to legitimize his power.
The Anglo-Afghan wars had left the countryside
devastated. The absence of government authority allowed
independent tribal leaders to appropriate agricultural
surplus. Abdur Rahman attempted to monopolize trade in
Afghansitan, but the British opposed such measures that
14
denied profits to their merchants. As all the major trade
routes and passes were increasingly controlled by the
British, Afghanistan became vulnerable to British political
pressure. Furthermore, with a limited capacity to generate
capital, the Amir depended on British subsidies for the
success of any of his reforms.
Abdur Rahman fostered the growth of a Pushtun identity
through internal imperialism. Some tribes, such as the
Ghilzais, were compelled to migrate into non-Pushtun areas.
He disseminated literature couched in religious and
nationalistic phrases to encourage the tribes to resist
British encroachment. In 1893 the Durand Line separated a
major element of the Amir's power ba.se from the territory
defined as Afghanistan. Consequently, the political postion
of the border tribes remained volatile during subsequent
decades.
Chapter Eight briefly describes the actual
demarcation of Afghanistan's northern boundary, one defined
to suit czarist Russia's and British India's interests.
Afghanistan was not officially represented during their
negotiations. Despite Amir Abdur Rahman's insistence on
retaining control over Shignan and Roshan, the Viceroy of
India maintained that the 1873 Agreement had already
finalized Afghanistan's northern limits. British pressure
compelled Afghanistan to withdraw its troops from
15
territories held in the north. Moreover, Afghanistan was
obliged to relinquish any claims on Panjdeh and the Zulfiqar
Pass. Once Afghanistan's northern boundary was formalized,
British and Russian concerns over a possible confrontation
diminished.
Chapter Nine expands further on the definition and
demarcation of the the Durand Line. Although this line was
never finalized as a boundary between British India and
Afghanistan, it defined the extent of each of their power in
the area.
From the outset, British policy makers weighed two
options: either 1) to incorporate Afghanistan into the
British Indian empire; or 2) to sustain a weak and
fragmented state dependent on the British. By the 1890's it
had become evident to the administrators in India that the
latter plan was more viable. Meanwhile, British activities
among the frontier tribes increased, the British employed a
variety of methods to undermine the Amir's authority. Once
the British made alliances with certain segments of some
Pushtun tribe, then the British presented that segment's
petitions to the Amir claiming that those Pushtuns no longer
wanted to be under his jursidiction. In this way the
British eroded the Amir's power base. Faced with an
economic blockade and threat of another war, the Amir agreed
to sign the Durand Agreement. But the agreement was not
16
supplemented by a mutually agreed-upon map. Even otherwise,
the agreement was vague, and the British negotiators did not
possess acurate information about the frontier territory.
The Boundary Commission's efforts were often disrupted by
differences of opinion. It took two years (1894-1896) to
complete the mapping of the Durand Line, and even then
certain tracts like the Mohmand country remained unmarked.
Chapter Ten focuses on the aftermath of the Durand
Line, especially the reactions of the Pushtun tribes. The
British met with resistance and violence from the Pushtun
tribes in the frontier areas. The colonial administrators
attributed Pushtun defiance against their authority, to such
Pushtun characteristics as "fanaticism", "savagery", and
"anarchy". Colonial administrators often concluded that
brutal force was the only appropriate way to deal with
Pushtun resistance. This British failure to understand
tribal resentment continued to pose problems for the British
in the frontier until the end of their empire.
By 1897 the Durand Line demarcation proceedings had
ended. The Pushtuns to the east of the line resented being
separated from their qawm, and recognized an implicit
British agenda of denying Afghanistan a substantial fighting
force. British penetration into the frontier also increased
altercations between different Pushtun tribes. Those
Pushtuns who entered into British service were identified by
17
their fellow kinsmen as representing British interest in the
region. Such Pushtuns were sometimes seen by the tribal
elites as a new emerging political force challenging the
tribal status quo. Islam provided a unifying ideology to
which almost all sections of the population could be
mobilized by a network of local religious leaders. During
the 1897 and 1898 Pushtun uprisings against the British,
large numbers of tribals crossed the frontier border to join
in the anti-colonial movement. Although the Arnir denied any
personal involvement in the uprising, some of his officials
encouraged and even participated in channelling support to
the resistance. Key religious leaders often met with the
Arnir and cited his support to legitimize the jihad.
In almost every locality where the Pushtuns revolted
the symptoms of dissent were similar - British penalties,
loss of territorial integrity, intra-tribal differentiation,
British challenge to tribal status-quo, etc. • The mullahs,
with the support of tribal leaders, transformed local issues
into a wide anti-colonial movement that set ablaze the
frontier from 1897 through 1898.
The concluding chapter reviews additional dimensions of
Anglo-Afghan relations and the shaping of Afghanistan as a
state, after the drawing of the Durand line.
18
1. Kakar claims that "Modern Afghanistan is almost co-
extensive with the land mentioned in the old Greek as
Ariana, in the old Persian as Airyana, in Sanskrit as Arya-
Vartta or Arya-Varsha, and in Zend as Eriene-veejo.". Kakar,
Hassan Kawun Government and Society in Afghanistan: The
Reign of Amir 'Abd aI-Rahman Khan (Austin: University of
Texas Press, 1979) p.xvi; Ghobar asserts that the term
Khurasan, or "land where the sun rises" was initially
applied to only portions of Afghanistan but eventually came
to mean the entire country. Ghobar, Mir Gholam Muhammad
Afghanistan dar Masir-i-Tarikh (Kabul: Books Publishing
Institute, 1967) in Persian p.385.
2. The geographer Abu sayid al-Balkhi was a product of
Balkh, an important intellectual center during this period.
Brown, Edward G. A Literary History of Persia
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956-59) vol.I
p.347-49, 353-54.
3. Fraser-Tyler, W. K. c:::;a=l
Development in Central and South Asia (London: Oxford
University Press, 1950) p.25-27.
4. Caroe, Olaf The Pathans (London: Macmillan and Co.
Ltd., 1958) p.124-125. According to Bosworth, the center
of the Ghaznawid empire was intentionally built in
Afghanistan because of its proximity to India. However, he
points out that the Ghaznawids utilized local institutions
to govern the population when he states:
.•. institutions and practices can rarely be
transplanted en bloc from their [Ghaznawid]
homeland to a strange environment •.• The chief
innovation which the Turkish ghulam commanders
introduced into the village organisation of the
Ghazna region lay in the system of military fiefs
for their followers; but beyond this, there cannot
have been any question of imposing from outside a
completely new system in local affairs.
Bosworth, Clifford E. The Ghaznavids. Their Empire in
Afghanistan and Eastern Iran: 994-1040 (Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press, 1970) p.42-43.
5. Hammed ud-Din "The Loodis" The Delhi Sultanate ed.
R.C. Majmundar (Calcutta: Royal Publishing House, 1951);
The Lodi dynasty retained power in India between 1451 and
1526. For details on sources see, D.N. Marshall's The
Afghans in India Under the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal
Empire: A Survey of Relevant Manuscripts (New York: The
Afghanistan Council of Asia Society, 1976).
19
6. According to Juvaini, only a few artisans remained in
the city while the rest of the population were massacred.
'Ala aI-Din 'Ata; Malik Juvaini The History of the World
Conqueror ed. by Mirza Muhammad Qazvini translated by John
A. Boyle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958),
vol.I p.131-133, 135; Similarly Ibn Bauta in his travelogue
observed that in the 1300's Balkh was totally abandoned and
Kabul resembled a small village. Ibn Batuta Travels in
Asia and Africa, 1325-1354 trans. H.A.R. Gibb (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1971) p.178-180.
7. The Roshani movement was led by Bayazid Ansari, a
religious scholar who mobilized the tribes by utilizing
traditional symbols and values. For details see: J.
Leyden's "On the Roshanian Sect and Its Founder Bayazid
Ansari" Asiatic Researches vol.XI, 1812; B.C. Smith's
"Lower-Class Uprising in the Mughal Empire" Islamic Culture
vol.XX nos.1-4 January, 1946; and M. Aslanov's "The
Popular Movement 'Roshani' amd Its Reflection in the Afghan
Literature of the 16th-17th Centuries" Afghanistan: Past
and Present (Moscow: USSR Academy of Sciences, 1981).
8. The following phrases extracted from poems indicate that
Khushhal Khattak Khan grasped the notion of an Afghan
nation:
A. I bound on the sword for the pride of the
Afghan name,
I am Khushhal Khattak, the proud man of this
day.
B. I alone am concerned for my nation's honour,
The Yusufzais are at ease, tilling their
fields ...
C. For full five years the tribal sword has
flashed
Keen-edged and bright, since first the battle
clashed
Upon Tahtarra's peak, where at one blow
Twice twenty thousand of the Mughal foe
Perished, wives, sisters, all that they held
dear,
Fell captive to the all-conquering Afghan
spear.
Cf. in Caroe, Olaf The Pathans p.237-246.
9. Young, Crawford The Politics of Cultural Pluralism
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976) p.67.
20
10. Hobson's classic study attributes Britain's drive to
acquire colonies to a "conspiracy theory". According to this
"theory" special pressure groups influenced parliamentary
politics and the public media to adopt an expansionist
foreign policy that benefitted these groups. Hobson, John
A. Imperialism: A study (Ann Harbor: University of
Michigan Press, 1902); Lenin, too, offered an explanation of
imperialism as emanating from metropolitan interests, with
capitalism in its highest stage necessitating overseas
expansion for profits, raw materials and alternative
markets. Lenin, Vladmir I. Imperialism: The Highest stage
of Capitalism (New York: International Press, 1939).
11. Fieldhouse, D. K. Economics and Empire, 1830-1914
(London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1973, 1984).
12. Ibid. p.81.
13. Malcolm Yapp, in an excellent study of British
activities in India's northern borders, asserts that the
reason for expansion originated in the periphery. British
political agents, hoping to enlarge their spheres of
interest, advocated within the appropriate channels of the
Indian bureaucracy the need to extend the empire's borders
in order to protect British India from some impending
threat. Yapp, Malcolm E. strategies of British India:
Britain, Iran and Afghanistan, 1798-1850 (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1980).
14. Singhal, D.P. India and Afghanistan, 1876-1907
(Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 1963); Ingram,
Edward A. The Beginning of the Great Game in Asia, 1828-
1834 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979); Alder, G.
J. British India's Northern Forntier, 1865-1895: A study
in Imperial Policy (London: Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd.,
1963); and Chakravarty, Suhash From Khyber to Oxus: A
study in Imperial Expansion (New Delhi: Orient Longman
Ltd., 1976).
15. Crawford Young describes nineteenth cenutry Afghanistan
as a territorial state possessing such major properties as
territoriality and sovereignty as a consequence of Anglo-
Russian imperial rivalry in the region. Young, Crawford
The Politics of Cultural Pluralism (Madison: University of
Wisconsin Press, 1976) p.67. However, during the reign of
Ahmad Shah Durrani (1747-1772), sovereignty had already been
established, along with nominal control over much of the
territory defined today as Afghanistan.
21
16. Dupree, Louis "Afghanistan: Problems of a Peasant-
Tribal state" Afghanistan in the 1970's ed. Louis Dupree
& Linette Albert (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974) p.2.
MAP 1.
PCRSIA,
., Kirman
ARABIA
Herat
..

0..
-xc:J'

.. K.abul
Ghazni
II .
Ismai
• aD(¥-' 0 . Khan

------- Ghi lui
.,Q uett a
Arahian Sea
EMPIRE OF AHMAD SHAH DURRANI
A.D. 1762
L. Dupree, 1980
80° /JIJ'
AFTER: G. SINGH, 1959,286
o 200 400 600
____ I I
MILES
\
, N 0

Nllr"b
ocJtJ
j5
N
N
- CHAPTER ONE -
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AFGHANISTAN UNDER THE SUDDOZAIS
Afghanistan as a recognizable state was established in
1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander of
the Persian ruler Nadir Shah Afshar. Political instability in
neighboring areas enabled first the Ghilzais in Kandahar, and
then the Abdalis (Durranis) to declare their independence from
Persian rule. After the assassination of Nadir Shah Afshar by
Turkmen tr ibes in June, 1747 , Ahmad Shah Baba Durrani, 1
supported by his armed tribal contingents, returned to
Kandahar and proclaimed himself ruler of the Khorasan
provinces.
2
The Suddozais are a sub-division of the Popalzai
clan, who belong to the Durrani tribe. The Barakzais also
belong to the same tribe but are a sub-division known as the
Mohammadzai, and have been the rivals to Suddozai rule
throughout Afghan history.
According to the historian, Ganda Singh, Ahmad Shah
Durrani appealed to all Afghans for loyalty through religion,
patriotism and national honor.
3
From 1747-1758 Ahmad Shah
expanded his empire to incorporate such fertile tracts as the
Punjab, Sind and Kashmir. Consequently, Afghanistan's
position in the Central Asian trade was strengthened, as these
new dependencies produced commodities that were in demand in
widely-scattered markets.
Ahmad Shah Durrani and his followers carried out
23
24
approximately eight campaigns into India that brought them
much wealth and land. Seeing this, many tribes were lured to
support Durrani control on condition they were assured a share
in the booty which in turn increased their positions in
society. Arranged marriages also forged alliances among
several powerful tribes and ethnic groups. It could be argued
that Ahmad Shah Durrani, in these ways, established a state
that covered the core regions today identified as Afghanistan
along with the additional territories of Persian Khurasan,
Turkestan, Punjab, Kashmir, and Baluchistan.
4
Territoriality
and sQvereignty, the key properties of a state, can be
identified in this period of Afghan history. Ahmad Shah
Durrani's extension of state power over these areas, though
not entirely comprehensive, was achieved through taxation,
military recruitment, public works and agricultural projects.
In 1772 Ahmad Shah Durrani died of cancer, and his son
Timur Shah succeeded him as ruler of Afghanistan. One of
Timur Shah's first moves was to transfer his capital from
Kandahar to Kabul, in order to break away from the dependency
of the Kandahar nobility. This caused much resentment among
the Kandahari Pushtuns, who had been a supporting political
base of Ahmad Shah's empire. Timur Shah offended them further
by incorporating Qizilbashis ( a Shiah minority of Turkmen
origin) into his army and also using them as personal
bodyguards. The resentful Pushtuns made several attempts to
25
overthrow Timur Shah. For example, in 1791 Mohmand and Afridi
tribesmen rebelled, espousing the legitimacy of another heir's
claim to the throne. Although the Mohmand and Afridi
tribesmen attacked the Bala Hissar of Peshawar, their efforts
finally failed, and many of them were arrested and put to
death by Timur Shah. Peshawar served as the winter capital of
Afghanistan; consequently it's nexus with Kabul was not only
politically but also economically significant. Much of Timur
Shah's reign was spent crushing internal revolts to bring
stability throughout the country. In 1793 he died in Kabul.
When Zaman Shah, the fifth son of Timur Shah, inherited
the empire, portions of the Punjab and Sind still belonged to
Afghanistan. His efforts to regain lost territory led to his
forming an alliance with Ranjit Singh, a petty chief in the
Punjab, and capturing Lahore. Ranjit Singh was then appointed
the Governor of Lahore and in turn he acknowledged the
suzerainty of the Afghan ruler.
By the turn of the nineteenth century Britain was gaining
paramountcy in India, and her active policy of expansion was
sometimes justified by invoking the "Afghan threat". In part
this notion was affirmed because some Muslims in India, a few
of Afghan origins, openly advocated Afghanistan's intervention
in Indian affairs in order to preserve Mughal power which by
this time was declining. In fact, Afghanistan's intervention
was perceived by many as a natural or logical step because
26
Babur, the progenitor of the Mughal empire, had once been the
ruler of Kabul. Thus, it seemed to some Indian Muslims that
Zaman Shah was the only hope in India for Islam.
5
with Zaman
Shah now in control of Lahore, the British began to recognize
the possibility of a real threat of Afghan expansion into
India.
Although the British saw Zaman Shah's eastward campaigns
to be motivated primarliy by the desire for territory, Zaman
Shah may have had other, more pressing, reasons. The empire
he inherited was in disarray and was in dire need of capital.
Previous rulers in Afghanistan had periodically obtained
capital through plunder.
6
Ahmad Shah Durrani's kingdom
significantly relied on plunder as a source of income. In the
process of engaging in plunder, territories were often
conquered becoming part of the Afghan empire and thus
providing additional revenues to the state treasury.
The British, according to Malcolm Yapp, did not all
necessarily believe in the "Afghan threat". However, they
perpetuated the myth in order to justify their designs in
India. For example, they cited the presence of Afghans in
Lahore to increase their troop strength in Oudh.
further argues that,
.•• a forward policy was expressly and explicitly
forbidden by the East India company's Board of
directors, by the British Government and by the Act
of Parliament .•. British India was allowed to go to
war only if it were attacked ... . These rigid
Yapp
prohibitions, could be dissolved by the solvent of
the external enemy.7
27
During the eighteenth century the French had threatened
British interests in India especially in the Carnatic region
of southern India. However this rivalry had diminished by the
nineteenth century. By now the British administrators were
more afraid of internal foes than of external enemies and they
felt particularly uneasy with their Muslim subjects, who they
feared, had sympathies with the Mughal power or wanted to
align themselves with other Muslim powers. This fear prevailed
to the point that some British conjured up grand plots that
saw external powers forming alliances with internal dissidents
against the British allover India. In order to prevent this
from happening the British adopted the policy of expansion to
the north-west under the guise of creating alliances to
protect their rule in India.
Meanwhile, revolts within his own empire forced Zaman
Shah to return to Kabul. In fact the Barakzai Sirdars of
Kandahar, led by Payinda Khan Mohamadzai, were suspected of
intrigues, and Zaman Shah had the leaders executed.
8
Fatteh
Khan, the son of Payinda Khan, joined forces with Shah Mahmud
of Herat, a half-brother of Zaman Shah, and overthrew the
King. Zaman Shah was barely thirty-two years old when he was
taken captive by Shah Mahmud and blinded. He spent the rest
of his life in Lodhiana as a pensioner of the East India
28
Company.
Shah Mahmud held the Kabul throne for three years (1800-
1803) after which he was replaced by Shah Shuja (1803-1809).
Shah Shuja was Zaman Shah's full brother and Mahmud's half
brother. Rivalry between Mahmud and Shuja plunged the Afghan
kingdom into chaos and disorder at all levels. The political
elites of the ruling stratum were divided, and the power of
the central government weakened. As the Kabul government
became bogged down with matters of its own survival, local
amirs began to carve out territories for themselves. In many
instances, the local amirs increased the taxes and placed
undue demands on the ra'iyah in order to maintain their local
military forces. As a result economic disorder prevailed,
forcing many tribes to resort to raids and looting, and
consequently trade suffered.
Meanwhile, Anglo-French competition in the region
prompted Lord Minto decided to forge alliances with
Afghanistan and Persia to counter French designs. If
Afghanistan and Persia could be convinced of British India's
friendship, they might be less friendly to the French
influences and more willing to protect British interests. On
Febuary, 25, 1807 Mountstuart Elphinstone, the British envoy
to Kabul, was sent on a mission to meet with Shah Shuja in
Peshawar.
9
This marked the beginning of official relations
between Afghanistan and British India. Elphinstone sought an
29
alliance with Kabul in the event France initiated any
hostilities towards British interests in India. However if
Persia were to form a coalition with British India, the
off icials in Calcutta felt that Afghanistan's role in the
regional power play would not be as crucial.
Elphinstone's primary function at his juncture was to
gather intelligence about the Afghan kingdom. When he arrived
in Peshawar, Afghanistan was plagued by political rivalry
between Shah Shuja and his half-brother Mahmud. Instead of
there being a central government, power in Afghanistan was
bifurcated, with Shah Shuja's base in the Kabul-Peshawar
region and Shah Mahmud's base in Kandahar. In the peripheral
areas local commanders or tribal leaders were emerging as
petty rulers of their own regions.
The British mission sent to Afghanistan to meet Shah
Shuja actually strengthened his image as a ruler. On June 17,
1809 an agreement was concluded between Shah Shuja as ruler of
Afghanistan and the British Indian government. This agreement
guaranteed that, should the Persians and French invade against
Afghanistan, British India would join in the defence of
Afghanistan primarily intending to prevent such hostilities
from spreading into India. 10 The importance of this
Agreement was that mutual friendship was established between
the two parties which hereafter was to shape the course of
events in Afghanistan's history.
30
One of Shah Shuja's main reasons for forging this
alliance with the British was to thwart Shah Mahmud's efforts
to overthrow him. Shah Shuja had hoped that by signing such
an agreement with the British he could acquire some political
legitimacy and also obtain some financial aide. According to
the Afghan historian M. Ghobar, since Shah Shujas's power was
only nominal, throughout Afghanistan local sirdars began to
carve out territories of power for themselves. They were thus
in constant rivalry against not only the ruler but also each
other. Tax revenues to the royal treasury in Kabul began to
diminish rapidly because many of the local sirdars stopped
paying provincial dues to the government.!! In an effort to
control the various rebellions, Shah Shuja spent much of his
treasury raising armies and launching expeditions. They,
however, met very little success. The campaign to Kashmir,
for example, was a total failure. As his funds began to
diminish, Shah Shuja faced a situation of general disorder,
even in Peshawar. Finally, in 1809, Shah Mahmud, with the
help of the Qizilbash ethnic group from Kabul marched from
Kandahar and captured Kabul. The conclusive event was the
defection of .Shah Shuja's troops and advisors when they were
en route to battle Shah Mahmud in Jalalabad. Shah Shuja was
forced to flee into exile, joining his blinded half-brother
Zaman Shah in the Punjab. When Shah Shuja arrived there, the
British increased the allowance for the royal family to
31
Rs.50,000 per annum. Hence, one result of the 1809 Agreement
was that the British found an ally in Shah Shuja, who now
remained in exile with their financial support. In the years
to come, he was to play an important role representing British
interests against his own country.
Shah Mahmud's reign ushered in the end of the Suddozai
clan's rule in Afghanistan. Shah Mahmud, even with the help
of his son Prince Kamran, vIas incapable of controlling a
country faced with political and economic upheavals. A period
of civil war prevailed until a different clan of the Durranis
known as the Barakzais, led by Dost Mohammad Khan, was able to
gain power in Kabul and unite all opposition forces.
A major Suddozai contribution to Afghanistan's history
had been the founding of the country in 1767, which became the
basis towards the development of the state.
they had participated in the political
Subsequently,
development of
Afghanistan. For example, Ahmad Shah Durrani expanded the
resources and revenues of the country by conquering and
including new territories into his empire. He left behind him
a vast empire including the following areas: Herat, Persian
Khorasan, Balkh, Khulam, Kashmir, Multan, Sind, Peshawar,
Kandahar, Kabul and Baluchistan.
12
His son, Timur Shah, on
the other hand, pursued his father's goals of development but
was not enthusiastic about conquering additional territories.
Instead, he focused on the internal administration of his
political kingdom.
32
Elphinstone notes that Timur Shah's
" ••• policy was directed to secure his tranquility •.• " .13
Masson's historical verdict is less kind when he says that the
Shah, as is typical of many rulers, lived on the reputation of
his father.
14
When Timur Shah died, he left behind twenty-
nine sons and ninteen daughters - a situation which led to the
fragmentation of the kingdom through fraternal discord and
rivalry. IS
POLITICAL STRUCTURE OF THE DURRANI REGIME
Afghan society mirrored the patterns of organization
found in medieval Islamic dynasties of the Buyyids (10th
C
),
Ghaznawids (10th-11th
C
), and the Seljukids (11th -12th
c
). The
Durrani government, in its early stages, consisted of a tribal
confederation with Ahmad Shah at its head, having paramount
authority to levy taxes and collect money in times of war.
However, decision-making did not rest solely on his authority.
He was assisted by a councilor jirgah comprising of the
various tribal leaders or elders. Each tribe had its own
customary laws according to which their internal matters were
governed, and Ahmad Shah followed a policy of non-interference
in such areas. In general, Fushtunwali tribal customs
prevailed over Islamic practices whenever they differed. For
example in the event of trying criminal cases, " ••. trials
(were) conducted before a Jirgah, which (was) composed of
Khans, Maliks, or elders ... " .16 The mullahs' assistance
33
was sought here, not to administer justice but rather to
provide advice if needed. Also, before the jirgah was
convened, the usual Muslim prayers were offered, after them a
Pushto verse was cited stating that, "Events are with God, but
deliberation is allowed to man.".17
Ahmad. Shah's rudimentary form of government was gradually
transformed as new lands were conquered, providing additional
revenues and military personnel independent of the tribes.
The Durrani Sirdars were part of the nobility and were taken
into the jirgah to discuss the matters of the state.
Simultaneously, their powers of revenue collection and
administration of justice were curbed. As the
bureaucracy expanded, revenues were collected
officials, and qazis were appointed to partake
king's
by his
in the
administering of justice. This was the situation during the
peak of the Durrani Empire.
At the top of the Durrani Empire was the monarch whose
function was to maintain peace and order in society. His
title was Shah-i-Dur-i-Duran or "King of the Pearls", a
position that was always to belong to the Suddozai branch of
the Durrani tribe. However, the rule of primogeniture was not
affixed which caused much confusion in the event of the death
of the king. By tradition the Durrani Sirdars were to meet in
council to decide the heir to the empty throne. However, such
a council typically became merely a front for the shifting of
34
alliances and rivalries among the nobility.
The ruling ideology was a combination of Islam,
Pushtunwali and military autocracy. In principle, the entire
country's destiny rested on the will of the Shah. He
controlled the military levies, commanded the armies, and was
the sole arbitrator on crimes against the state.
18
But the
King had no right to take the life of a Suddozai.
Furthermore, the Shah delegated his power to the tribal
chiefs, who had absolute power within their dominions. The
only check on their power was the fear of revolt of their
subjects. To resist such revolts, they maintained their own
armies. As long as the tribal chiefs transmitted the
appropriated revenues to the royal treasury, the King pursued
a policy of non-interference.
In the administration of the government, the King was
assisted by the following: 1) Vazir Auzim, or Chief Minister,
who had the entire control over the collection of revenues and
over the internal and external political officers; 2) Munshi
Bashi, or Chief Secretary, who dealt with the ruler's
correspondence; 3) Hicarah Bashee, or Head of Intelligence,
who was in charge of the informants and managed crimes and
punishments; and 4) Zubt Begi, who confiscated property.
There were also several functionaries of the Royal Court and
household such as: 1) Mir Akhor or manager of the house; 2)
Ishakaghazi Bashi or Master of Ceremonies; 3) Arzbegi or
35
Announcer, who had several criers of the court; 4) Chous
Bashi , who presented grants and dismissed the court; 5)
Sandukdar Bashi, who was the wardrobe keeper; 6) Mushrif, the
Pri vate Treasurer of the King; and 7) Peshkhidmats, or
eunuchs, who often had much influence on court affairs.
The kingdom was divided into twenty-some provinces of
which eighteen were governed by a Durrani Sirdar called the
Hakim, who also commanded the militia and collected revenues.
In these matters he was assisted by the qazi and the head of
the division of the tribe. Thus, his authority was supported
by other subordinates. The administration of justice in the
rural areas was under the sirdar, who was counseled by the
qazi. At least this was the case in the latter part of the
Suddozai reign. Formerly the j irgah had settled the disputes.
Gradually one sees the central bureaucracy replacing tribal
functions. The police functions were performed by the
mirshab, mohtasibs, daroghas and kishikchis (watchmen). In
principle, the King had absolute power; therefore all regal,
military and jUdicial functions were united in one person. In
fact much did depend on the arbitration of the King,
especially assisted by his qazis, muftis and maulvis.
19
In
cities, especially complaints were referred to the King, who
in turn directed them to the qazi according to the nature of
the case. In cases of treason, the monarch was the sole judge
but, he was prohibited, by tribal custom, from taking the life
of a Suddozai.
THE MILITARY
36
The army in Afghanistan was in general controlled by the
sirdars, especially during the earlier years of Ahmad Shah's
reign, when he relied on the support of the tribes from
Kandahar. Gradually this arrangement began to change as he
recruited mercenaries from Central Asia to serve in the army.
In time some of these mercinaries emerged to become
influential commanders. Their relationship to the King was
one of loyalty to a patron, and this loyalty continued as long
as they received financial support. such mercinaries,
however, could be influenced to join rival camps, if those
camps provided them with more generous financial support.
In contrast were the Ghulam-i-Khaas, who were slaves
captured during the various campaigns. Some, who were reared
and fostered at a very early age by the King had strong ties
not only to the ruler but also to the royal family and their
sense of obligation was based on an emotional attachment
rather than on material gains. In fact, so strong was the
bond between the ghulam to his master that it was a more
patriarchal relationship. As a result, some of these slaves
became the King's most important source of power independent
of the tribes. Mottahedeh, in analyzing the role of ghulams
in Islamic society, states:
Essential to the survival of each ruler was the
corps of ghulams whose training he had himself
fostered, and who shared the strong affection that
ghulams usually felt only for patrons who had
sustained their careers in this manner. These were
the 'king's men' in a very special way, and no one
else was supposed to tamper with their affection of
the King or call them to account i and outside
parties seldom did so ... 20
37
The Ghulam-i-Khaas division in the army was divided into
separate corps and were commanded by officers named Qular
Aghasis who were responsible to the King. When the Suddozai
dynasty crumbled, the Ghulam-i-Khaas disintegrated to be
replaced by a new group.
Timur Shah's reign, in a move to diversify his source of
power, incorporated the Qizilbash into his army. The sirdars
of the tribes were not pleased with this, but this provided
the King with more leverage against potentially disaffected
sirdars. Inspite of these new elements, towards the end of
the Suddozai dynasty the majority of the fighting forces were
still provided by the tribes of which the Durranis furnished
12,000 men.
21
The Ghulam-i-Khaas still existed, as did
newly-incorporated ethnic groups. The iljauri, a militia of
poorer classes, were paid through village taxes. However, in
times of instability, these men often remained unpaid, and
they sometimes revolted. The tribes near Kabul were almost
"always employed as iljauri during times of emergency. 22
While some tribes were given rent-free lands for their
military service, others were paid directly from the royal
38
treasury.
REVENUES OF THE EMPIRE: ECONOMIC BASE
state revenues were derived from several sources,
including land revenues, town duties, customs, fines and
provisions supplied to the King and his army when they passed
through an area. The major source of income came from
agricultural revenues; in times of war a share of the spoils
became an added source. Agricultural income was paid in kind
and in cash. In earlier times, state funds had increased with
the rapid accumulation of territories. But by the end of the
18th century, most of the lands had been distributed in the
form of jagirs. This meant large parcels of lands were given
to chiefs who inherited the right to collect and keep the
revenues in return for providing military service for the
ruler.
23
Collection of farm taxes were in actuality the task
of tribal sirdars or nazims, who in turn transferred this duty
to the village headmen. The ancient custom of wesh, (i.e.,
the periodic redistribution of land among tribal clans) was
also practiced. It was a form of communal tenure which was
inalienable. In some instances, entire villages were
transferred from one tribe to another. However, as time
passed, this practice fell into disuse as people began to
recognize the advantage of fixed tenure. In time, the
alientation of property led to the formation of a class of
appropiators of the surplus. They became the elites in the
39
society, i.e. the maliks, khans, ulema, etc. who actively
participated in the political affairs of the country.
In theory the state was the supreme owner of all lands
and had the right to collect taxes, a right that it
transferred to the sirdars. This was commonly practiced
throughout the Islamic world and was especially utilized under
the Buyyids and successive dynasties in medieval times.
Military officers were granted the lands, but not on a
permanent basis: n ••• the area granted and the grantee were
constantly changed ... the system weakened government
supervision and led to more pillage rather than to the
development of the lands granted.
n24
In contrast the jagirs
in Afghanistan were more permanently assigned unless the
central government changed hands. This practice allowed
commanders to develop territorial claims in times when
authority was weak. Although the actual improvements of lands
were, in principle, was in the best interest of the
cultivators assigned to those lands, however, there were cases
where maximum taxation impoverished the cultivators. Very
heavy taxes tended to be imposed in times of political
instability when other sources of income were being diverted
by the jagirdars or tomandars. It is reported that Ahmed
Shah's revenues amounted to thirty million rupees annually. By
contrast, Elphinstone estimates Shah Shuj a's treasury was
receiving only 900,000 rupees per year.
25
As more and more
40
lands were assigned as jagirs, less income went into the royal
treasury.
The cities in Afghanistan sheltered heterogeneous groups
of people, including the nobility and their followers, many of
the soldiers, and the ulema. The city merchants were primarly
Tajiks, Persians or Afghans. According to Elphinstone, the
shopkeepers and artisans were organized into thirty-two
trades.
26
Each guild had a kudkhuda, or chief, that
represented them in dealing with the government. Their
services were not taxed, but duties were imposed on whatever
products they exported. Furthermore, when the royal entourage
was in town, their services were demanded, for which they did
receive pay and from which they profited very little.
Merchants paid customs duties and road taxes, which in times
of prosperity annually brought into the treasury rupees
60,000-70,000 rupees. However, during Shah Shuja's reign
(1803-1809), such duties and taxes produced only rupees 25,000
annually. 27
Afghanistan's external trade was dominated by Hindus,
Sikhs, Jews and Armenians. However wi th the decline of
overland trade these communities diversified their
professions. The Hindus and Sikhs, aside from trade,
monopolized banking, goldsmithing and horticulture. Bankers
from these communi ties rose to prominence in the Durrani
empire. Originally they were merchants from Shikarpoor who
41
had financed several of Ahmad Shah's military campaigns. In
return they had received a percentage of the captured booty.
In some instances this booty was left under their management.
They, in turn, often sold the booty and put the money from the
loot back into circulation. 28 The Hindu merchants also
provided the Durranis and other members of the nobility with
necessary supplies as well as luxury items. These merchants
sometimes made loans not only to the government but also to
other officials, who at times committed the entire revenues of
their provinces as collateral. Many of the Hindus and sikhs
also found employment with the state as treasurers, scribes,
book-keepers and secretaries. Gradually members of these
communities amassed much capital and gained political
power. 29 G. Forester notes that Timur Shah's income was
managed by these merchants who were specially protected by the
government. 30
Afghan Jews turned towards other professions like
medicine and specialized in lambskin trade.
31
Armenians were
a significant force in the overland trade of spices, silk and
wool, especially since they had established posts throughout
the ottoman empire and Persia. Both the Jews and Armenians
were settled in Afghanlstan by Nadir Shah Afshar to encourage
the Indo-Persian trade.
32
In time, British India's
monopolization of external affairs, and poor
economic conditions within Afghanistan, compelled the Jews and
Armenians to leave the country.
THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT
42
In a discussion of the internal structure of the Durrani
Empire, the religious establishment must also be included. At
this period in Afghan society, the ulema was gradually
evolving into an important group within the political
structure. Al though there were many religious men throughout
the country, they did not belong to any hierachical body, nor
was there any unity in doctrine. Many of them, e.g., sufis,
pirs, sayids, faqirs, khwajahs, etc., belonged to one tariqa
(mystic order) or another, and their strength was derived from
their followers. Of the several tariqqas, the Naqshbandiyya
order was the most prominent. In the rural areas these men
performed the necessary Islamic rituals and satisfied the
spiritual needs of the people. The fees for their services
and the charitable donations given in-kind supported the local
mullah.
In cities and towns could be found organized religion in
the form of the ulema, who were theologians or scholars of the
faith interpreting daily matters according to the principles
of Islam. sometimes they became involved in politics because,
"As the highest body among the Sunnis the ulema issued fetwas
on subjects concerning religion and state.". 33 Their moral
authority transformed into political power through the
patronage of the crown. Charitable ouqaf lands were given to
43
the religious men, and through the income from these lands
they were able to support themselves. The administration of
the lands was in their own control, and the surplus they
appropriated was not subject to any tax. At the provincial
level, tribal sirdars at times gave charitable lands to the
ulema. This meant that the ulema sometimes came to own large
tracts of land. During this period, the ulema could not be
perceived as a monolithic body owing allegiance to one
authority. The group's common bond was their knowledge of the
theologoy or ilm; aside from that, they had different
overlapping sources of loyalties. 34 For example, the
political interests of the ulema in Herat differed from the
political interests as those in Kabul. Many of the ulema
identified their interests with those of their patrons.
In Kabul, the crown supported a group of religious men
who carried out various functions. The Mullah Bashi was the
head of the ulema under the King. The peshnamaz ( or the
monarch's Imam) read prayers to the King. If the King went on
a journey he was attended by the Imam Parekab. At the royal
mosque the Shah patronized, one Imam who recited the prayers
on Fridays and on Id. Another Imam, subordinate to the
previous one, led prayers every day except Fridays and
holidays. At the Idgah, the actual place where the festical
of Id was celebrated, the Mullah-i-Khatib recited the prayers.
Finally there were the muderris {who were basically
44
instructors at the mosque) and the muezzin (who called
believers to prayers).
outside of Kabul, in smaller towns, the sheikh-ul-Islam
managed the administrative affairs of the ouqafs while the
suddur served as bookkeeper. On the recommendation of the
Mullah Bashi, the king appointed various qazis, muftis, etc.
who served the king in the judicial affairs of the towns.
They received no regular salaries; instead they were provided
with fees for their services.
In the later part of the century, Islam, the established
religion in Afghanistan, was slowly gaining ascendancy in the
ruling stratum. Even so, the mullahs were not an entrenched
organized unit in Afghan society. Things were different in
Peshawar and its adjoining regions. Elphinstone, in
describing the powerful influences of the mullahs in Peshawar
says, I! ••• I believe they are more feared than loved •.. " and in
comparison, " ... in the west (Afghanistan) their power is much
more limited and their character much more respectable. ,,35
Amidst the political chaos in the latter part of the
Saddozai reign in Afghanistan, trade had declined, bringing in
only trifling amounts of revenue. For example in Kabul alone,
where previously the annual income from trade had been betwen
60,000 and 70,000 rupees by the early 1800's it was a mere
25,000 rupees per year. 36 As more and more lands were
assigned to jagirs, the income to the royal treasury steadily
45
declined. Many of the jagirdars took advantage of the rivalry
between Shah Shuja and Shah Mahmud to carve out for themselves
centers of power. One case in particular was Ranjit Singh,
the sikh leader, to whom Zaman Shah granted Lahore as a jagir
for his services. This sikh leader gradually emerged to
become one of the major challengers to Afghan rulers.
RANJIT SINGH AND BRITISH STRATEGIES
Lahore, the capital of the sikh state, was bountiful in
agriculture and cotton. Its revenues provided Ranjit Singh
with a strong financial base. Ranj it Singh was able to expand
his power north-east across the Indus and southwards to the
borders of Sind. The chaotic situation in Afghanistan
provided the sikhs a good opportunity to extend their control
westwards. In 1803 Lord Minto sent Charles Metcalfe to Lahore
to try to include the sikhs in the British strategic plans to
form an alliance with Afghanistan against the French.
Metcalfe discovered soon enough that Ranjit Singh did not
favor an alliance with Afghanistan because of the sikh
leader's had plans to expand westward. Furthermore, for the
Sikhs, the possibility of a French invasion seemed too remote.
During this period the British were struggling to gain
paramountcy in India. After the Battle of Plassey (1757) in
Bengal, the East India Company acquired the diwanship of
Bengal and several of its adjacent districts. Between 1786
and 1805 the British were able to seize large territories in
46
the south near Madras. From 1838 onwards, British direct rule
was established in central and north-west India. The reasons
for expansion came from a combination of several factors. In
many instances the decision to expand power was made in India
not in England, and the idea was initiated by political agents
at the scene who then suggested it to their superiors. 37
Involved in these expansionist policy suggestions were often
motives of self-interest justified in terms of an external
enemy or some internal threat.
During this period, the external enemy was often the
French whose threat was not as serious as it was described to
be, but whose presence was used to justify carrying out
policies in India that otherwise would not be well-received in
London. Another plausible foe were the Afghans whose danger
lay in their capability of causing instability within the
British Indian dominions. However by the 1800's with the
political fragmentation of the Suddozai Empire the Afghan
threat declined, and offered a weak argument for expansion in
British political circles, atleast temporarily.
Aside from political interests, economic motives figured
in the expansionist designs of the British in the sub-
continent. Up to the end of the eighteenth century India had
been a source of luxury goods for British consumers at home.
However, by " ... the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
India became a market for Britain's manufactures and a source
47
of raw materials for her expanding industries.".
38
The sub-
continental interior was increasingly opened for the purpose
of extracting the resources needed for the development of the
English markets. Writing on this subject, Karl Marx stated
that " ••. The English millocracy intend to endow India with
railways with the exclusive view of extracting at diminished
expenses the cotton and other raw materials for their
manufactures. 11.39
Channels of communication were improved or built linking
the interior regions of India to the world markets. Whether
or not a new territory was acquired by the British often
depended on the commercial value of the region. For example
Sind and Punjab were of commercial importance in that the
British felt that they could control the Indus that could
provide them with a navigable river to Central Asia.
40
The
need for English industries to diversify their source of
cotton or other resources led many British capitalists to
invest in the transportation projects in India. In return
they were guaranteed a percentage of the revenues.
The East India Company at this time has been portrayed as
assuming the dual role of economic entrepreneur and colonial
state.
41
It has further been argued that this dual role
" ••. could only have been achieved with the separation of
ownership (at home) from management (abroad) which provided
the Compa.ny servants with the freedom to determine low-level
48
policy in conducting the affairs of business and state while
being able to mold, or avoid, the high-level policy decisions
emanating from East India House. II • 42 The loss of the
American colonies may have been another factor that encouraged
the British to strengthen their links elsewhere including
India. Thus, the British portrayed their expansion of
frontiers and incorporation of new territories as an economic
necessity to assert British supremacy in India.
Meanwhile the sikh confederacies in the Cis-Sutlej region
became a target of expansion for Ranjit Singh. Anticipating
this, the Sutlej sikhs sought British assistance. The
British, seizing the opportunity, advanced their frontier to
the Indus, bringing the Sutlej sikhs under British protection.
This act was formalized by the Anglo-Sikh Treaty of Amritsar
concluded in April, 1809, whereby Ranjit Singh was compelled
to abandon any claims east of the Indus and British India
received permission for the passage of troops through the sikh
kingdom. 43 A British post was established at Lodhiana, which
advanced British India's position in the frontier.
Furthemore, by denying Ranjit Singh access to the East, the
British encouraged him to expand towards Afghanistan,
eventhough the Afghan state was no longer posed a threat. In
the British political scenario, a strong sikh state would
serve as a good buffer in the event of a possible invasion of
British India from the north west. Instead, the British
49
thought that with the help of the Sikhs, perhaps they could
employ the individual Pushtun tribes to protect British Indian
interests in the frontier. Herein, lay the seds that
germinated the concept of the Durand Line in the year 1893.
Meanwhile, within Afghanistan in the rivalry between Shah
Shuja and Shah Mahmud, Ranjit Singh tactically sought an
alliance with Shah shuja, being the weaker of the two. Under
the guise of helping Shuja, Ranjit singh captured Attock in
1813, kept Shuja in Lahore, and granted him a jagir for his
maintenance. Ranj it Singh planned to use the deposed monarch
to win over the Peshawar tribes. In return Ranjit singh
promised Shah Shuja assistance in restoring him back to power
in Afghanistan. Shah Shuja was forced to pay Ranjit Singh a
heavy price for sikh assistance - the Kohinoor Diamond. 44
In 1815, Ranjit Singh attempted to seize Kashmir from
Azem Khan, a Barakzai governor, but the sikhs were not
successful in this venture. Subseqently, in 1818 in the midst
of a revolution in the Afghan royal palace, the sikhs captured
Multan, leaving the Afghans confined to Kashmir and some
adjacent hill areas. Since Attock was controlled by Ranjit
Singh and was no longer under the Afghans, communication
between Kabul and Peshawar began to lapse.
Meanwhile, the British were busy completing their control
over India. By 1818 their frontier was defined as bordering
Sind on the west and the Cis-Sutlej sikh states on the north
50
states that were under their protection. This frontier line
remained until the early 1840's when the British began to
extend their power further west. Lodhiana, at this time, was
an important post, the British placed a resident and staff
there to manage the affairs of the region. One person was
assigned the task of dealing with the exiled Afghan royal
family, who had now returned to Lodhiana from Lahore. This
position, under a Lt. Wade, was to become very powerful, in
that all matters concerning Afghanistan and Lahore were placed
under his authority. In due time the British posted
intelligence officers in Peshawar, Lahore, Kandahar, Kabul and
Tibet, all reporting to the political resident in Lodhiana.
with virtually total control of information of these areas,
the political officer in Lodhiana became a prominent figure in
the formulation of British policy in the North-West frontier.
At the time, the British perceived the Indus as the
desired western boundary needed for the defense of India. The
sikh state beyond the Indus provided a good buffer in the
event of an external invasion; but the Punjab was not
considered to be outside of British interests. In fact the
British covertly encouraged the sikhs to expand towards
Afghanistan, because it would then be easier for the British
to acquire more territory in the event the sikh kingdom became
incorporated into the Indian Empire. For example, when Ranjit
Singh captured Attock, the British were pleased.
51
Subsequently, Wellesley recommended Attock as an important
base for British military operations against an external
invasion. 45
The British were fully aware of Ranjit Singh's actions;
nevertheless they allowed his power to rise, viewing it as a
temporary development that they could tolerate. Several of
the political agents in Lodhiana perceived in the future an
extension of the British frontier by enveloping the sikh
state. One such person was Mountstuart Elphinstone, who
proposed that British India should expand further beyond the
Indus, in the process annexing not only Ranjit singh's state
and but also Sind. 46 There were many others who felt the
same way. Meanwhile British policy in the region encouraged
Ranjit Singh to pacify the Pushtun tribes along the frontier.
DOST MOHAMMED KHAN AND BARAKZAI RULE IN AFGHANISTAN
When Shah Mahmud held power in Afghanistan, he was
assisted by his Vazir, Fatteh Khan, who was the eldest son of
Payinda Khan. They were a prominent family of the Barakzai
clan, who belonged to the Muhamadzai branch of the Durani
tribe. Fatteh Khan had fifteen brothers, the youngest of whom
was Dost Mohamad Khan, who later emerged to be King of
Afghanistan. The Vazir, being in a powerful position,
assigned his brothers as governors to various provinces. For
example, the governorship of Kashmir went to Azem Khan.
In 1818, the Persians staged an attack against Herat,
52
which was ruled by Shah Mahmud's son, Prince Kamran.
Immediately, Fatteh Khan set out with troops, successfully
defended Herat, and drove away the aggressors. In the
meantime, Prince Kamran was able to secure some treasure from
the Persians, which he refused to share with the Vazir, Fatteh
Khan. Incensed with anger, Fatteh Khan order Dost Mohamad,
who had accompanied him, to enter Prince Kamran's palace and
force the prince to give away part of the profit. Prince
Kamran, angered by this act, began to plot the murder of
Fatteh Khan. Shah Mahmud was forced to hold a ceremony
honoring the Vazir, Fatteh Khan, for his victory at Herat.
But the final outcome was Fatteh Khan's torture and murder at
the hands of Prince Kamran.
Upon hearing the news of Fatteh Khan's death, Azem Khan,
gathered a force from Kashmir and marched towards Kabul.
Thus, began the Barakzai revolution, which ousted Shah Mahmud
and his son from Kabul, forcing them to flee to Herat. with
Suddozai rule coming to an end, some tribes around Peshawar,
who had loyal ties to this clan, nmv renounced any such
allegiance. However, the tribes were not quick to pledge new
loyalties to the Barakzais either. A period of anarchy and
confusion prevailed in Afghanistan. The Barakzai brothers
became independent rulers of the provinces, having total
control over the area. Azem Khan remained in Kabul, while
Kashmir was held by his brother, Jabbar Khan Barakzai.
53
Barakzai rule in Afghanistan resulted in the de-
centralization of government because there was not a single
figure of authority. with Fatteh Khan dead, the Barakzai
brothers could not designate a person to be the leader.
Instead each brother was assigned control over a different
province and they operated as independent rulers. Since by
tradi tion the monarchy belonged to the Suddozais, it was
difficult for the Barakzais to claim royalty. In fact, the
very first tactical move Azem Khan employed to legitimize his
power was to seek out a Suddozai, Prince Ayub, son of Shah
Zaman, and place him as the titular head of Afghanistan.
47
In this way, Barakzai leadership gained its legitimacy
throughout the country.
Amidst this confusion in Afghanistan, Ranjit Singh
attacked Peshawar. Eager as he was to control Peshawar,
Ranjit Singh did not want to remain in a hostile environment,
so he appointed Yar Mohamad Khan, a Barakzai, as governor.
The sikhs withdrew their forces and diverted their attention
to capturing Khairabad opposite Attock. The sikhs built a
fort here and hoisted the Sikh flag. By now throughout the
frontier sikh flags could be seen flying in various forts. In
1819, Ranjit Singh conquered Kashmir, marking the end of five
hundred years of Muslim rule in the valley. Afghanistan was
never again able to gain control over Kashmir. Subsequently,
Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan and Derajat fell under the
54
sway of the Sikhs, leaving the Afghans virtually without any
power east of the Indus.
In 1822, in the famous battle of Nowshera, approximately
20,000 tribesmen belonging to the Yusufzais and Khattaks,
fought against Ranjit Singh and his military regiment.
Al though Azem Khan had marched down to Peshawar with his
troops, he did not partake in the struggle. Rather, he
remained in the vicinity as an observer, which alienated him
from the Peshawar tribes even more. Meanwhile the governor,
Yar Mohamad, fled from Peshawar to Swat, leaving no authority
in the city.
By now both sides had suffered heavy casualties, and
Ranjit Singh was able to march victoriously into the city of
Peshawar in 1823. According to Olaf Caroe, as the Sikhs
advanced into the city of Peshawar, they killed without mercy
and plundered whatever they could. They pillaged and
destroyed the Bala Hissar and the beautiful gardens in the
city. Caroe concludes: "That Peshawar contains no
archi tectural monuments of any value is due mainly to the
devastations of 1823".48 Yar Mohamad Khan returned to
Peshawar. Once again Ranjit Singh allowed him to remain in
power as governor of Peshawar, paying tribute to the sikhs.
The tribes sporadically arose in rebellion against sikh rule
but Peshawar remained under the puppet governor, Yar Mohamad
Khan.
55
After Azem Khan's death, Dost Mohamad Khan emerged as the
strongest of all the Barakzai brothers and established himself
to power in 1826. But Afghanistan was in a perilous
situation. In the north, Badakshan and Afghan Turkestan were
independent of Kabul; Herat was totally lost, governed by
Kamran; the Khanate of Kalat in Baluchistan had renounced any
allegiance to Afghanistan; and gradually the Amirs of Sind
were being weaned away from Afghan control. Dost Mohammed
Khan's power was confined to Kabul, Ghazni, Jallalabad, and
Kandahar, all of which were controlled by his brothers, who
had pledged allegiance to him. Historically, the political
core unit of any Afghan kingdom was focused around Kabul,
Kandahar and Peshawar. The missing factor now in
Afghanistan's equation of power was Peshawar.
In the late 1820's a fundamentalist Wahhabi movement
incited the tribes around Peshawar to rebel. Ahmad Shah
Bareilly with a group of followers came from India into the
frontier to wage a war against the Sikhs.
49
Several tribes,
especially the Yusufzais, joined their ranks, shared in the
insurrection in which Yar Mohammed Khan was killed, and helped
place the Wahhabis in actual control of Peshawar. However,
the Wahabbis soon became unpopular with the tribes for several
reasons. First, the Wahabbis began intermarrying with the
Pushtuns, which many people disliked; second, Ahmad Shah
Bareilly was an ineffective ruler; and third but perhaps most
56
important of all, the Wahabbis fundamentalist ideas did not
fare well with the Pushtun tribal Muslim customs.
In 1831, Ahmad Shah Bareilly was killed, and his
followers fled from the area. In their place, three Barakzai
brothers, Sultan Mohammed, Pir Mohammad and Sayid Mohammed,
become rulers of Peshawar. They were referred to as the
Peshawar Sirdars.
50
Interestingly enough, the Barakzais
showed no interest in the Wahabbis, whom they could have used
to capture Peshawar for themselves.
Dost Mohammed Khan's government was de-centralized, and
the areas controlled by his brothers remained linked to him
because of the need for mutual defense against adversaries.
While the Suddozais were called Shah, the Barakzai rulers
assumed the title of Arnir. The formal legitimization of Dost
Mohammed Khan's power was completed when he was invested with
the title of Amir-al-Mominin or Commander of the Faithful.
Dost Mohammad Khan chose this name because he was not the King
of an empire, but rather a military commander of a political
unit. However, coins were struck and the khutba was read in
Dost Mohammed Khan's name, which at least symbolically aff irmed
his rule over Afghanistan.
51
Dost Mohammad Khan's main political support came from the
Qizilbashis of Kabul, who were instrumental in the various
campaigns that brought him to power. Dost Mohammed Khan's
mother belonged to this ethnic group and therefore he was
57
easily able to win over their loyalties. The Qizilbash also
constituted a major faction in his military force. Although
small in comparison to the Kandahar forces, they were a well
organized and most of all a loyal group. Under Dost Mohammad
Khan, the army became mainly cavalry, comprised of mercenaries
from various places. 52 Their pay was not given regularly,
as the Amir' s limited poor funds did not allow to do so.
Nevertheless, the army remained loyal to him. As he was,
according to Masson,
••• very attentive to his military; and conscious
how much depends upon the efficiency of his troops,
is very particular as to their composi tion. His
circumscribed funds and resources hardly permit him
to be regular in his payments, yet his soldiers
have the satisfaction to know that he neither
hoards nor wastes their pay in idle expenses.
53
The country Dost Mohammed Khan inherited had experienced
many years of anarchy and was in a poor state. During this
period of chaos, very little had been done by the ruler to
improve the condi tions of society. Instead all had been
interested in extracting as much revenues as possible, which
placed a heavy burden on the cultivators. Since there was a
lapse in authority, disorder prevailed, accompanied by an
increase of tribal raids on the settled populations, causing
further impover ishment of the peasants. In contrast, the
Afghan nobility were able to profit much because they were not
paying taxes to the royal treasury. In the towns, trade had
declined as it became unsafe for caravans to travel and there
58
was no compensation for any loss. All of the above factors
contributed to the pauperization of royal treasury.
In personal appearance the Amir broke traditions with
previous rulers, who dressed with much pomp; he was always
dressed in plain white. After coming to power, he learned to
read and write; he became well-versed in the Koran; he
renounced liquor; and made a public apology of his past
actions and promised to work for a better future for the
country. 54
When Dost Mohammed Khan became Amir, his primary task was
to re-organize the existing bureaucracy in order to rectify
the situation. He replaced with his own sons those provincial
governors of whose loyal ties he was not certain. 55 He
removed other important functionaries and sUbstituted them
with people more loyal to the Amir. All that the ~ . . m i r
required from his governors was the maintenance of the peace
and order in their provinces and the regular payment of their
revenues to the treasury. His sons did submit their revenues
to the treasury, but they also governed their principalities
as their own kingdoms, which caused much dissensions after the
Amir's death.
At the begining of Dost Mohammed Khan's tenure, his
revenues were estimated to be only 1,400,000 Rupees compared
to Shah Shuj a's 9,000,000 Rupees. This decrease in income was
partly caused by the loss of territory in the east. Confronted
59
with such a serious problem, Dost Mohammed Khan adopted
several measures to increase revenues. One measure he adopted
was to n(enforce) tribute from the neigbouring rude tribes,
who, for a long time profiting by the confusion reigning in
the country, had withheld payment. n. 56 Gradually trade
improved and agricultural production increased as peace and
order were maintained by the Amir.
He made every effort to stabilize the country; he brought
tribal groups under his control and held them responsible for
maintaining peace in their areas. Amir Dost Mohammed Khan
encouraged trade in every way, because the tolls and custom
duties obtained from trade provided a major source of income
to the treasury.
In the year 1833-34 the Amir Dost Mohammed Khan faced two
major threats: 1) The possibility that Shah Shuja would
attempt to recover the throne; and 2) the danger that Ranjit
Singh, who had almost total control of Peshawar, would harbor
aggressive designs towards Kabul.
The British, hoping to gain compete control in
Afghanistan, encouraged Shah Shuja in his endeavors to regain
power in Afghanistan. Shah Shuj a left Lodhiana wi th his
troops, consisting of some East India Company men and
advisors, and went into sind.
57
In Sind, he coerced the Amirs
of Talpur into giving him money to stage a war against the
Barakzais. From the British, he had already received 1,600
60
pounds, permission to buy weapons from them, and permission to
raise troops in British-India territory.58 Bankers were not
willing to finance Shah Shuja's campaign unless he pledged
valuable collateral. Nevertheless, with 60,000 men Shah Shuja
advanced toward Kandahar and fought a pitched battle against
the Kandahar Sirdars. The latter was saved from defeat by the
timely arrival from Kabul of Dost Mohammed Khan and his force
of 20,000 led by his son Akbar Khan. The scene of the battle
is described as follows:
Akbar Khan's horsemen charged the enemy
with a dashing gallantry worthy of their
impetuous leader; but a battalion of the
Shah's troops, under an Indo-British,
named Campbell, fought with such uncommon
energy, that at one time the forces of
the Barakzye chiefs were driven back, and
victory appeared to be in the reach of
the Shah. But Dost Mohamed, who had
intently watched the conflict, and kept a
handful of chosen troops in reserve, now
let them slip, rallied the battalions
which were falling back, called upon
Akbar Khan to make one more struggle,
and, well responded to by his gallant
son, rolled back the tide of victory.
Shah Shujah, who on the first appearance
of Dost Mohamed had lost all heart, and
actually given orders to prepare for
fight, called out in his desperation to
Campbell, "Chupao-Chupao," then orderd
his elephant to be wheeled round, and
turned his back upon the field of
battle. 59
Campbell was taken prisoner by the Amir and later joined
his services. Ironically, the result of the war was to
consolidate the relations between the Amir and his brother,
61
re-affirming his position. Shah Shuja's defeat was
unfortunate for British interests as they had hoped to have a
ruler in Afghanistan, who was under their control. The
British policy of non-intervention was no longer valid in
Afghan affairs, because they already chose sides in the game.
No sooner had the Amir returned to Kabul, then Peshawar
was attacked and captured by the sikhs again. The Peshawar
Sirdars, in an attempt to open a line of communication with
the Sikhs, invited them into the city. Their plan was to
collaborate with the sikhs against Dost Mohammed Khan in
Kabul. The result was a disgrace for the Sirdars, who ended
up fleeing the city. The tribes rebelled against the Sikhs,
but they were no challenge to the well-organized sikh military
under General Hari Singh.
The loss of Peshawar in 1834 and the treacherous actions
of his brothers, the Peshawar Sirdars, incited the Amir to
wage a war against the sikhs. The Amir's lack of a strong
military force was overcome when he declared a jihad against
the sikh "infidels". Thousands of men flocked to the Amir's
sides from allover Afghanistan, Persia and Central Asia.
They went to Peshawar and pitched their camps. Ranjit Singh
had in his company an American, named Josiah Harlan, whom he
sent to the Amir to engage in negotiations. Meanwhile, the
sikhs made covert advances to the Peshawar Sirdars, who had by
now joined forces with the Amir. They were given money to
62
desert the Amir, an offer the Peshawar Sirdars accepted,
taking with them 10,000 men.
GO
The desertion of so many men
caused much confusion among the rest of the Amir's supporters.
Many of his forces disbanded compelling Amir Dost Mohammed
Khan to retreat back to Kabul.
After this disaster, the Amir saw no hope in recovering
Peshawar from the sikhs. It was at this point that he heard
the news that the Peshawar Sirdars were intriguing with the
sikhs to seize Kabul. The Amir sent two of his sons, Afzal
Khan and Akbar Khan, to challenge sikh advances. In April,
1837 they fought a pitched battle at Jamrud in which the
Afghan forces were victorious. The turning point of the
battle was the death of General Hari Singh, which de-moralized
the sikh regiments and led the Afghans to victory. The battle
in Jamrud restored confidence to the Afghan military.
Capitalizing on this victory, Akbar Khan wanted to pursue the
defeated sikh army to regain control over Peshawar. However,
he was advised by the Amir's minister, Samad Khan against it
and they returned to Kabul.
For the Amir Dost Mohammed Khan, the loss of Peshawar was
a problem that constantly haunted him. It was not only a
matter of honor, Peshawar was deeply integrated economically
and politically into the survival of the Afghan sytem. The
Amir began a dialogue with the British in hopes of recovering
Peshawar. However, Peshawar was permanently lost and was
63
never again to be under Afghan control. The course of events
that followed in efforts to regain control over Peshawar were
to shape Anglo-Afghan relations and the results were
disastrous for both parties involved.
64
1. Ahmad Shah Durrani is often referred to as "Baba"
(literally, "father") because he is seen as the founder of the
country.
2. According to the Afghan historian Mir Gholam Muhammad
Ghobar, the author of Afghanistan dar Masir-i-Tarikh, Khorasan
or "land where the sun rises" was the general term used when
referring to the eastern regions of the Persian empire.
Initially it included portions of Afghanistan, but later it
incorporated the entire country.
3. Singh, Ganda Ahmad Shah Durrani, The Father of Modern
Afghanistan (New Delhi: Asia Publishing House, 1959) p. 31,
335.
4 • Kakar, Hassan Kawun Government and society in
Afghanistan: The Reign of Amir 'Abd aI-Rahman Khan (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1979) p.xvi.
5. MacMunn, Lt. General Sir George. Afghanistan: From Darius
to Amanullah (London: G. Bell & Sons Ltd., 1929) p.77-78.
6. For example the political economy of the Ghaznavid empire
(994-1040) rested on the income derived from campaigns across
the Indus. Having a large, expensive military bureaucracy,
the Ghaznavid empire needed income to maintain it, and the
revenues from tax-farming were not sufficient.
7. Yapp, Malcolm. strategies of British India: Britain, Iran
and Afghanistan, 1798-1850 (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1980) p.159.
8. Dupree, Louis. Afghanistan
University Press, 1980) p.365.
(New Jersey: Princeton
9 • Elphinstone' s monograph, An Account of the Kinqdom of
Caubul is the result of this mission to Afghanistan. Al though
he provides detailed information of the entire country, the
fact is that Elphinstone never went further than Peshawar, and
all his data were gathered through informants. Nevertheless,
this work remains monumental in the field of Afghan studies.
10. Aitchison, C.U. A Collection of Treaties, Engagements,
and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries
(Calcutta: Superintendent of Government printing, 1933)
p.336.
65
11. Ghobar, Mir Gholam Muhammad Afghanistan dar Masir-i-
Tarikh (Kabul: Books Publishing Institute, 1967) in Persian
p.394.
12. Ghobar, M.G.M. p.397.
13. Elphinstone, Mounstuart. An Account of the Kingdom of
Caubul (London: Messrs Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown
and Murray, 1819) p.559.
14. Masson, Charles. Narrative of Various Journeys in
Baluchistan, Afghanistan, the Punjab and Kalat Vol. II.
Reprinted. (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1977) p.99.
15. Ferrier, J.P. History of the Afghans Trans. William
Jesse. (London: John Murray, 1858) p.106.
16. Elphinstone, M. p.222.
17. Ibid., p.223.
18. Ibid., p.253-278.
19. Ibid., p.253-278.
20. Mottahedeh, Roy. Loyalty and Leadership in an Early
Islamic Society (New Jersey: Princeton University Press,
1980) p.88.
21. Elphinstone, M. p.253-278.
22. Kakar, Hassan Kawun. Government and Society in
Afghanistan: The Reign of Amir 'Abd aI-Rahman Khan (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1979) p.96.
23. Ahmed, Feroz. "Transformation of Agrarian structure in the
Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan" in Journal of
Contemporary Asia, Vol. 14, No.1, 1984, p.5-47.
24. See Encyclopedia of Islam, article "Iqta" p.1088.
25. Elphinstone, M. p.524.
26. Ibid., p.253-278.
27. Ghobar, M.G.M. p.398.
66
28. Didgah Kotah ba Pushtunha-i-ansui-marz {A short glance of
the Pushtuns on the other side} (Kabul Government: Department
of Tribal Affairs, 1374) p.11.
29. Hamilton, Angus Afghanistan (London: W. Heinemann,
1906) p.151, 165-166, 211. Interestingly, this
community, especially the Sikhs, even today retain its
powerful economic position in Afghanistan.
30. Forster, G. A Journey From Bengal to England Through the
Northern Part of India, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Persia, and
Into Russian, by the Caspian Sea Vol. II (London: R.
Faulder Ltd., 1798) p.36.
31. Brauer, E. "The Jews of Afghanistan"
Studies vol.IV p.361.
Jewish Social
32. Manrique, Fray Sebastien Travels of Fray Sebastien
Manrique, 1629-1643 translated by C. Eckford Luard and H.
Hosten (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1927) vol.II
p.360-365.
33. Kakar, H.K. p.152
34. Mottahedeh, R. p.135-156.
35. Elphinstone, M. p.284.
36. Raverty, H.G. Notes on Afghanistan and Parts of
Baluchistan: Geographical, Ethnographical and Historical
Extracts from the Writings of Little Known Afghan and Tajik
Historians, Geographers and Genealogists (London: Eyre and
Spottiswoode, 1880) p.65.
37. Yapp, M. p.1-20i Yapp argues that decisions to extend
British power originated in the periphery because political
agents seeking to advance their positions would cite geo-
political reasons to divert more resources into their area and
therefore expand their frontiers.
38. Silver, Arthur Manchester Men and Indian Cotton
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986) p.26.
39. Mclellan, David Ed. Karl Marx: Selected writings
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977) p.334.
40. Huttenback, Robert British Relations with Sind. 1799-1843
(Los Angles: California University Press, 1962) p.29.
67
41. " The Incorporation and Peripheralization of South Asia.
1600-1950" , an unpublished paper by Ravi Palat, Kenneth Barr,
James Matson, Vinay Bahl, and Nesar Ahmed, presented at the
14th Annual Conference on South Asia held in Madison,
Wisconsin -November 1-3, 1985. This research was an attempt
to apply Emmanuel Wallerstein's "world systems theory" to the
analyses of the history of India.
42. Ibid., p.11.
43. Kiernan, V. J. Metcalfe's Mission to Lahore. 1808-1809
(Lahore, 1943); and Farooghi, Mian Bahadur British Relations
with the Cis-Sutlej States (Lahore, 1941).
44. The history of the Koh-i-nur (mountain of light) diamond
is itself a fascinating topic. According to the Babur-namah,
this stone originally belonged to Alaudin Khalji (1296-1316).
After the Mughal conquest of India, it passed into the hands
of the Mughals and was worn by Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan,
and Aurangzeb. In 1739 when Nadir Shah Afshar captured Delhi,
the diamond was taken to Persia. When Nadir died Ahmad Shah
Durrani got its possession and it remained with the SUddozyes.
However, in 1813 ranjit Singh extorted it from Shah Shuja. In
1849 when Punjab was annexed by the British, the East India
Company presented the infamous diamond to the Queen of
England. And there it remains today in the crown worn by
Queen Elizabeth. For more details see Mohammed Ali's article,
"The Story of Koh-i-Nur" in Afghanistan vol. 16, no.4 (1961)
p.1-7.
45. Yapp, M. p.131.
46. Colebrook, T.E. The Life of Mountstuart Elphinstone 2
vols. (London: John Murray, 1884) vol.I. p.225-227.
47. Tate, G.P.
Sketch (Bombay:
The Kingdom of Afghanistan: A Historical
Times of India Offices, 1911) p.131.
48. Caroe, Olaf The Pathans: 550 B.C.- A.D. 1957
(London: MacMillan and Co. Ltd, 1958) p.298.
49. MacMunn, Lt. General Sir George p.97-98.
50. The descendants of the Peshawar Sirdars came to be known
as the Musahiban family, separate from Dost Mohamad Khan's
lineage. The successive reigns were marked by rivalries
between these two families. Amanullah belonged to Dost M.
Khan's family and the late Shah of Afghanistan was a
descendant of the Musahiban lineage. See Caroe, Olaf p.307.
68
51. Ghobar, Mir Gholam M. p.517.
52. Vigne, G. T. Esg A Personal Narrative of a Visit to
Ghazni, Kabul, and Afghanistan. Reprint (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel
Publications, 1982, 1840) p.128.
53. Masson, Charles Narrative of Various Journevs in
Baluchistan, Afghanistan, the Punjab, and Kalat vol.1
(London: Richard Bentley, 1844) p.252.
54. Macrory, Patrick. Kabul catastrophe
University Press, 1986) p.36.
(Oxford: Oxford
55. Malleson, Col. G. History of Afghanistan reprint
(Lahore: Shirkat Printing Press, 1984, 1879) p.357.
56. Masson, Charles p.250.
57. Vigne, G.T. p.392-393.
58. Cf. in Yapp, M. p.214.
59. Kaye, John William History of the War in Afghanistan
vol.I (London: Richard Bentley, 1857) p.131.
60. Ibid., p.135.
- CHAPTER TWO -
THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR - THE RISE OF THE IMPERIAL FRONTIER
The First Afghan War (1839-42) was politically
important not only for Afghan history but also for the
British. For it resulted in one of the more dramatic
defeats that the British met in Asia. As a result, the
First Afghan War is abundantly documented. Of primary
importance are the Enclosures to Secret Letters from India
(ESL) in the India Office of Records Library in London.
They consist of all the documents pertaining to Afghanistan
in this period that were transmitted to London by Calcutta.
Included are the Letters of Mohan Lal, a Kashmiri political
agent for the British who lived in the Qizilbash section in
Kabul during this period. His Life of the Ameer Dost
Muhammed Khan of Kabul, (2 vols., London, 1846) provides
another important source of information of the First Afghan
War. There is no dearth of diaries of Englishmen in
Afghanistan, which were later published, like Lady Sale's
and Vincent Eyre's memoirs. A most noteworthy monograph is
the History of the War in Afghanistan, (3 vols., London,
1858) written by John W. Kaye, who had access to many
important sources, but focused more on British policy than
on internal developments within Afghanistan. He is critical
of the British government, particularly of the Governor-
General of India. J. Norris' The First Afghan War: 1838-
69
70
1842, (Cambridge, 1967) offers a more sympathetic view of
British actions in Afghanistan. In addition, there are
numerous biographies of soldiers and political subalterns
who were posted in Afghanistan between the years 1839-1842.
A serious analysis of the above-mentioned sources
illustrates that the claims of a "Russian menace" to British
India were exaggerated by local British agents, who
successfully influenced policy-makers in British India. The
British, both in London and in India, were interested in
expanding their influence into Central Asia. But the
success of this policy rested on British India gaining
control over Afghanistan. In order to achieve prominence in
the region, the official policy was to pursue commercial
penetration. However, British local political agents helped
to radicalize policy by pursuing an active role in Afghan
political affairs, which led to direct British involvement
in the region. The result was the First Afghan War in 1839.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF BRITISH INDIAN RELATIONS WITH AFGHANISTAN
The war which was chronicled in these accounts began
with the arrival in March, 1836 of the newly appointed
Governor-General to India, George Eden, Lord Auckland. His
initial contact with Afghanistan came through the Amir Dost
Mohammed Khan's congratulatory letter, which welcomed the
Governor-General and sought his advice on bringing a
resolution to the Afghan-Sikh rivalry, with special regards
to Peshawar. The Amir concluded his letter by stating,
"Your Lordship will consider me and my country as your
own".1 Ironically, the Amir never realized thay this
idiomatic expression would literally be fulfilled three
years later.
Lord Auckland, assisted by John Colvin, Henry Torrens
and William Macnaghten inherited William Bentinck's
71
administration. Among the three, Macnaghten was to play the
most important role in formulating British India's policy
towards Afghanistan. Auckland's indecisive character
allowed individuals like Macnaghten to manipulate and amass
much political power.
Auckland's initial position towards the north-west
frontier was basically a continuation of Bentinck's policy
of non-intervention while extending British influence. In a
letter to the Court of Directors, Bentinck had outlined
British India's position with regards to the north-west:
I do not apprehend a Russian invasion more than
[Metcalfe] does, and I am confident if the authorities
here and at home make a proper use of the resources
which both countries afford, the British power is
invulnerable against every attack. But of the means of
promoting the commercial prosperity of India, I
consider the establishment of our power, as protectors
and mediators upon the Indus, to be of paramount
importance.
2
Auckland's reply to Dost Mohammed Khan was that it was
against the British Government's policy to meddle in the
72
affairs of independent countries. However, he did wish to
see the expansion of commercial relations between British
India and Central Asia and therefore, he asked the Amir for
his cooperation. It was apparent from the beginning of
Auckland's political tenure that the British saw no
immediate Russian threat to British India. In fact, we
shall see that Aukland's later Afghan policy, couched in
terms of protecting British Indian interests from an
external invasion, was purely fabricated to justify their
actions in Afghanistan.
The mission of Alexander Burnes, the assistant to the
Resident of Cutch, marks the beginning of British
encroachment into Central Asia. Alexander Burnes, or
"Bukhara Burnes" as he was called for his exploits in
Central Asia, had joined the Company services when he was
sixteen. In 1832, his career was at its peak. That year he
travelled to Kabul, Bukhara, and westwards to the cities of
Persia. His journeys became popular through the publication
of his book, Travels into Bokhara, which was widely
acclaimed in England. Later, during a short visit to
London, he was consulted by Parliament, the Court of
Directors, and even the Crown. Burnes' future lay in the
development of relations between British India and
Afghanistan. The first initiative in this direction took
place in 1836, when Auckland decided to send a commercial
mission to Afghanistan. Burnes was given this assignment.
His orders were to explore the possibilities of improving
trade between Central Asia and British India. But his
underlying mission was to collect intelligence on Dost
Mohammed Khan's political affairs.
73
On September 20, 1837, the British delegation finally
arrived in Kabul after a ten-month journey. According to
Kaye, Burnes and his party were received with great pomp and
splendor.
3
The Amir was anxious to discuss a British-
negotiated settlement between the sikhs and Afghans. Burnes
began their private discussion by touching on improved
commerce and its benefits to the people of Afghanistan. The
Amir could only respond by explaining that the conflict with
the sikhs had forced him to raise revenues by increasing
taxes, including the harbieh, a war tax, seriously damaging
his economy.
For the Amir, the loss of Peshawar was crucial not only
because it affected the credibility of his government but
also because that area was a vital link to trade with the
east. Another pressing concern was the presence in Kabul of
an influential group of refugees from Peshawar, who had
migrated after the sikh invasion. The Amir was obligated by
custom to help these refugees return safely back to
Peshawar. Furthermore, the Amir constantly received pleas
for assistance from Pushtuns who were ill-treated under Sikh
rule. Charles Masson, an adventurer of mysterious origin,
had spent much time in Afghanistan and its adjacent areas.
He describes the conditions under sikh rule in Peshawar in
the following passage:
The fertile province of Peshawer has also been
devastated by the Maharaja, (Ranjit Singh), who
not only requires an annual tribute of horses,
swords, jewels, rice, &c., but sends large bodies
of troops to ravage the country, apparently with
the view of keeping it depressed. In the same
manner his hordes annually visit the Yusuf Zai
districts on the plain, and carry off a tribute in
horses. In most cases, if the proportion of the
tribute be fixed,it is little acted upon •.•••.•
At Peshawer the evil of collection is seriously
felt, for ten or fifteen thousand men sometimes
march and destroy the whole
The Amir, recognizing the strength of Ranjit Singh,
wanted the British to mediate in settling the conflict. In
fact, he was willing to accept Peshawar as a tributary to
Lahore, sending annual payments to the sikhs. Alexander
74
Burnes was sympathetic to the Afghans and recommended the
Amir's suggestions to Macnaghten. However, the British
Indian government was not willing to change its position on
Afghanistan.
The British-Indian government's position on Afghanistan
was clouded by its alliance with the Sikhs, which Lt. Claude
Wade, the British Envoy to Lahore, argued was central to
their policy towards the frontier. Wade maintained that,
because of the Barakzai divisions, a unified Afghanistan
could not be foreseen in the near future. Therefore, it
75
would be in the best interests of the British to control
Afghanistan through: 1) British commercial penetration; 2)
the constant revived claims to the the throne by Shah Shuja;
and 3) the fear of the Sikhs.
5
According to Wade's
position, the sikhs were the pivotal factor in the policy.
This meant that Wade's political power as British Envoy to
Lahore would increase. After the battle of Jumrud, in
April, 1837, Wade was able to argue that his post in
Lodhiana was essential for British interests in the area.
Yapp contends that the battle transformed Lodhiana " ••• from
an outpost into the nerve-center of British diplomacy in the
north-west and its agent into a man of power and
distinction".6 However, a limitation of this policy was
that the sikh Kingdom was seen as a permanent fixture in the
north-west frontier.
After he arrived in Kabul, Burnes set out not only to
improve British intelligence on Afghan affairs, but also to
expand British relations. He dispatched Dr. Percival Lord
and John Wood to Kunduz under a petty chief in northern
Afghanistan; Lt. Leech was sent to Kandahar; and
correspondence was opened with Eldred Pottinger, who was
already in Herat. By 1839, the British had established an
intelligence service between the oxus and the Afghan
frontier. Burnes was sent to Kabul with very little
decision-making power. By contrast, in December, 1837 a
76
Russian officer by the name of Paul vitkovich arrived in
Kabul. He was sent by the Czar to explore the
of expanding trade in Afghanistan, just like Burnes. But
Vitkovich, under the jurisdiction of Count Simonovich in
Teheran, sought a more radical role for Czarist Russia in
Afghanistan. Count Simonovich wanted Vitkovich to convince
Kandahar and Kabul to place themselves under Persian rule.
7
vitkovich was given a large purse and wide powers to pursue
his mission.
At this point, the Amir's actions illustrated his
preference for a British alliance. When the Amir heard of
the Russian agent approaching Kabul, he immediately informed
Burnes and sought his advice. Burnes in his letter to
Macnaghten wrote,
[that the Amir] .•. did not wish to receive any
agent of any power whatever so long as he had hope
of sympathy from us; and that he would order the
Russian agent to be turned out, detained on the
road, or act in any way I desired him.
8
Burnes advised the Amir to receive vitkovich and to
keep Burnes informed of the Russian objective. This the
Amir did. A month after vitkovich arrived in Kabul, Burnes
wrote the following to Macnaghten:
Mr. vickovich himself has experienced but little
attention from the Ameer, and has yet received no
reply to his communications. • •• He paid his
respects to the Ameer on the 12th of January, and
has had no other personal intercourse with him.
He has been urging the Ameer to send an agent to
Count Simonovich to receive the presents of the
77
Emperor.
9
Yet, despite these actions, the Government in India was
not willing to accomodate Dost Mohammed Khan. Burnes in his
correspondence argued that ..... the stability of the sikh
alliance depended on the life of one man, and that once
Ranjit Singh had gone tranquility in the territories of the
sikhs could not be looked for
tl

lO
Auckland's views
remained influenced by Wade, the agent at Lodhiana, who was
the first to receive Burnes' correspondence to the
government and sent Burnes' dispatches from Kabul with his
own remarks directed mostly against Dost Mohammed Khan and
in favor of Shah Shuja. Wade argued that an Afghanistan
consolidated under the Amir could not be subjected to
British India's influence. Shah Shuja was preferable
because he would be more dependent and reliable towards the
British. Furthermore, subalterns like Dr. Lord and Maj.
Todd supported the claim that Shuja was more popular with
the Afghans. Auckland was surrounded by men who did not like
the Amir, and their testimonies were overwhelming in
contrast to Burnes'. Thus, British policy in the frontier
called for a weak, de-centralized, Afghanistan dependent on
the British Indian government.
Towards the end of January, 1838, Burnes received a
letter from Auckland with specific instructions to convey to
the Amir the government's views of his claims on Peshawar.
78
With great disappointment Burnes relayed Auckland's message
to the Amir, stating that the Amir should be glad that
Ranjit singh was willing to hand over Peshawar to his
brother Sultan Mohammed Khan. To this the Amir replied:
Peshawar has been conquered by the Sikhs; it
belongs to them; they may give it to whomsoever
they please; if to Sultan Mahomed Khan, they place
it in the hands of one who is bent on injuring me;
and I cannot therefore acknowledge any degree of
gratitude for your interference, or take upon
myself to render services in return •••• I admit,
that it will be highly beneficial in many ways to
see the sikhs once more eastward of the Indus, but
I still can dispense with none of my troops or
relax in my precautionary measures ••• I have
unbosomed myself to you, and laid bare, without
any suppression, my difficulties. I shall bear in
lively remembrances the intended good offices of
the British Government, and I shall deplore that
my interest did not permit me to accept that which
was tendered in a spirit so friendly, but which to
my advisers has only seemed hastening my ruin. To
Runjeet Singh your interference is beneficial, as
he finds himself involved in serious difficulties
by the possession of Peshawur, and he is too glad
of your good offices to escape from a place which
is a burden to his finances, but by that escape a
debt of gratitude is exactable from him and not
from me; and if your government will look into
this matter, they will soon discover my opinions
to be far from groundless, and my conclusions the
only safe policy I can pursue.
11
It appears from the above passage that Dost Mohammed Khan
was concerned mainly about his security and did not want to
continue spending much of his resources towards the defense
of his kingdom. It did not make much difference if the
control of Peshawar was exchanged from one hostile party to
another even more unfriendly. Burnes' position in Kabul
79
remained unchanged with the Amir still hoping for a change
in British attitude and Burnes holding fast to his stance.
Burnes remained in Kabul until the end of April, 1838, when
his mission was finally recalled by Auckland. The Governor-
General's last communication with the Amir was to dissuade
him from seeking relations with any other powers in exchange
for using British good offices to prevent the sikhs from
invading Afghanistan. This offer was meaningless because the
Amir knew that the Sikhs, already having problems in
controlling Peshawar, would not invade Afghanistan. He was
more concerned with efforts to de-throne him than he was
about an unlikely sikh invasion. Masson describes the
Amir's predicament in his own words: " •.. no one cares for
a falling nation - I offered my wares for sale and you would
not buy".12
Having had virtually no success in negotiations with
the British, the Amir on April 21, 1838 began a dialogue
with the Russian political agent, vitkovich. All evidence
indicates that the Amir had been willing to accomodate the
British, but they were not interested in supporting him
because of his claims on Peshawar. Furthermore, his efforts
to consolidate power in Afghanistan ran counter to British
interests. It is important to note that the Czar's envoy in
Kabul did not receive any attention until the British had
denied the Amir's requests for economic and political aide.
80
On April 26th Burnes left Kabul, his mission a total failure
because of the British Indian officials' attitudes towards
the Amir. Burnes' mission in Kabul had taken place at the
time when Auckland's policy towards the frontier was one of
non-interference accompanied by gradual penetration.
Ironically, in just a few months, his strategy underwent a
radical change, culminating in the Anglo-Afghan war of 1839.
THE SIEGE OF HERAT
The siege of Herat in November, 1837 played a vital
role in Auckland's change of policy towards Afghanistan.
British political agents used this incident to convince the
officials in Calcutta of a Russo-Persian conspiracy against
British India. In reality, Herat, being so far away from
India, did not pose any threat to British interests.
Ironically, however, the siege of Herat was lifted one month
before the British declared war on Afghanistan.
The background to the siege of Herat began at the
Persian court of Mahomed Shah, where the Russian envoy,
Count Simonovich, was using his influence to scheme with the
Persians against Afghanistan. In st. Petersburgh, Lord
Durham, the British Ambassador lodged his complaints against
Simonovich's actions with the Czar's Foreign Minister, Count
Nesselrode. But the Count had already given strict orders
to Simonovich not to encourage the Persians against
Afghanistan. It appeared that Russian political agents,
81
like their British counterparts, sometimes exceeded their
instructions in efforts to widen their powers. The British
were uncomfortable with the increase of Russian influence in
Persia. But, after the Treaty of Turkmanchai (1828), in
which Persia ceded to Russia all territories west of the
Caspian Sea, a czarist alliance became necessary for
Persia's survival. The British, in 1828, had failed to
honor their commitments, in the Anglo-Persian treaties of
1809 , which promised British assistance in the event of an
European invasion.
13
Therefore, the Persians saw no other
choice but to court the Russians, an activity, ironically,
that caused alarm among the British.
Shortly after Burnes arrived in Kabul, the Persians had
advanced towards Herat. This city was seen as the "Gate of
India" because all the important roads to India met within
its territory. Futhermore, the terrain was such that it
allowed easy passage for an invading army, furnishing all
the necessary provisions for an army's maintenance. The
plains of Herat were so abundant with crops that this area
was recognized as the "Granary of Central Asia".
The inhabitants of Herat were predominantly Shiah but
they were usually ruled by Sunnis. Several Jewish,
Armenian, and Hindu families were engaged primarily in trade
or business. The last vestiges of Suddozai rule remained in
the Herati government of Prince Kamran, old and addicted to
82
alcohol, who was assisted by his Vazir, Yar Mohammed Khan to
whom he left all matters of government. Under Prince
Kamran's reign, the Heratis were oppressed. Nevertheless,
in Prince Kamran's absence, the people became even more
oppressed, so that they yearned for authority, no matter how
despotic. 14 Furthermore, Herat was economically in such
decline and all its inhabitants faced hardships. Under
these circumstances, the Persians could justify their
invasion of Herat as an effort to protect their Shiah
brethren and to restore Herat to its earlier prosperity.
A Persian official was sent to Kandahar offering
alliances to the sirdars. When news arrived in Kabul that
the Kandahar Sirdars, led by Kohundil Khan, were
entertaining thoughts to ally with the Persians, Burnes
immediately directed Lt. Leech to intervene, who asked
Kohundil Khan to consider the risk of losing his power in
Kandahar once the Persians captured Herat. The Amir, for
his part, pleaded with his brothers in Kandahar not to
negotiate with the Persians as such contacts undermined his
authority and damaged his credibility in conducting a
political dialogue with the British. Burnes promised
assistance to the Kandahar chiefs if Kandahar was attacked
by the Persians. For this promise, Burnes was seriously
reprimanded by Macnaghten, who wrote:
These promises are entirely unauthorised by any
part of your instructions. They are most
unnecessarily made in unqualified terms and they
would, if supported, commit the Government upon
the gravest questions of general policy.
But the rulers of Candahar must not be allowed to
rest in confidence upon promises so given, ••.•• you
will endeavour to set yourself right with the
chiefs. IS
83
Macnaghten concluded by saying, "After what has been stated,
his Lordship feels that he could not enlarge on his strict
injunction that you in the future conform punctually on all
points to the orders issued for your guidance
ll

16
In
retrospect, it was agreed upon by higher authorities,
including Auckland, that, given the circumstances, Burnes'
actions were appropriate. The Government's response at that
time, could be explained on the basis of their not wanting
to jeapordize their relations with the Sikhs.
Initially, after having received Burnes' assurances of
support, the Kandahar Sirdars had refused to see the Persian
envoy. However, when that offer was withdrawn, they
resorted back to seeking Persian aide. By the end of
November, 1837 Herat was under siege by the Persians. Lt.
Eldred Pottinger was there to observe what happened. He was
at that time on a geographical exploration trip for the
government. However, he quickly became immersed in the
political affairs of the time and fulfilled many of the
functions of a political agent, frequently corresponding
with Burnes in Kabul.
84
Many people from the surrounding areas flocked to Herat
upon hearing of the Persian army's advances. Prince Kamran
began to reinforce the fortifications of the city. All of
the Shiah mullahs were placed under arrest for fear of their
instigating an internal revolt. In addition, Shiah houses
were frequently raided and searched for weapons or for any
other evidences of treachery. The siege of Herat by the
Persians lasted for several months. At one point, the
Persian monarch even offered peace on the condition that he
would be recognized as sovereign in name only.
Prince Kamran sent Lt. Pottirlger to represent his
interests at the Persian camp, asking them to withdraw their
forces. In the Persian camp, the British lieutenant
discovered a Russian General ·Samson. The presence of this
general has been cited by many as evidence of Russian plots
in the region. However, interestingly enough, Lt. Pottinger
also mentions in his journal that in the Persian camp he met
a British officer, Col. Stoddart, who had been sent by the
British envoy in Teheran.
1
? It was something of an
anachronism to have two British officers coming to the
Persian camp from opposite directions pursuing the same
goals. Throughout Persia's siege of Herat British officers
were involved in mediating for both sides in their efforts
to protect Britain's interests both in Persia and
Afghanistan. The battle for Herat lingered on for months,
with both parties suffering from the lack of provisions.
Herat was reduced to ruins. Its condition is described in
the following passage:
Houses were pulled down to supply fuel. Horses
were killed for food ••• The accumulations of filth
had therefore become inconceivable, and the stench
hardly to be borne. The decaying bodies of the
dead had polluted the air to a still more horrible
extent; so that there was every probability of
some fearful epidemic breaking out among the
people. 18
The Persian forces were formidable, but because of their
lack of an organized strategy they were unable to conquer
Herat. In August, British forces occupied the island of
Kharg in the Persian Gulf. Auckland sent a letter to the
Persian Shah asking him to withdraw his forces from Herat
and to restore British prominence in his Court. In the
preceding months, Count Simonovich had developed a more
favored relationship with the Persians, which annoyed the
British. The Shah's response to Auckland's letter was
prompt; he had not realized that his actions would provoke
85
the British so strongly. His immediate reply to the British
agent, Col. Stoddart in the Persian camp was, "Were it not
for the sake of (our) friendship, we should not return from
before Herat. Had we known that our coming here might risk
the loss of (our) friendship, we would not have come at
a11".19 By September, 1838 the Shah had lifted the siege
of Herat. Whatever danger the siege of Herat posed to
86
British India had now disappeared. Nevertheless, the
British officials in Calcutta began to cite recent events in
Herat as evidence of the growing influence of Czarist Russia
in the British Indian sphere of power. British political
agents succeeded in influencing authorities in India to
extend territorial claims to incorporate even western
Afghanistan. However, critics like Sir Henry M. Durand,
contended:
The exaggerated fears of Russian power and
intrigue entertained by Ellis, McNeill, Burnes,
and Wade, the flame of which was communicated by
them to the British and Indian Governments,
invested Herat with a fictitious importance wholly
incommensurate with the strength of the place and
its position in regard to Candahar and the Indus.
To speak of the integrity of the place as of vital
importance to British India was a hyperbole so
insulting to common sense as scarcely to need
refutation, and which ignorance of the countries
west of the Indus, and inexperience of militar
d
operations in the East, could alone palliate.
2
Nevertheless, one month after the Persians lifted the siege
of Herat, the British Indian troops marched into
Afghanistan.
THE RATIONALE FOR BRITISH INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN
It is not intended here to describe in detail the
different phases of the First Afghan War (1839-1842),
because there are many narratives that do so.21
By the spring of 1838, the Indian Governor-General,
Auckland, in Calcutta, was being bombarded with reports that
the Persians, in alliance with the Russians, were gaining
87
territory in Herat. There was no doubt, among the British
officials in Calcutta, that Herat would fall to the
Persians, thereby bringing Russian influence to the doors of
the'British Indian Empire. Similarly rumors were flying
that Russian activities in Kandahar and Kabul were
intensifying, posing a threat to British India.
Furthermore, within India there was ferment; war with Nepal
was almost certain, and there was instability in Jaipur,
Jodhpur, Indore, and Baroda.
22
The combination of an
internal threat and an external menace caused the British
Indian government to pursue a more active policy in the
frontier. According to Yapp, "This connection of an
external and internal threat was precisely that which had
formed the core of all the most sophisticated arguments in
support of a forward policy.".23
However, despite requests by Herat for British aide,
the Governor-General was not keen on committing troops at
such a distance. Wade, the resident at Lahore suggested
replacing the Afghan Amir, Dost Mohammed Khan, with Shah
Shuja, a more friendly ruler. Auckland not knowing what
policy to pursue to counter Russian influence, sent
Macnaghten to Lahore in May, 1838 to discuss with Ranjit
Singh the possibility of a sikh invasion of Afghanistan.
Ranjit Singh knew the Afghans, and he was not interested in
engaging them in war by himself.
24
88
Auckland and Wade supported the policy of maintaining
the Sikh alliance, providing a buffer for British India.
Replacing Dost Mohammed Khan with Shah Shuja meant a
"hostile" ruler would be supplanted with a feeble but
friendly one, totally dependent on the British. Macnaghten
envisioned a plan to extend British India's line of defense
to Afghanistan, creating new parties of alliance in central
Asia.
25
In this scheme, the sikhs would be incorporated
into British India, and the new buffer would be Afghanistan.
Macnaghten's trip to Lahore resulted in June, 1838 in a
Tri-Partite Treaty of Alliance
26
was signed between the
Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Shah Shuja, guaranteed by the
British Indian Government (see Appendix I). The salient
features of this agreement were that the Shah would be
restored to his throne with the assistance of Sikh and
British forces. In return, he was to forego all claims over
former Durrani territories in the North-West frontier and
the Punjab. In addition, the Shah would pay an annual sum
of 20,000 pounds to the sikhs.
27
This last provision
would most certainly damage Shah Shuja's image as ruler of
Afghanistan. The present Amir, Dost Mohammed Khan, did not
pay any tribute to the sikhs. To replace him with a ruler
who did pay tribute would not sit well with the Afghans.
Nevertheless, by June 1838, in the name of restoring Shah
Shuja to power in Afghanistan, the British, in coalition
89
with the sikhs were planned to invade Afghanistan.
Macnaghten returned to Simla, where governmental
affairs were conducted during the summer. The blueprints
for invading Afghanistan were drafted. The men most
informed about Afghanistan, like Burnes and Masson, were not
consulted because of their support for Dost Mohammed Khan.
A total of 20,000 British forces, known as the "Army of the
Indus", were to accompany Shah Shuja's levies of 6,000.
28
Macnaghten would accompany Shah Shuja with approximately
14,000 troops and enter Afghanistan via the Bolan Pass.
Shah Shuja's son, Timur, escorted by Wade, 6,000 company
forces, and the sikh regiments were to proceed through the
Khyber Pass. From the size of the expedition, one would
think that a major European army was being challenged in
Afghanistan.
In order to justify their actions towards Afghanistan,
Auckland on October 1st, 1838 published the "Simla
Manifesto", declaration that potrayed the Amir of
Afghanistan as attacking Ranjit Singh, who was an ancient
ally of the British, thereby causing disorder in territories
adjacent to British India, and threatening to cause internal
instability (Appendix 11).29 Another reason cited for
invading Afghanistan was the war in Herat, which, if won by
the Persians, would subject the entire area to Russo-Persian
control. Auckland concluded by saying that,
90
••• (he) was ••• impelled to arrest foreign
aggression, and since no reliance could be placed
on Dost Mahomed and his brothers he had turned to
Shah Shoojah, who when in power had been well-
disposed, and of whose popularity there was
'strong and unanimous testimony,.30
By November, the main reason for invading Afghanistan
disappeared. The Persians had withdrawn from Herat, and the
siege was lifted. The Russian Foreign Office had repudiated
Simonovich and Vitkovich, claiming that Russia was not
responsible for the actions of these agents. vitkovich
returned to Petersburgh and committed suicide, while
Simonovich was replaced by Duhamel in Teheran.
31
One
might explain the actions of these agents as efforts to
increase their own political power. But the policies urged
by these Russian agents were interpreted by the British as
czarist Russia's plan to incorporate Persia and Afghanistan
into their sphere of influence.
Now would have been an appropriate time for Auckland to
withdraw his plans against Afghanistan. But things
proceeded as planned. The Government of India aimed to
recover British influence in the region, which, strangely
enough, had been lost because of misguided policies.
THE BRITISH INVASION AND MISCALCOLATIONS
By the end of November, the Army of the Indus had
assembled at Ferozpur to begin their march towards
Afghanistan. In preparation for their long journey to
Afghanistan, the military were acompanied by 38,000
administrative personnel. According to reports: "even a
subaltern had half a dozen servants, who looked after his
glass, crockery, and portable bath tub.".32 General
91
Keane, who was in command of the Army, had 260 camels to
carry his personal gear.
33
Not only were there excessive
personnel, but also the animals taken along were unsuitable
for the terrain. For example, camels ill-suited for passing
through narrow defiles were taken, and many died before
reaching their destination. The weather also took its toll
against the animals and en route to Afghanistan, the Pushtun
frontier tribes attacked the British forces. However, the
Khan of Khelat was held responsible for the acts of these
tribes, over whom he had no control.
The Army of the Indus passed through territories where
forage and water were scarce. While they passed through
such territories, the local authorities were forced to
provide them with provisions. For example, the Amirs of
Sind and the Khan of Kalat were held responsible for the
maintenance of the army and their safe passage through their
territories, despite the manner in which this passage
deprived their own people of needed sustenance. When the
Army's impossible demands were not completely fulfilled, the
British punished the native authorities. In 1839,
Sind was completely occupied by British forces to secure the
92
British lines of communication with Afghanistan. That same
year the Khan of Kalat was assassinated by British troops
because Macnaghten assumed that the Khan was conspiring with
those Baluchi tribes, who attacked the Army. Gradually a
network of British installed rulers were placed in power
which ultimately helped extend British India's sphere of
power.
On April 25, 1839, the Army of the Indus entered
Kandahar against virtually no opposition. The Kandahar
Sirdars, upon hearing of the British coming, fled, leaving
the area without any authority. By the end of July, Ghazni
was captured after a fierce battle. with the fall of
Ghazni, Dost Mohammed Khan along with his loyal supporters
escaped to the north. British efforts, under the direction
of Major outram, failed to capture the Amir. By August,
1839 Shah Shuja entered Kabul, borne there by the British
army. The people's quiet acceptance of the Shah was
misunderstood by the British as Afghan approval of his rule.
The original plan was to restore Shuja to power and
then to withdraw British troops, leaving behind a small
force to support the British Envoy and its mission. As
Envoy, Macnaghten was to limit his intereference in
Afghanistan strictly to foreign policy. Because the Shah's
authority was not firmly established yet, British troops
were compelled to remain in Afghanistan. British agents,
93
whose inteference in internal affairs gradually increased,
were stationed throughout the country, leaving the Shah more
dependent on them. In addition, Macnaghten sent political
agents to explore political relations w{fh the Central Asian
Khanates. One such mission was sent to Kokand under Captain
Conolly, whose task was to secure an agreement between the
two countries in order to obstruct Russian influence in the
area.
34
Theoretically, Shah Shuja was in power, assisted by a
council, comprised of the Durrani noblemen, and the
bureaucracy, which he inherited from Dost Mohammed Khan. At
the provincial level, Shuja appointed governors; (in
Kandahar, he and his three sons managed the government) •
From the onset, Shuja lacked the financial resources for
either an efficient administration or an effective military
force, most needed to hold Afghanistan. Therefore, he
depended on British aide to remain in power. Henry Thoby
Prinsep, a member of Auckland's Council in Calcutta,
suggested that to have a permanent hold on Afghanistan, it
was necessary to destroy the feudal cavalry forces, which
were part of the old system of power.
35
In fact, an
estimated 1,300,000 rupees were spent in maintaining this
feudal military system, which, according to the British,
only further weakened Shuja's power.
36
In proposing to eliminate the existing feudal cavalry,
94
the British were tampering with a system that had been in
force since the founding of Afghanistan. But the British
aimed to eliminate those chiefs who were hostile to them and
to replace them with sirdars more amenable to their control.
By June, 1840, a new military force, called the janbaz was
formed. It was a cavalry of 16,000 men, under the command
of European officers. They were paid in cash or through
land assignments. Similarly, in 1841 another corps, the
hazirbash, were organized, whose activities were similar to
those of the janbaz, except they were limited to the
vicinities of Kabul. This military unit was strictly under
Afghan officers, and assisted in collecting revenues.
37
Both of these military divisions were paid and trained by
the British, making their loyalty to the Shah questionable.
To make matters worse, because of pressures from
Calcutta, in 1841 the feudal cavalry's assignments were
reduced to 1,000,000 rupees, which, considering the
inflation, was a drastic reduction. Similarly, the British
cut in half the sum of 80,000 rupees, paid to the Ghilzais
for guarding the communication lines between Kabul and
Jalalabad.
38
Furthermore, the collection of taxes was now
strictly observed with the assistance of the newly formed
military units.
When Shah Shuja had assumed power, his vazir was Mullah
Shaqir Ishaqzai. But Ishaqzai was opposed to these reforms
and more inclined to the old system. By 1841, Macnaghten
replaced him with Usman Khan Suddozai, who was given total
power over fiscal matters. Usman Khan Suddozai used these
powers to enrich his family members at the expense of the
sirdars.
39
95
The alienation of the ulema was another cause for
concern. Not only were the ulema's funds reduced, but most
damaging was the British intereference in the administration
of justice. The ulema and the popular religious leaders
maintained their power through the justice system. They
resented the gradual increase of instances in which the
British overruled a Qazi's judgement. A good example of
this, was Macnaghten's disagreement with the ulema, who
proclaimed that the dress of the newly formed hazirbash was
contradictory to Islam.
40
Despite the ulema's
objections, Macnaghten compelled the Shah to ignore their
rulings on the grounds that the ulema were in conspiracy
with the sirdars.
The positions of the traditional elites in Afghan
society were challenged. By having their land assignments
reduced or withdrawn, the sirdars and their followers were
deprived of a major part of their income. Although the
arguments for altering the patron-client system were in
favor of strengthening Shah Shuja's power, the result was
the creation of a new elite more loyal to the British than
96
the Shah. The new government in Kabul parcelled out land
assignments to military personnel. By the end of 1840, the
sirdars, deprived of political power and their sources of
income, were disaffected with Shuja's reign and ready to
rebel. Lal describes the complaints of Afghan women being
harassed by British military personnel, which might have
been another aggravating factor.
41
captain Trevor sums up
the stance of the sirdars:
We must not look on Irregular Cavalry merely as a
military body, in that light three regiments might
annihilate it tomorrow but as an instrument which
enables His Majesty's principal subjects to
appropriate the great part of his revenues without
making any returns and which has continued so long
that its destruction would certainly be considered
an invasion of private property.42
Finally, there were the people of Afghanistan, who also
disagreed with the British. The presence of a large British
army had placed enormous pressures on Afghan resources. The
prices of products were exorbitantly high, nearly fivefolds
compared with the costs during Dost Mohammed's reign.
43
Since the British encouraged free trade, the merchants were
able to enrich themselves by raising the prices, especially
of the Indian products, according to the demand. Mohan Lal
reports that the common men complained that the British
enriched the grain sellers, reduced the sirdars to poverty,
and killed the masses by starvation.
44
Meanwhile, in 1839, the "Lion of Punjab", Ranjit Singh
97
died, leaving behind a kingdom in political turmoil.
45
An
insurrection broke out in Kalat, and Lt. Loveday fell victim
in revenge for Mehrab Khan's death. In November, 1840 Dost
Mohammed Khan and his family, with the exception of his
eldest son, Mohammed Akbar Khan, had surrendered to the
British. They were now living in Lodhiana receiving an
annual pension of 200,00 rupees.
46
By now, more British
Indian resources were tied down in Afghanistan than may have
been advisable. Auckland suggested the possible annexation
of Punjab and sind; he felt that these provinces, being
fertile and abundant with resources, could help strengthen
British India's finances.
47
AFGHAN REBELLION AND BRITISH RETREAT
The situation was precarious for the British. Their
presence was strongly resented by all segments of Afghan
society. The first uprising occurred in September-October,
1841, when the Ghilzais of the east reacted to their
subsidies being reduced. By November, a series of
rebellions had been staged in Kabul, Ghazni, Charekar,
Kandahar, and Jalalabad. The insurrection in Kabul resulted
in the assassination of Alexander Burnes. According to
Mohan Lal, on September 27, 1841 a group of sirdars met with
Shah Shuja, to whom they complained about their ill-
treatment. The Shah replied that he was powerless and that
they were cowards for not standing up to defend the izzat
98
(honor) of the Durrani kingdom.
48
The timing of the
rebellion could implicate the Shah in conspiring with the
sirdars against the British. But perhaps the Shah was aware
of the situation and was trying to protect himself.
By November, the rebels, lacking a common leader,
appeared to be defeated. Then Mohammed Akbar Khan, the
eldest son of Dost Mohammed Khan, arrived in Kabul. His
presence re-unified the disparate forces and encouraged
fresh assaults. The British camps were blockaded, and
mullahs preached to the villagers to stop providing supplies
to the enemy. Faced with defeat, Macnaghten began
negotiations with Akbar Khan for the withdrawal of British
troops from Kabul. Akbar Khan guaranteed them safe passage
provided that his family was returned to Kabul. However, on
December 23, 1841, during negotiations, a scuffle took place
which ended Macnaghten's and Trevor's lives. George
Lawrence and Colin Mackenzie were taken as prisoners. In
January, 1842, arrangements were made for the British to
evacuate Kabul. This turned out to be the famous march in
which Dr. Brydon is depicted by many historians as the sole
survivor of the 16,500 person force, that began the
retreat. 49 Dupree challenges this horrendous picture,
with evidence that many sepoys and civilians also survived
that treacherous journey.50 They just arrived a few days
later.
99
In Kabul, a new government was established with Shuja
as King and Mohammed Akbar Khan as vazir. There was still a
faction among the sirdars who supported Shuja's claim to the
throne. British garrisons were still intact in Ghazni,
Jallalabad, and Kandahar. Lacking the resources to raise
troops, Shah Shuja was pressured by the sirdars to use some
of the 2,000,000 rupees that he amassed from the
British. 51 Using these resources would also illustrate
his commitment to the Afghans, which many of the sirdars
doubted. Shuja, however, kept in touch with Lt. Macgregor
at the Jalalabad garrison, imploring him to come to Kabul.
In "April, 1842, Shuja was found with letters to the British
and was killed by the sirdars. His son, Fateh Jang ascended
the throne as Shah.
Meanwhile, the fighting in Kandahar had intensified,
and the Afghans were defeated, with every man, woman, and
child slaughtered in the village of Qa'la Chak.
52
In
Ghazni, the British were forced to surrender to the Afghans.
In March, 1842, a British reprisal was planned, and General
Pollock's army passed through the Khyber and began to
reinforce British garrisons. By the fall of 1842, his army
had entered Kabul and destroyed the Ali Mardan Bazaar and
several buildings. Many other key edifices in Kandahar,
Charekar, and Ghazni, and Jalalabad was razed to the ground.
All of these actions left a deep impact on the Afghans.
53
100
But, at this juncture, the British did not have any desire
to remain in Afghanistan; their army soon left. Shortly
thereafter, Dost Mohammed Khan was released from India, and
he arrived in Kabul by May, 1843. Akbar Khan was waiting
for his father to assume power. This was easily
accomplished, as all political rivals to the throne had been
eliminated.
REACTIONS TO THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR
From the time that the First Anglo-Afghan War was
declared, responses to it came from all sides. In Calcutta
and in London, critics were not scarce. In st. Petersburgh,
the reaction to the War was to participate in the "Great
Game" in Central Asia. As for in India, the invincible
image of the British was shattered.
Among British circles, attitudes to the War assumed a
partisan approach. The Whigs supported the decision of
their colleague, Lord Auckland, on Afghanistan. But other
members of parliament were not so enthused with British
aggression in Afghanistan. Henry Tucker, a staunch Tory,
initiated the debate criticizing the government's grounds
for its policy in Afghanistan.
54
His contention was that
the British in efforts to stabilize Shah Shuja's government
would conduct activities in Turkestan, inevitably leading to
collusion with the Russians.
55
To counter such arguments,
the government compiled a series of documents, later
101
referred to as the "Garbled" Blue Books of 1839. The crux
of the position was that India's security was challenged by
Russia. However, these documents distorted Burnes'
correspondence to India, to validate Auckland's decision.
Burnes gave his reaction in a letter to his brother-in-law.
The documents, he said, were
••• pure trickery, and I have said so in every company
since I have read them •.•. AII my implorations to
Government to act with promptitude and decision had
reference to doing something when Dost Mohammed was
King, and all this they have made to appear in support
of Shah Shoojah being set up!56
It was the Bombay Times' editor, George Buist, a close
friend of the family, who finally vindicated Burnes in 1842.
He reproduced in entirety the correspondence which Burnes
had sent to his brother. The media in Britain picked up
report in the Bombay paper. The London Times reported that:
"We believe their policy to have been wholly false ••••• we
believe to establish by force a British influence in
Afghanistan was itself an error". 57 Another paper, the
standard, pointed out that it was evident now of lithe utter
absurdity of any fears of an invasion of India through
Afghanistan, whether from Russia, Persia or indeed at
all".
58
The media in London further criticized the
Government for its misrepresentation of facts, intensifying
the debate in parliament. In the 1850's, John Bright in
response to Lord Palmerston's defense of the war, stated:
102
The war with its 20,000 dead was a crime so enormous
that the House could not properly punish it. But it
should try to discover the man who had so low a sense
of honour and of right that he could offer to this
House mutilated, false, forged opinions of a public
servant who lost his life in public service •••• l ask
the noble lord to tell is who did it? He knows who did
't 59
1. ••••• •
The British debate continued until 1861, when a Scotch M.P.,
A. Dunlop expressed:
Burnes' body was hacked to pieces by the Afghans ••••
But his reputation was mangled still more cruelly by
those who should have defended it ••• He had been falsely
held out by the Government which had employed him ••• as
the instigator and adviser of that unjust and
I
't' 60
ca am1 10US war ...•
Ironically, history was to repeat itself, when Britain waged
two more wars with Afghanistan.
Another reaction to the Afghan War was the intensified
rivalry between Russia and British India. As soon as the
British intervened in Afghanistan, the Russians advanced to
Khiva in 1839. But, they, like the British, met with
disaster. Their fate was the result of severe winter, famine
and pestilence, not of any battle. The Czar's justification
for this expedition was that Russian subjects were kidnapped
and held as slaves. Also, that Russian commerce was
hampered because of the plunder by Khivan subjects.
61
According to Burnes, these were valid reasons for any
"civilized" nation to declare war.
62
But, from the timing
of this expedition by the Russians, it could be assumed that
the British intervention in Afghanistan gave impetus for the
103
initiation of Russia's designs in central Asia. In India,
the British image was tarnished and all efforts were made by
the new Governor-General, Lord Ellenborough, to restore it.
The British army's defeat in Afghanistan had a severe impact
to their prestige. Lord Ellenborough issued a Proclamation
on october 1, 1842 to distinguish his policy from that of
his predecessor and also to insure that the British army's
strength was still intact.
63
This document also revealed Ellenborough's doubts to
whether there really did exist an external enemy. In his
statement, he expresses his skepticism:
The rivers of the Punjab and the Indus, and the
mountainous passes, and the barbarous tribes of
Afghanistan will be placed between the British army and
an enemy approaching from the west - if, indeed, such
an enemy there can be ..•• 64
For Ellenborough, the army was the foundation of
British rule in India. The Afghan War had weakened this
institution's image. The Gov-General aimed to restore the
military's honor, and the proclamation was the beginning of
a propaganda campaign to accomplish this. Accordingly the
government greeted British troops returning from
Afghanistan, in Ferozpur, with salutations and medals were
bestowed on many gallant soldiers, which surprised many.
Furthermore, the Army of the Indus brought back the Somnath
Gates, which had been taken by Mahmud of Ghaznawid in the
tenth century, and publicly gave them to the Indian princes,
104
who were present in Ferozpur. Ellenborough calculated the
returning of the gates would have two effects: 1) to
symbolically, give the impresssion of British victory in
Afghanistan; and 2) to regain its credibility among the
Indian elites. But, the Hindus did not want the "polluted"
object, whereas, the Muslims became angered.
65
Despite all efforts, nothing could be done to undo the
damage caused by the Afghan War. For what the British had
to fear the most was the internal enemy, which later
manifested itself in the 1857 War of Independence. One
could even say that, the Afghan War gave inspiration to
those who later rebelled against the British.
THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan, located at the crossroads of the trade
routes between Central Asia, Persia, and India, had once
been famous for its commercial centers. But by the
nineteenth century, the country was in an economic decline.
The reasons were several: 1) the absence of central
authority in Afghanistan; 2) the increase of maritime trade
in India reduced overland trade; 3) the loss of Peshawar and
Kashmir; and finally, 4) the Perso-Afghan and AnglO-Afghan
wars.
By the late eighteenth century, Afghanistan was plagued
with internal strife, which hampered trade. As central
authority weakened, so did any uniform system of taxation.
Regional rulers were left with a free hand in exacting
custom duties and taxes from the people. Business was no
longer very profitable for the merchants. For example,
Bukharan caravans travelling to India were taxed so many
times before reaching their final destination that they
realized little profit.
66
In Ghazni, caravans had to pay
105
the Ghilzai tribe not only transit fees but also hospitality
charges. In addition, merchants were taxed on the cash they
carried. If they were carrying foreign currency, then an
additional five per cent was demanded.
67
Another symptom
of the absence of central authority were the hazardous road
conditions. Ferrier reports that in Helmand, caravans were
often victims to Baluchi raids.
68
Similarly, it was
impossible to carry trade safely through the Khyber Pass,
because, with the loss of Peshawar, there was no control
over these tribes neighboring the Khyber Pass. Under such
conditions, Afghanistan was beginning to lose its importance
in the trade between Central Asia and India. Caravans
sought alternative trade routes, depriving Afghanistan of a
major source of its income. All of these factors resulted
in the discouragement of foreign trade.
Another major factor, that contributed to Afghanistan's
poor economic state was the transformation of trade patterns
in the area. India, a prominent partner in commerce,
increased its maritime trade, using the Bombay to Bushire
106
route, thereby reducing overland trade. Maritime trade
expanded mainly through the East India company's
encouragement. The result was that Afghanistans's
commerical centers like Herat, Kandahar, Jallalabad, etc ••
suffered serious losses. The infrequency of Indo-Afghan
trade was reflected in the high prices of imported items,
such as indigo, chintzes, spices, etc •••• 69
European products became scarce. This was indicated by
the fact that in the 1830's there was only one artisan in
Kabul who could repair European articles. Furthermore,
European products were expensive, yielding 100 per cent
profit for such items as linen, shoes, metal, etc ••.. 70
Meanwhile, Afghan exports to India were limited to only
horses, dried fruits and nuts.
71
Persian authorities,
trying to protect their markets, openly discouraged the sale
of Afghan rugs.
Under these conditions, many of the merchant class
communities in Afghanistan were forced to emigrate
elsewhere. The decline of this social class helped
reinforce tribal dominance in the cities. Tribes that had
become dependent on trade either returned to the pastoral
life or resorted to plunder and robbery.
Two important commercial centers historically an
integral part of Afghan trade were Peshawar and Kashmir.
Kashmiri wool, silk, and saffron had brought much revenues
107
into the Afghan treasury. Similarly, Peshawar's revenues had
enriched the Afghan economy. Even in the 1830's, Peshawar's
annual income was estimated at one million rupees.
72
But
the loss of these two major regions to the sikhs deprived
the Afghan economy of much-needed revenues. Peshawar was
also the key component to Afghanistan's trade with the east.
The tribes around the Khyber Pass, previously under nominal
control of the Afghan representative at Peshawar, were now
less dependent on the Afghan ruler. They plundered and made
travel through the Khyber impossible. Jallalabad, once
dependent on Peshawar for trade revenues, was severely
affected. According to reports in the 1830's, the city was
described to be in ruins, with forts dilapidated, karezes
(irrigated underground canals) dry, and land
uncultivated. 73
Finally, the Perso-Afghan and Anglo-Afghan wars took a
heavy toll on the Afghan economy. The siege of Herat
totally disrupted its productivity. Neighboring regions,
like Farah and Sabzawar, were subjected to Persian raids
that devastated agricultural production. The war tax
(harbieh) , imposed added burdens on the merchants and
artisans. Many, like the carpet weavers of Herat, fled from
the city causing further damage to the economy.74 During
the siege of Herat, the inhabitants faced a cholera
epidemic, famine, and a reign of terror, all of which killed
108
many people.
75
In 1810 Elphinstone estimated Herat's
population at 100,000, while in 1845 Conolly estimates of a
mere 20,000 indicate the devastating affects of the
wars.
76
While the Perso-Afghan battle affected western
Afghanistan, the Anglo-Afghan war devastated much of the
rest of Afghanistan. Kandahar, already in an impoverished
state, declined even further after the war. Manufactured
products, once exported, now became part of the regional
trade, which was dominated by the local tribes. Gun-powder,
which by now was in popular demand, became a major trade
item. Masson describes the city of Kandahar in the
following passage:
Of the area included in the city wall so much
is spread over with ruinous and deserted
houses, extensive courts, gardens, and ranges
of stabling, that is probable there are not
above five thousand inhabited houses, by
which estimate the· population would be from
twenty-five to thirty thousand souls.
77
Despite the decline of other commercial centers in
Afghanistan, the bazaars of Kabul had been buzzing with
productivity. However, during the war, the British razed to
the ground the famous Charsou bazaar, which was Kabul's
economic lifeline. Many people were forced to leave Kabul,
seeking refuge elsewhere. Ghazni, once the center of the
famous Ghaznawid empire, was also a target of British
retaliation during the war. Thus, Afghanistan's major
commerical centers were devastated as a result of
imperialism.
109
Political instability resulted in irregular taxation
that hampered the progress of trade. As overland trade
declined, tribes who were dependent on this source of income
lost their means of sUbsistence. Some of these tribal
groups resorted to plunder and looting, thereby reducing the
profitability of merchant trade through Afghanistan.
Furthermore, as trade declined, it slowed down the influx of
new capital into the economy, forcing the people to utilize
the barter system even more. This system was strengthened
with the return of many tribal groups, previously dependent
on trade, to a pastoral life. The devastation of the
economy of Afghanistan introduced with new dimensions of
socio-political dilemmas into all its surrounding areas.
When Dost Mohammed Khan assumed power in 1843 his major
task was to reunite the country. Between 1843-1845 Mazar-i-
Sharif, Khulm, Kandahar, Badakshan, Kunduz, and Qataghan
were re-conquered by the Amir. After the disintegration of
the sikh kingdom, Dost Mohammed Khan was able to recover
Peshawar. But, in 1855 he signed the Treaty of Peshawar
with the British, which guaranteed mutual friendship and
Peshawar was recognized nominally under the Amir. The } ~ i r
had several opportunities to regain total control over
Peshawar. During the Anglo-Sikh wars and in the Indian
110
Mutiny, he could have easily extended his power to Peshawar.
Some even suggest that if the Amir had intervened in India
during the Mutiny of 1857, perhaps that movement of
Independence in India would have been different.
78
If
Akbar Khan, was alive then maybe the line of action pursued
might have been different. But, the Amir did not want to
risk another war with the British, and his inactions proved
good diplomacy to the British. In May, 1863 Herat was
conquered, consolidating Barakzai rule in Afghanistan. But,
within a month, the Amir, Dost Mohammed Khan died,
shattering the political unity he had strived to create.
111
1. Parliamentary Papers
Dost Mohammed Khan" May
1837 "Translation of letter from
3, 1836.
2. (IOL&R) EM D 556 Campbell Papers "Governor-General
Bentinck to R. Campbell, Chairman of the Court" December
15, 1831.
3. Kaye describes the reception of the British mission in
the following words: "At the head of a fine body of Afghan
cavalry Akbar Khan came out to meet them. Placing Burnes on
an elephant beside him, he conducted the British officers to
his father's Court. Nothing could have been more honourable
than the reception of the British Mission. A spacious and
beautiful garden within the Balla Hissar, and near the
palace, was allotted as the residence of Burnes and his
companions." Kaye, John William, History of the War in
Afghanistan vol.I (London: Richard Bentley, 1857) p.182.
4. Masson, Charles Narrative of Various Journeys in
Balochistan, Afghanistan, and the Panjab, vol. I (London:
Richard Bentley, 1844) p.429-430.
5. (IOL&R) Enclosures and Secret Letters to India vol.46
no.42/9 "Letter from Wade to Macnaghten" December, 11,
1836.
6. Yapp, M. p.227.
7. Yapp, M. p.234-235.
8. Parliamentary Papers, 1839 "Burnes to W. Macnaghten"
December 20, 1837.
9. Parliamentary Papers 1839 "Burnes to Macnaghten"
January 22, 1838.
10. Cf. in Fraser-Tyler, W.K. Afghanistan: A Study of
Political Developments in Central and Southern Asia,
(London: Oxford University Press, 1953) p.95.
11. Cf. in Kaye, John. W. vol.I p.200-201.
12. Masson, Charles Narrative of Various Journeys in
Balochistan, Afghanistan, the Panjab, & Kalat, vol. III,
(London: Richard Bentley, 1844), p.469.
13. Davis, H.W.C. "The Great Game in Asia, 1800-1844"
Proceedings of the British Academy, 1926, p.230.
112
14. Eldred Pottinger's journal records the events that took
place in Herat, during a brief absence of the King from the
city: "Few women were to be seen in the streets. It was
hardly safe for a stranger to be abroad after sunset.
Unless protected by an armed escort, there was too great a
likelihood of his being seized and sold into slavery. There
was no protection for life, liberty or property. Those who
should have protected the people were the foremost of their
oppressors ••••• Such was the reign of terror that had been
established by the charactered violence of the rulers of the
city, that the shops were closed before sunset, and all
throughout the night the noise and uproar, the challengings
and cries for help were such as could scarcely have been
exceeded if the place had been actually besieged. A son of
Yar Mahomed Khan, the Wuzeer, was then governor of the city.
Compelled to hold office upon a small salary, he enriched
himself by plundering the houses of the inhabitants, and
selling the people into slavery.". Cf. in Kaye, John W.
vol.! p.214-215.
15. Foreign Department Secret-A December, 1837 no.506 "A
letter from Mr. W.H. Macnaghten to Captain Burnes" January
20, 1838.
16. Ibid. •
17. Cf. in pottinger, George The Afghan Connection
(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1983) p.35-36.
18. Cf. in Kaye, John W. vol.! p.269.
19. Parliamentary Papers 1839 "Col. Charles Stoddart's
Report" August 14, 1838; "Enclosure of McNeill"
September 11, 1838.
20. Durand, Sir Henry Marion The First Afghan War And Its
Causes, (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1879), p.62.
21. See John W. Kaye's War in Afghanistan; Sir Henry M.
Durand's, The First Afghan War and Its Causes; and J. A.
Norris', The First Afghan War, 1838-42. These are just a
few examples in addition to the numerous memoirs of British
personnel.
22. Parliamentary Papers, 1839 "Lord Auckland to the Secret
Committee" August, 13, 1838.
23. Yapp, M. p.242.
113
24. Fraser-Tyler, W.K. p.107.
25. Yapp, M. p.245.
26. According to Macrory, while drafting the treaty, Shah
Shuja was not even consulted, even though it concerned his
future. The author states, " ••• (Shuja) had not been
officially informed of the negotiations or of the
commitments which the British were drafting in his name. It
was doubtless assumed that as a beggar he could not be a
chooser, and so it turned out". Macrory, Patrick Kabul
catastrophe: The story of the Disasterous Retreat from
Kabul. 1842, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986),
p.74.
27. Yapp, M. p.249
28. Ironically, despite claims of Shuja's popularity with
his countrymen, there was not a single Afghan in his levies.
Durand, Sir Henry Marion The First Afghan War and Its
Causes, (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1879), p.88-
89.
29. For details see Appendix II.
30. Pottinger, George p.56.
31. Kaye, John W. vol. II p.209.
32. pottinger, G. p.60.
33. Macrory. P. p.86.
34. Cf. in Kaye, John W. vol.II
35. Yapp, Malcolm p.338-339.
36. (PRO)
Increases"
Foreign Office vol.30
September 8, 1841.
Appendix p.393.
no.J.2/32 "Memo on Army
37. (IOL&R) Enclosure and Secret Letters to India vol. 80
no.21 "Lt. E. Haley's Report on the Hazirbash" Aug. 12,
1841.
38. (IOL&R) Enclosures and Secret Letters to India vol.81
no.10 "Macnaghten to Maddock" Oct 26, 1841.
39. Lal, Mohan vol. II p.321.
114
40. (IOL&R) Enclosures and Secret Letters to India vol.80
no.21 "Lt. E. Haley's Report on the Hazirbash" Aug. 12,
1841.
41. Lal, M. vol.II p.365-368. It appears the sirdars
lodged many complaints about their women being harassed by
the British army personnel. In fact, a cousin of Dost
Mohammed Khan married a British officer, which the sirdars
resented.
42. (IOL&R) Enclosure and Secret Letters to India vol.73
no.5 "Report by Captain R.S. Trevor" August 21, 1840.
43. (IOL&R) Enclosure and Secret Letters to India vol.79
no.90 "Macnaghten to Maddock" June 17, 1841.
44. Lal, M. vol.II p.321.
45. Macmunn, Lt. General Sir George Afghanistan. From
Darius to Afghanistan, (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1929),
p.136.
46. Kaye, John W. vol.II p.98.
47. Yapp, Malcolm p.337.
48. Lal, M. vol.II p.383-385.
49. Dupree, Louis Afghanistan, (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1980) p.389.
50. Ibid., p.389-392.
51. (IOL&R) Enclosure and Secret Letters to India vol.88
no.24 "Mohan Lal's Memo" June 29, 1842.
52. Kaye, John W. vol.III p.138.
53. In this expedition, the "Gates of Somnath", taken by
Mahmud Ghazni, were brought back to India. Dupree, L.
Afghanistan p.399.
54. Alder, George J.
Myth or Reality" in,
1972 p.231.
55. Yapp, M. p.427.
"The 'Garbled' Blue Books of 1839 -
The Historical Journal, vol.XV, no.2,
56. Cf. in Adler, G.A. p.237.
115
57. Cf. in Macrory, Patrick, Kabul Catastrophe, (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1986) p.275.
58. Ibid., p.275.
59. Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, vol.CLXII "M.P. John
Bright's Deliberation on the Immorality of the Afghan War"
p.74 & 76.
60. Hansard Parliamentary Debates, vol.CLXII "M.P. Alfred
Dunlop's Defense of Alexander Burnes" p.55.
61. Kaye, J.W. vol.II p.34-35.
62. Ibid., p.35-37.
63. Pottinger, Goerge The Afghan Connection, Appendix II
p.212-213.
64. Ibid .•
65. Dupree, L. Afghanistan p.399.
66. For details on the customs duties collected see: Gerard,
James B. "Journey From Peshawar to Bukara" in Journal of the
Asiatic Society of Bengal, March, 1838 p.10; Hamilton,
Walter "A Geographical, statistical, and Historical
Description of Hindostan and Adjacent Countries", vol.II
p.528.
67. Ferrier, J.P. p.275.
68. Ibid.,. p.280-81.
69. Masson. C. vol.II p.270.
70. See article in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of
Bengal by an unknown author, titled, "On Tabular Returns of
the North-West Frontier Trade with Afghanistan" May, 1841
p.251-255.
71. Burnes A. vol.II p.142.
72. Masson, C. vol.I p.126-129.
73. Burnes, A. vol.II p.105-120.
74. Conolly, A. vol. II p.12.
116
75. Kaye, J.W. vol.I p.259-60.
76. Elphinstone, M. p.429i and A. Conolly vol.II p.3.
77. Masson, C. vol.I p.280.
78. Dupree, L. p.402.
- CHAPTER THREE -
SHER ALI'S INTERNAL REFORMS PRIOR TO THE SECOND AFGHAN WAR
After Amir Dost Mohammed Khan died in 1863, his
designated heir to the throne, Sher Ali Khan, was not
recognized as Amir by the majority of his fifteen brothers.
For a period of five years, civil war once again devastated
Afghanistan 0 Finally, in 1869, Sher Ali Khan succeeded in
establishing himself on the Afghan throne. Three main events
occurred during his reign (1869-1879):
1) Sher Ali initiated several reforms that focused mainly on
the internal development of Afghanistan in a variety of
spheres; 2) the British, despite their official policy of non-
intervention, gradually penetrated the North-West Frontier
Province, an area now virtually independent of any power; and
3) the British annulled their policy of non intervention when,
during the last phase of Sher Ali's reign, they launched the
Second Anglo-Afghan.
The common thread that runs through the above mentioned
events is the increasing involvement of British India in the
affairs of the region. This increasing involvement, in turn,
was part of the territorial expansion of both Britain and
Russia into Central and Southern Asia.
When he came power, Sher Ali was confronted with the
tenuous tasks of boosting the Afghan economy and achieving
political unity, which was seriously strained as a result of
117
118
the Afghan War (1839-1842) and loss of territory.1 Prior to
the war, Afghans were not hostile to foreigners. In fact,
medicine and military technology were borrowed readily. But
after the Anglo-Afghan war Afghanistan, to protect its
independence, isolated itself from foreign influence. Under
Sher Ali, limited reforms were introduced not only to develop
the country internally, but also to break its isolation from
the rest of the world. However, the second Afghan War
destroyed all his efforts of re-building, and encouraged the
isolationist policy.
SHER ALI'S INTERNAL REFORMS IN AFGHANISTAN
As a reaction to British expansion efforts, Afghanistan,
since the First Afghan War (1839-1842), had become isolated,
which not only led to the deterioration of its economy but
also exacerbated the reliance on the feudal tribal forces.
Political turmoil resulted in a de-population of the country,
causing harmful effects especially when leading merchant
groups left. Armenians, Jews, and some Hindus, primarily
engaged in trade, were forced to leave with the decline of
overland trade via Afghanistan.
2
In fact, Afghan urban
centers, once bustling with economic activity were now ghost
towns. Jalalabad, for example, prior to the Afghan War, was
Peshawar's economic link in trade with Kabul and Central Asia.
However, as Afghanistan became embroiled in competition with
the British over the frontier regions, revenues decreased
119
because the Khyber Pass was no longer safe for trade. 3
Tribes inhabiting the region became even more independent,
paying nominal allegiance to the ruler in Kabul. And
Jalalabad ceased to function as an important center.
Sher Ali's introduction of reforms must be understood
against this legacy. Qasim Reshtiya, an Afghan historian,
considers Sher Ali the voGreat Reformer" of the country. 4
Sher Ali laid down the foundations for the development of the
state in Afghanistan, which were later built upon by his
nephew, the Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. When Sher Ali assumed
power in 1869, despite his recognition by the British, he was
still wary of the external and internal threats to his
position. On March 27, 1869 at Ambala the Amir Sher Ali met
Lord Mayo, then Governor-General of India, who presented him
with 600,000 rupees along with one heavy and one mountain
battery of Artillery.5 Despite such overtures, Sher Ali was
cautious, because only two years earlier the British had
recognized his brother and rival, Mohammed Afzal Khan, as the
Amir. Nevertheless, lessons of the past had proved that at
this juncture, British India's friendship was necessary for
any government in Afghanistan to succeed. So Sher Ali
temporarily abandoned his paranoia about anything foreign,
despite the objections of many traditional elites, in order to
improve Afghanistan's ability to withstand external
aggression.
120
An important philosopher, Syed Jamal ad-Din aI-Afghani,
had a significant impact on the reform movement in
Afghanistan. AI-Afghani' s nationali ty has become a
controversial issue among modern scholars, with different
biographies claiming him to be an Afghan, an Iranian or a
Turk.
6
Regardless of his nationality, aI-Afghani gave
importance to Afghanistan, suggesting reforms to rebuild the
country. During the nineteenth century, western imperialism
had shaken the very foundations of several Islamic societies.
This had led aI-Afghani, to conclude that the primary goal was
" •.. the political unification and strengthening of the Islamic
world and the ending of western incursions... , while the
reform of Islam was secondary.". 7 In Turkey, Iran, Egypt,
etc .. Islamic reformists inspired by aI-Afghani called for a
return to Islam to defeat imperialism. AI-Afghani's solution
to end western encroachments in Muslim countries was Pan-
Islamism.
Unfortunately for Afghanistan, aI-Afghani became
embroiled in the political rivalry between Sher Ali and his
brother, Azem Khan . Although there was little evidence of him
being partisan to either side, Mohammed Rafiq Khan Lodi, a
mentor of Azem Khan, successfully managed to alienate al-
Afghani from Sher Ali's faction.
8
Shortly after Sher Ali
came to power in 1869, he asked aI-Afghani to leave the
country, ostensibly not because of his connection to Azem
121
Khan, but because of his anti-British position. This is
illustrated in the following passage written by a British
informant at Kabul in 1868:
The Hajee (Jamal ad-Din) has led the Ameer to
believe that the British Government, in wishing for
opening out of the Khyber Pass, have some other
object in view than that professed by them, viz,
the promotion of Indian and Toorkistan trade. He
argues that the best policy to conquer a foreign
country is to open out a new communication by means
of trade.
He stated that the trade between India and the
~ e s t e r n countries had existed ever since the time
of Darius by only three routes ... that there now
existed no depression of trade sufficient to
necessi tate the opening out of a new channel ••.
that when the Russians had advanced through the
Kirghiz steppes against Khiva and taken posssession
of the territory around about the Sea of Aral, the
English apprehending a Russian invasion of India,
sent secret spies, Burnes, Stoddart, and Conolly,
etc., to Affghanistan and Bokhara; and though their
territory did not then adjoin either Affghanistan
or Herat, they aimed it securing position of both
those countries by all the means of their power .••
that now that the Russians had advanced to the
Oxus, the anxiety of the English could well be
imagined; and that they had no doubt some special
reasons for requiring an opening out of the Khyber
Pass.
9
Sher Ali feared that aI-Afghani' s influence would be
dangerous to the security of the country. Any open signs of
hostility towards the British would only meet with disaster.
Some of AI-Afghani's reform plans were adopted by Sher Ali,
but his ideas of Pan-Islam were not accepted then but were
later advocated in Afghanistan in the 1900's, namely by Mahmud
Beg Tarzi, the father-in-law of the Amir Amanullah Khan (1919-
1929), who was Sher Ali's great grand nephew.
122
POLITICAL AND MILITARY REFORMS UNDER SHER ALI
The most important reforms Sher Ali introduced were in
the political realm. He reorganized the government structure
to become more centralized and to function more effectively.
Traditionally, the power of the Afghan ruler was derived
from or at least acknowledged by the Loya Jirgah, a council of
tribal elites, who supported the Amir. However, Sher Ali now
claimed that his power was also derived from divine authority.
Coins issued in his time used the following verses: 1) "By
the favor of the Eternal Creator, the money of Sher Ali has
found circulation"; and 2) "Through the abundant kindness of
the Beneficent King of Heaven, Amir Sher Ali coined money like
the bright, full moon" .10 Previously, coins referred to
rulers by anonymous titles such as: Sahib-i-Zaman (Lord of
the Age) or Sahib-i-Mulk (Lord of the Land). However, in the
Barakzai period, for the very first time, Sher Ali had his
name as ruler imprinted on the coins. Even more interesting
was the use of the word "Afghan" on his coins. This had
implications for creating a sense of political unity among the
Pushtuns, who were the dominant ethnic group in the
country. 11
Perhaps the most interesting innovation Sher Ali made in
the political structure was the introduction of a rudimentary
Cabinet that shared power with the ruler as he assigned it
tasks of government. In 1877, this Cabinet of the Amir
consisted of the following:
l)Prime Minister - Habibullah
2)Minister of Defence - Husain Ali Khan
3)Minister of Foreign Affairs - Saleh Khan Ghilzai
4)Minister of Interior Affairs - Ismatullah Khan
5)Minister of Finance - Habibullah Wardaki
6)Treasurer - Ahmad Ali Khan Timuri
123
This Cabinet was assisted by a six-members. 12 The Loya
Jirgah, with 2,000 members, was assigned the task of advising
advised the Executive branch in practically all affairs. In
times of internal feuds, the Shura, composed of the religious
scholars, was to offer advice. A special representative, Haj i
Mohammed Hassan, was sent to Peshawar to provide the frontier
tribes with a link to the Afghan government.
The Durrani tribe, especially the Hotakai and Suddozai
clans, continued to hold important positions wi thin the
government. Initially the Qizilbash ethnic group controlled
the bureaucracy, but their power slowly began to fade when new
groups entered the administration. In contrast to his father,
Dost Mohammed Khan, who assigned governorships to Barakzai
sirdars, Sher Ali nominated non-Barakzais as governors. More
important, he attempted to make the sirdars increasingly
dependent on the state. The sirdar's military power was
slightly reduced with the creation of a standing army. Many
sirdars moved to the cities or towns to remain influential in
politics. Gradually, in the process of urbanization, they lost
their regional ties, becoming the new aristocracy. 13 The
124
success of the development of this social category depended on
the centralization of the government coupled with the breaking
up of the feudal tribal military.
Sher Ali's kingdom included the following administrative
units, called vilayats: Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Afghan
Turkistan, and Farah. The army assisted the governors of
these provinces to maintain peace and order. The primary task
of the local government was to ensure the collection of
revenue and submit it to the royal treasury. Success of these
political reforms depended on the proper realization of
revenues, in which the army was to play a crucial role.
Although Sher Ali was opposed by the the tribal sirdars, who
resented any threats to their power, his revenues did
increase. In time, however, foreign aggression dashed all
hopes for the creation of a strong central government in
Afghanistan.
Throughout Afghan history, the rulers, lacking an
independent standing army, constantly relied on the feudal
tribal levies for military power. However this source of
power weakened central authority, since it left the Amir
subject to the influence of those sirdars with the most
numerous fighting forces. Sher Ali's father, the Amir Dost
Mohammed Khan, had realized the impotence of a ruler without
a loyal military, and therefore had established a small force.
The military reforms Sher Ali introduced were inspired by
the British model, which he had come to admire.
manuals were translated into Pushto and
125
European army
Dari. Indian
personnel, like Fateh Ali Khan and General Karim Baksh,
previously in the British army, were brought to instruct the
Afghans. 14 The existing uniforms and equipment were
upgraded, giving a sense of prestige to the profession. It now
became an occupation in which individuals were recruited for
life.
lS
A major irritant to the military had been the
irregularity of their pay caused by the lack of funds in the
treasury. While previously military salaries had been paid
partly in kind, Sher Ali increased the military's pay
disbursed their wages in cash. The infantry was now paid
seven rupees per month, while the cavalry received fourteen
rupees per month. 16 This provided some relief to the
villagers, who were constantly pressured to provide supplies
to the army. More important, Sher Ali insisted that military
personnel reside mainly in the towns and cities, removed from
their home localities. Gradually, the influence of tribal
divisions, that were more strictly observed in the rural areas
than in the cities, became less important to the soldiers. A
sense of loyalty to the Amir developed, replacing the earlier
primary allegiance to the sirdar.
Sher Ali's army was larger than earlier armies, and it
was organized into the following divisions:
Regular Forces:
Infantry (pyada) -
Cavalry (sawara) -
Artillery (topkhana) -
SUb-total
Irregular Forces:
Infantry -
Cavalry -
Sub-Total
Total:
37,000 men
6,400 men
2,500 men
45,900 men
3,500 men
8,000 men
11,500 men
57,000 forces
17
126
The ethnic composition of the Regular Forces were
predominantly Ghilzai, Wardak, and Qizilbash. However, the
ethnic composition of the Irregular Forces varied, especially
since the sirdars furnished the cavalry. In return for
autonomy within the region, the tribal leaders remitted a
token amount of revenue to the state and also provided
horsmen.
18
These feudal cavalry forces, while in service to
the state, were armed with several weapons such as pistols,
knives, shields, spears, swords and matchlocks. They were
easily recognizable because they rode on small but sturdy
horses. In times of emergency the iljauri, 19 were still
utilized, but other militia groups, referred to as dawatalab
and ulus
20
, primarily of rural origins, were created as
reserve personnel.
21
In another step to develop the military, Sher Ali Khan
introduced workshops, where weapons were made on a large
scale.
127
These workshops (karkhana-i-sultanat) duplicated
British weapons that were captured during the Anglo-Afghan War
(1839-1842) .22 Artisans were hired to make weapons with
technology learned from the British. For example, although
brass guns were limited, iron was brought from Bajaur, east of
the Khyber, to make artillery pieces. The fact that Bajaur
provided a source of metal indicates that the Amir's power
extended to some areas east of the Khyber. An industry was
developed to produce war supplies, and the demand for this
commodity increased. Sher Ali attempted to set up regular
workshops that would help him stockpile military wares.
23
Sher Ali's military reforms were generally successful.
His new troops were stationed in towns and cities throughout
the country. As far as internal security was concerned, Sher
Ali created for the first time a police force separate from
the military. With this new source of power, he was able to
consolidate his position.
other major developments in this period included the
establishment of lithography, which facilitated the
publication of two periodicals, the Shams-al-Nahar and
Kabul.
24
Kabul, a newspaper, was first issued in 1875 by the
intellectual, aI-Afghani, and was directed to the
intellectuals. Shams-al-Nahar, a 16-page, bi-monthly journal,
first appeared in 1875 under the supervision of Mirza Abdul
Ali, but ceased publication in 1879.
25
128
In Afghanistan, children received their education either
privately at home or in the madrassahs. Some children were
fortunate enough to be sent to India for formal education, but
missionary schools did not appeal to the Afghan elites because
of the proselytization of Christianity. Sher Ali built two
public schools, one for military instruction and the other for
civilians. This marked the beginning of a new era in the
country.
ECONOMIC REFORMS UNDER SHER ALI
The success of any reform depended on the availability of
sufficient capital, something the Barakzai dynasty
continuously lacked. The depreciation of their coins,
illustrates this point. During the Suddozai period, plenty of
gold, silver, and copper coins were issued at a standard
comparable to the Mughals.
26
In contrast, under the
Barakzais, gold coins were scarce, issued rarely as nazranas
to favored courtiers. Also, the standard of their metals was
inferior, just as was their artisitic merit. Sher Ali's
contr ibution was to introduce a new currency uni t, the
Afghani, that was equivalent to 100 pools. Despite, British
encroachments in the North west Frontier, Barakzai coinage was
still used by the tribes, indicating that Afghan influence was
not lost completely.27 Afghanistan was economically isolated
because all major trade routes were monopolized by the
British. Furthermore, roads were not safe for travelling
129
because of political instability. Sher Ali, in dire need of
capital to introduce his reforms, announced that taxes were to
be collected in cash.
28
He established a postal system for
the very first time, with stamps issued in 1870. Postal
service between Kabul and Peshawar was formalized when an
office was set up in Peshawar.
29
Sher Ali received revenues
from this postal service.
In 1877-1878, Sher Ali's revenues, excluding those from
the province of Farah, were 13,323,174 rupees.
3D
His annual
expenditures were 11,751,112 rupees, leaving him with a
surplus of 1,482,062 rupees.
31
The main source of income was
realized through land revenues, previously paid in kind but
now in cash. Although revenues were traditionally collected
by the governors of the provinces, the Amir sent bureaucrats
to assist them, thus ensuring that the proper amount was
remitted to the treasury.
Theoretically, land belonged to the ruler. others,
n ••• enjoy merely the right of tenure depending on the
sovereign's good will".32 Two reports on the land systems,
one in Jalalabad and the other in Ghazni, illustrate the type
of assessments that existed in Afghanistan in the 1870's.33
They were the jam-bast and the kot. The jam-bast was a fixed
quota of revenue levied on regions, primarily under the
control of sirdars. The sirdars collected these taxes and
then remitted a specified amount to the government in cash,
130
retaining the balance for themselves. In this type of revenue
collection, there was minimal government interference,
occurring primarily when revenues in arrears. Through the
jam-bast system the sirdars could demand high taxes, exploit
the farmers, accumulate wealth, and enhance their political
positions. 34
The kot system was utilized primarily in areas directly
under the government, where an exact share of the produce was
realized. The se-kot (one-third) was the most commonly used
system, in which one out of every three shares went to the
government. Here payment was usually made in kind, which
easily allowed the land-holders to cheat revenue officers by
not presenting the entire crop for distribution. Sher Ali
farmed out the collection of government shares to the highest
bidder thereby reducing losses of revenue.
35
Forced labour
was abolished. other sources of Sher Ali's revenues were
taxes levied on cattle, houses, income, purchases, polls,
customs, vineyards, customs and marriages.
Along the lines of developing better communications
within the country, Sher Ali had new roads built. Other
construction projects included the building of Sherpur, a
suburb north of Kabul. six thousand laborers were employed
for this project and were paid in cash.
36
In towns and
cities, factories were established to produce imitations of
British weapons. For example, the Armstrong guns were made in
131
Kabul and were of good quality.37 The Amir encouraged other
small-scale and cottage industries. A very small industrial
labor force emerged from these reforms, organized by guilds.
According to a soldier's report in 1879 numerous guilds, such
as shoemakers, tailors, furriers, carpenters, armourers,
barbers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, and blacksmiths that had
previously not been active began to flourish in Kabul.
38
In spite of such reform, trade continued to decline. Few
means existed for the accumulation of surplus capital that the
elites could have invested in large landed estates. Surplus
products were sent from rural areas to the cities. Absentee-
ownership was not practiced. Landowners typically lived near
their property in forts, limiting the neglect of their
land.
39
Only in the late nineteenth century did large land
estates begin to emerge in Afghanistan. While Sher Ali
encouraged intra-regional and foreign trade, the economic
unity he had hoped to achieve did not materialize. In the
end, the second Afghan War destroyed all his efforts in the
economic sphere.
BRITISH PENETRATION INTO THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER
Between 1855 and 1874, British policy towards Afghanistan
was one of non-intervention. A principal proponent of this
policy was Lord Lawrence. He recommended that Britain should
consolidate its position in India and restrict its frontier to
the Indus river. To expand its borders into hostile areas
132
would be impolitic because of the distance of these borders
from Britain's major bases in India. British control of the
passes into Afghanistan, however, was important. Therefore it
might be necessary to extend British power up to the Khyber
Pass.
40
The crux of this policy required that Afghanistan
remain an underdeveloped country, making it difficult for an
invader to pass through its territories. In trying to control
the passes, the British pacified the tribes inhabiting the
territories up to the passes through military force.
In 1876, when Lord Lytton was nominated as Governor-
General of India by the newly elected Conservative Government
in Great Britain, the frontier policy was reassessed. In
summarizing British India's position in the frontier, Lord
Lytton wrote:
I believe that our North-West Frontier presents at
this moment a spectacle unique in the world; at
least I know of no other spot where, after 25 years
of peaceful occupation, a great civilized power has
obtained so little knowledge over its semi-savage
neighbours, and acquired so Ii ttle knowledge of
them, that the country within a day's ride of its
most important garrison is an absolutely terra
incognita, and that there is absolutely no security
for British life a mile or two beyond our
border. 41
Lytton's policy towards the frontier did not change much from
that of his predecessor, except that the government sought a
more aggressive role in the region. When force did not
produce the desired results, money was used to buy the loyalty
of tribal leaders, who then controlled their people through
this new power.
133
Consequently, the British developed the
north-west frontier as a military garrison, devoid of a
surplus economy. 42 Ul timately , the Bri tish Indian
Government's frontier policy rested on the use of brute force
to achieve its imperial object.
Thus, while Afghanistan was going through internal
reforms, the frontier belt, east of the Khyber Pass, was
gradually being penetrated by the British. In 1854, the
Khanate of Kalat in Baluchistan, previously a subsidiary ally
of Afghanistan, became a vassal of British India. The Khan of
Kalat and the Viceroy of India signed a Treaty that gave
British India complete control over the Kalat's foreign policy
and the right to station troops anywhere in Baluchistan. In
return, the Khan received an annual subsidy of 50,000
rupees. 43 Later, the Lytton government, adopted an
expansionist policy. In 1876, it established a British post
in Quetta in Kalat, and extended its control over Pishin and
Sibi, territories that formerly had belonged to Afghanistan.
Thus, the British Baluchistan Agency was formed, with total
control of the Bolan Pass. Baluchistan Agency functioned as
a military post that helped control the frontier tribes and
its proximity to Kandahar was strategically important in its
relations with Afghanistan. with the formation of the Agency,
Afghanistan became land-locked -- a major step towards its
economic isolation. Gradually, the British extended their
134
military posts into the north-west frontier among the Pushtun
tribes, advancing India's borders. All this was done at a
time when the official policy was that of "non-intervention"
or "masterly inactivity".
The North-West Frontier or the Trans-Indus frontier was
territory in dispute between the British and Afghanistan.
After the disintegration of the sikh kingdom, the British
assumed power over the former Sikh territories. However, what
they failed to recognize was that Sikh rule was only nominal
in this area. sikh frontier administration is described as
follows: "They (Sikhs) possessed but little influence in the
trans-Indus tracts and, what influence they had was confined
to the plains. Even here they were obeyed only in the
immediate vicinity of their forts which studded the
country. ".44 Consequently, the tribes who inhabited this
region, although traditionally independent, symbolically
accepted the authority of the Afghan ruler. This influence
over the tribes was even acknowledged by the British. For
instance, in 1864, when the Mohmand tribe attacked the British
post at Shabkadar, the British Indian government lodged a
complaint with Sher Ali in Kabul about their hostilities. The
Amir immediately ordered the Mohmands to refrain from any
violence against the British, and they obeyed. The British
agent commented, that " ... this proves how actively the power
of the ruler of Afghanistan may be exercised over the mountain
135
tribes for or against us and how much they act under his
influence.".
45
The British, in recognizing the implications of a strong
and united Afghanistan so close to the borders of British
India, found it necessary to assert control over the trans-
Indus frontier, separating Pushtuns from their co-ethnic group
in Afghanistan. At any rate, British desire to control the
frontier led them to stage not less than forty-three
expeditions against several tribes, between 1849-1888 (See
Appendix III) .46
Peshawar was the most important post because of its
proximity to the Khyber Pass. Therefore, " •• the force of its
arms was larger than that of any other military station". 47
British and Afghan competition to gain control over the area
undermined the authority of the Amir, contributing to chaos
and disorder in the frontier. Previously, the Amir's
subsidies and khil1ats (dress of honor) bestowed on the
sirdars reinforced his authority, even if it was purely
symbolic. The lapse in authority, coupled with British
expeditions, helped create an atmosphere of perpetual
internecine wars. Villages were studded with round towers,
from where the area was defended in the event of any
depredations. These towers, places for refuge, were tall,
with a hole at the top, and ladders hanging from the side.
Life was so dangerous that one proverb of the time stated,
136
I. only a coward becomes an old man". 48
Despi te such anarchy, there was a common reaction of
violent opposition to British encroachment in the region. In
response the British adopted political and economic measures
to pacify the frontier.
The political methods the British used were: 1) punitive
expeditions; 2) the imposition of penalties and fines; and
3) following a policy of divide and rule. until 1877, the
most common approach to placate the frontier was through
military expeditions. These campaigns indiscriminately
destroyed crops and villages, thereby punishing the entire
tribe for a few people's actions. Sir Bartle Frere,
commissioner of Sind, points out that the real result was to
create a desert and to call it peaceful. 49 Consequently,
entire populations were alienated, harboring feelings of
revenge and hatred towards the British. Mr. Temple, Secretary
to the Chief Commissioner of Punjab, in 1855, while referring
to the resulting behaviour of the frontier tribes, wrote:
... what has been their conduct towards us? They
have kept up old quarrels, or picked new ones, with
our subjects in the plains and valleys near the
frontier: they have descended from the hills and
fought these battles out in our territory; they
have plundered and burnt our villages and slain our
subjects; they have committed minor robberies and
isolated murders without number; they have often
levied blackmail from our villages; they have
intrigued with the disaffected everywhere, and
tempted our loyal subjects to rebel; and they have
for ages regarded the plains as their preserve and
its inhabi tants their game. When inclined for
cruel sport, they sally forth to rob and murder,
and occasionally to take prisoners into captivity
for ransom. They have fired upon our own troops,
and even killed our officers in our own
territories. They have given asylum to every
malcontent or proclaimed criminal who can escape
from British justice. They traverse at will our
territories, enter our villages, trade in our
markets; but few British subjects, and no servant
of the British Government, would dare enter their
country on any account whatever.
50
137
The second method of control, the impostion of fines and
penalties on the entire tribe, occurred when property was
damaged or lives were lost. By inflicting such fines, the
British forced the tribe to compensate. However, for damages
resulting from British expeditions into tribal areas no
compensation was paid to the tribes. If a tribe refused to
pay the required fines, then the British either took hostages
or threatened to stage a military expedition into their
territory. The success of penalties and fines was possible
only if the tribe resided in an area easily accessible to the
British. 51
Of all measures, the British attempts to divide and rule
the populations in their frontier controlled areas were the
most successful. Subsidies were given to tribal leaders to
control their tribesmen. They were empowered with magisterial
functions and allowed to raise local militias to reinforce
their new position of power. The British also assigned the
revenues of large tracts of lands to the tribal chiefs, in
return for their loyalty. The Khattak Sirdar in Kohat, the
138
Nawab of Tonk, the Nawab of Dehra, and the Arbabs of Peshawar
were such men of great influence, owing their sustenance to
the Br i tish . 52
The military recruitment of local people was another
method by which loyalty was obtained. These men were then
used to fight .in the various campaigns against their own
tribesmen. A British Officer noted that, "In a Waziri
campaign, one of our pickets was hailed with the question,
'Why do you Mussulmans, fight for the infidels against us?'.
They replied, 'because they pay us!,.53 The British,
possessing the capital were easily able to entice people,
whose economy had been devastated by British Imperialism.
Several economic measures were used to conciliate the
frontier and make the people more amenable to British rule.
Some of these economic incentives were: 1) encouragement of
trade; 2) development of agriculture and granting of land
assignments; and 3) provision of employment opportunities.
One important way of conciliating the tribes was to
encourage them to trade. While travelling in India members of
tribes were not required to have passports.
54
Although the
Khyber Pass was closed to traders, the British promoted
caravans to conduct trade with Central Asia and Khorassan
through the Tartara Pass up the Kabul River. Consequently,
Afghanistan was denied revenues from transit duties and custom
taxes, further isolating the country economically. Powindahs
139
or nomads, who were active traders in the area were assisted
in organizing trade fairs. Initially, custom duties were
abolished in the frontier and new roads were built linking
passes to bazaars. 55 Powindah trade extended all the way
to Bokhara and Kokhand, under the protection of the British as
some traders also functioned as key informants bringing back
intelligence from the regions they traversed. By 1870, the
value of this trade was 500,000 rupees.
56
However, much of
this income was used to pay the British for maintenance of the
safety of passes. For example, 20,000 rupees were required to
keep the Gomal Pass secure, out of which 17,000 rupees were
paid by powindah taxes. 57 Free access to British markets
exposed the tribes to British manufactures, which later became
a necessity for them, increasing their dependency on the
British. While the British controlled areas in the frontier
gradually became economically integrated with India through
the introduction of new markets, much of the surplus was
either re-routed back to India or used to support the British
Army. 58
The second incentive included agricultural development
with land assignments. British efforts to promote agriculture
in the region had two motives: 1) to lure the frontier tribes
towards British rule; and 2) to provide supplies for their
Army. "One of the great disadvantages of moving into
Afghanistan was the unfruitfulness of the Trans-Indus
140
territory," stated Maj or Hutchinson in his report to the
Punj ab Government. 59 Al though Afghanistan was to remain
economically underdeveloped, a semi-developed frontier was
crucial strictly to provide supplies for the invading British
Army.
Of the several projects embarked upon, irrigation and
fertilization were important because they increased the value
of the land. The British then gave such land to influential
tribesmen, in return for their loyalty. These grants were
recorded in deeds that resulted in the emergence of a land-
owning class in the frontier, creating a new order of social
stratification. In return for their cooperation, the rights of
revenue collection from certain tracts of land were also
conferred upon tribesmen, who raised local militias to extract
this newly acquired income. 60 Labor was cheap with the
influx of Punjabi migrants into the area, increasing the
competition for the local people.
Once, when the British asked Dost Mohammed Khan's advice
on how to deal with the frontier tribes, he told them to give
them land, because "land was the object ambition of all
people, as it gave them not only revenues but also an
increased power".61 Thus, it appeared that people abandoned
their nomadic ways to become cultivators. In the process of
settlement, they were also disarmed, now seeking protection
from the British.
141
Lastly, employment opportunities were available in the
public sector. The construction of roads, military posts, and
the British police and military forces provided opportunities
of employment for the local people. In the winter, the
powindahs would settle in the plains and find employment in
public works. For the construction of military posts, local
people as well as migrant workers were hired. Such
opportuni ties for employment helped convince some of the
frontier people of the advantages of British rule. As British
rule extended into the frontier, military and police personnel
increased. Local people were recruited by the British,
creating a new military elite, alienating them from their
fellow tribesmen. These new elite members, consisting of
landowners and military or police personnel helped the British
to colonize the north-west frontier, because they were the
recipients of the fruits of this system. During the Indian
Mutiny in 1857, frontier support for British rule was strong
among those families who had members in the Punjab military
force.
As the frontier people became more dependent on the
British, economic blockades were effective tools for
pacification. British encouragement of regional trade aided
them to have better control. For instance, tribes who refused
to accept British authority were forbidden to enter the
bazaars to trade. For example, the Adam Khel Afridis were
142
notorious in resisting the British; therefore they were not
allowed to trade salt and wood in Peshawar, which was their
source of livelihood. Eventually, they had no choice but to
cooperate with the British. Such blockades slowly broke down
the resistance to the British, allowing the British to impose
their rule.
By 1876, frontier administration was based on the
militarization of the region, where a series of outposts of
second line and front line stations were maintained enabling
the British to crush any resistance.
62
To provide security
for their posts, roads were built as part of a communication
network. On the main roads prison cells were established near
the military stations, manned by paid local tribesmen.
Altogether there were six districts under the command of
Deputy Commissioners. Hazarajat, Peshawar, and Kohat came
under the jurisdiction of the Commission of Peshawar. Whereas,
the districts of Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, and Dera Ghazi Khan
came under the jurisdiction of the Commission of Derajat. A
series of forts maintained the system of administration.
However, between these forts and Afghanistan lay a mass of
mountains inhabited by various tribes many of whom were never
subdued.
The Khyber Pass, until the second Anglo-Afghan War (1879-
1880), was controlled by the Afridi tribe, who were subsidized
from Kabul by Sher Ali. Peshawar, under the British, was now
143
linked by Campbellpur and Rawalpindi to British India.
63
Of
all the military divisions, Peshawar was the most important,
because of its strategic location so close to the Khyber Pass.
It was also an area where the British were on a constant war-
footing, responding with brutal force. The significance of the
Peshawar garrison is summarized as follows:
••• every means should be taken to render our garrison of
Peshawar an efficient one, to protect it as much as
possible and to afford it prompt support in case of
necessity. It should be borne in mind that the object of
an efficient force and well-protected position
strenghtened by supports is not merely to quell disorders
and insurrections, but to awe and prevent the disaffected
from attempting them.
64
Yet, while some British felt it was important to hold on
to Peshawar, others maintained that the price was too high,
economically and politically. Col. Herbert Edwardes, who was
commissioner of Peshawar, in 1857 wrote:
And for what object do we hold Peshawar and Kohat,
which could not be obtained by the occupation of
the left bank of the Indus, in strength? These
districts cost us, under the best arrangements, at
least four-fold their income. This money otherwise
expended would add to our material resources
greatly. We neither really conciliate the people
nor the Afghan nation. If the friendship of the
Afghans is to be gained, if it, indeed, be worth
having this object it is more likely to be
accomplished by surrendering the important
possessions, which to them would prove invaluable,
but to us will ever continue a fruitful source of
danger, expense and loss of life. So long as we
hold Peshawar, the Afghans must have strong
inducement to side against us in any invasion of
India.
65
Despite such insights for improving Anglo-Afghan relations,
144
British policy-makers continued an aggressive campaign not
only to conquer the frontier, but also to bring Afghanistan
under their sphere of power. Unfortunately, those British
policy-makers, who planned the second Anglo-Afghan War, had
forgotten the disasterous results of the first Anglo-Afghan
War (1839-1840).
145
1. Gregorian, Vartan. The Emeraence of Modern Afghanistan
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969) p.89.
2. Many of the Jews and Armenians left and settled in India,
particularly in Surat, a major trade center in the western
coast. For details see: Milburn, William. Oriental Commerce,
2 vols., (London: East India Company, 1813); these merchant
groups are also discussed in Alexander Burnes' Travels into
Bokhara: Together with a Narrative of a Voyage on the Indus,
3 vols., reprint (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1973,
1834); Gerard, James G. "continuation of the Route of Lt. A.
Burnes and Dr. Gerard from Peshawar to Bokhara" in the Journal
of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Jan-March, 1833, 2 parts.
3. Foreign Department Political-A May, 1865 no.14 "Report on
the State of Affairs in the Panj ab Frontier by Maj. G.
Hutchinson" n.d. .
4. Reshtiya, Qasim Afghanistan dar Gharn-e-Nouzdah (Kabul,
Afghanistan, 1950).
5. Tate, G.P. The Kingdom of Afghanistan (Bombay: Times of
India Offices, 1911) p.167.
6. See Keddie, Nikki Sayyid Jamal ad-Din "aI-Afghani", (Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 1972) , who claims
that aI-Afghani was from Iran. The Afghan historian Mir
Mohammed Ghobar, in Afghanistan dar Masir-i-Tarikh, writes
that aI-Afghani was born in Asadabad, Kunar province around
1838. He joined the services of the Amir Dost Mohammed Khan
in 1857 and became a prominent member of the Court. However,
Mahmud Tarzi, an Afghan liberal reformer in the 1900's, refers
to aI-Afghani in the Siraj al-Akhbar journal (no.5 sixth year)
as coming from the Ottoman empire. To aI-Afghani, Afghanistan
was very important because of its success against western
imperialism. His admiration was so strong for Afghanistan
that he claimed to be an Afghan, never mentioning any
references to Iran. It is hard to imagine that in this period
of Afghan. history, when conspiracy and deceit plagued the
Court, a non-Afghan could appear in 1866 and quickly gain
confidence among the Afghan political elites.
7. Keddie, Nikki An Islamic Response to Imperialism:
Political and Religious Writings of Sayyid Jamal ad-Din "al-
Afghani", (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983)
p. 39. .
8. Ghobar, M. p.593.
146
9. Cf. in Keddie, Nikki Sayyid Jamal ad-Din "aI-Afghani"
p.44.
10. White-King, Lawrence. "History and Coinage of the
Barakzai Dynasty of Afghanistan", in The Numismatic Chronicle
vol.XVI (London: 1896) p.328-329.
11. Ibid., p.325.
12. Ghobar, M ~ p.585-590.
13. Kakar, H. p.8-9.
14. Ghobar, M. p.596.
15. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1893, nos. 224-229,
"A Report on the strength and Distribution and Armament of the
Afghan Army" n.d. .
16. Ibid ..
17. Ibid. •
18. Kakar, H. p.94.
19. A milita of poorer classes, created during the early
Saddozai rule and financed by village taxes.
20. tribal militias temporary used during an emergency.
21. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1893 nos.224-229
"A Report on the strength and Distribution and Armament of the
Afghan Army" n.d. The iljauri were a type of militia
recruited from the rural areas in times of emergency.
Similarly, the dawatalab and ulus were volunteers who served
in the army.
22. Kakar, H.K. p.193.
23. Roberts, F.S. Field Marshal Lord. Forty-One Years in
India, (London: R. Bentley & Sons, 1898) p.412-413.
24. Reshtiya, Q. p.173-188.
25. Ahang, Mohammad Kazem "The Background and the Beginning
of. the Afghan Press System, Shams-u-Nahar" Afghanistan
vol.XXIII no.1 Spring, 1970 p.57-61.
147
26. White-King, Lawrence "History and coinage of the Barakzai
Dynasty of Afghanistan" in The Numismatic Chronicle, vol. xvi
(London: 1896) p.317.
27. Ibid., p.326.
28. Ghobar, M. p.594.
29. Reshtiya, Q. Afghanistan dar gharn-e-nouzdah p.173-180.
30. Foreign Department Secret-F March 6, 1884 in itA statement
of Revenues and Expenditures of Afghanistan" by J. Lambert.
31. Ibid •.
32. Minorsky, Vladmir. Translated and explained, Tadhkirat
Al-Muluk: A Manual of Safavid Administration (1725),
(London: Heffer & Sons, Ltd., 1943) p.197. This manuscript
was written when the Ghilzai tribe in Kandahar rebelled
against the Persian Governor, Shahnawaz Khan. By 1722, the
Ghilzais became the new rulers of Iran, ending the reign of
the Safavids. This manuscript was anonymously written to aid
the new rulers in understanding the rules of leadership.
Rather than describing the way things actually were, it aims
to remind the authority of the way things should be.
33. Foreign Department Political-A March, 1879 nos.44-80,
"A Short Account of Ghazni" by Maj or Hastings; Jenkyns,
William. Report. on the District of Jalalabad. Chiefly in
Regard to Revenue (Calcutta: Government of India
Publications, 1879).
34. Ibid. .
35. Ibid. •
36. Ghobar, M. p.596.
37. Sykes, Sir Percy. A History of Afghanistan, reprint 2
volumes, vol. II (Delhi: Oriental Book Reprint Corp., 1981,
1940) p.79.
38. "The Afghan War: Passages From the Note-Book of a Staff
Officer" Anonymous author in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine,
vol. CXXVII, January-June, 1880 (Edinburgh: William
Blackwood & Sons, 1880), p.476.
39. Kakar, H. p.l19.
40. parliamentary Papers, 1878-1879,
Lawrence" November 25, 1868.
148
"Memo by Sir John
41. Parliamentary Papers
Lytton" April 22, 1877.
1878 "Minute by Viceroy, Lord
42. Gardezi, Hassan N. "Feudal and Capitalist Relations in
Pakistan" in Hassan Gardezi and Jamil Rashid, ed., Pakistan:
The Roots of Dictatorship, (London: Zed Press, 1983) p.33.
43. Aitchison, C.U. A Collection of Treaties, Engagements,
and Sanads Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries, vol.
XI-XIII, (Calcutta: Superintendent of Government Printing,
1933).
44. Davies, C. Collin.
Frontier: 1890-1908,
Press, 1932) p.21.
The Problem of the North-West
(Cambridge: Cambridge University
45. Foreign Department Political-A May, 1865 no .114 "Report
From Col. J. S. Patton to the Government of India" March 1,
1864.
46. Fraser-Tyler, William Kerr. Afghanistan: A Study of
Political Developments in Central and Southern Asia, (London:
Oxford University Press, 1950) p.184-186.
47. Foreign Department Political-A May, 1865 no.103 "Report
on the State of Affairs on the Punjab by Major G. Hutchinson"
July 5, 1862.
48. Ibid. .
49. Martineau, J. Life of Sir Bartle Frere vol. I 1895
p. 363-368. Frere argues here in defense of the Sind system of
managing the tribes.
50. Cf. in Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India,
vol.I, (Calcutta: Government of India Publications, 1910)
p.XV.
51. Ibid., p.XVII-XVIII.
52. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1865 no.103 "Report on
the State of Affairs on the punjab by Major G. Hutchinson"
July 5, 1862.
149
53. Foreign Department Political-A May, 1865 noo 114 "Report
from Col. J. S. Patton, to Government of India, Calcutta" March
1, 1864.
54. Ibid. •
55. Davies, C. Collins The Problem of the North West
Frontier: 1890-1908, p.23.
56. Foreign Department Secret September, 1872 no.64
"Memorandum on Gomal Route" September 9, 1870.
57. Ibido 0
58. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1865 no.103 "Report on
the State of Affairs on the Panjab" July 5, 1862.
59. Ibid. •
60. Gardezi, H. & Rashid, J. ed., Pakistan: The Roots of
Dictatorship, p.33-34.
61. Foreign Department Political-A July-August, 1878 no.114
"Report on Frontier Administration" •
62. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1865 no.103 "Report on
the State of Affairs on the panjab" July 5, 1862.
63. Ibid. •
64. Foreign Department Political-A May, 1865 no.114 "Report
From Col. J. S. Patton to the Government of India, Calcutta"
March 1, 1864.
65. Foreign Department Political-A May, 1865 no.106
"Extract of a Letter from Col. Edwardes" November 6, 1857.
- CHAPTER FOUR -
THE SECOND ANGLO-AFGHAN WAR (1879-1880)
In the 1870's Britain recognized that by securing
control over the northwest frontier, it would be able command
the major passes into Afghanistan; thereby, laying the ground
work for an eventual invasion of Afghanistan. Britain's
penetration into the region included plans to n ••• strengthen
the frontier below the passes with second fortified posts at
Peshawar, Koorum, one in the face of the Bolan, or (if
preferred) at Quetta; with a first-class fortress at Mooltan,
all freely connected by rail".l All this was done with the
intention of occupying Afghanistan.
2
When in 1879 Britain
declared war upon Afghanistan, it appeared that history was
repeating itself. Not more than forty years earlier the
Afghans had put up a strong resistance against British
aggression into their country.
proved that the British, not
Once again, Afghan defiance
learning from their past
experiences in Afghanistan, were not successful.
The reasons for the second Anglo-Afghan War can be
attributed to several factors: 1) the Anglo-Russian
misconception of Afghanistan as a neutral zone; 2) the
"forward" policy of the British in India that sought to
incorporate Afghanistan into the British India Empire with the
intention to contain Czarist Russia's activities in Central
Asia; and 3) the gradual deterioration of Anglo-Afghan
150
151
relations following the policies of the newly-elected
Conservative government in Britain.
AFGHANISTAN - AN INTERMEDIARY OR NEUTRAL ZONE?
A period of peace between Russia and England prevailed
until the Crimean War (1853-56) after which Russian incursions
in Central Asia increased rapidly. Heightened Anglo-Russian
competition in Central Asia brought anxiety to both parties
involved. In September 1867, the Viceroy, Sir John Lawrence,
suggested to the London government the possibility of coming
to an arrangement with St. Petersburg:
If an understanding ••• were (to) come to, the
Government of India on the one hand could look on
with out anxiety or apprehension at the proceedings
of Russia on her southern frontier, and welcoming
the civilising effect of her border Government on
the wild tribes of the steppe and on the bigoted
and exclusive Governments of Bokhara and Khokand;
while Russia, on the other hand, assured of our
loyal feelings in the matter would have no jealousy
in respect of our alliance with the Afghan and
neighbouring tribes, or of our negotiations to
repress Persia in her designs upon the tracts which
border upon her eastern frontier.
3
Initially, London authorities were not too keen on
pursuing this issue, as they pereceived no immediate threat
the British India Empire. In 1869 Lord Clarendon, the
Secretary of state for Foreign Affairs, suggested to Baron
Brunow, the Russian representative in England, that some area
in Central Asia should be considered "neutral" between both
powers.
4
The Russian authorities agreed that to have
contiguous borders in Asia would be impolitic. Prince
152
Gortchakoff recommended that Afghanistan be considered a
"neutral" territory separating the Anglo-Russian empires in
Central Asia. 5 But Bri tain rej ected this proposal on the
grounds that Russia should then consider Bukhara, Kokand and
Khiva in the same manner. Lord Mayo elaborated this post ion
in the following passage:
If Russia would only consent to place herself in
the same position as regards Khiva, the unconquered
part of Bokhara, and the independent tribes along
her frontier •.• , as we are willing to do as
regards Kelat, Afghanistan, and the territories of
Khushbegi - that is to say, to recognise and secure
their independence, but to continue to exercise
over them friendly influence with an unquestioned
power of punishing them or their subjects if they
misbehaved •••.• 6
This passage implicitly expressed Britain's desire to reduce
Afghanistan's status virtually to that of the princely states
in India. Curiously, this statement was made during the
period of "masterly inactivity" by a high official of the
Liberal Government. The fact that the British viewed the
Khanate of Kalat and the country of Afghanistan as having
parallel relationships towards them, clearly indicated the
colonial agenda for Afghanistan. Kalat's subsequent
incorporation into British India was fully accomplished with
the conclusion of the Treaty of Jacobabad in 1876.
7
Afghanistan remained yet to be subdued.
From 1869 to 1873, Anglo-Russian discussions trying to
define a "neutral" zone were on-going. Of more importance to
153
the Imperial Powers was the understanding of what territories
comprised Afghanistan. The British suggested the following
areas, which they considered to belong to Sher Ali:
1) Badakhshan, with its dependent district of
Wakhan from the Sarikal on the east to the junction
of the Kokcha River with the Oxus forming the
northern boundary of this province throughout its
entire extent.
2) The Afghan-Turkestan, compr1s1ng the districts
of Kunduz, Khulm, and Balkh, the northern boundary
of which would be the line of the Oxus from the
junction of the Kokcha River to the post of the
Khoja Saleh, inclusive, on the high road of Bokhara
to Balkh. Nothing to be claimed by the Afghan
Ameer of the left bank of the Oxus below Khoj a
Saleh.
3) The internal districts of Aksha, Seripool,
Maimenat, Shibberjan, and Andkoi, the latter of
which would be the extreme Afghan frontier position
to the north-west, the desert beyond belonging to
the independent tribes of Turcomans.
4) The western Afghan frontier between the
dependencies of Herat and those of the Persian
province of ~ ~ o r a s s a n is well known and need not
here be defined.
8
The British, in suggesting the oxus River as the limit which
neither side should cross , implicitly acquiesced that the
territory north of the Oxus fell under the Russian sphere of
influence. The Russians not only opposed the inclusion of
Wakhan and Badakshan as Afghan territory, they also questioned
the Amir's authority in such areas as Maimana, Andkhoi,
Shiberghan, etc ... , that were also claimed by the Khanate of
Bukhara. However, with the conclusion of the January 1873
Agreement, czarist Russia conceded to Britain's definition of
154
northern Afghanistan.
9
In return, the British guaranteed
that Sher Ali would no longer embark on any further missions
of conquest towards the north (see Appendix IV). 10 Thus,
both Czarist Russia and Britain carved out Central Asia
according to their imperial interests.
Ironically, Afghanistan was ignored in these proceedings;
neither Sher Ali nor the Amir of Bukhara were consulted or
informed of the negotiations. When the Agreement was signed,
the Amir was first notified by the Russians. Hence, Britain
and Russia delimited Afghanistan's northern boundary based
solely on their geo-political concerns. Although
Afghanistan's northern boundary was not actually demarcated
until the 1890's, the 1873 Agreement became the basis for
subsequent negotiations.
The two most important points achieved from the 1873
Agreement were that 1) Afghanistan was defined as a "neutral"
zone between the British and Russian empires; and 2) the
Russians formally acknowledged that Afghanistan lay beyond
their sphere of influence.
The concept of Afghanistan as a "neutral" zone meant that
it was to function as an intermediary territory between the
two empires. But to apply the term "neutral", meaning
impartial, not taking either side was inappropriate for
Afghanistan. Both powers understood that this area was
subjected to British India's influence. Thus, the notion of
155
Afghan neutrality actually implied that this was an area
outside Russian influence. Subsequent British policy
attempted to maintain this sway over Afghanistan.
Consequently, when Anglo-Afghan relations were at a decline,
the British assumed the right to impose their will.
Paradoxically, Afghanistan's independence was completely
neglected in the Anglo-Russian negotiations. In time, this
became a thorn in the side of Central Asian politics.
By accepting the 1873 Agreement, the Russian, implied
that they accepted the Oxus River as the limit to their
activities in the region; the British, on the other hand, did
not reciprocate with any such assurances. Strangely enough,
in 1873, when the Russians annexed Khiva, the British claimed
that the 1873 Agreement had been violated. Russian officials
could not understand the grounds for British objections,
because the Agreement had implied that the area north of the
Oxus was actually under the Russian sphere of influence.
l1
Furthermore, the Russians argued that they had adhered to
their pledge of non-intervention in Afghanistan, while the
British had not.
12
Clearly, misconceptions on both sides
contributed to the rising of Anglo-Russian tensions in the
region, the brunt of which Afghanistan was compelled to
suffer.
AFGHANISTAN AND THE "FORWARD POLICY"
It was against this backdrop that, in 1874, under the
156
leadership of Disraeli and salisbury, the Conservatives, came
to power in Britain. 13 Anglo-Russian misunderstandings,
which arose from the 1873 Agreement, led to the new government
in London adopting the "forward" policy, with aims to contain
Russia in Central Asia. At the heart of this policy was the
conversion of Afghanistan from an independent buffer state
into a princely state that was dependent on, and subordinate
to, the British.
14
The only way to accomplish this was to
place British political agents throughout the country.
Ultimately, if British influence in Afghanistan was not
paramount, Lytton feared Afghanistan would potentially cause
harm to their colonial interests. In addition, the British
justified the use of "forward" policy because of the Anglo-
Russian geo-political rivalry in Central Asia, the
Conservatives justified the necessity of their "forward"
policy because Anglo-Afghan relations were strained.
Several incidents led to the deterioration of these
relations. For one thing, Sher Ali had been disappointed in
the 1872 Seistan arbitration, where the British, in settling
the boundary between Persia and Afghanistan, gave the Afghans
" .• the waterless and barren half of Seistan •• ", while the
Persians received " ... the well-wa'tered and fertile half" .15
British concessions to Persia were motivated by self-
interests, namely in order to obtain better results in
Baluchistan-Seistan. Furthermore, Afghanistan was virtually
157
ignored at the conclusion of the Anglo-Russian agreement of
1873 Afghanistan.
On July 12, 1873, when Sher Ali sent his envoy, Syed Nur
Mohammed Shah, to Simla to try to secure aid in the event
Afghanistan was invaded by the Russians, the Viceroy, Lord
Northbrook, responded negati vely , aff irming that such an
intervention was improbable. 16 Of course, such assurances
were not satisfactory to Sher Ali, who was not aware of the
Anglo-Russian accord. The British, on the other hand, offered
the Amir 100,000 rupees, which he refused to withdraw from the
their Kohat treasury, demonstrating his skepticism of a
British alliance.
17
Another incident that displeased Sher
Ali was the Viceroy's interference in the internal feud
between Sher Ali and his elder son, Yakub Khan, which was
quite contrary to the previous British policy of non-
interference.
In order to have better control over Anglo-Afghan
relations, Salisbury in London recommended to Viceroy
Northbrook that British agents should be stationed in
Afghanistan. The Viceroy in a despatch responded:
My firm opinion is that to do anything to force him
(the Ameer) to receive agents of ours in his
country against his will is likely to subject us to
the risk of another unnecessary and costly war in
Afghanistan before many years are over.
18
Furthermore, the Viceroy felt that the native agent, Atta
Mohammed, represented British interests in Afghanistan
158
sufficiently. A dispute over policy led to Northbrook's
resignation as Viceroy, and in his place Lord Lytton was
assigned to the post. Lytton enthusiastically supported the
"forward" policy that aimed primarily aimed to acquire a
"scientific frontier" for British India and better control
over Afghanistan.
A "scientific frontier" meant " •.• the best strategical
boundary (for British India) which could be used as a line of
defence against the invasion from the direction of Central
Asia" .19 Over the years, the def ini tion of this frontier
became problematic with some advocating the Indus River, or
the Khyber Pass, or even Herat as suitable borders for the
British India empire. But to the proponents of the "forward
school" the Kabul-Kandahar-Ghazni line was tactically the
best. Sir Bartle Frere, one of the early advocates of this
policy, summed up its benefits in the following passage:
Nothing, I believe, will be effectual to resist
Russian progress towards India, till we have
British officers stationed on the Indian side of a
well-defined frontier an effective
control over the politics of the semi-civilized
races on our side of the border, and in constant
frank diplomatic communication with Russian
officers on the other side.
20
Here, Frere envisions a Central Asia divided by the two
Imperial powers sharing contiguous borders. To obtain this
"scientific frontier", the British needed not only to secure
for themselves the Khyber and Bolan passes, but also to be
159
able to defend themselves up to the Hindu Kush. In reality
what existed was a "threefold frontier system", with the first
frontier including the state border areas; the second,
involving those areas where British control was nominal, i.e.
the North West Frontier; and the third, Afghanistan,
functioning as a buffer between the Anglo-Russian empires.
21
The Lytton government aimed to destroy that independent
buffer zone by imposing British control over Afghanistan. In
a letter to Major Cavagnari, stationed at Peshawar, Viceroy
Lytton wrote:
It is' not, and cannot be, in our interests to
promote the consolidation of a border power whose
friendship we have no means of securing, and enmity
we cannot punish, save by a war, in which success
would not be free from embarassment. Therefore I
conceive that it is rather the gradual
disintegration and weakening than the consolidation
and establishment, of the Afghan power, at which we
must now begin to aim.
22
The British occupation of Quetta in Baluchistan and the
stationing of their troops in Gilgit and Chitral were steps
taken to extend Britain's influence. After taking control of
the major passes, the next move was to have British political
agents placed throughout Afghanistan. Supporters of the
"forward policy" urged that "if we do not politically occupy
Afghanistan, Russia will lose no time in doing so to our
prejudice, therefore let us at once select our game and
prepare to play it firmly out".23 Proponents of the "forward
policy", in hoping to expand their power, capitalized on
Russophobic sentiments to justify their plans.
ANGLO-AFGHAN RIVALRY
160
After the British occupation of Quetta, Sher Ali became
apprehensive about his British alliance. In an interview, the
Amir complained If If an armed man places himself at the back
door of your house, what can be his motive, unless he wants to
find his way in when you are asleep".24 It was precisely
this "forward" aggression that complicated Anglo-Afghan
relations and eventually led to the outbreak of hostilities.
On January 1877, Afghan and British representatives met
at Peshawar to discuss several issues. For Lytton, of primary
importance was the stationing of Bri tish agents in
Afghanistan. For Sher Ali, of prime importance were 1)
British recognition of his designated heir, Abdullah Jan;
2) a promise of non-interference in Afghan affairs; and 3)
conditional support in the event of foreign aggression.
Furthermore, Sher Ali explained that his refusal to accept
British personnel in Afghanistan was because he could not
guarantee their safety, and because the seventh clause in the
Treaty of 1857 prohibited the appointment of a British Envoy
in Afghanistan.
25
The British response was that this Treaty
was in lapse since it was contracted for a special purpose,
namely the Persian War. Meanwhile, With the sudden death of
the Afghan envoy, the January 1879 talks were suspended.
Before the new Afghan envoy could arrive, Lytton, seizing the
161
chance, terminated the conference. Several scholars have
observed that Lytton probably cared little for the outcome of
these talks, because, regardless of its outcome, he aimed to
realize the full expression of the "forward policy" by
carrying the British frontiers to the limits of the Hindu
Kush.
26
Meanwhile, with the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war
(1877-1878), Anglo-Russian rivalry shifted to Asia. The
British were quick to side with Turkey by sending troops to
Malta and occupying Cyprus, the British sent a fleet through
the Bosphorous. While the Russians threatened the
Dardanelles. Among Russian military circles suggestions were
made to combat England in Central Asia, by challenging her
interests in British India. 27 British reactions were
parallel when Disraeli's suggested to adopt
Beaconsfield's plan in the event of war with Russia.
plan proposed that:
.•• Russia must be attacked from Asia, that troops
should be sent to the Persian Gulf, and that the
Empress of India should order her armies to clear
Central Asia of the Muscovites, and drive them into
the Caspian. 28
Lord
That
Thus, British policies toward Russia and Afghanistan were also
influenced by its European political demands.
Meanwhile, the sudden rupture in relations between
Afghanistan and British India heightened tension in the area.
In order to coerce the Amir into accepting a British mission
162
in Afghanistan, the British sent a Turkish mission to Kabul.
The ottoman officers encouraged the Amir to mend his
differences with the British and to join in Turko-British
action against the Russians. Sher Ali replied with complaints
of British involvement in Afghan affairs. st. Petersburg
quickly lodged its protest against ottoman interference in
Afghanistan on behalf of England. Lytton in turn objected to
the Russian General Kauffman's correspondence with the Amir,
the contents of which were no secret to the British because
Sher Ali forwarded the letter to the British government in
Calcutta. Sher Ali saw no reason for Lytton's objections,
the previous viceroys had encouraged such Russian letters,
using them as a resource to uncover Russian intentions.
On June, 1878, a Russian mission led by General Kauffman
arrived in Kabul. On receiving notice of the arrival of the
Russian agent, the Amir notified Kauffman, that he could not
receive him for the same reason he had refused to receive the
British, namely, that he could not guarantee his safety.29
Sher Ali even insisted on sending his minister to Tashkent to
meet the Russians as he had sent his minister to Simla to meet
with the British. Nevertheless the Russian mission had
departed for Kabul without the Amir's approval. A Russian
periodical, Russki Mir, described the nature of the proposed
Russian actions in Afghanistan:
The anxieties of the English in India so
opportunely raised by the Amir of Afghanistan serve
to simplify our task with respect to Bulgaria and
Rumelia. The more trouble England encounters in
Asia the greater will be our freedom of action in
E
30
urope. •• •
163
Evidence suggests that the Russian visit to Kabul had not been
sanctioned by st. Petersburg.
31
One can plausibly infer that
Russian political agents, eager to advance their careers,
adopted bold unauthorized measures on behalf of their
government.
Matters became worse when Lytton, without the Amir's
permission decided to send a British mission to Kabul, led by
sir Neville Chamberlain. This move was opposed by Sir Henry
Norman, Sir Arthur Hobhouse, and Sir William Muir, three
members of Lytton's Council. They all felt that the Amir had
the right to refuse anyone admission into his terri tory. 32
Sher Ali was under great pressure from members of his durbar
not to accept the British mission. Many of the Afghan sirdars
felt "to agree to the residence of British officers on the
borders is to voluntarily surrender Islam and the country out
of our hands".33 Despite such objections, Sher Ali insisted
that "to refuse point blank is not advisable". His concern
was more for the safety of the Britishers than concern over
the extension of a British communications network. "Were
natives to be posted at the border and placed under the
British Agent at Caubul, I would by no means have declined
(this request) .".34 To the British the Amir further
explained:
My people have no ill-feeling towards the Russians,
as no previous enmity exists, but there is blood
feud between them and your Government. I believe
that in the former war about 150,000 Kabulis and
60,000 English ••• were killed. Their sons are
alive and ill-disposed towards the English.
35
164
Any legitimate reasons for sending a British mission
disappeared when, after the conclusion of the Treaty of Berlin
in July 1878, the Russian entourage departed from Kabul. But,
the British, anxious to impose their power in Afghanistan,
proceeded towards Kabul with a camp of about 1,000 men. They
were, stopped at Ali Masjid, a fort near the Khyber Pass, by
Afghan authorities, who denied them permission to proceed.
For the time being the mission returned to Peshawar, while the
British Indian Government, on October 31st, sent the Amir an
ultimatum demanding an apology and an acceptance of a
permanent British representative in Afghan territory.36 Sher
Ali was given the deadline of November 20th to respond. If he
failed to respond, Britain would declare war on Afghanistan.
At that time Sher Ali was mourning the death of his son,
Abdullah Jan, the designated heir to the throne. When the
British did not receive the Amir's letter by the deadline,
they declared their second war on Afghanistan.
Three military columns were organized, one each assigned
to the Khyber, Kurram and Kandahar divisions.
37
By the end
of January 1879, the British troops had defeated the Amir's
165
forces and Sher Ali fled towards the north to appeal to the
Russian for aid. But, the Russians urged the Amir to come to
terms with the British, and offered him no assistance. Prior
to his departure from Kabul, Sher Ali released Yakub Khan, his
elder son, whom he had imprisoned earlier for his mutinous
behavior, and had put him in charge of all state affairs.
38
On February 21, 1879, at a location near Balkh, Sher Ali died.
The British easily defeated the Afghan forces, and the
"forward" school appeared to be victorious, having now
extended British power to the Oxus. Yakub Khan became ruler
of Afghanistan, but only after the British compelled him to
sign the Gandamak Treaty. Meanwhile, in England, many
parliamentarians began to debate Britain's Afghan policy. The
Conservatives argued that the Afghan policy accomplished for
Britain " ... a paramount political position and influence in
Afghanistan, which had at all times, both in India and
England, been the avowed object of British policy ..• 11.39
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE GANDAMAK TREATY
The Gandamak Treaty was concluded on May 26, 1879 by the
Amir, Yakub Khan, and Sir Louis Cavagnari, the British
representative. Faced with the threat of Afghanistan's
disintegration, the Amir had very little choice but to sign
the treaty, containing terms that were deeply resented by the
Afghans. 40 By its terms, Sher Ali was bound to: 1) grant
amnesty to all those people who collaborated with the British
166
during the Afghan war; 2) surrender all rights over foreign
affairs to the British government; 3) allow British officers
to be stationed in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan; 4 )
guarantee the safety of these British agents; 5) give free
access to merchants in pursuing trade and to ensure their
protection; and 6) sanction the construction of a telegraph
line between Kurram and Kabul, to be paid for by the British
government. 41
The British, not only gained control of the Khyber and
Michni passes, which lay between Jallalabad and Peshawar, but
also severed Afghanistan's ties with those independent tribes
that surrounded these passes. 42 Furthermore, the fertile
territories of Kurram, Pishin and sibi were continued to be
held by the British. In return, the Amir was paid the
revenues of the above regions, after deducting British
administrative costs. By promising to abide by the demands of
the treaty, the Amir and his successors would recei ve an
annual subsidy of 600,000 rupees.
43
Thus, Afghanistan became
reduced to the status of a subordinate princely state within
the British Indian empire. Furthermore the British proposed
to gradually separate from Afghanistan those tribes east of
the Khyber.
The Russian interpretation of British actions in
Afghanistan was described in the following passage:
The fundamental principle of British policy in
India is the endeavour to surround British
possessions in India with native bulwarks serving
as natural boundaries. The English plan is by no
means an erroneous one, although its realization is
not altogether possible, seeing the system adopted
by the English of penetrating into all parts with
arms in their hands, and with the aid of bribery on
the part of the Government to establish their power
and their Residents, thus becoming absolute masters
in those parts to which they may have opened a
road I under the pretence of peaceful desire to
widen the circle of commercial operations, which
are invariably backed by British troops and British
guns. 44
167
Similarly, a German article in The Herald stated that "as
the excellent natural buffer of Afghanistan has disappeared
before England's unjustifiable advance, a natural line of
demarcation must be looked for and found in Afghanistan
itself".45 The Amir's loss of control over the Khyber and
Michni passes provided an advantage for the British. For now
they, possessed not only all the stragically important routes
into India, but also held the upper hand militarily by
securing the high grounds. Lytton observed that the immediate
territorial concessions ensured a permanent British influence
in Afghanistan.
46
Yakub Khan, having signed the treaty with much
resentment, did not immediately publicize many aspects of it
upon his return to Kabul from Gandamak. 4
7
In fact, the
second article, which guaranteed amnesty to those who
supported the British, was not adhered to by the Amir.
According to Sirdar Ibrahim Khan, Yakub Khan, " .•. considered
168
those friendly to the British his enemies, and those who were
hostile to the British, he encouraged and made his
friends .... 48 The Amir, having been imprisoned for a long
time under his father's reign, did not have a strong base of
support. Signing the Gandamak Treaty did not win him much
popularity among the Afghans. By openly showing his
displeasure of the British however, he gained some support.
The British, by having forced the Amir to sign a treaty, that
he could not fulfill if he hoped to remain in power, further
complicated Anglo-Afghan relations.
THE FINAL PHASE OF THE SECOND ANGLO-AFGHAN WAR
For the British, one of the major achievements resulting
from the Gandamak Treaty was the stationing of their mission
in Kabul. This diplomatic mission entered Kabul on July 24,
1879 and took residence at the infamous Bala Hissar. Forty
years earlier, another British mission had had its fate sealed
in that very place.
Lytton appointed Sir Louis Cavagnari as head of the Kabul
mission. Cavagnari estimated that his chances of returning
alive were four to one.
49
Initially, cavagnari was received
cordially. But throughout Cavagnari's residence, Yakub Khan
dissuaded Cavagnari and his staff from freely interacting with
the people.
So
Also, Yakub Khan tried as much as possible to
refrain from being seen in public with the envoy. This might
be explained by the fact that the Amir wanted to protect the
169
British mission from the wrath of the Afghan people; therefore
he tried to keep them apart. Another interpretation might be
that the Amir, not having, himself, a strong popular base of
support, did not want to take the risk of being seen in public
with the British, lest it injure his own reputation. within a
month after the British diplomatic mission arrived in Kabul,
they were attacked and killed.
Afghanistan's economy had become seriously burdened
with the presence of British troops throughout the country.
Supplies had become scarce and the prices of bare necesities
rose sharply, which brewed discontent among the populace.
51
The spark of revenge was ignited when some Herati regiments
arrived in Kabul to demand their pay from the Amir. As these
troops passed by the British residence, some of them shouted
"Why has Cavagnari come here? and also abused all the
Kazilbashis, saying that they were not men, and that they (the
Herat soldiers) would show them how to act, that they would
soon put an end to Cavagnari". 52 A report indicates that
these men were not acting out of authority in abusing the
British; it states:
•.. some of my own countrymen (Jellalabad men) were
serving in these regiments. On my asking them what the
meaning of all of this was, they answered - 'Do you think
soldiers would have acted thus without orders; we were
ordered to act as we did by our officers and to shout out
as we marched along.
53
Implicated in this passage are the officers within the Afghan
170
army, who may have been conspiring against the British
mission. However, in the course of events, the guards of the
residency were the first to open fire, which instigated people
from various sections in Kabul to join the battle, burn the
residence, and massacre the entire British diplomatic staff.
Lytton, upon receiving news of the Kabul massacre,
despatched British troops to retaliate. On October 12th,
under the command of Lord Roberts, the British army entered
Kabul and occupied the city . British reinforcements were also
sent to Kandahar and Jalalabad. Meanwhile, Roberts conducted
public trials in Kabul, hanging an average of one hundred
people daily.54 The Bala Hissar was razed to the ground by
the British as an act of vengeance. Such conduct only served
to raise the sentiments of the Afghans, who coalesced under
religious tribal leaders like Mullah Mushk-i-Alam Akhundzada,
Mohammed Jan Wardaki, Ismatullah Allah and Mir Bacha Khan.
55
They formed a tribal army, which in time became the center of
a national resistance force against the British.
As soon as Sir Roberts had arrived in Kabul, he had
forced the Amir Yakub Khan to resign and had ordered him taken
as prisoner to India, where he remained until his death in
1923. A group of Afghan sirdars filed a petition of complaint
before the British stating:
The British Government imprisoned the Amir and sent him
to India, and plundered his property and robbed his wives
and family, and issued a proclamation that the Amir had
171
resigned by his own free will. What! did not the
resignation of the Amir require a state document? Was it
a matter of a word only! Even if he resigned how could
his son, who was acknowledged as heir-apparent by all the
Chiefs of Afghanistan be deprived of the Amirship?
At all events to-day we, the Mussulman people of
Afghanistan,the great as well as the small, request the
British Government to release the Amir. We will not give
up this object so long as we live ••• 56
Lyttons' response was to ignore the Afghan grievances, because
it would undermine their prestige in Asia. He concludes:
the leaders and instigators of the late hostile
rising, "lhile they demand the restoration of the ex-Amir,
and profess to speak on behalf of His Highness, allude to
the massacre of the British Embassy at Kabul as an
accident for which no one is responsible .•• We, on the
other hand, consider that the primary purpose for which
Her Majesty's troops re-entered Afghanistan was to
convince the Afghan people that the murder of British
Envoys and officers is a crime to which the British
Government attaches the most serious consequence, and
which cannot be perpetrated with impunity. To replace
Yakub Khan on the throne in compliance with the demand of
those who, addressing us on his behalf, avowedly regard
the massacre .•. as a matter of no serious or lasting
importance , would be, ... to set a premium on the
perpetration of similar crimes, and to disregard the duty
devolving on every civilized Government for the
protection of its accredi ted representatives at barbarous
Courts. 57
This insistence not to restore the Amir Yakub Khan back to his
throne only heightened tensions with the Afghans. The rally
of support behind Yakub Khan indicates that he was not as
unpopular as believed to be. In his absence, Sir Roberts
ruled over Kabul city, which further alienated the Afghans,
who refused to accept his authority. By January, 1880, they
demanded the restoration of Yakub Khan or his son Musa Khan to
the throne, which the British categorically denied.
172
In April 1880 Lytton declared "that the administrative
union of Afghanistan under one central authority is no longer
practically possible ••• ".58 The disintegration of
Afghanistan was planned accordingly: 1) Herat and Seistan
were to be handed over to the Persians; 2) Kandahar and its
dependencies were to be controlled by the British; 3) Kabul
was to be held under military 'rule; and 3) Northern
Afghanistan's destiny was yet to be decided. Ironically, the
Persian siege of Herat had been cited as one of the main
reasons for declaring the first Anglo-Afghan war. Yet, now,
the British were willing to give the Persians total control
over that same province and even more. By now the British
occupation of Afghanistan was becoming an embarassment for the
Conservatives, with the expenses of maintainig a huge army at
such a distance. Also many British troops stationed in
Afghanistan had become victims of the cholera epidemic that
plagued the country.59
At this time Sirdar Abdur Rahman Khan, a nephew of Sher
Ali, who had been living in exile at Samarkand as a pensioner
of the Czar, crossed the borders into Afghanistan. Having
observed the political developments in his country, he felt
the time was ripe to enter the scene. The British offered him
rule over northern Afghanistan while they retained control
over the eastern and western regions, but he declined their
offer, maintaining that, as the successor of Dost Mohammed
173
Khan, he was entitled to all his territory.60
In April, 1880, the Liberals won the elections in London.
They immediately replaced Lord Lytton with Lord Ripon. The
Liberals set out to rectify the Afghan crisis, which had
proved to be increasingly embarrassing. However, even the
Liberals were reluctant to give power to Abdur Rahman Khan, a
man who they felt was to sympathetic to the Russians.
Meanwhile, the Afghan resistance found in Abdur Rahman Khan a
hope for the survival of an united Afghanistan.
By July, 1880, a battle erupted at Maiwand, near
Kandahar. The victor was Mohammmed Ayub Khan, the fifth son
of Sher Ali. British casualties were 971 killed and 168
wounded, the most humiliating British loss since the first
Afghan war.
61
Although, the British retaliated with deadly
consequences for the Afghans, this event began the British
evacuation from Afghanistan. In time, despite strong protests
from the British proponents of the "forward policy", even
Kandahar was relinquished to the Afghans. Eventually Abdur
Rahman, was recognized as the new Amir of Afghanistan,
provided that he ceded the territories of Pishin and sibi and
referred all foreign policy decisions to the British.
62
On
July 23, 1880,the khutba was read in the name of the Amir and
sikka was struck with his seal.
63
In forcing the terms of the Gandamak Treaty, the British
once again failed to understand the Afghan people. As one
174
British report later noted.
The whole theory of Afghan Government is opposed to any
idea of dependence on any other power... When it is
considered what a completely helpless state Yakub Khan
was in, in April of this year (1879), with two forces at
his throat as it were, it is evident he could have done
nothing but make peace with us on our own terms •••• A
peace made under such conditions could not have lasted
I
64
ong... •
British attempts to extend power into Afghanistan had
once again failed. A new phase in Anglo-Afghan relations was
embarked upon. Having understood that it was not feasible to
conquer Afghanistan, the British began to re-evaluate thier
frontier policy. with the acquisition of new territories in
the frontier demanding constant military supervision, the
British were now compelled to seek measures to safeguard them.
However, independent Pushtun tribal areas if retained under
Afghansitan would pose problems for British frontier political
concerns. To prevent the loss of these newly acquired
territories the British now launched a plan to formalize the
borders of Afghanistan.
175
10 Foreign Department Political-A May, 1877 no.112 "Extract
of a Report Sent to the India Off ice by Sir Harry Lumsden n
June, 1875.
2. Ibid. •
3. Cf. in Aitchison, C. U. Lord Lawrence and the
Reconstruction of India Under the Crown (London: Oxford
University Press, 1897) p.183-184
4. British and Foreign State Papers, no. LXIII
"Memo: Clarendon to Buchanan", March 27, 1869.
5. Foreign Department Secret January, 1879 no.26
from Sir Louis Mallet, Under-Secretary for India,
Tenterden, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign
August 8, 1878.
1872-1873
"Letter
to Lord
Affairs"
6. Cf. in Major-General Sir Henry Rawlinson's
Russia in the East (London: John Murray,1875)
England and
p.309-310.
7. On December 8, 1876, the Treaty of Jacobabad was concluded
between the Khan of Kalat and the British Government, which
gave the latter total control of the Khanate. Kalat became
subordinate to British India, surrendering all rights to
conduct foreign policy relations with other states; British
troops, if necessary could be stationed in the Khanate; a
British agent was permanently assigned to the court of the
Khan; Quetta was cede to the newly formed British Baluchistan
Agency, which was now in command of the Bolan Pass; and in
return the British paid an annual sum of 100,000 rupees to the
Khan of Kalat. For more details on the consequences of this
agreement in Baluchistan see Inayatullah Baloch' s, The
Problem of "Greater Baluchistan", (Stuttgart: steiner-
Verlag-Wiesbaden Gmbh, 1987), p.139-141. On the actual text
of the Treaty refer to C.U. Aitchison's, A Collection of
Treaties. Engagements and Sanads Relating to India and
Neighbouring Countries, vol. XI-XIII, p.215-217.
8. Parliamentary Papers, 1873 "Granville to Loftus" October
17, 1872.
9. For more details on the Anglo-Russian Agreement see, Adler,
George J. British India's Northern Frontier. 1865-95,
(London: Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd., 1963) Chapter IV
p.165-205.
100 Parliamentary Papers, 1873
January 31, 1873.
176
"Gortchakov to Brunnow"
11. Parliamentary Pacers 1878 "Substance of an Article in
the Moscow gazette" July 6, 1878.
12. Foreign Department Secret January, 1879 no.26 "Letter
From Sir Louis Mallet, Under-Secretary for India, to Lord
Tenterden, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs" August 8,
1878.
13. While in England the conservatives, with staunch
Russophobes like Salisbury, monitored Russian movements with
skepticism. Parallel to them were the Military wing in the
Czar's government, that was responsible for the various
advances in Central Asia, despite Prince Gortchakov's
objections. The "mastermind" behind the Russian "forward"
policy was General Miliutin, who saw this as a natural
extension of power. The Russians had been neighbors with the
Central Asians for many years, at times with roles reversed.
It was the British who were alien to the territory. For
details, see Kazemzadeh, Firuz Russia and Britain in Persia,
1864-1914: A Study in Imperialism, (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1968) p.3-99.
14. Prasad, Bisheshwar. The Foundations of Indian Foreign
Policy, 1860-1882, (Bombay: oriental and Longmans, 1955)
p.150.
15. Hanna, Col. H.B. The Second Arqhan War, 1878-79-80: Its
Causes, Its Conduct and Its Consequences, (London:
Westminister Archibald Constable & Co., 1899) vol. I p. 31-33.
16. Ibid., p.34.
17. Cf. in Singhal, D.P. India and Afghanistan, 1876-1907:
A Study in Diplomatic Relations, (Queensland: University of
Queensland Press, 1963) p.12.
18. Cf. in Ward, Sir A.W. & Gooch, G.P., ed., The Cambridqe
History of British Foreign Policy, 1783-1919, (New York:
Macmillan Co., 1923) vol.III p.80.
19. Davies, C. Collin The Problem of the North-West frontier,
1890-1908, p.16.
20. Martineau, John. The Life and correspondence of Sir
Bartle Frere (London: John Murray, 1895) vol.I p.492-498.
177
21. Embree, Ainslie "Frontiers into Boundaries: From the
Traditional to the Modern state" in Fox, R. ed., Realm and
Region in Traditional India, (New Delhi: Vikas Publishers,
1977) , p.255-280i see also Curzon, George Frontiers
(Clarendon: Oxford University Press, 1907) p.4.
22. Cf. in Singhal, D.P. India and Afghanistan, p. 33.
23. Foreian Department Political-A May, 1877 no.112
(Enclosure nO.2) "Extract from Rough Notes for a Lecture on
Afghanistan" June, 1875.
24. Foreign Department Secret-F September 27, 1879
"Translation of the Amir, Sher Ali Khan's Interview"
1879.
no.50
July,
25. The Treaty of 1857 was concluded between the Amir, Dost
Mohammed Khan and British India at Peshawar, whereby
Afghanistan was offered material assistance against Persian
aggressions in Herat. However, the clauses referring to the
stationing of British personnel states: "The subsidy of 1
lakh per mensem shall cease from the date on which peace is
made between the British and Persian Governments, or at any
previous time at the will and pleasure of the Governor-General
of India. Whenever the subsidy shall cease the British
Officers shall be withdrawn from the Ameer's country; but at
the pleasure of the British Government, a Vakeel, not a
European Office, shall remain at Cabool on the part of the
British Government, and one at Peshawur on the part of the
Government. of Cabool." • Aitchison, C. u. vol. XI no. CLIV
p.342-343.
26. Fraser-Tyler, William K. Afghanistan p.142. Also for
more details see Ghose, Dilip K. Enaland and Afahanistan
(Calcutta: World Press Pvt. Ltd., 1960) chapter II.
27. Parliamentary Papers 1878 "Substance of an Article in the
Moscow Gazette" July 6, 1878.
28. Cf. in The Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy
p.82.
29. Foreign Department Secret-F September I 1878 no.592
"Extract from Peshawar Diary" by Maj or Cavagnari June 16,
1878.
30. Foreign Department Political-A September, 1879 no.66
"Extract from the Russki Mir" September 28 - October 10,
1878.
178
31. Ibid ••
32. Singhal, D.P. p.21.
33. Foreign Department Secret February, 1878 no.134
"Translation of a Letter from Nawab Atta Mohammed Khan,
British Agent at Kabul" December 4, 1876.
34. Ibid. .
35 • Foreign Department Secret October, 1878 no. 497
"Memorandum on Kabul Affairs, by Nawab Gholam Hassan Khan,
C.S.I." October 19, 1878.
36. Foreign Department Secret October, 1878 nO.493C
"Memorandum by HIs Excellency the Viceroy of Operations to be
undertaken on 21st November, 1878, if the Ameer of Cabul is
declared an enemy of the British Government" n.d.
37. Ibid ••
38. Sykes, Sir Percy A History of Afghanistan, (New Delhi:
Oriental Books Reprint Corp., 1981) reprint vol.II p.112.
39. Cf. in Singhal, D.P. p.45.
40 . Dupree, Louis Afghanistan,
University Press, 1973) p.409.
41. See Appendix V.
42. Ibid. .
43. Ibid ••
(princeton:
44. Foreign DeDartment Secret June, 1878 no.12
Abstract" n.d.
45. Foreign Department
"Prec is" n . d • .
Secret October, 1879
Princeton
"Russian
no.316
46. Foreign Department Secret July, 1879 no.185
"Memorandum by His Excellency, the Viceroy of India" June,
1879.
47. Foreign Department Secret February, 1880 no.373 "Report
of an enquiry into the causes of the late events at Kabul
connected with the massacre of the British Embassy" by a
Commission composed of Col. C.M. Macgregor, Surgeon-Major H.W.
179
Bellew, and Assistant Commissioner Muhammad hyat Khan.
November 15, 1879.
48. Ibid.
49. Cf. in Hanna, H. B.
p.15.
The Second Afghan War
50. Foreign Department Secret February, 1880
51. Ghobar, M.M.
vol. III
no.343.
52. Foreign Department Secret October, 1879 no.76
"Deposition of Ressaldar-Major Nakshband Khan, Sirdar Bahadur"
September 9, 1879. Historically, the Qizilbash ethnic group
residing in the major cities in Afghanistan, had always
assisted the British. In Kabul, they clustered together in a
section of the city, making it often easy for British
personnel to find sanctuary there from their assailants.
Because the Qizilbash were traditionally merchants, they often
interacted with the British and cooperated with their
commercial policies.
53. Ibid. •
54. Singhal, D.P. p.53.
55. Dupree, Louis Afghanistan p.409-410.
56. Foreign Department Secret February, 1880 no.367 "From
the Mullas, the Officers of the troops, the Khans, and the
Chiefs of Afghanistan, to the General" n. d. addressed to
General Roberts.
57 • Foreign Department Secret February, 1880 no. 371A
(Confidential) "Minute by the Viceroy" February 9th, 1880.
58. Cf. in Singhal, D.P. p.57.
59. The unhealthy conditions brought on by the war encouraged
the spread of cholera. Not only were the British and Native
troops susceptible to the disease, but the Afghan population
was also seriously affected by this malady.
60. Dacosta, John A Scientific Frontier; or The Danger of a
Russian Invasion of India (London: W.H. Allen and Company,
1891) p.110-111.
180
61. Cf. in Dupree, Louis p.410-411. In Afghan folklore, the
battle of Maiwand epitomizes Afghan chivalry, where a woman
named Malalai lead a regiment into battle, encouraging the
soldiers to fight for the honor of the country.
62. Foreign Department Secret July, 1880 no.327
"Memorandum of Obligations entered into by Afghanistan and
British India". n.d.
63. Foreign Department Secret August, 1880 nos. 135 & 136
"Reports on Afghan Affairs" n.d.
64. Foreign Department Secret February, 1880
"Report of the Commission I s Enquiry into the Causes
Late Events at Kabul Connected with the Massacre
British Embassy" November 15, 1879.
no.373
of the
of the
- CHAPTER FIVE -
THE ORIGiNS OF RUSSOPHOBIA AND ITS IMPACT ON ANGLO-RUSSIAN
RELATIONS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Nineteenth century Anglo-Russian foreign policy relations
were dominated by economic competition and political jealousy.
British officials often cited the gradual penetration of
Russian forces into Central Asia as proof of Czarist Russia's
ulterior motive to conquer India. Despite Russian disavowals
of any designs towards India, this theory of Russian
expansionism was utilized by local British political agents
and higher officials in India to urge politicians in England
the need to expand the borders of the British Indian Empire.
Anglo-Afghan relations were also guided by this policy of
containing the Russian threat, a policy which provided a
reason for the British to wage three wars with Afghanistan.
In the course of these wars, Afghanistan lost important
sections of its terri: lry to British India.
Archibald Thornton states that an idea, once strongly
established can force circumstance itself to obey its
dictation.
1
The purported, Russian threat to Afghanistan and
subsequently to British India was, on all accounts, an
exaggeration created by circumstances in Europe and
manipulated by British politicians. Logistically, it would
have been virtually impossible for the Russian army to carry
out such a campaign successfully. Charles Marvin, a British
181
182
journalist, in an interview with Major-General Skobeleff of
the Russian Foreign Office, described the feasibilty of such
an expedition in the following passage:
'As to a a Russian invasion of India, he said:' I
do not think it would be feasible. I do not
understand military men in England writing in the
Army and Navy Gazette, which I take in and read, of
a Russian invasion of India. I should not like to
be commander of such an expedi tion. The
difficulties would be enormous. To subjugate Akhal
we had only 5,000 men, and needed 20,000 camels.
To get that transport we had to send to Orenburg,
to Khiva, to Bokhara, and to Mangishlak for
animals •••. To invade India we should need 150,000
troops; 60,000 to enter India with and 90,000 to
guard the communications. If 5,000 men needed
20,000 camels, what would 150,000 need! And where
could we get the transport? We should require vast
supplies, for Afghanistan is a poor country and
could not feed 60,000 men, and we should have to
fight the Afghans as well as yOu •.•• lf we bribed
one Sirdar, you would bribe another ••• No; the
Afghans would fight us as readily as they fought
you.
2
British failure to secure Afghanistan for themselves should
have been a sufficient warning to the Russians. Yet British
officials repeatedly cited Russian advancement into Central
Asia as evidence of their imminent threat to India, thereby
necessitating further expansion of British India's borders,
and the creat on of a series of buffer states like Sind,
Kalat, Punjab and subsequently Afghanistan. In the mid-1800's
the British public accepted with little question the threat of
a Russian invasion of India.
This chapter will attempt to identify the origins and
development of Russophobia in Britain. It also will trace the
183
impact of Russophobia in Britain's political and military
policies in South Asia.
THE ORIGINS OF ROSSOPHOBIA IN BRITAIN
The Charter of 1555, which gave the English Muscovy
Company "exclusive right to trade with any of the Czar's
d
. . " 3
o m ~ n ~ o n s •••• For the next century the Muscovy Company
almost completely monopolized England's trade with Czarist
Russia. The company posted their agents in such important
trading centers as MOscow, Kazan, Astrakhan, Dorpat, etc •••
from where Russian commodities like fur, hemp, and caviar were
imported into England.
4
In time, the English obtained the
right to conduct duty-free trade in Russia, an important
concession that no other nation received. Not only did the
Czar allow Company merchants to travel freely within Czarist
Russia, he also granted them free transit to Persia through
Russian territory. Thus, in the very beginning Britain held
the most favored nation status in Russian foreign trade.
Furthermore, under the auspices of the Muscovy Company, the
British were able to expand their commerce and also explore
other possible trading centers, like Bukhara and Tashkent in
Central Asia. English mercantilists were also eager to
discover potential routes through which they could gain access
to the markets of India and China.
5
In the eighteenth century, American independence severely
affected the supply of raw materials to British manufacturers,
184
such as lumber for the ship-building industry which was
compelled to rely on imported wood from Russia. As a
consequence of this instability, economic links with Russia
improved, and England also bought grain from Russia.
Gradually, Anglo-Russian commerical relations flourished,
whereby the volume of foreign trade between both countries
increased rapidly.6 However, by the 1800' s the amount of
trade between both countries declined, since the colonies
began to provide an alternative market for manufactures and
raw materials.
With the increase of interactions between both England
and Russia, the demand for more information and knowledge
about Britain's new ally generated several books about Russia.
John Milton's A Brief History of Muscovia compiled in 1640
using whatever sources were available at the time was one such
book. The British viewed Russia as a semi-European country
that might become modernized and civilized through its contact
with England. Such perceptions of Russian backwardness were
validated by the disorderly behavior of the Russian diplomatic
entourage during their visit to London in 1698.
7
The Muscovy
Company's reports of their agents, observations in Russia
provided a major source of information to British statesmen.
These reports generally described the corruption and vices of
the Russian nobility as well as the rural poverty in Russia.
Such, descriptions generated a negative picture of Russia
185
among the reports, readers, contributing to an awkwardness in
the Anglo-Russian relationship.
In the last two decades of the eighteenth century,
political devlopments in Europe slowly began to stir up anti-
Russian emotions in England. When Russia allied itself with
Austria and Prussia against the Polish reform movement, Polish
emigres in England were able to arouse pro-polish support
among the intellectuals. Several books describing the heroic
struggle of the Polish people were published and became widely
popular.
8
The partition of Poland in 177, also was not well
received by the British public, who by now clearly sympathized
with the Polish emigres. Nevertheless, British officials
continued to consider Russia an important partner against the
French in European affairs.
Russo-French rivalry in the eighteenth century was based
on their competition for dominance in Eastern Europe. A
product of this Russo-French rivalry was the fabrication by
Napoleon's government of a document known as the "Testament"
of Peter the Great. This supposed " Testament" outlined an
intricate plan to conquer Europe by setting European nations
against each other. 9 For the British, the most important
comment in this supposed Russian plan was:
... that the commerce of the Indies [meant] the
commerce of the world, and whoever can acquire
exclusive possession of it is the true sovereign of
Europe; therefore no opportunity should be lost to
provoke wars with Persia, to hasten her downfall,
penetrate to the Persian Gulf, and try to
reestablish through Syria the ancient commerce with
the Levant. 10
186
This "Testament" laid the foundation for the British
perception of Russia's inherent drive to reach the Persian
Gulf.
This alleged plan of the Russian Czar was widely
pUblicized, and it was reprinted in several French books.
11
However, in the eighteenth century Russia posed little threat
to the political stability of Europe. In fact, if any country
was playing a destabilizing role in European politics at that
time it was France, not Russia. In 1812, a British
Commissioner observed that the French troops retreating from
Russia had copies of war propaganda that outlined Peter's
"Testament.".12 Eventually the authenticity of this document
was doubted and proven beyond a doubt to be a creation of the
French government. Ironically, Peter's "Testament" surfaced
again during the 1830's, when British politicians cited it as
added proof of Russia's hostility.
Historically, Anglo-French competition over India in the
early 1800's heightened British fears of a French conspirated
overland invasion through Persia and Afghanistan into India.
The French plan, as the British saw it, would divert British
forces towards India that might otherwise be used elsewhere in
Europe. The British officials in India responded by asking
London for more money and forces to defend India from such a
187
possible French invasion.
Meanwhile, Russian imperial expansion into Georgia (1800)
and the Caucasus (1813) provoked fears in Persia. In 1807,
France and Persia signed the Treaty of Finkenstein, aimed
directly at Russian, expansion where France promised to
preserve Persian territory and to provide Persia with military
supplies and personnel. Persia in turn, severed its relations
with the British, and openly called for the Heratis to attack
British India or at least, if necessary, to give passage to
French troops invading India.
13
Many believed that Britain's control of India could
easily be challenged through an overland invasion.
14
In 1807
Robert Dundas, President of the Board of Control, announced
that a French invasion of India was possible only through
Persia.
British officials recognized how important it might be to
develop a partnership with Persia because of its strategic
position along an invasion route from Europe to India. 15
However, the 1807 Russo-French Treaty of Tilsit in 1807
temporarily ended French military support for Persia against
Russia. And subsequent events in Europe soon significantly
reduced the French threat to British interests in the east.
It was now only a matter of time before Russia replaced France
as Britain's "natural" enemy. In November 1814 Britain and
Persia signed the Definitive Treaty directed, to assert
188
British influence in Persia. According to Yapp, ironically,
the development of Russophobia in England coincided with a
rising popular perception
to British interests. 16
of the increasing value of India
The scenario (constructed or
improbable) of a Russian invasion of India began to generate
a British fear if not an obsession that Russia was determined
ultimetly to drive the British out of India.
In 1817, rumors were floating in the English press about
Spain relinquishing territory in the Mediterranean to Russia
in exchange for Russian assistance to Spain in South America.
These reports were generated after Russia sold a fleet of its
ships to Spain. Segments of the British press interpereted
this sale as a sign of Russia's ultimate designs to conquer
the world.
17
This interpretation made a lasting impression
on many politicians, especially on some of the politicians in
the Whig party. Russia's continuing support for some of the
old monarchies in Europe against popular governments provided
further fuel for British Russophobia.
18
Several British articles and books written about Russia
at this time did not help improve Russia's poor public
image. 19 The Greek Revolution found Russia and England again
on opposing sides. Britain favored preserving the integrity
of the ottoman empire, while the Czar supported an independent
Greece. Then in April, 1828, Russia declared war on the
ottoman Empire. That same year several anti-Russian political
~ 8 9
pamphlets emerged. Colonel George de Lacy Evans' On The
Designs of Russia, claimed that if Russia took possession of
Constantinople, it would subsequently set out to conquer the
world; Evans pamphlet was reviewed positively by sectors of
the British press.
20
A year later Evans wrote another
circular, entitled, On the Practibility of an Invasion of
British India. In this pamphlet he described details of
conditions in Central Asia. He also exaggerated Russia's
threat to British India.
21
Although Evans was not taken too
seriously by many politicians in England, Governor-General
Ellenborough of India was so impressed with Evans' argument
that he began to study the possibilities of improving British
trade with Central Asia, as a measure to counter Russian
advances. 22
In ~ 8 3 0 , the Polish revolution found Russia and Britain
on opposite sides once again. Polish emigres in England were
easily able to muster support for their cause, since the
partition of Poland was still fresh in the minds of many
Britishers. Such Britishers took an active role in demanding
that their government oppose Russian aggression against
Poland. The Times explained:
The Poles who remain at home in their own land,
watered with the blood of their fellow patriots,
can do nothing to arrest such military oppression,
and such barbarous injustice, but they manifest no
inclination to display a slavish acquiescence •.• The
Russians are abhorred in Poland, and (there) is
little chance of permanent tranquility under their
190
barbarous tyranny.23
Despite strong pressure from lobbyists, individual politicians
and the press, the British government only went as far as to
instruct its envoy in st. Petersburg to lodge a formal protest
against the Russian incorporation of Poland. Russia objected
to Britain's protest on the grounds that this was an internal
matter in which England had no right to interfere. for
several more years the Polish question remained alive among
British intellectual circles. British supporters of Poland
pursued philanthrophic activities, held charity events to
collect money for the Polish independence movement, and kept
the issue alive before the British public, reinforcing an
already existing negative image of Russia.
Events in the east also affirmed Russophobia in England.
In 1832 when the Eyptian armies, with French backing, revolted
against the ottoman Sultan, Russia offered its support to the
ottoman Sultan which British authorities interpreted as a
calculated move to gain access to the straits. However,
earlier, Britain had refused ottoman requests for aid,
prompting the ottomans to turn towards the Russians. By 1833,
the Czar and the ottoman Sultan concluded the Treaty of Unkiar
Skelessi, that Britain and France refused to recognize on the
grounds that it would upset the balance of power in Europe.
At that time, Britain's Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston was
aided by David Urquhart, an ardent Russophobe, whose expertise
191
rested on the publication of his travels in the ottoman
Empire. 24
Czar Nicholas challenged the British and French,
contesting,
that Russia had as much right to pursue its own
course of action in Turkey as England had to so so
in Portugal, and that Russsia had as much right to
guard the entrance of the Black Sea as E n ~ l a n d to
protect the entrance of the Mediterranean. 5
However Palmerston continued to feel strongly that Russia
should be kept out of Turkey, because of Turkey's access to
the Mediterranean and proximity to India.
Meanwhile, David Urquhart was appointed Secretary to the
British embassy in constantinople. As an ardent Russophobe,
he used his post in Turkey to stress the importance of Turkey
in the defense of England and Europe against Russia.
Urquhart wrote a series of political treatises in the
Portfolio, a periodical that publicized official documents.
In his treaties Urquhart not only denounced Russia's designs
on the ottoman Empire, he also argued that Russia had no
business in the region.
26
In due course David Urquhart had
successfully shaped the thinking of various British policy-
makers.
John McNeill, appointed in 1836 as British Minister in
Teheran was strongly influenced by Urquhart's anti-Russian
propaganda. McNeill, in turn, played an important role in
convincing authorities in Britain of the Russian threat to
192
Persia and subsequently to India. His reports were especially
convincing since they went directly from Teheran to the
Foreign Office in London, rather than indirectly through
India. McNeil's distrust of the Russian emissary to Teheran,
count Simonovich exacerbated Anglo-Persian relations. When
the Shah declared war on Herat, McNeill interpreted this as a
calculated indirect Russian move to gain influence over more
territory, moving the Russians closer towards the British
Indian empire. Competion intensified as both the Russian and
British ministers in Teheran struggled to exert their
influence over Persia.
In 1836, Russia's position in British commerce declined
as other nations like Germany, Italy, Turkey, India, and the
u.s. began to consume more of Britain's manufactures. 27
England, also began to import more raw materials from its
colonies than it did from Russia. Subsequent decrease in
Anglo-Russian commercial transactions also contributed
negatively to relations between Britain and Russia.
28
When in 1838 Auckland declared war upon Afghanistan
thereby launching the first British move towards westward
expansion Afghan war, this news was initially warmly accepted
in the English press. 29 By now, the public had come to
accept the premise of Russia's villainous designs against
British India. An anonymous political pamphlet, with ties to
the Urquhart school, reprinted at this time, contended:
It would be the height of folly to go on believing
that all is safe, while the Russians were
deliberating at which part they should enter the
British frontiers: it would be the height of
wickedness as well as folly to attempt to palm such
a delusion on the public mind. The truth must not
be concealed that the British and the Russian
nations are rivals for the possession of India -
that the one ardently covets what the other holds,
and has been long working by sap and mine to
dislodge her enemy and vault into the vacant
seat. •• .30
193
It may be worth noting that as late as the 1860's informed
British officials in India doubted Russia's capacity to invade
India despite its advances into Central Asia. Sir John
Lawrence, the Viceroy of India, in 1867 stated:
••. let them (Russians) undergo the long and
tiresome marches which lie between the oxus and the
Indus; let them wend their way through diff icul t
and poor countries, among a fanatic and courageous
population, where in many places, every mile can be
converted into a defensible position; then they
will come to the conflict on which the fate of
India will depend, toil-worn, with an exhausted
infant.ry, a broken-down cavalry and a defective
artillery •... 31
If in the 1860' s well informed British officials in India
doubted Russian capabilities to challenge Britain's position
in India, there probably were well-informed British officials
in India in the 1830's who also doubted the Czar's ability to
pose a serious threat to India. Yet, the Anglo-Afghan war in
the 1830's was initiated ostensibly to protect India from
Russia, a rationale that the public in England enthusiatically
accepted.
In 1838, Mehmet Ali of Egypt declared independence again
194
from the ottoman empire. The following year the SuI tan of the
ottoman empire invaded Syria, which aroused European interest.
British and Russian postions were strongly in favor of
retaining a united ottoman empire, opposing Egyptian and any
other separatist movements. The French objected to using any
force on Mehmet Ali. They wanted to help establish a direct
dialogue between the ottoman Sultan and Mehmet. The
differences between France and Britain placed a strain on
Anglo-French diplomatic relations. Despite the fact that on
this issue these was an Anglo-Russian consensus, the British
newspapers continued their anti-Russian stance, suggesting
that Russia and Mehmet Ali would build an alliance enabling
the Czar to defend the ottoman Sultan, occupy Constantinople
and the Straits, and leave Britain powerless.
32
In concluding the Treaty of paris, Britain was succesful
in nullifying the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, (1833) which they
felt had given Russia too strong a position in Europe's
balance of power. Regardless of such improvements, Russia
remained the target of hostile comments in Britain. In an
editorial, one paper commented: "As to Russia, (its)
assurances of unabated friendship to England have been lately
reduced to practice in embroiling India, alienating Persia,
and still more recently she evinced her friendly intentions
towards us, •.. by marching on Chiva, in pursuance of her grand
plan of opening the road to Hindostan for futUre
195
operations ......
33
It was apparent that the Russophobes with
their hostile feelings toward Czarist Russia, had strongly
influenced the public mind. The Times openly advocated the
mistrust one should always bear in mind of Russia's
intentions.
If ••• we find ourselves strangely combined with
Russia in this particular treaty, that is no reason
for laying aside our long vigilance of her designs,
and our protestations against the spirit manifested
by so many of her previous and her present actions.
On the contrary, that vigilance requires to be
redoubled, especially if we have to deal with her
either as friend or foe single-handed. We have ere
this contracted alliances with Russia from which
she has extracted all the benefit she sought, we
have ere this fought battles of which she has
reaped the soil •.... 34
Thus, it appears that the Treaty of Paris that found Britain
and Russia as allies, made little impact on public opinion
about Russia. In fact, some of the papers not only criticized
Palmerston for having formed an alliance with Russia, but also
for having neglected its ally, France, in the process. David
Urquhart even suggested that Palmerston might be a spy for the
Czar, a suggestion that was not believed by too many people.
Nevertheless, Russophobia remained intact in both official and
private circles. The following passage from the Foreign
Quarterly expresses some of that Russophobia.
The silent and yet alarming progression of Russia
in every direction is quite evident now, and we do
not know one European or Asiatic power on which she
does not mediate similar incursions. Poor Turkey
is almost her own; and so is Greece. Circassia
holds her at bay, but will share the same fate of
Poland, if not assisted. persia is with her, India
and China are obviously next in contemplation;
Prussia and Austria must keep a sharp lookout, and
even France is narrowly watched, in the hope of
some convulsion in the unpopular dynasty of
Orleans, to push forward a candidate for the
throne, such as Prince Louis Napoleon ••• We shall
never cease to point attention to the extreme
danger to be apprehended upon every point of
European or Asiatic territory.35
196
Palmerston was strongly criticized by some for forming an
alliance with Russia during the Near Eastern crisis. Many of
his critics failed to recognize what he had actually
accomplished - nullifying the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi and
thereby opening channels for European control over Ottoman
affairs. And there were some in Britain who did not criticize
Palmerston. Instead they saw both Britain and Russia to be
engaged in a "civilizing mission" of Asia, and approved of
Palmerston's handling of the Near Eastern crisis.
After the crisis of 1839-1841, and the Tories came to
power in England. Anglo-Russian relations, al though not
amicable, went through a phase of tolerance, with both powers
agreeing to pres eve the integrity of the ottoman Empire. This
stance was formalized in 1844, when a dialogue between the
Foreign Ministers, Aberdeen and Nesselrode produced a
Memorandum. However, the revolutions of 1848 in Europe did
not contribute towards a positive image of autocratic Russia.
In 1849, Russian repression of the Hungarian independence
movement aroused antipathy towards Russia, especially when
197
many refugees migrated to England. Palmerston returned to
power in 1846, and David Urquhart, won a seat in parliament in
1847. The outbreak of the Crimean War generated a burst of
articles and commentaries about Russian diabolism, marking the
second phase of Russophobia. Once the idea of an evil-
intentioned Russia had been firmly established in the public
mind, it kept recurring every time Anglo-Russian relations
were strained. The significance of Russophobia for Afghanistan
was that British Indian authorities could easily convince the
public in England that their military campaigns in Sind,
punj ab, Kalat, and subsequently Afghanistan were necessary
responses to Russian threats.
WRITTEN RECORDS AND RUSSOPHOBIA
Events in the 1800's aroused the British public's
curiosity about Czarist Russia and Central Asia. Consequently,
books published by travellers, ex-officials, and military
personnel who had been assigned to Czarist Russia, found
receptive audiences. 36 During his term in office, Lord
Ellenborough, head of the British Indian government sent
political agents to regions in Central Asia beyond India's
northern frontiers with the sole intention of identifying
possible routes an invading Russian army might follow into
India.
One of the earliest British accounts of Central Asia was
George Forster's, A Journey from Bengal to England, in two
198
volumes which was published in 1798, six years after the
journey was completed.
37
Other important accounts of travels
into the region were: Mountstuart Elphinstone's, An Account
of the Kingdom of Caubul
38
, Henry Pottinger's, Travels into
Beloochistan
39
, Alexander Burnes', Travels into Bokhara
40
and James Abbott's , Narrative of a Journey from Heraut to
Khiva. Moscow. and st. Petersburgh 41.
Earlier, the British employed native agents, like Mir
Izzatullah and Mehdi Ali Khan, who provided key information on
Afghanistan and Persia. Their reports were partially
reproduced in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and
the Calcutta Quarterly Review.
42
Until the early 1800's, the
Government of India showed little interest in its northern
neighbors. 43
within a few years, that changed. Different
agents were given different assignments.
Alexander Burnes, for example, on his 1831-1833
expedition, was accompanied by two other agents, John Wood and
Percival Lord. They had special assignments: Lord
established an intelligence network among the Turkomans in
northern Afghanistan; while Wood scouted the Oxus. It is not
unlikely that some of these political agents who traveled in
Central Asia, manipulated facts to enhance their positions.
Individual agents sometimes assumed that if they linked local
British Indian frontier problems to larger questions of
Russian imperial strategy, the British government would be
199
more likely to award additional resources to the area. This,
in turn, might improve their positions. 44 Furthermore,
agents sent on such missions, depending on what they reported,
might be able to obtain promotions. For example Alexander
Burnes highly publicized accounts of Afghanistan and Bukhara
secured him the appointment to lead the first British
political mission to Afghanistan in 1836.
The ninteenth century was the age of the Romantic
movement in England. Members of the British political elite,
exposed to liberalism, often felt that Russia's absolutist
rule and "semi-European" culture represented an anti-thesis to
British principles. Furthermore those reports of political
agents exaggerated the imminent danger czarist Russia posed to
British India. Almost all of these accounts claimed that if
there were any the route through which Russia could reach
India, it was through Afghanistan. Once this was established,
the government of British India could easily rally public and
media support for their campaigns in Afghanistan by claiming
that they were necessary to halt the Russian menace.
200
1. Thornton, Archibald P. The Imoerial Idea and Its Enemies
(New York: st. Martin's Press, 1985) reprint p.xxix.
2. Marvin, Charles The Russian Advance Towards India,
Conversations with Skobeleff, Ignatieff, and other
Distinauished Russian Generals and statesmen, on the Central
Asian Question, (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle &
Rivington, 1882), p.103-104.
3. Gerson, Armand J. liThe Organization and Early History of
the Muscovy Company!! in Studies of the History of English
Commerce, (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1912) p.16
4. For more information on the history of the Muscovy Company
see: A.J. Gerson's, liThe Organization and Early History of
the Muscovy Company" and E.V. Vaughan's, "English Trading
Expeditions into Asia under the Authority of the Muscovv
Company" in Studies in the History of English Commerce in the
Tudor Period, (New York: D.Appleton & Co., 1912)
5. The Muscovy Comapany was also responsible for creating the
conditions that led to the formation of the East India Company
in 1600. However, once the East India Company was created it
became the center of economic activities leading the way for
British colonization. Gerson, Armand J. "The Organization
and Early History of the Muscovy Company", p.114.
6. Economic historians claim that Czarist Russia " •.. was also
a colonial dependent of European financial circles and
therefore both a subject and an object of imperialism". For
more details see Wolfgang J. Mommsen's edited Moderner
Imperialismus (Stuttgart: W. Kolhammer, 1971).
7. Schuyler, Eugene Peter the Great, vol. I (New York: C.
Scribner's & Sons, 1912) p. 299-310. Apparently, the house
in which the Russian diplomatic mission resided suffered such
extensive damages that the owner claimed some 350 pounds from
the British government. This fact was widely publicized among
the political elites.
8. An example is Jane Porter's Thaddeus of Warsaw, (London: G.
Virtue, 1845, 1803); a widely read novel, that clearly
presented the Russians as villains.
9. Reis, Albert "Russophobia nd the 'Testament' of Peter the
Great, 1812-1980" in Slavic Review vo1.44, no.4, Winter 1985
p.682-683. Also see, Hugh Ragsdale's Detente in the
Napoleonic Era: Bonaparte and the Russians (Kansas:
Regent's Press of Kansas, 1980). In this book, the author
201
claims that Polish emigres in France created this document,
which the French knowingly used as anti-Russian propaganda in
Europe.
10. Cf. in Reis, Albert "Russophobia and the 'Testament' of
Peter the Great" p.684.
11. Of most important was Charles Louis Lesur's Des Progres
de la Puissance Russe Depuis son origne Jusgu'au Commencement
du XIX Siecle, (Paris, 1812), in which the original programme
of Peter's "Testament" was printed. At the time, the author
simple relied on assurances from French officials that such a
document did exist in the Russian archives.
12. Wilson, Sir Robert Private Journals of Travels. Personal
Services. and Public Events in the Campaigns of 1812. 1813 and
1814 , (London: 1861) vol. I p. 257-258.
13. Gardane, Alfred E. Le Mission du General Gardane en Perse
Sous Ie Premier Empire (Paris: 1865) p.61; see Vernon J.
Puryear's Napoleon and the Dardanelles (Berkeley: Bekeley
University Press, 1951) for more details on Franco-Persian
relations during this period.
14. India's past rulers, like the Afghans, Mughals, Persians,
etc.. were often cited as examples of conquerers who had
entered India on through over strategic passes as the Khyber
and the Bolan.
15. Yapp, Malcolm strategies of British India ; for more
details see, Chapter Two, "The Consummation of the Alliance,
1810-1815" p.72-95.
16. Yapp stated that the Russophobes in arguing that Russia
threatend British India, stressed the value and importance of
India to Britain's political position in Europe. Once the
British public was convinced of this, there was no question
about the importance of defending British India against the
Russians empire. Concurrently the Russian menace functioned
to enhance India's position in British politics. For details
see, Mal.Golm E. Yapp's strategies of British India. 1798-1850
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
17. The Times (London) April 24, 1817.
18. In Spain and in France, the Czar found it very difficult
to support the liberal leaders and their revolutionary
changes.
202
19. Lyall, Robert The Character of the Russians and a
Detailed History of Moscow, (London: 1823); Clarke, Edward
E. Travels in various Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa
3 vols. (London: T. Cadwell & Davies, 1810-1827); also
several articles in journals like the Quarterly and the
Edinburgh Review potrayed a negative image of Russia to the
literary public in England.
20. Evans, George de Lacy On the Designs of Russia (London:
W.H. Dalton 1828); reviews of this pamphlet can be found in
the Examiner September 7, 1828; The Times August 22-23,
1828; and the Chronicle August 25, 1828.
21. Evans drew on the writings of those who had traveled in
Central Asia. He argued that through close commercial
contacts, Czarist Russia had penetrated Central Asia, and
could easily attack India. Evans, George de stacy On the
Practibility of an Invasion of British India, (London: W.H.
Dalton, 1829).
22. Cf. in Yapp, Malcolm E.
p.202.
Strategies of British India,
23. The Times (London) January 7, 1832.
24. Urquhart, David Turkey and Its Resources, (London:
Saunders & Otley, 1833). This book won him recognition as an
expert on the Ottoman Empire. Subsequently, he became an
advocate of even stronger policies against czarist Russia,
which he felt was aiming to conquer the world.
25. Cf. in Puryear Vernon J. England, Russia and the straits
Question, (Connecticut: Archedon Books, 1965) p.29.
26. Bolsover, G.H. "David Urquhart and teh Eastern Question,
1833-1837: A Study in Publicity and Diplomacy" Journal of
Modern History 1936 vol.VIII p.457. By capitalizing on the
anti-Russian segments among official circles, Urquhart's
writing found an audience.
27. Parliamentary Papers 1838 "A Report on the International
Trade Relations" April 5, 1837.
28. Blackwood's Magazine February, 1836 vo1.XXXIX no.CCXLIV
p.145-155; contains statistics on British Foreign Commerce.
29. For press remarks on the first Anglo-Afghan war see The
Times December 24, 1838; The Herald October 27, 1838; and
The Standard November 2, 1838.
203
30. Anonymous author
(London: 1838), p.46.
India. Great Britain and Russia,
31. Cf. in Morgan, Gerald
Asia. 1810-1895 (London:
Appendix II p.235.
Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Central
Frank Cass and Co. Ltd., 1981)
32. The Times July 25, 1839.
33. The Herald January 17, 1840.
34. The Times August 3, 1840.
35. Foreign Quarterly July, 1840 vol.XXV p.309.
36. See Sir Robert Wilson's A Sketch of the Military and
Political Power of Russia in the Year 1817, (New York: Kirk
& Mercein, 1817); General Wilson, who had served in Russia,
noted in his memoirs that in the French camp, Peter the
Great's "Testament" was widely believed to be true. Wilson
even admitted the document to be a product of French
propaganda against Russia. However, several years later,
Wilson used the document without reference to its
inaccuracies. Another monograph was William Anderson's
Sketches of the History and Present state of the Russian
Empire (London: 1815), that provided an historical background
for those interested.
37. Forster's expedition was undertaken at his own expense;
it was only after his death, that the Government of India
recognized his contribution. His book describes in detail the
political resources of the Afghan monarchy and the commerce of
the area. Forster, George 2 vols., A Journey from Bengal to
England Through the Northern Parts of India. Kashmir.
Afghanistan and Persia and into Russia by the Caspian Sea
reprint (Punjab: Patiala Language Department, 1970, 1798).
38. By the early 1800's the British Indian government wanted
information of those powers beyond their northern frontiers,
and the possibility of an overland invasion into India. They
feared that Afghanistan might be a possible aggressor.
Mountstuart Elphinstone was sent to explore the strength and
capabilities of the region. By 1812, the monograph was
completed, with portions already having been published in
journals like the Edinburgh and the Quarterly. Elphinstone,
Mounstuart An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul (London:
Messrs Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Murray, 1815).
204
39. A little before Elphinstone was sent out, the British
Indian Government commissioned Henry Pottinger to explore
Sind, Baluchistan, and parts of Afghanistan, in order to
discover the potential commerce value of this coastal region.
Pottinger, Henry Travels in Beloochistan and Sinde (London:
Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown, 1816).
40. Alexander Burnes was officially employed in 1829 to
undertake a mission exploring the regions between India and
the Khanate of Bukhara. Burnes, Alexander Travels into
Bokara. a Journey From India to Cabool. Tartary and Persia in
1831-1833 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1834). The success
of this book was rewarded when the British Indian government
sent him on a political mission to Kabul. After his visit to
Kabul in 1836, Burnes authored another book entitled, Cabool:
Being a Personal Narrative of a Journey to and Residence in
that City in the Years 1836-37 and 1838, (London: John
Murray, 1842).
41. On December 30th, 1839, James Abbott, who was already in
Herat, was assigned the task of surveying the regions until
Khiva and determining the Russian threat to the Khanate
itself. Abbott, James Narrative of a Journey from Heraut to
Khiva. Moscow and st. Petersburg (London: W. H. Allen & Co.,
1843) 0
42. In 1812-1813, Mir Izzatullah travelled from Kashmir to
Bukahara through Yarkand and then back to Bombay via Kabul.
The British sent him to discover Russian commercial routes and
the nature of their trade with Central Asia. Calcutta
Quarterly Review vol.25 1925; Mehdi Ali Khan was a Persian
who was a British agent responsible for the Afghan-Persian war
in 1798. Cf. in Percy Sykes's History of Persia, vol.II
(London: MaMillan Ltd., 1915) p.298.
43. Davis, H.W.C. "The Great Game in Asia, (1800-1844)" in
the Proceedings of the British Academy vol.12 1926 (London:
Oxford University Press, 1926) p.228.
44. Yapp, Malcolm strategies of British India, p.10.
MAP 2.
";0"
CENTRAL
110'
R U S y, A
ASIAN STEPPES
f734 TO 1863
o
PERSIA

Arab/an
Sea
RUSSIAN ADVANCES IN CENTRAL ASIA;
BRITISH ADVANCES IN INDIA
,

L.
voo
FRAS(R-TYTW!R
196'7. 128
290 4fO C90
,'.. MILI!S
(::.} MAJOR PRINCI!LY STATES

c.
r\
\
- ... ' .....' ... \

N
o
VI
- CHAPTER SIX -
ANGLO-RUSSIAN IMPERIAL RIVALRY IN CENTRAL ASIA
The British justified their territorial expansion to the
northwest of India, on the basis of a perceived Russian threat
to India. Similarly, the British justified their expansion
into Afghanistan. By the mid-nineteenth century a question
being asked by both Britain and Russia was: "Who is to be the
master of Central Asia?".l
Czarist Russia's activities in Central Asia (an area east
of the Caspian Sea and south of the Aral Sea encompassing the
khanates of Bukhara, Khiva and Kokand) alarmed the British in
India. This was the major scene of imperial rivalry, where the
"Great Game" was played. Russia's expansion into this region
in the mid-nineteenth century has long interested scholars are
has been prone to various different interpretations.
While, Soviet scholars have tended to argue the primacy
of economics in analyzing Russian's conquests in Central Asia,
Western historians have tended to emphasize the political and
military reasons for expansion.
2
Seymour Becker's monograph
enti tIed, Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and
Khiva 1865-1924, combines both economic and political factors
in analyzing Russia's advance to the south.
3
A classic study
is Eugene Schuyler's Turkistan, based on the author's
experiences of
representative
eight months in
of the region.
4
206
1873 as
Audrey
the
J.
American
Lunger's
207
unpublished thesis, The Economic Background of the Russian
Conquest of Central Asia in the Second Half of the Nineteenth
Century, contends that Russia's expanding economy dictated
subsequent actions in Central Asia.
s
Obviously, no single factor can fully explain Czarist
Russia's advances into Central Asia, instead a complex of
political, social and economic elements provided the impetus
for Russian expansion to the south.
Some political reasons that are thought to have induced
Czarist Russia to penetrate into Central Asia were: 1) the
need for a strategic ploy after the Crimean War to divert the
British from European politics,; 2) local generals, often
eager to advance their positions, who disregarded orders from
st. Petersburg and formulated their own policies in Central
Asia; and 3) many Russian officials in the War Ministry who
argued that Russia needed a defensible frontier. Two
frequently cited economic reasons for Russian penetration into
Central Asia were: 1) Central Asia provided raw materials
necessary for Russia's increasingly specialized economy; and
2) Russian products, unable to compete with European goods of
superior quality in Europe, needed an alternative market -
Central Asia. Finally, there were some Europeans who felt
that Russia's expansion into Central Asia was justified on the
basis of its philanthropic responsibility to extend "European
civilization" to the rest of the world - similar to what the
208
French and English were doing in their respective colonies.
British claims that Russian extension into Central Asia
were part of a Russian grand imperial scheme to invade India
or Afghanistan fluctuated according to the political
circumstances in Europe. But British claims that Russia and
Britain were competing for Central Asian markets were made
regularly and consistently. In the 1830's, the Governor-
General of India described the situation as follows:
As long as our manufactures are conveyed to the
North western Provinces of India by the long and
tedious navigation of the Ganges and then through
the punjab and Cabul to Buchara, we may doubt
whether manufactures of a similar description, and
even our own may not be conveyed at a less cost by
the Caravans which pass from Orenburg to Bocharai
but if the produce of England and of India could be
sent at once up the Indus to such points as might
be convenient for their transport to Cabul we
cannot but entertain the hope that we might succeed
in underselling the Russians and in obtaining for
ouselves a large portion at least of the internal
trade of Central Asia.
6
with this intention in mind, the British India government sent
several political agents to Central Asia (some of them
overland from England through Russia) to investigate the
channels through which British influence could be extended
successfully into Central Asia. For example, Arthur Conolly
was commissioned to make such a trip to obtain information on
the Khanate of Khi va. 7 In 1819, the government in India
authorized William Moorcraft to investigate the trade markets
in Bukhara and Yarkand, eastern China.
8
Similarly, G.T.
209
Vigne's mission was to explore the territory between Kashmir
and Yarkand, on the assumption that this might be a back door
through which India could be invaded.
9
All of these agents were sent to Central Asia with the
primary task of gathering intelligence on Russian current and
potential future acti vi ties. Russophobic sentiments were
especially strong among the British political subordinates in
India at the time. These agents generally presumed that the
Russians were also conspiring throughout in Central Asia. For
example, Moorcroft thought that he perceived the presence of
Russian agents almost everywhere he went. Professor Davis
concludes that Moorcroft's report of Russian influence was
" •.. vague and inconclusive; but it fitted in well enough with
what was already known or guessed about the plans of
Russia ••• ".
l0
Burnes, assumed that he inherited Moorcroft's
mantle. He encouraged establishing British commercial
relations in Bukhara as a measure to counter Russian political
influence. He argued that, through trade, Britain would gain
a foothold in the area, subsequently paving the way to exert
political influence over the Central Asian khanates. These
agents, reports furnished good material for proponents of the
"forward" policy, who argued for the urgency of Britain
extending its power beyond the Indus river in India.
Reactions in st. Petersburgh towards British activities
in Central Asia expressed parallel alarm at the increasing
210
British influence on Russia's southern borders.
1l
A Russian
concern was expressed as follows:
••• if any Power need harbor any apprehensions, or
formulate any complaints, it was Russia, who is not
ignorant of the tireless activity displayed by
English travellers in spreading agitation among the
tribes of Central Asia and in carrying disturbance
to the very heart of the regions which adjoin our
frontiers; that if for our part we ask to be
admitted to participate by open competition in the
advantage's of Asia's commerce, English industry,
monopolistic and jealous, would like on the
contrary to deprive us entirely of the benefits
which she claims the right to reap without sharing
and if possible to make the products of our
factories disappear from all the markets of Central
Asia.
12
Rumors circulated that the British planned to support a
Central Asian alliance, that would exclude Russia from the
political and economic benefits not only of Central Asia but
also of Persia. 13 Imperial rivalry in the region
intensified, especially when the British began to pursue a
more active policy in Afghanistan. The Russians feared that
if the English, secured Afghanistan they would use the region
as a springboard to launch campaigns in Central Asia, as
advocated by certain British political figures.
According to some western analysts, like Cyril Black,
geographic barriers such as deserts, seas, mountains or
relatively uninhabited territories are necessary for the
stability of a state.
14
Therefore, this analysis concludes
that the Russian state in search of a suitable frontier,
" ... systematically crossed the steppes from Orenburg, Orsk,
211
and Omsk to .the Aral Sea and the Syr Darya and Chu
rivers." .15 Almost all Russian commanders, prior to any
conquest, justified their actions on the basis of establishing
a stable frontier. But, Russia's relations with Central Asia
were intertwined because of geography and history.
In the thirteenth century, the Russian and the Central
Asian territories were part of the Golden Horde. Even after
the disintegration of the Horde, both regions regularly
exchanged commodities through caravans. The Czar and the
Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva exchanged official
representatives primarily to regulate commercial affairs.
During the seventeenth century, Bukharan and Khivan merchants
monopolized the trade in Astrakhan, Samara, Kazan, Nizhnii
Novgorod, Iaroslav, and Moscow.
16
Russian official contacts
with Central Asia were dominated by two major issues: 1) the
prevention of Russian subjects from being captured and sold as
slaves in the Central Asian markets; and 2) the control of
tribal raids on caravans and settled populations near Russia's
borders.
The khanates in Central Asia were each situated in
fertile regions: Bukhara in the Zarafshan valley; Kokhand in
the Ferghana valley; and Khiva in the oases of the Amu Darya.
Russian trade with the region, although dating back several
centuries, in the 1880's, gradually increased its traditional
exchange of textiles, sugar and metal products for Central
212
Asian raw cotton, wool, precious stones and carpets. Between
1826 and 1830, the export of Russia cotton products across the
European frontier amounted to 716 thousands of rubles in
silver, whereas the export of Russian cotton products to
Central Asia grossed 1,095 thousands of rubles in silver.
1
?
Unable to compete in the European market, Russia sought to
increase its trade with Central Asia, especially because of
the lower transport costs involved. Such markets for Russian
manufacture I goods became necessary to accommodate Russia's
rapidly growing industries.
In the 1830's Russian textiles faced stiff competition
from British manufactured goods even in Central Asia. The
following list and prices of English and Russian products sold
in the bazaars of Bukhara, which Burnes compiled during his
visit to that Khanate in 1832, illustrate the economic
advantages of British commerce:
*The prices listed are in gold coins called tilla.
18
Russian Products
Price*
Russian chintzes
1/2
Flowered chintz
3/4
Flowered muslins
(20 pieces)
Long cloth, (10 yds,
20 pieces)
3
2
18
15
Price* English Products
1/4 English chintzes
1/2 Flowered chintz
Flowered muslins
(20 pieces)
Long cloth, (10yds,
20 pieces)
3
2
22
18
The British manufactures brought in much more profit and were
213
superior in quality to Russian merchandise. Central Asian
elites preferred British textiles for their finer quality,
whereas the majority of the population could afford only the
locally produced cheaper cloth. Thus, Russian exports, in
less demand, were at a disadvantaged position in comparison to
their British competitor. It seemed clear that the most
effecti ve way to secure Russia's trade would be to aquire
better access to the Central Asian markets.
The two major trade routes from Orenburg to Bukhara and
from Petropavlosk to Taskent were not well sui ted for the
development of Russian commerce. In order to gain better
access to the trade in Central Asia, it appeared that Russia
had to open a new route. Some merchants in Moscow and in
Astrakhan urged the Russian government to open a trade route
from Nizhni Novgorod near the Volga River to Astrakhan on the
northern banks of the Caspian Sea, then across the Caspian Sea
to Askhabad, that was close to several major cities in Central
Asia.
19
Several officials in st. Petersburg recommended that
Russia gain political control over the region in order to
guarantee the primacy of Russian trade.
In 1836, the Czarist government sent Grigori Karelin on
a mission to explore the possibili ties of establishing a
commercial post in Turkmen territory, southeast of the
Caspian. Nothing materialized from this venture because of
Khi van and Turkmen hostilities against the mission.
214
Nevertheless, since Russia's European trade was on a decline,
the Central Asian market became increasingly indispensable.
Russian strategist began to calculate that if economic
penetration failed, military force might prevail.
Serious Russian military incursions into Central Asia did
not begin until the nineteenth century. In 1839, the Russians
send an abortive mission into Khiva, primarily to secure the
release of Russian slaves. In 1840 Russia obtained from Khi va
control of the fort of Novo-Petrovosk. An interesting point
is that this event occurred one year after the British troops
crossed the Indus Ri ver towards Afghanistan. The Russian
explanation of their Khivan expedition was,
.•. to establish, not the dominion, but the strong
influence of Russia in the neighbouring Khanates,
for the reciprocal advantages of trade, and to
prevent the influence of the East India Company, so
dangerous to Russia, from taking root in Central
Asia.
20
Although the British were surprised at the Khiva campaign,
even some of the alarmists felt that Russia was justified in
its actions because, as Rawlinson explained:
The Uzbegs of Khiva, either directly or through the
Turcomans and Kirghiz who obeyed them, had for
years committed every conceivable atrocity against
the Russian government. To man-stealing and raids
upon the friendly Kirghiz were added the constantly
recurring plunder of caravans; attacks upon the
Russian outpost; burdens upon trade, which weighed
it to the ground; outrages upon Russian subjects
who ventured into the country.21
Ultimately, there were those British who in their Eurocentric
viewpoint opined that:
••• the extension of Russian power in Central Asia
(was) a consummation devoutly to be wished for. To
sUbstitute civilization albeit not of the highest
type for the grovelling superstition, the cruelty,
the depravity, the universal misery which now
prevail in the Uzbeg and Afghan principalities,
a ~ f e a r s ••• an obj ect of paramount importance •••
.
215
However, only a small minority in England shared this opinion;
on the whole the Rusophobes held sway over British public
opinion.
A larger number of Russians felt that they had a role to
play in Europe's mission to "civilize" the "Asiatic
barbarians". A number of early nineteenth century Russian
historians declared that it was Russia's " ••. right and duty to
save her neighbors from their own folly and inability to
maintain internal order .. " • 23 Furthermore, some
intellectuals like Nikolai r·1. Karamzin, the most popular
writer of the period, asserted that victories in Central Asia,
would help increase Russia's prestige among the Western
nations. 24 By the middle of the nineteenth century, Russian
officials, just like their British counter parts, justified
their aggression in Central Asia as necessary for the security
of the Czarist state against their Muslim neighbors. In 1846
the Russians, established a fort at the Syr Darya, and in 1853
they sized a Kokhand fort, Ak-Masjed bordering the Khanates of
Khiva and Kokhand.
216
It was hardly a coincidence that Russia renewed its
advances Central Asia after its defeat in the Crimean War
(1853-1856) .25 The Treaty of Paris ended Russia's
protectorate status over the Danubian states and over the
Christians in the ottoman Empire, de-militarized the Black
Sea, blocked Russia from the entrance of·the Danube, and gave
the ottomans control of Kars.
26
Russia's prestige was
seriously damaged by the Crimean war. To many Russians, the
war proved that internal administrative and economic reforms
had become necessary. Central Asia now became important for
supplementing Russia's commercial and political demands. And
some Russian military officers contended that conquests in
Central Asia could restore some of the country's deflated
image.
certain events transpired during the Crimean War that
raised Russian apprehension about their national security.
Prior to the Crimean War, British trade with the ottomans had
increased gradually, surpassing that with Russia. For
example, in 1850 British sales to Russia were $7,275, 000
while to the ottomans they were $14,050,000.
27
When Great
Britain supported the ottomans during the Crimean War, Anglo-
Russian relations became especially strained. So when the
ottoman Sultan unsuccessfully attempted to form an alliance
with the Central Asian Khanates, Russian military officials
interpreted this move as another British move to gain
217
influence in Central Asia through their ottoman allies.
Russian authorities became even more wary of the Amir of
Afghanistan's conquests in northern Afghanistan, an area
previously subject to the nominal influence of Bukhara.
28
After the first Anglo-Afghan war, Russian officials
perceived Afghanistan as a British vassal state. In 1856, the
Amir's operations combined with the presence of British agents
in Kokhand and Khiva reawakened Russian military fears.
Moreover, Britain had gained commercial privileges in Persia,
which until then had been dominated by Russia.
Anglophobes in the Czar's military, like Colonel Ignatiev
argued that it had become necessary to extend the empire's
borders up to the Amu Darya in order to defend Russian
interests in Central Asia against Britain. After all, as
early as in 1836, the British openly expressed to Russian
officials that n •• Afghanistan (was) considered as frontier to
our Indian Empire; that no European nation had relations,
either commercial or political, with that country ••. n.29
Whereas Russia's southern borders remained vulnerable to rival
powers.
Subsequent military actions taken in Central Asia were
often in violation of orders from above. Under Alexander II,
the Foreign and Defense Ministries did not share similar views
with regards to its Central Asian policy. Therefore, in. the
absence of a consensus among higher officials, local
218
commanders orchestrated their own campaigns. Kazemzadeh,
contends that since the Czar had absolute power in making
policy, inter-departmental rivalries had played an
insignificant role in Central Asian policy. 30 However, in
the 1860' s Russia underwent several liberal reforms that
affected even the government. Thus, according to Geyer, the
Russian government was not a monolithic block of ideological
allies; liberal, conservative, and Slavophile proclivities or
convictions gave rise to controversial opinions in these
circles ••• " . 31
These differences were reflected in the disagreements
between the Foreign, Finance and Defense ministries. The
Czars, decisions were subjected to these shifting influences,
not just a monopoly of one persuasion. In fact there were
instances in which both ministries of War and Foreign Affairs
agreed to disagree with local commanders. This is not to deny
that the czarist government wanted to conquer Central Asia.
But, after the Crimean War, the foreign debt had risen to 500
million silver rubles; the national deficit was 360 million
rubles; and the migration of nobility had resulted in a loss
of capital from the state.
32
Consequently, the Russian
government was cautious in spending, but interested in
ventures that might increase revenues.
Accordingly, in 1858 the Foreign Ministry sent several
missions into Central Asia to investigate the possibilities of
219
increasing Russian economic activities in the region. 33
Although the reports were favorable, they concurred that the
British challenge in central Asia had not diminished.
In the 1860's the Ministry of Defense, under D. Miliutin,
the reputed modernizer of the military, began to impress
others in government of the need to restore Russia's
international prestige. 34 The military argued that while
England was able to attack anywhere in Russia, Russia could
meet the British challenge only through Central Asia.
35
Earlier, in 1858, the Governor-General of Orenburg, General
Kateniri, had urged the Russian government to solidify its
frontier lines by conquering Turkestan, Tashkent and then
Bukhara. However, Alexander II and his Foreign Minister, A. M.
Gorchakov, feared that such an expansion would only weaken
Russia by expending its resources.
36
Furthermore, Gorchakov
was sensitive about creating any more tensions with the
British. Gorchakov was supported by the Finance Minister, M.
Reitern, who opposed territorial expansion on the grounds that
existing economic resources were needed for internal
development. 37
The two adminstrative units of Orenburg and western
Siberia conducted relations with Central Asia through their
its local commanders. Often, these military officials, eager
to enhance their positions, carried out missions that clearly
violated of government orders. However, because the Defense
220
Ministry often argued upon their behalf, they rarely received
disciplinary action. And once conquest had been completed,
the Czar accepted as fait accompli.
In 1861 N. Ignatiev, a "forward policy" advocate,
became the head of the Asiatic Department of the Russian
Foreign Ministry, where he argued for greater military
involvement. Similarly, Col. Bezak, the new Governor-General
of Orenburg, a proponent of the "forward policy", urged the
government to unify the frontier lines. Despi te their
efforts, the Czar continued to concur with Gorchakov's and
Reitern's objections to military action. However, in June
1863, Col. Cherniaev under the Orenburg command, in violation
of orders, captured the fort of Suzak, close to Achesay and
Turkestan city. Since there was so little expense involved
in the military campaign, Gorchakov and Reitern accepted the
Defense Ministry's ections and explanetions. Some Russian
officials feared that such actions would antagonize the
English. To them, Defense Secretary Miliutin retorted, " It
is not necessary to apologize to the British Minister for our
advance. They do not stand on ceremony with us, conquering
whole kingdoms, occupying alien cities and islands; and we do
not ask them why they do it.". 38 On December 20,. 1863, the
Czar approved the military's proposal to unify the existing
frontiers.
Between 1864 and 1868, Russian commanders actively
engaged
221
in several expeditions to conquer small towns in
Turkestan, despite disapproval from above. For example, in
June, 1864, Col. Cherniaev captured Aulie-Ata and Col.
Verevkin initiated the conquest of Turkestan city without st.
Petersburg's knowledge. Both commanders (in competition with
each other) hoped to obtain personal glory in these missions.
The spirit of competition could sometime be costly. The
following month when Col. Cherniaev attempted to seize
Chimkent, his failure was attributed to in part Col.
Verevkin's refusal to provide him with any back up.39
By September, Cherniaev's forces finally captured
Chimkent, justifying the self-initiated campaign on the
grounds of security. However several officials voiced serious
objections to Cherniaev's actions. For example, Admiral
Butakov asserted that such an extension of forces over vast
territories would be a futile waste of needed resources.
Even Defense Secretary Miliutin, in reaction to Cherniaev's
boldness commented " .•• who will guarantee that, after
Chimkent, Cherniaev won't consider it to take Tashkent, then
Kokand, and there will be no end to it. ". 40 By now, a
unified frontier line had been established from the line of
Syr Darya to Chimkent and then east to the south of Lake Issyk
Kul. It may be worth noting that Russian authorities
typically limited their disapproval of unauthorized military
ventures such as Mi liutin' s. This remarks, certainly did
222
nothing to deter ambitious local commanders; if anything it
expressed silent endorsement of their adventures.
Despi te orders restraining him from launching any
further assaul ts, Cherniaev made an aborti ve attempt in
October, 1864 to capture Tashkent, Kokhand's second largest
city. Immediately, General Diughamel of the western Siberia
command wrote an angry letter to Cherniaev: "I frankly
conclude that this operation was not inspired by necessity.
Our successes in the present campaign were so great that there
was no reason to pursue new laurels and prudence dictated
merely firm consolidation of positions we had occupied". 41
General Divghamel concluded that the attack on Tashkent was a
clear violation of official Russian policy. Meanwhile, the
Russian Foreign Ministry issued a Memorandum that explained to
the international community Russia's position in Central Asia
- in essence justifying its recent actions:
Our august Master has directed me to explain
succinctly, .•• our position in Central Asia, the
interests which prompt our actions in that part of
the world, and the aims which we pursue. The
position of Russia in Central Asia is that of all
civilised states which come into contact with half-
savage, wandering tribes possessing no fixed social
organisation.
It invariably happens in such cases that the
interests of security on the frontier, and of
commercial relations, compel the more civilised
state to exercise a certain ascendancy over
neighbours whose turbulence and nomad instincts
render them difficult to live with. First, we have
incursions and pillages to repress. In order to
stop these we are compelled to reduce the tribes on
our frontier to a more or less complete submission.
Once this result is attained they become less
troublesome, but in their turn they are exposed to
the aggression of more distant tribes. The state
is obliged to defend them ••• Hence the necessity of
distant and costly expeditions .•.
Such has been the lot of all countries placed in
the same conditions. The united states in America,
France in Algiers, Holland in her colonies, England
in India, - all have been inevitably drawn into a
course wherein ambition plays a smaller part than
imperious necessity, and where the greatest
difficulty is in knowing where to stop.42
223
The czarist government in principle adhered to the contents of
the Circular, but when officials departed from defined goals,
it often willingly accepted such actions.
Ironically, this document truly reflected Russia's
imperial ambitions in Central Asia, which the British easily
identif ied wi th as illustrated by Lord George Clarendon's
remarks in 1864. He stated: Russia's policy in Central Asia
is framed in the same way as ours is in India .••• She is doing
services to civilization, and we do not much care even if she
takes Bokhara.".43 Both governments had identical imperial
interests in the region. Those Britons who constantly raised
the cry of the threatening Russian invasion of India, used
that threat as an excuse to advance their own interests in
Afghanistan and elsewhere in the frontier. Off icials in
Russia had already by now recognized Afghanistan to be clearly
outside of Russian's domain. However, British proponents of
the "forward policy" could not explicitly advocate annexation
of Afghanistan and at the same time criticize Russian actions
224
in Central Asia. Instead Russia had become the perfect alibi
for British actions in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense and Foreign ministries sent
memos to the Governor-Generals asking them to instruct their
local commanders that Chimkent was where the Russian frontier
line halted. In 1865, the newly conquered territories were
organized into the Turkestan Oblast, with Cherniaev placed as
its military governor under Orenburg's command. It was clear
from this promotion that official objections to Cherniaev's
actions were primarily a reflection of the government's
anxiety over defrayed military costs.
When political rivals conspired against the Khan of
Kokhand, particularly in Tashkent, both Cherniaev and the Amir
of Bukhara, Muzaffar ud-Din, manipulated the situation to
empower themselves. Immediately Defense Secretary Miliutin
forwarded a memo to Orenburg ordering Cherniaev not to
interfere in Tashkent, because in his views "an independent
Tashkent which won its freedom unaided would offer more
commercial advantages than one annexed by Russia It. 44
Similarly Gorchakov also sent a letter instructing that no
advances should be made towards Kokhand unless Russian
commerce or terr i toy were endangered. But the new Governor of
Orenburg, N.A. Kryzhanovskii, although not opposed to annexing
Tashkent, instructed Cherniaev not to take any actions until
he, the new Governor, arrived in Turkestan. Cherniaev,
225
fearing that the new Governor wanted to obtain recognition for
himself from the outcome of the expedition, violated the
Governor's orders and seized Tashkent. However, by the
following month, Kokhand troops with the aid of the Amir of
Bukhara, were able to put up a strong resistance. Earlier,
the Amir of Bukhara, had captured Kokhand and Khodzent and had
made the Khan of Kokhand his viceroy over Kokhand. In this
context the Amir of Bukhara asked Cherniaev to wi thdraw
Russian troops from Tashkent.
Cherniaev immediately detained all Bukharan subjects and
confiscated their property in Turkestan Oblast and orenburg.
But Cherniaev's capture of Tashkent had started a chain of
events that exacerbated Russo-Bukharan relations. Muzaffar ud-
Din responded to the detainment of his subjects. For example
by arresting the Russian commercial mission in Bukhara. since
Cherniaev had complicated Russia's Central Asian postion, a
number of officials renounced Cherniaev's actions. P.N.
stremoukhov, the new head of the Asiatic Department, wrote:
The Ministries of War and Foreign Affairs, in
agreement with the Governor-General of Orenburg,
drew up a plan approved by the Emperor as the basis
for determining our state frontier with its forward
point at Chimkent, .and it was also proposed to
create an independent state of Tashkent and its
environs and a khanate out of the remainder of
Kokand ... under our influence •..• This plan was
transmi tted to guide General Cherniaev who
destroyed it, so to speak, from the beginning to
the end. Instead of a frontier along the Arys, he
advanced it to the Syr-Daria; instead of making out
of Tashkent an independent state, he not only
wishes to annex it finally to Russia but even
informed the Bukharan toksaba (premier) that the
city had already accepted our citizenship •••. All
of the government's plans, based on general
political considerations and the national well-
being of the Empire are being nullified.
45
226
In st. Petersburg, many officials disagreed with Cherniaev's
deeds, particularly since some of those deeds generated open
conflicts and hampered trade relations with the area.
Nonetheless the capture of Tashkent, a commercially rich city,
was perceived by many as a major accomplishment, to be
credited to Cherniaev.
In 1866 Miliutin accepted Kryzhanovskii's recomendation
to remove Cherniaev from Turkestan and replace him with D. I.
Romanovskii. Unlike Cherniaev, Romanovskii did not favor
further entanglements in Central Asia. But wi th much of
Kokhand disposed of, Kryzhanovskii now focused on Bukhara. In
May, with the intention of removing Kokhand from the Amir of
Bukhara's influence, Russian forces invaded Irdjar and
Khodzent, the key to the Ferghana valley. Under the
circumstances, the Khan of Kokhand was forced to accept
Russia's terms for peace, this opened the khanate to a Russian
monopoly of trade.
46
The major part of the treaty defined
Russia's commercial privileges in the khanate, especially its
preferable status in trade.
Using the same approch he had used to remove Kokhand from
Bukhara's influence, Kryzhanovskii launched subsequent attacks
227
on Ura-tube, Djizak, and Yani-Kurgan as a strategy to
subjugate Bukhara. Bukhara in fear of further hostilities
released the Russian diplomats. In September 1867, Russia
offered Bukhara a draft treaty in which the Russo-Bukharan
boundary and Russian commercial rights were defined. The
Russian Foreign Minister opined that "No matter how brilliant
the recent successes of our arms, in a political respect they
have achieved no satisfactory results whatsever". 47 This
same sentiment was expressed by John Lawrence the Viceroy of
India in the following passage:
I do not pretend to know what is the policy of
Russia in Central Asia: what may be her views
hereafter in India. But •.. common sense suggests
that her primary interest is to consolidate her
hold on those vast regions now in her
possessions .•. Russia has indeed a task before her
in which she may fail and which must occupy her for
generations. To attempt to advance until her power
is fully established is to imperil all she has
hitherto accompished.
48
Even Russian officials, like Gorchakov and Stremoukhov, were
wary of spreading over such a vast area without firmly
establishing control in areas already conquered. The British,
while objecting to Russian advances, tacitly watched Russia
thereby put herself in a vulnerable postion in the area. To
those who urged Britain to take actions to stop Russia,
Lawrence responded: "We will have the advantages of terrain
and knowledge of it. The further she extends her power, the
greater the area she must occupy, the more vulnerable points
228
she must expose, the greater the danger she must incur of
insurrection and the larger must be her expenditures".49
In 1867, Russia established the Turkestan Governor-
Generalship consisting of the Semireche and Syr Darya
admini'strati ve uni ts. General Kauffman was assigned
independent authority over this unit, no longer dependent on
the Orenburg command. General Kauffman, fully determined to
dominate Central Asia. In May 1868 he seized Samarkand and
Qatta Urghan, thereby forcing Bukhara to conclude a treaty
that protected the economic interests of Russia. 50 Russia
retained Samarkand and Qatta Urghan to form the Zarafshan
Circuit, through which the Zarafshan River flowed and
subsequently Bukharan commerce was controlled. with Kokhand
and Bukhara reduced to Russian control, Khiva was the next
victim.
General Kaufman, a staunch Anglophobe, based his actions
on the argument that "England is Russia's enemy and can only
be reached in Asia •.• This is the bridle with which we can
always restrain England which aims to injure us
everywhere". 51 So when Kauffman proposed in 1869 to occupy
Krasnovodsk, Stremoukhov the head of the Asiatic Department,
strongly rejected such a drastic measure. He maintained that
the Russian government was only interested in building a
factory in Krasnovodsk in order to pave the way for improved
trade relations with the Amu Darya region. Nevertheless, with
229
the support of the military, General Kauffman occupied
Krasnovodosk. Such a pattern was common, where commanders and
their military establishments, impressed upon the Czar how
such campaigns as Krasnovodosk were necessary for Russia's the
security and improved commerce.
In November, 1869, the new Viceroy of India, Lord Mayo
sent T. Douglas Forsyth to st. Petersburg to try to establish
a mutually acceptable definition of Britain's and Russia's
sphere of influence in Central Asia.
Defense Secretary Miliutin and the
Upon inquiries from
head of rhe Asiatic
Department,
post ion as
Stremoukhov, Forsyth represented the British
integrity of follows: " •.• S0 long as the
Afghanistan was preserved, no objection could be made to the
chastisement, or even, if properly warranted, the occupation
of a country in whole or in part". 52 By now the British
realized that Central Asia was no longer attainable, but they
were not about to relinquish their interest in Afghanistan.
After having several discussions with Forsyth, the
Russian Foreign Ministry could no longer argue against
expansion on the grounds that it would stair up British
oppostion. In December 1872 the Czar strictly forbade any
annexation of Khiva, ,but authorized that it be reduced to the
status of the two other khanates. However, the Treaty of 1873
made Khiva a protectorate of Russia, denying the Khan the
right to conduct diplomatic relations with other states. 53
230
Persistent requests by Ivanov, the local commander, to annex
Khiva resulted in his transfer from the region. Subsequently,
the Yomut Turkoman were defeated. In 1876, internal civil war
gave Russia the opportunity to annex Kokhand, as political
agents argued that this instability affected Russian commerce.
within a brief span of time, Russia had external its
borders all the way to the Amu Darya, a position which the
Foreign Ministry was not pleased with for the following stated
reasons:
It has constantly been said that for the glory of
Russia, for the raising of her prestige , it is
necessary to take some stronghold or other or to
smash the Asiatic hordes in the field; strongholds
have been taken one after another, the hordes have
been utterly defeated, good borders have been
attained,and then it had invariably turned out that
one more stronghold is lacking, that one more final
victory is necessary, that the really perfect
frontier lies somewhat further of, that our
prestige is still insufficiently raised by our
former successes. Your Radiance, rightly will
agree that such form of action ought finally to be
ended, because it is compatible with neither the
dignity nor the true interests of the
government. 54
This is not to deny the fact that some officials in st.
Petersburg disagreed with the Foreign military's position.
Lord Loftus, the British Ambassador succintly pointed out the
dichotomy: "The Emperor and the Imperial Government are
anxious to abstain from extending Russian territory in central
Asia, whilst at the same time they are desirous of obtaining
a complete control over the small states of which Central Asia
231
is composed ••• ". 55 In actuality Russia aimed to influence
the region through indirect control, rather than through
annexation.
Ironically, despite frequent official oppostion to
conquests, the Russian military continued to score successes
and extend Russia's boundaries. Ultimately the promise of
economic opportunities was what many have convinced the Czar
and other officials to allow Russia's expansion into Central
Asia. In 1865, Saville Lumsley, the First Secretary at the
British Embassy in st. Petersburg observed, that
the question of an adequate supply of the raw
material upon which depends the existence or ruin
of the cotton industry in Russia cannot be a matter
of indifference to the Imperial Government, who no
doubt would g l a d l ~ encourage the opening of a fresh
source of supply. 6
Some argue that for the following reasons, Central Asian
cotton was not a factor that affectd Russian extension into
the region: 1) Russian mercantilists or industrialists did
not have much influence in government, and 2) Cotton imports
from Central Asia did not increase enough to provide a steady
supply for Russia's textile industry; instead Central Asia was
considered an alternative source of cotton in case of
need. 57
However, after the Crimean War, the Czarist
government received several requests, particularly from
textile industrialists, to develop trade with Central Asia.
Even the aristocrats realized that Russian society desparately
232
needed to introduce reforms in economy in order to retain its
position in the European market. Furthermore, between 1856
and 1860 a large number of nobility migrated" from Russia,
taking with them considerable capital.
58
Facing low capital
reserves and a weak currency, the Russian government felt
compelled to encourage the development of agriculture and
commerce. In 1861, the Czar's edict emancipated the serfs as
a means of reducing the government's financial problems
primarily. 59
Between 1851 and 1861 Russia's trade with Central Asia
increased, including its exports of its manufactures. Capable
of producing its own yarn, the textile industry heavily
depended on the imports of raw cotton. Russia's economy
became specialized which resulted in an expansion of her
foreign and internal trade. While in 1804 there had been only
1,200 industries in Russia; by 1857 the number increased more
than twofolds to 2,818.
60
A leading Russian industry was its
textile industry that depended heavily on cotton imported from
the united states. During the Amercian civil War, cotton
supplies to Russia were disrupted. The Russian textile
industry turnd to Central Asia as an alternative source for
raw cotton. Central Asia also became a maj or market for
Russian manufactured products.
In 1831, Russian exports of cotton goods to Europe
amounted to 174,000 rubles in silver, whereas all varieties of
233
Russian merchandise exported to Central asia amounted to only
195,000 rubles.
61
By 1860 Russian cotton-goods exports to
the Europe had dropped to only 25,000 rubles, while Russia was
sending products with a value of 3 million rubles to Central
Asia.
62
Traditionally, Central Asian trade was dominated the
Asian merchants, through whom Russia imported more than it
exported. For example, in 1860 Russian exports in to Central
Asia were valued at 905,000 rubles while imports amounted to
1 529 000 rubles.
63
, , This negative balance of trade was
reversed by 1867 when Russian commerce penetrated into Central
Asia and began to dominate the market with exports of 3,318,00
rubles and imports of only 1,739,000 rubles. 64 The result
was disasterous for the Central Asian economy, which
increasingly functioned to serve the Russian economy.
In the conquered areas, roads, telegraph lines and
railroads helped to increase Russian trade in the region.
Russian control of customs removed any barriers to Russian
trade in Central Asia. Similarly by compelling local rulers
to introduce tariffs which protected Russian trade, Russia
discouraged competition from England. After 1873, Russia
totally abolished custom duties on Russian goods in the Khivan
Khanate. Bukhara stopped collecting transit duties on all
Russian products in 1858.
The extent of Russian economic penetration into Central
234
Asia was observed in 1872 by a trading agent who reported
that: " ••. the bazaar is overflowing with all sorts of goods
from distant India and even more distant Moscow ... Bokhara is
literally filled from top to bottom with Russian goods and
there seems to be at least six times as much of them as of
English goods". 65
As Russia demanded more and more cotton, Central Asian
agriculture became increasingly monopolized by the cotton
crop. Russian textile firms and local intermediary agents
offered credi t to peasants for growing cotton. As more
acreage was devoted to cotton, the price of cotton dropped
while the prices of grain increased. Over time Central Asia's
economy, similar to Afghanistan's, became seriously dislocated
and increasingly dependent on Russia.
During the nineteenth century, Anglo-Russian relations in
Central Asia were dominated by political and economic rivalry.
This competition at times brought both powers to the brink of
war in Asia. Ultimately, both imperial powers had similar
interests in the region, which Sir Frederick Lamb, the British
Ambassador to Austria, summarized in 1838 during a
conversation with Count Nesselrode, the Russian Foreign
Secretary. He stated:
We see in you the great civilizing Power of the
East ... Your march is irresistible within certain
bounds, because it is that of civilization itself -
but its progress depends upon the encouragement you
give to Industry and Production, and for this you
have need of a great Commercial Firm which shall
take your produce off your -hands. We are that
Firm, and in dealing with us you have the advantage
of having to do with an immense capitalist, and not
with petty Retailers. The real interests of the
Two Countries are identical •••• 66
235
British relations with Afghanistan were predicated on the
notion that Britain needed to prevent Russian penetration into
Afghanistan in order to protect its interest in India.
Almost every piece of written British correspondence about
Afghanistan devotes paragraphs warning of Russia' s drive
towards Afghanistan or India even though the British never
found such a Russian plan or programme. Proponents of
Britain's forward policy continuously advocated the extension
of British India's borders to envelop Afghanistan and extend
even further north into Bukhara as a way of to preventing a
Russian advance.
During Russia's Central Asian some British
officials feared that India was the eventual Russian target.
However, an analysis of Russian actions in Central Asia lend
little credibility to the fear. Russia' s expeditions in
Central Asia were generated by a combination of several
factors: 1} an attempt to restore Russia's pride after its
defeat in the Crimean War; 2} Russia's economic interests; 3}
ambitious Russian military commanders in the field who ignored
their instructions from their superiors; and 4} Russian
strategic ploys to challenge the British in India. These
236
ploys were successful to the extent that they heightened
British paranoia over Russian actions in Central Asia.
British anxiety in turn, was used to justify increasing
British control over Afghanistan. In the end Afghanistan's
autonomy was threatened more by Great Britain than by Czarist
Russia.
237
1. Cf. in Yapp, Malcolm E. strategies of British India
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980) p.272.
2. A few examples of western studies that emphasize the
political factors for Russian extension into Central Asia are:
Geoffrey Wheeler's The Modern History of soviet Central Asia
(New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, 1964); Michael
Rywkin's Moscow's Muslim Challenge (New York: M. E. Sharpe,
Inc., 1982); Richard A. Pierce's Russian Central Asia 1867-
1917. a Study in Colonial Rule (Los Angeles and Berkeley,
1960); Firuz Kazemzadeh's "Russia and the Middle East" in
Russian Foreign Policy, ed. by I. Lederer (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1962); and Helene Carrere d'Encausse's
"Systematic Conquest, 1865 - 1884" in Central Asia: A Century
of Russian Rule, ed. by E. Allworth (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1967).
3. He contends that "Russia's aim in Central Asia ... were both
political and economic.". Becker, Seymour Russia's
Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and Khiva. 1865-1924
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968) p.13.
4. Schuyler observed that Russian actions in Central Asia were
not guided by any grand design. Rather, st. Petersburg was
unable to control its generals in the field. Schuyler, Eugene
Turkistan. Notes of a Journey in Russian Turkistan. Khokand.
Bukhara. and Kuldja 2 vols. (London: 1876).
5. Lunger argues that " ..• the mere conquest of Central Asia
did not automatically supply the answer to Russian economic
problems. During the first few years after Russia gained a
firm foot-hold in the area, the local economy even developed
un favourably for Russian industry ... " . Lunger, Audrey J. The
Economic Background of the Russian Conquest of Central Asia in
the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century, unpublished PH.D.
thesis (London: University of London, 1952) p.iii.
6. Foreign Department Secret March, 1830 no.208 "Letter
from the Secret Committee to the Governor-General in Council"
January 12, 1830.
7. In his journal Connolly noted how strongly he felt that
Britain's mission was to civilize and safeguard Central Asia.
Connolly, Arthur Journey to the North of India. Overland from
England. through Russia. Persia and Afghanistan 2 vols.
(London: 1834) .
238
8. The British hoped to secure markets for themselves in
central Asia and western China. However, the British became
cautious with Moorcroft's vague guesses on Russian trading
activities in the region. Moorcroft, William and George
Trebeck Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindostan and
the Punjab; in Ladakh and Kashmir; in Peshawar, Kabul, Kunduz
and Bokhara from 1819 to 1825, 2 volumes, (London: 1841).
9. Davis, Henry W.C. liThe Great Game in Asia,(1800-1844)" in
proceedings of the British Academy vol.12, 1926 (London:
Oxford University Press, 1926) p.247.
10. Davis, Henry W. C. "The Great Game in Asia (1800-1844)"
p.246-274.
11. In the early 1830's, David Urquhart greatly influenced
both British officials and the British public with his anti-
Russian reports, during his capacity as commercial
investigator in Turkey. His widely publicized pamphlets,
especially The Portfolio, urged British action against Russia.
English agents circulated this political tract to the
Circassians to make them aware of British support in their
struggle against Russia. other Bri tish agents were sent
throughout the southern borders of Russia. Upon their return,
they provided the British India officials with negative
reports of Russia. Puryear, Vernon J. International
Economics and Diplomacy in the Near East (Stanford: Stanford
Junior University Press, 1935) p.23-32.
12. Cf. in Mosley, Philip E. "Russia's Asiatic Policy in
1838" in Donald C. Mckay ed. Essays in the History of Modern
Europe (New York: Harper & Bros. Publishers, 1936) p.56-57.
13. Alexander Burnes suggested that a league consisting of the
sunnis of Central Asia, Afghanistan and Persia, could easily
be formed under British guidance, if Peshawar were given to
the Afghans. Under such an arrangment, the Afghans would be
obliged towards the British. Cf. Fraser-Tyler, William K.
Afghanistan: A Study of Political Developments in Southern
and Central Asia (London: Oxford University Press, 1950)
p.96i ,Connolly and Abbott also suggested that the English
should offer financial support to the Khanates in Central Asia
to forestall the Russians.
14. Black, cyril E. "The Pattern of Russian Objectives" in
Russian Foreign Policy: Essays in Historical Perspectives
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962) p.7.
239
15. Black, cyril E. "The Pattern of Russian Objectives"
p.11; the author contends that the Hindu Kush finally became
that geographic natural frontier between the Russian and
British empires.
16. Becker, Seymour Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia:
Bukhara and Khiva, 1865-1924 (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1968) p.11-13.
17. Cf. in Lunger, Audrey J. unpublished PH.D. dissertation
The Economic Background of the Russian Conquest of Central
Asia in the Second Half of the Nineteenth century (London:
University of London, 1952) p.8.
18. Burnes, Alexander Travels into Bokhara vol. III p.431.
19. (Public Records Office) Foreign Office vol.65 no.213/51
itA Letter from Hon. John Bligh, British Minister in st.
Petersburgh to Lord Palmerston
lt
Sept 9, 1835. This report
contains information on the annual trade fair at Nizhni
Novgorod.
20. Cf. in Rawlinson, Sir Henry England and Russia in the
East, A Series of Papers on the Political and Geographical
Condition of Central Asia, (London: John Murray, 1875)
p.145.
21. Ibid, p.154.
22. Rawlinson. Sir Henrv Enaland and Russia in the East
p.146. The author offers a brief, but despising description of
the views of those English politicians whom he considers to be
humanists.
23. Becker, Seymour "The Muslim East in Nineteenth-Century
Russian Popular Historiography" Central Asian Survey vol.5,
nO.3/4 1986 p.32. The author conducted a detailed analysis
of nineteenth century Russian historians and their writings.
He especially focused on the theme of Russian expansion and
the manner in which these writers explained it to their
readers. In the final analysis, Becker finds that educated
Russians in the nineteenth century felt that territorial
expansion was part of the process of nation-building.
Furthermore, newly acquired territories were not perceived as
colonies, but were seen as part of a multinational state, that
would eventually become one nation sharing one identity. In
the meantime the hope was that Russians would help non-
Russians to become "civilized," adopting the "superior"
Russian culture.
240
24. Cf. in Becker, Seymour "The Muslim East in Nineteenth-
century Russian Popular Historiography" p.31.
25. For a discussion that emphasizes Russia's defeat in the
Crimean War as the main reason for expansion into Central
Asia, see Mehmet Saray, "The Russain Conquest of Central
Asia", Central Asian Survey, vo1.I, nos. 2/3, November, 1982
p.1-30.
26. The effects of the Crimean War, particularly on Russia,
are discussed in Schroeder, Peter W. Austria. Great Britain
and the Crimean War: The Destruction of the European Concert,
(Ithaca: Cornell university Press, 1972).
27. The Times (London) November 17, 1853. Practically the
entire export of grain from the ottoman provinces was
purchased by Britain. In return, British manufactures found a
free market, with no restrictions, in the ottoman empire.
28. Foreign Department Secret January-December, 1869
no. 173 "Confidential Report from F.R. Pollock, Commissioner
of Peshawur Division, to T. H. Thornton, Secretary to the
Government of Punjab" September 30, 1869.
29. Parliamentary Papers 1839 "Letter from Mr. Ellis,
British Minister of Persia, to Lord Palmerston" April 16,
1836. The British representative, in conversation with Count
Simonovich, the Russian Ambassador in Teheran, conveyed the
British government's official position with regards to
Afghanistan. Ironically, Afghanistan was not at the time
functioning as British India's frontier, because the
independent kingdoms of Punjab and Sind had not yet come under
British control. However, this sheds light on British plans
to dominate Afghanistan.
30. Kazemzadeh, Firuz "Russia and the Middle East" ed. by
Ivo J. Lederer Russian Foreign Policy: Essays in Historical
Perspectives (New Haven: Yale University PRess, 1968)
p. 489-530. The same argument is extended in another monograph
by the same author entitled, Russia and Britain in Persia.
1864-1914, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968). Peter
Morris elaborates further by concluding that the Russian state
was based on its military power, therefore, the Czar was most
influenced by this dominant institution. Thus, Russian policy
in Central Asia was made from above, not by the commanders in
the field. Morris, Peter "The Russians in Central Asia,
1870-1887" Slavonic and East European Review, vol. LIII,
no.133, Oct., 1975 p.521-537.
241
31. Geyer, Dietrich Russian Imperialism: The Interaction of
Domestic and Foreign Policy, 1860-1914, trans. by Bruce
Little (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987) p.31.
32. Geyer, Dietrich Russian Imperialism p.33-48.
33. Kaushik, Devendra Central Asia in Modern Times (Moscow:
Progress Publishers, 1970) p.43. N.P. Ignatiev was sent to
Bukhara and Khiva to settle political differences between
Russia and the two khanates. Ignatiev later became the head of
the Asiatic Department, under the Foreign Ministry of A.M.
Gorchakov. N. Khanykov was sent to northern Afghanistan,
supposedly on a scientific mission, whereas C. Valikhanov was
specifically instructed to explore the economic conditions in
Central Asia.
34. For details of Miliutin's military reforms, see Forrest
Miller , Dmitrii Miliutin and the Reform Era in Russia
(Nashville: 1968).
35. MacKenzie, David "Turkestan's Significance to Russia
(1850-1917)", The Russian Review, vol.33, no.1 January, 1974
p.168-169.
36. Popov, A.L. "Iz istorii zavvoevaniia Srednei Azii" ,
Istoricheskiye Zapiski, no.9, 1940, p.204-205.
37. Popov, A. L.
p.209.
"Iz istorii zavoyevaniya Srednei Azii"
38. Cf. in Saray, Mehmet, "The Russian conquest of Central
Asia", Central Asian Survey vol.I, nos. 2/3, October, 1982-
January, 1983 p.10.
39. Cf. in Mackenzie, David "Russian Expansion in Central
Asia: st. Petersburg v. the Turkestan Generals (1863-1866)",
Canadian Slavic Studies, vol. III, no.2 Summer 1969 p.292.
40. Ibid., p.293.
41. Ibid,. p.294.
42. The entire text of this memorandum issued by Prince
Gorchakov in November 21, 1864 can be found in Fraser-Tyler,
Sir william Kerr Afghanistan, (London: Oxford University
Press, 1950), p.319-320.
242
43. Vamberry, Arminius The Life and Adventures of Arminius
Vamberry (London: 1914) p.308. The author quotes an
interview with the first secretary of state for India, Lord
George Clarendon.
44. Cf. in Khalfin, N. A. Prisovedinenive Srednei Asii k
Rossii (60-90-ye qody XIX v. (Moscow, 1965) p.186.
45. Cf. in Mackenzie, David "Expansion in Central Asia: st.
Petersburg vs. the Turkestan Generals (1863-1866)" p.302.
46. Kaushik, Devendra Central Asia in Modern Times, p.45-46.
Although Russian merchants were now placed on an equal footing
wi th the Muslim traders the former benef i tted from more
capital flow into the region.
47. Popov, A.L. "Iz Istorii Zavoyevaniya Srednei Azii" ,
Istoricheskiye Zapiski, no.9, 1940 p.215.
48. Cf. in Morgan, Gerald
Asia. 1810-1895 (London:
p.226-237.
Anglo-Russian Rivalrv in Central
Frank Cass and Co. Ltd., 1981)
49. Cf. in Mackenzie,
Russia (1850-1917}",
January, 1974 p.173.
David "Turkestan's Significance to
The Russian Review vol.33, no.1
50. Becker, Seymour Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia:
Bukhara and Khiva, 1865-1924 p.41-43.
51. Cf. in Mackenzie, David
Russia (1850-1917)", p.172.
"Turkestan's Significance to
52. Cf. in Becker, Seymour Russia's Protectorates in Central
Asia: Bukhara and Khiva. 1865-1934 p.61.
53. Kaushik, Devendra Central Asia in Modern Times p.46.
54. Cf. in Popov, A. L. "Iz Istorii Zavoyevaniya Srednei Azii"
p.217.
55. Foreign Department January, 1873 Central Asian Papers
no.2, "Letter from Lord Loftus to Lord Granville" April 16,
1872.
56. Reports of Her Majesty's Secretaries of Embassies and
Legations, nO.8, 1865 "Russia - On the Trade and Manufacture
of Cotton" Saville Lumsley Jnauary, 1865 p.92.
243
57. For details see Whitman, John "Turkestan cotton in
Imperial Russia" American Slavic and East European Review
vol.XV 1956 p.190-205.
58. Adler, C.C. "The 'Revolutionary
Canadian Slavic Studies no.3 1969
Situation', 1859-1861"
p.383-399.
59. Geyer, Dietrich Russian Imperialism: The Interaction of
Domestic and Foreign Policy 1860-1914, p.92.
60. Lunger, Audrey The Economic Background of the Russian
Conquest of Central Asia in the Second Half of the Nineteenth
Century p.3.
61. Cf. in Lunger, Audrey J. p.8.
62. Cf. in Lunger, Audrey J. p.8.
63. Lunger, Audrey J. p.31.
64. Lunger, Audrey J. p.31.
65. Lobanov-Rostovsky, Prince Andre Russia and Asia (New
York: 1933) p.150.
66. (Public Records Office) Foreign Office vol.7 no.72
"Letter from Sir Frederick Lamb to Lord Palmerston" September
8, 1838.
- CHAPTER SEVEN -
THE POWER STRUCTURE AND SOCIAL CHANGE DURING THE REIGN OF
AMIR ABDUR RAHMAN (1880 - 1901)
The British choice of Abdur Rahman to reign over
Afghanistan was quite ironic, considering the fact that their
nominee had lived for eleven years in exile at Bukhara,
receiving a stipend from czarist Russia. Only two years
earlier Lytton had declared war on Afghanistan because he felt
that Sher Ali was under the influence of Russia. Even the
Golos, a Russian periodical, ran a commentary which
rhetorically stated:
Mr. Gladstone was not in the least troubled by the
fact that the claimant to the throne of Caubul had
come from Russian-Turkestan, where he had resided
for ten years in the best of relations with the
Russian authorities .•.
The new Ameer of Afghanistan is indebted for his
present posi tion at the very least as much to
Russia as to England.
l
Nevertheless, in 1880 the British were anxious to leave
Afghanistan because of their precarious post ion in the
country. Their candidate, Abdur Rahman, was Amir Dost
Mohammed Khan's grandson through his eldest son, Mohammed
Afzal Khan, who had ruled Balkh from 1852-1864. During the
civil war, when Sher Ali succeeded to the throne, Mohammed
Afzal's entire clan had fled to Samarkand.
In 1869, upon hearing of Amir Sher Ali's departure for
Ambala to visit the then newly appointed British Indian
Viceroy, Lord Mayo, Abdur Rahman approached Russia's General
244
245
Kauffman for material assistance to launch a campaign against
the Amir. Kauffman not only rejected the request but also
clarified Russia's policy of non-intervention in Afghanistan.
In his report he pointed out: "When we sheltered him (Abdur
Rahman) it was not as an enemy of England, or as a claimant to
the throne of Caubul, but solely as an unfortunate and
homeless man deprived of all means of supplying his wants and
those of his family". 2 Furthermore, Kauffman relayed to
Abdur Rahman, that " ••• we are not dreaming of going to war
with him (Sher Ali), but we even wish him all prosperity". 3
The Russians probably recognized that they could use Abdur
Rahman in the event it became necessary for czarist Russia to
make a pretense against the British in India. As events
unfolded, culminating in the second Anglo-Afghan war, Abdur
Rahman remained an observer until 1880, when he became the
victor in the contest for the Kabul throne.
Amir Abdur Rahman's (1880-1901) reign marks an important
phase in the development of the Afghan state. This chapter
will focus on how the Amir contributed towards the development
of Afghanistan as a nation-state, continuing from where Sher
Ali ended. His first major task was to consolidate his power,
which involved making new alliances, eliminating dissidents,
and forging a sense of national unity among his SUbjects.
Secondly, in order to retain his position, the Amir initiated
reforms within the political structure, especially in the
246
military, creating a more stable base of power through which
he maintained order and peace. Finally, Abdur Rahman
attempted to reorganize at the economic level, by establishing
small industries using borrowed foreign technology. But
Afghanistan's persistence to remain isolated from foreigners,
though understandable, did not contribute towards the
development of a strong economy. Nevertheless, the Amir
utilized Anglo-Russian imperial rivalry in Central Asia to
obtain capital, technology, and, most importantly, a guarantee
of Afghanistan's territorial integrity--all crucial factors
needed for the progress of the state. But, the Amir
understood the country's limitations owing to its geographical
location, as illustrated when he queried,
How can a small Power like Afghanistan,
which is like a goat between these two
lions (British and Czarist Russia), or a
grain of wheat between two strong
millstones in the grinding mill, stand in
the midway of the stones wi thout being
ground to dust?4
ABDUR RAHMAN'S CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
By 1880, the British were in a tenuous position in
Afghanistan, unable to secure power for themselves.
Disintegration of Afghanistan proved difficult as the
nationalist opposition gained strength. British personnel in
the country feared for their lives, as all signs indicated
that Afghan opposition to their presence was intensifying. By
March, 1880 Abdur Rahman had captured the provinces of
247
Badakhshan and Mazar-i-Sharif. Shortly thereafter, convinced
that he did not have any links to the national opposition led
by Mullah Mushk-i-Alam, the British sent a mission to Kunduz
to open negotiations with Abdur Rahman to accept the Amirship
of Kabul and its northern dependencies. The Political Off icer
at Kabul, Lepel Griffin, reported that ..... no conditions have
been laid down as necessary to the acceptance of the offer
made, and the only one which is necessarily implied in the
selection of the candidate for the Kabul throne, is friendship
with the British Government.
n

s
Meanwhile, Abdur Rahman
while negotiating with the British, also consulted with other
influential Afghan leaders in the event it became necessary to
prepare for a war against the British. In his response to the
British envoy Abdur Rahman described Afghanistan as an
independent country and insisted that its neutrality be
guaranteed by both England and Russia.
6
As this was not in
accordance with the British view of Afghanistan, Kabul
political officer Lepel Griffin proposed the popular Ayub
Khan, brother of Yakub Khan, who was governor of Herat, as an
alternative nominee for the Amirship. Griffin argued
..• that should Sirdar Abdul Rahman quietly decline our
offer, or place himself at the head of a hostile movement
against us, that Sirdar Ayub Khan, brother of the Ex-Amir
Muhammad Yakub Khan, and now Governor of Herat, be at
once be proclaimed Amir. This would at once rally the
Sher Ali and Yakub Khan parties to our side, and Abdul
Rahman would be quickly expelled from the country.7
But officials in London refused to accept any nominee linked
248
with the previous ruler, Yakub Khan. Meanwhile Abdur Rahman
began to move towards Kabul to accept the British offer to
rule Afghanistan. When he arrived in Kohistan, the British
became apprehensive about his intentions and feared an attack.
Lepel Griffin reports:
It is to be remembered that the Kohistanis are the
most foolish and excitable of people. When Abdul
Rahman comes down it is possible that incited by
Mullas, and by the presence of a chief with great,
though exaggerated military reputation, the cry of
jehad and ghaza may be raised, and Abdul Rahman may
be, from character and circumstances, wi ther too
weak or unwilling to resist it ••• Should the cry be
raised, in a fanatical and ignorant country: like
Afghanistan, it would apread like wild-fire.
8
Despite reservations about Abdur Rahman, as political
tension in the country intensified daily, the British were
willing to accept anyone willing to relieve them from Kabul.
As one political officer observed, in Kabul
there are signs on all sides that the people are
preparing for a general rise, and I think it cannot
be doubted that these preparations are due to the
circulars spread broadcast over the country by
Abdul Rahman's Agents. Although the Sirdar's
letters are carefully worded, it is clear that they
are understood by the people as a distinct call to
arms, and we know from many sources that the trade
in arms and ammunition is brisker than ever.
9
So eager were the British to leave Kabul that on July 22, 1880
Abdur Rahman was enthroned as Amir at Charikar, a few miles
north of Kabul.
Initially, British plans were to control Afghanistan by
dividing it into three power centers, with Kabul and its
249
dependencies towards the north under Abdur Rahman, Herat to
remain with Ayub Khan, and Kandahar retained under British
control. But, elections in England brought back to power the
"non-interventionists". Lord Ripon, the new Viceroy,
immediately sought to reverse Lytton's aggressive policies.
In July, 1880, at the battle of Maiwand, Ayub Khan's
forces won a decisive victory over the British, jeopardizing
their postion in Kandahar. Ayub Khan's efforts to conquer the
city almost succeeded, until British forces under General
Roberts marched from Kabul to defeat the Afghans. His triumph
cost the British much money and men. Shortly thereafter the
new Viceroy, Lord Ripon, ordered a withdrawal of all British
forces from most of the country, including Kandahar. However,
they retained control over the Khyber Pass, Sibi, pishin,
Quetta, and the Kurram Valley, which gave them a
strategically advantageous position regarding Afghanistan.
Although the British no longer imposed direct rule over
the country, they virtually controlled Afghanistan's foreign
policy. Furthermore, Amir Abdur Rahman inherited a country
that was politically disunited and economically bankrupt. The
second Anglo-Afghan war had destroyed all of Sher Ali's major
accomplishments and left the country in shambles. But, in
1880-1881 the British gave Abdur Rahman 1,500,000 rupees, plus
an annual subsidy of 1,200,000 rupees and 915,000 rupees from
the Kabul treasury.10 This enormous sum, extracted from the
250
Indian tax payers, indicated Afghanistan's political
significance for the British.
Politically, the situation in Afghanistan was aptly
described by the Amir himself in the following passage:
every priest, mullah, and chief of every tribe and
village considered himself an independent king, and
for about 200 years past the freedom and indepen-
dence of many of these priests were never broken by
their sovereigns. The Mirs of Turkestan, the Mirs
of Hazara, the chiefs of Ghilzai were all stronger
than their Amir, and so long as they were ruler,
the King could not do justice in the
country .•. every chief, official, prince and King
himself had parties of assassins and large numbers
of hired robbers ..• everyone of these self-made
kings levied separate taxes on their subj ects. 11
The Amir had to wage several campaigns in order to eliminate
any opposition to his rule. The success of these campaigns
depended on the strength of his military that he developed
with British aide.
During Amir Abdur Rahman's reign there were approximately
forty revolts, which Kakar divides into three categories:
1) dynastic rivalries; 2) revolts against increased taxation;
and 3) rebellions against the extension of government
authority on the frontiers.
12
Listed below are a few of the
military campaigns that Amir Abdur Rahman waged against a
tribe, leader or region:
13
Tribe, Region, or Leader
Ayub Khan
Laghman
Date
=
1881
1881
Taraki Ghilzai
Kunar
Wali of Maimana
Mir of Shighnan and Roshan
Shinwari Pushtuns
Mangal-Zurmat Pushtuns
Ghilzai Pushtuns
Mohammad Ishaq Khan
Safi Pushtun of Kunar
Badakhshan
Khan of Asmar
Hazarajat
Kafiristan
1881-1882
1882
1882
1882
1882-1892
1883-1884
1886-1888
1888
1888-1896
1889
1890
1891-1893
1895-1896
251
Among these only the major ones will be briefly discussed
according to their challenging power.
The first dynastic challenge to Amir Abdur Rahman's power
ofter he ascended the throne came from Ayub Khan, a son of
Sher Ali who had the support of the Durrani and Ghilzai
tribes. Ayub Khan's victory over the British in Maiwand made
him extremely popular, while the Amir was resented for his
ties with the British. In 1881, Ayub Khan led an attack
against the Amir's forces at Girishk, west of Kandahar. But
Amir Abdur Rahman personally took charge in the field and
defeated Ayub Khan. Meanwhile, the Amir's Governor of
Turkestan, Sirdar Abdul Quddus Khan, marched into Herat.
14
Unable to regain power in Herat, Ayub Khan and his followers
fled to Meshed. There he remained until 1888, when he went to
India and joined the lot of the Afghan royal ty living on
British pension.
For the first time in many years an Afghan Amir was in
control of Herat. Abdur Rahman now openly called for the
252
unity of the country as necessary against the threat posed by
the "two Infidels
ll
, Czarist Russia and British India. He
declared in a firman, "I am your complete guardian and
protector, because I protect Afghanistan from the interference
of foreign states, and thus guard the (Pardah) veil of your
women from strangers II • 15
Although the British imposed on the Amir the terms of the
Gandamak Treaty, all the Amir's public statements illustrate
that he was never reconciled to relinquishing claims over the
tribal territories east of the Khyber. Throughout his reign
the Amir considered himself protector of all the Pushtun'
tribes in the east.
Another major dynastic conflict took place in September
27, 1888, when Sirdar Mohammed Ishaq Khan, Governor of
Turkestan since 1881, rebelled against the Amir. This sirdar
was the son of Mohammed Azem Khan by an Armenian wife and
therefore Amir Abdur Rahman's first cousin. Ishaq Khan was
induced by his supporters among the Turkman, Uzbeks, and
Ghilzais to revolt against the Amir. But Amir Abdur Rahman
defeated the Sirdar's forces in the valley of Ghaznigak, and
the sirdar fled to Samarkand, eliminating the last major
contender to the masnad.
The majority of the revolts during the Amir's reign fall
under the second and third categories: revol ts over the
impostion of taxes, and reVolts over the extension of
253
government authority in the frontiers. From 1882-1892, the
Shinwari tribes continuously opposed the government, refusing
to accept central authority. Over the years, as a result of
various wars, Afghan society had become severely disrupted at
all levels. The Shinwari tribes similar to others had turned
to plundering merchants in transit as a means of survival.
Thus in order to control the Shinwaris Amir Abdur Rahman not
only had to provide them a stable income, but also had to
break their cycle of plunder and insecurity. In order to
restore trade to its normalcy Amir Abdur Rahman announced that
the inhabitants of the area were responsible for the safe
transit of merchants. Subsequently, the Amir sent several
expeditions into Shinwari country, southeast of Jalalabad and
all along the road to Peshawar. In his view, "You may try
gently for hundreds of years to make friends. But it is
impossible to make scorpions, snakes, and Shinwari,
friends. " .16 In time a semblance of stability emerged in
Shinwari country, and the Shinwaris were gradually
incorporated into the Amir's administration.
The Ghilzai revolt in 1886 was widespread and posed a
major threat to the Amir's power. In this battle against the
Ghilzais, the Amir received support from the Durrani tribes
who, by tradition, were hostile to the Ghilzais.
17
The
Ghilzais were a powerful clan, commanding a large levy of
forces and had traditionally been an influential component of
254
the Afghan political structure. The Ghilzai rebellion was
triggered off when the Amir cancelled wages paid to Ghilzai
chiefs and their supporters within the ulema on the grounds
that,
1) There was a loss of half the state revenue which
was collected by these people, who had no right to
it, and did nothing to earn it. 2) .•. I put a stop
to these numerous allowances, which were a burden
on the Government Treasury, ••• by saying that
salaries would be paid to those who performed
services according to their merits, and they would
have to pass certain examinations to prove their
right to be paid.
IS
Implementation of these exams angered many within the ulema.
The presence of government officials and their demands to
collect taxes incited tribal leaders who, by custom, had
independently administered their areas. Furthermore, the
Ghilzais, as supporters of the Sher Ali faction and as active
participants in the struggle against the British, were not
pleased with Amir Abdur Rahman. Prominent elders like Mullah
Mushk-i-Alim joined with the Ghilzais, making them a more
formidable foe for the Amir. The challenge became so
widespread that even Ayub Khan, from his forced exile in
Meshed, engaged in the struggle hoping to return to power. By
July, 1887, with the financial and material support of the
British, Amir Abdur Rahman's forces succeeded in routing the
major Ghilzai leaders out of the country. The remaining
tribes were deported in masse to the northern and western
regions of Afghanistan, removing them from their traditional
255
strongholds. Their chiefs were invited to Kabul to live on
government stipends, which weakened their ties with their
rural supporters.
Amir Abdur Rahman's military campaigns in Hazarajat and
Nuristan, attempted to extend his territorial control. But
his campaigns were also waged on religious terms. The Hazaras
were predominantly Shi' ah. That, and their previous ties with
the British, made them doubly unpopular among the majority
sunni society, and won the Amir some support from the sunnis.
The Hazaras were ruled by Mirs or elders, who were responsible
for remitting revenues to the government. Amir Abdur Rahman
instituted his own administrative bureaucracy, which infringed
upon the pmalers of the local leaders .19 In addition, he
imposed new taxes on the region and asked the people were
asked to disarm themselves. All of this instigated widespread
Hazara rebellion.
From 1891-1893, the Amir's forces battled to put down the
resistance in Hazaraj at. 20 In the end the Amir' s forces
defeated the Hazaras and even sold some of them as slaves in
the bazaars. Famine broke out, forcing many Hazara families
to sell whatever little land they possessed and flee to
Central Asia, Baluchistan or Sind.
21
Meanwhile, the Amir
encouraged Pushtuns to settle in Hazarajat by offering them
such incentives as tax exemption for one year.
22
In the Hazara campaign, the Shiah Qizilbash were accused
256
of conspiring with their Hazara co-religionists. In fact one
report indicated that the Qizilbash in Kabul had sent letters
to Hazara leaders saying that the British were going to bring
an end to the Amirate, and that now was the time to assert
Hazara independence against the Amir's fledgling
government. 23 Amir Abdur Rahman completed his final frontier
war in Nuristan or Kafiristan (land of the non-believers) in
1896, when the last descendants of the pre-Islamic era were
converted to Islam.
24
After that war the ulema assigned
Abdur Rahman the title of Zia-al-Millat-i-wa-al-Din (the Light
of the Nation and of the Religion) to Amir Abdur Rahman.
25
In 1895, Amir Abdur Rahman abolished slavery which
affected the non-Pushtuns, especially the Nuristanis, who were
often sold into slavery.26 Amir Abdur Rahman also abolished
sarmardeh, a tax established during Sher Ali's rule, which was
strictly imposed only on the non-Pushtuns. Many of the young
non-Pushtuns who were captured during the Amir's campaigns
became his royal servants, sometimes ultimately joining the
Amir's personal guards.
By the end of Abdur Rahman's reign, his control extended
throughout the country. Methods he used for this major
accomplishment were: uprooting traditional leaders from their
rural areas and making them dependent on him; re-settling
Pushtuns into non-Pushtun areas (both eliminating disaffection
and generating support for himself) creating alliances by
257
marrying each of his sons to the daughters of influential
sirdars advancing control over his subjects through bribes and
espionage and, finally, invoking the constant danger of an
external invasion, thereby generating a rudimentary sense of
Afghan nationalism. August 17, 1896, became the national
unity day (jashn-i-mutafiqqiya-i-milli), which remains
celebrated today in Afghanistan. After the formal separation
of the Pushtun tribes east of the Khyber Pass, this holiday
became a symbolic call for the unity of all Afghans, inclusive
of those across the border in the east.
REFORMS UNDER THE REGIN OF ABDUR RAHMAN
During his term in power, Amir Abdur Rahman attempted to
institute several reforms, following Sher Ali's path of
centralization of state power and the development of many of
its institutions. But Afghanistan suffered from a lack of
capital and manpower, and was constrained by xenophobic and
isolationist attitudes. Indeed, the Amir had to contend with
imperialism's profound affects on all spheres of Afghan
society.
ABDUR RAHMAN'S CONCEPT OF KINGSHIP AND SOCIETY
Referring to traditional values that existed within the
country, Amir Abdur Rahman's ideas of government resembled in
many ways those outlined in the Siyasat-Nameh of Nizam al-
Mulk, who combined Islamic and Sasanian theories of
rulership.27 I have extracted the Amir's views on the role
258
of kingship and government from his autobiography28 and two
pamphlets entitled, Mirat ul-\ Aq129 and Taqwim ud-Din.
30
The main concern of Nizam ul-Mulk's treatise was not with the
justification of existing conditions but with the practice of
government. Amir Abdur Rahman's main concerns were on the
rationale of his policies. However, both Nizam ul-Mulk and
Amir Abdur Rahman shared opinions on the role of the leader
and his absolute authority.
According to Amir Abdur Rahman in Afghanistan, for the
first time, the power of the ruler was based on divine
authority Although his predecessor, Sher Ali had invoked
religion as a basis of his power, in the formal coronation it
was the Loyah Jirgah (Great Tribal Council) that actually
conferred his appointment to the throne.
31
Abdur Rahman by
contrast, in assuming religious titles like Amir al-mu'Minin
(Commander of the Faithful) and Zia al-Millat-i-wa-al-Din (The
Light of the Nation and Religion), implied that his supremacy
was derived not from the Loya Jirgah (tribal council) but
from Allah "God". The Amir claimed,
has entrusted the government of different parts of
the world to different kings in view to their
proper management and government. In the same way,
Muhammadan countries are entrusted to their kings,
in view to keep the Moslems in order and peace and
comfort. 32
Thus, theoretically, the ruler was selected by, and
responsible to Allah as "a Sultan is the shadow of God on
259
earth". 33
A king was chosen by God not only because of his physical
capabilities but also because of his superior wisdom ('aql).
According to Abdur Rahman, wisdom was granted to all but
passed through several stages; the one who possessed a greater
amount of wisdom understood the affairs of the world.
34
The
wise ruler functioned primarily to adminster justice and
safeguard religion, which for both Nizam al-Mulk and Abdur
Rahman was Sunnism of the Hanafi rite.
35
Amir Abdur Rahman's
campaigns in Hazarajat and Nuristan whereby he secured
political control over the regions were carried out under
these ideological premises. Subsequent campaigns, or jihads,
were carried out under the banner of protecting Islam and
Afghanistan from the infidels (British). 36 Abdur Rahman
intertwined national defense with Islam when he stated:
It is the duty of all the Moslems, more especially
of the people of Afghanistan, to appeal to their
sense of honor and to their religious zeal,
apprehending the dangers which are to come upon the
religion and the Kingdom of Islam in the east and
west and to payoff the debt of patriotism which
they owe to their country.37
His sentiments represent those of most Muslim leaders of the
times who felt threatened by western imperialism. Afghans
were especiallY sensitive to foreigners since they were
suffering the aftermath of two violent confrontations with the
British.
Nizam al-Mulk believed that justice was linked with
260
punishment or the threat of punishment and coercive force.
38
According to Nizam al-Mulk, "If it had been fitting that men
should do whatever they liked, God most high and Glorious
would not have brought forth kings and placed them over the
tyrannical and the corrupt".39
The military, an instrument of force were the medium
through which the ruler maintained order and peace. During
the Amir's reign the army became an instrument through which
punishment was executed; roughly 100,000 people considered to
be dissidents were killed during this period.
40
According
to the Amir, such actions were "necessary ••• to clear out all
those who were opposers of every kind of justice ..• ".41 The
military was stationed throughout the country to ensure that
each person was kept in his or her proper place. An extensive
network of spies who, according to Nizam al-Mulk, were crucial
to prevent rebellion assisted the military in maintaining
order throughout the country.42
Finally, a cult of fear should be developed by the ruler
in order to maintain peace and order successfully. As a
result of this cult of fear, the king would be able to control
his subjects, especially his officials who were not servants
of the state but of the ruler himself. Tha t such a cult
existed during Abdur Rahman's reign is illustrated in the
following passage from his autobiography:
They (people) are such peaceful, obedient subjects
to me, that they are ready to carry out all my
orders and instructions with the greatest delight
and affection ••• They have shown ••• that they regard
the interests of my Government as identical with
their own. They went in crowds at their own
expense to fight against the Hazaras and Kafirs,
looking upon those who had rebelled against the
Government as their enemies.
43
261
Having inherited a kingdom that was shattered by civil
wars and foreign invasions, the Amir ruled with an iron hand,
using ruthless force to subdue the Afghans. He demanded
uncondi tionally loyalty from his subj ects. The Amir also
granted special rank to people within his government rank that
he easily revoked if they fell out of his favor. In this
manner, Amir Abdur Rahman Khan formed an absolutist government
and reigned supreme in the country.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND MILITARY REFORMS
At the top of the Afghan political structure was the
Amir, the patriarch of the nation, whose primary goal he
maintained, was to unify the country.44 Abdur Rahman adopted
the principle of primogeniture, a principle he hoped would
enable Afghanistan to avoid any more protracted wars of
succession. Therefore, the Amir designated Habibullah, his
first son from a Wakhi concubine, as the heir to the throne
and gave him training accordingly.45 The Amir, in contrast
to customary practice, did not assign his sons as governors of
the various provinces. Instead they all remained in Kabul,
where they were each allocated tasks under the supervision of
262
Habibullah, to whom Abdur Rahman had delegated the authority
to oversee the Afghan bureaucracy, of course under the
guidance of his father. Technically, the Amir was assisted by
a council that was divided into two bodies: 1) darbar-i-am
(the general council) and 2) darbar-i-khas (the special
council).
Three types of representatives asssembled in the darbar-
i-am (the general council): the darbar-i-shahi, the khawanin-
i-mulki, and the ulema.
46
The darbar-i-shahi were the
aristocrats or sirdars who by hereditary right were seated in
the court. Amir Abdur Rahman, like Sher Ali before him,
brought influential sirdars from their various localities to
reside permanently in Kabul, and he paid them salaries. This
helped create a nobility dependent on him for their positions.
Eventually the Amir conferred sirdarships only to Mohammedzais
of the Durrani tribe.
47
The khawanin-i-mulki were tribal khans, maliks or arbabs,
who were (in principle) chosen upon the advice of local
eli tes. Each nominee, after being approved by the Amir,
resided in the capital and received a stipend.
48
The ulema, represented by the muftis, qazis and
especially the khan-i-'ilm (religious head), functioned as
religious advisers offering their expertise in the shari'a.
This group's power was reduced when they became paid
bureaucrats subservient to the Amir's dictum. They functioned
263
in the capacity of judiciaries, but most civil and commercial
disputes were handled by the Amir's officials.
The darbar-i-am (the general council) possessed very
little influence in political affairs. Basically it served to
help collect ammunition and provide supplies in preparation
for war. Its members were described as not having " ... the
capacity, nor the courage to detect anything wrong in the law
or the policy of their sovereign". 49 In contrast to Sher
Ali, who had delegated authority to the council, Amir Abdur
Rahman used this political organ as a means to establish
direct control over the country's prominent men and as a
channel through which public opinion could be obtained.
According to the Amir, "this constitutional body has not yet
attained the ability nor the education to qualify it for being
entrusted with authority of any importance •.• ".so
The darbar-i-khas (the special council), also known as
the khilwat, was the executive body of government
administration. It consisted of all officials, elders and
government department heads.
S1
Formerly, under Sher Ali it
functioned as a consultative body. But Amir Abdur Rahman
reshaped the special council so that it essentially carried
out his orders. Although the darbar-i-khas discussed
policies, the Amir' s opinion ultimately determined the outcome
of the discussions. The Loya Jirgah assembled during
emergencies. At such times all the political notables from
264
urban and rural areas convened to discuss the issue at hand.
The Amir utilized the Loya Jirgah in 1885, before he visited
India; in 1888, when Mohammed Ishaq rebelled; and in 1893
during the finalization of the Durand Agreement.
'. The government was partitioned into two categories: civil
(mulki) and Military (nizami). Technically, each employee was
a ghaza or soldier contracted for the defense of the
nation. 52 But, the civil bureaucracy was held accountable
for managing the various departments, while the military's
sole responsibility was to safeguard the nation from internal
and external subversion.
The civil government contained various departments like
Commerce, Transportation, Education, Communication, Medicine,
Internal Affairs, and Revenue. Each department had a
designated head, but was actually run by mirzas or clerks.
The Judicial and Military branches were administered
separately. Of course foreign affairs or the dar al-insha
were strictly controlled by the Amir, but expanded wi th
employment of a small staff which basically handled all
correspondence in Pushto, Dari, and English.
53
Public offices had previously been sold, a practice the
Amir stopped. The civil administration he created expanded as
it never had before.
54
He gave high positions to people who
previously did not have any power. In the past, the Qizilbash
had predominated in the bureaucracy. Amir Abdur Rahman
265
recruited Tajiks, Hindus and Pushtuns from Laghman and Herat
as his civil servants. An entirely new class of bureaucrats
emerged, more urbanized, learned and loyal to the Amir than
previous bureaucrats. However, they were not highly paid.
The Amir acknowledged that "they made money from the people
anyway whether they got a salary or not, and as the people
would not complain to him (Amir), they might pay for the
mirza".55 Intrigue and corruption were rampant among the
bureaucrats. This resulted in unstable tenures for senior
officials, whose deceit was often exposed by junior
off icials . 56
Because the Amir was in dire need of capital, the
Ministry of Revenues or Diwan-i-a'la, was re-organized. This
particular department levied and collected taxes and custom
duties, managed government expenditures, controlled
industries, etc •. 57 The Amir instituted the use of ledger
books, that were numbered and stamped by pages. Any tampering
with these ledger books was severely punished. Previously,
records had been kept in scraps of papers, which were often
lost and easily mismanaged. In 1884, the Ministry of Revenues
was divided into four divisions according to regions (north,
south, east, and west), each under the supervision of a
sardaftari.
58
This ministry enlarged with time as
supplementary branches were created like the daftar-i-sanjish
(audits), daftar-i-imza (notarization), daftar-i-paimash-i-
266
arazi (land survey) and daftar-i-khalsa (administration of
state lands). Many landed proprietors opposed government
efforts to conduct land surveys or register holdings. Such
opposition sometimes required the involvement of the military.
Through such strict measures the Amir was able to increase
government revenue.
A most noteworthy reform was the introduction of a
uniformed monetary system in the country, the Kabul rupee. A
mint was established in Kabul with imported machinery. Old
coins were melted down, and copper was added to the old silver
to create the new specie. 59 In the process Afghan money
became devalued. Internally, regional currencies were
eliminated, which helped to bring economic uniformity in the
country.
wi thin the Revenue Department was also the Treasury
(Khazana), divided into state treasury (Khazana-i-Amirah) and
private treasury (Khazana-i-Khas) , branches of which were
installed in every province or town. The Hindus were
predominantly the clerks in these treasury, often under the
supervision of a l-luslim. Under Abdur Rahman, the Revenue
Department expanded into a large bureaucratic machine, each
division specialized in its own affairs. Lacking sufficient
capital to institute his reforms, the Amir employed a wide
variety of efforts to increase government income.
Reforms within the military were most important under
267
Amir Abdur Rahman, because the military provided the actual
basis on which the Amir held absolute power. Despi te past
attempts by Sher Ali and Dost Mohammed Khan to build a strong
army, the Afghan army was dominated by feudal and tribal
forces. By 1896 Abdur Rahman had eliminated the system
whereby each tribe or clan was obligated to furnish a certain
number of forces. Instead, the asht nafari (eight person)
plan was instituted, in which one out of every eight tribal
men joined the local military.60
Eventually the Amir established a loyal and independent
army, equipped with modern arms, and paid regularly in cash
and kind every two months. During expeditions, four-fifths of
any captured movable property was kept by the soldiers. 61
The annual British subsidy was used primarily to improve the
army numerically and professionally. The army's equipment,
uniforms, and organization methods were modified in order to
protect the country from further invasions. Although the
army's three main divisions of cavalry, artillery and infantry
remained intact, their organizations differed.
62
According
to Wheeler, in 1882 the Amir's army numbered 58,740. Kakar
states that in 1887 the combined forces numbered 64,000.
63
Turkestan reports in 1901 indicate that by the end of Abdur
Rahman's reign his army consisted of 88,000 regular forces and
some 60,000 irregular forces. 64 The Army had four main
regional divisions: Kabul, under the nominal control of Sipah
268
Salar Ghulam Haidar Charkhii Herat, led by Sipah Salar
Faramurz Khan i Turkestan, commanded by Sipah Salar Ghulam
Haider Orakzaii and Kandahar, (the smallest unit) led by some
usually relatively unknown officer.
65
Amir Abdur Rahman was
the Commander-in-Chief of the army, and especially of the
Kabul detachment. Conscription was enforced. Each village
was required to provide a certain number of men and supplies.
Irregular forces were generally used for short periods of time
during emergencies and were drawn from all classes of society.
For example, during the Hazara and Nuristan campaigns the Amir
recruited irregular forces from the local areas as well as
from elsewhere. The military were stationed throughout the
country, assisting in tax collection and preserving peace and
order. The majority of the recruits were Nuristani, Hazara,
Turkman, Tadj ik, Qizilbash, Uzbek and Pushtun. Over the years
the numbers of non-Pushtuns increased tremendously in the
army, although the Pushtuns and Qizilbash continued
disproportionally to occupy the high-ranking military
positions.
66
A most important aspect of the military was that it now
formed a new class of political elites loyal to and dependent
on, the Amir. Especially significant was the increasing
influence of the ghulam bachas (slave children) during the
Amir's reign. In an affort to create an independent class of
loyal servants, Amir Abdur Rahman recruited children from
269
Chitral, Nuristan, Badakhshan, and Hazarajat.
67
These ghulam
bachas (slave children) children received training within the
court and, as they grew up, were gradually assigned to high
ranking official posts. The palace guards (ghulam-i-shahi)
were made up entirely of ghulam bachas. The relationship of
a ghulam bacha to the Amir was that of slave to master. The
ghulam owed his privileged position in society to the
generosity of the Amir. Therefore, as a rule the ghulam
functioned with the utmost obedience and loyalty to the ruler
who adopted, raised, and favored him. 68 The intricacy of
this relationship between the ghulam and his master is
described as follows:
•.. ghulam owed his training, his equipment, and
above all his privileged place in society to the
care and interest of his patron, who usually acted
as the foster parent of the ghulam from
adolescence. This training included continual
efforts to inculcate obedience and gratitude to his
patron. The gratitude of the ghulam for these
benefits was strengthened by the general ethic of
ni'mah (benefit) and of filial duty.69
Ghulam bachas were married to Mohmadzais and were financially
supported by the Amir. A few examples of high officials from
this category of ghulam bachas were Parwana Khan (the Kotwal
of Kabul), General Faramurz Khan (the Sipah Salar of Herat),
and Nazir Mohammed Safar (the Chief Treasurer) .70
The Ministry of Interior (Kotwali), was attached to the
military and was responsible for internal Afghanistan
security. When Naib Mir Sultan Afshar, a Qizilbash, was the
270
Minister of Interior, he saw to it that some 60,000 people
were killed in the process of consolidating the Amir's
power. 71
In this manner Amir Abdur Rahman established a strong
centralized military with a corps of personnel highly devoted
to him. This army enabled him to carry out successful reforms
and preserve his power. During this period, the constant
threat of a foreign invasion heightened feelings of patriotism
within the military, to whom the Amir assigned moral credit as
defenders of the community and faith.
72
The Military and civil administration assisted in
managing the country, which was divided into four major
provinces: Turkestan, Kabul, Herat, and Kandahar. Each
province was assigned a governor, whose tenure was often short
term. The provinces were further partitioned into districts,
under the head of hakims. The political structure of the
provincial government generally resembled that of the national
government, with the various departments controlled by the
governor. However, the revenue, military and judicial
departments remained independent from the provincial
authority, and reported directly to the center. 73 Other
officials in such branches as the police, intelligence,
transportation, commerce, etc. remained under the jurisdiction
of the local governor. All of the local officials submitted
reports to their central departments. Thus, even at the local
271
level a sense of uniformity was introduced for the first time
simultaneously with the extension of central government
control.
ECONOMIC RE-ORGANIZATION EFFORTS UNDER THE AMIR
Amir Abdur Rahman recognized that Afghanistan's political
stability and development depended on its economic prosperity.
He faced an immense task to try to rebuild an economy in
shambles from war and anarchy. Already mentioned have been
his efforts to mint new coins, which helped eradicate regional
currencies. The Amir recognized that the government's primary
source of income was from land revenues. Therefore a side
effect of anything he might do to improve rural productivity
might be an increase in state revenues.
Over the years, agriculture in Afghanistan had not
developed because neglected karezes (underground springs) had
become dry or broken as a consequence of political
instability. Farmers, lacking capital to rebuild these
irrigation systems, often left lands to lie waste. The Amir
conf iscated properties of those who left the country and
offered loans to those willing to farm those properties. 74
He also opened state lands to anyone interested in working o ~
them. He encouraged the introduction of new crops from India
like cotton, sugarcane, indigo, millet, henna, oranges,
bananas, etc.. 75 Breeding of sheep, donkeys and horses
were carried out with foreign varieties. Although not all of
272
these innovations were successful, some of them were, and
ideas to improve agricultural conditions flourished.
Once methods to develop the land had been introduced,
officials began collecting taxes. This sometimes resulted in
tribal revolts, as the majority of the tribes had been exempt
from paying revenues to the central government. In order to
deal with this issue, the Amir issued a firman, in which he
declared that revenues were bayt aI-mal (public property) by
divine right. He proclaimed:
In accordance with the verses in the Holy Koran,
God commanded the followers of Mouhammad to pay
these charitable taxes out of their herds of cattle
and flocks of sheep, their crops and articles of
merchandise, to the sovereign of their time, who
should spend this money of the "Bait-ul-mal" in a
proper manner to keep up the glory of the religion
and protect the honour and reputation (of his
subjects) .76
Land surveys and arbitrary appraisals of land helped increase
government revenues, paid partly in cash and partly in kind.
previously a fixed sum had been assessed on a tract of land as
the government's portion, but the Amir adopted the kot system
that guaranteed the state a fixed share of the produce rather
than a fixed sum. In 1898 an annual date was set when people
had to remit taxes to their local tax office, which eliminated
the procedure of officials going to each village to collect
revenues. 77 Abdur Rahman taxed farms, mills, cattle,
vineyards, trade, post, houses, marriages, and even burials.
Such measures sometimes led landed elites to flee from the
273
country. In 1884 Sirdar Ahmad Khan, a grandson of Dost
Mohammed Khan, fled to India along with two ex-governors of
Jalalabad.
78
The state confiscated their lands, subdivided
them, and allowed peasants to farm them.
Although the Amir understood the financial difficulties
of his subjects, he felt that, in view of the shortage of
state funds, all measures to extract revenues were necessary
for the survival of his reforms. Money brokers were
encouraged to invest in state ventures, and in return they
were provided a profitable interest rates.
79
The Amir once exclaimed that "in trade lay the greatest
source for enriching my country".80 Afghans were encouraged
to conduct trade, while foreign merchants were discouraged
through having to pay higher customs duties. The Amir hoped
to prevent the export of capital from the country by offering
interest free loans to Afghan merchants. 81 Imports into
Afghanistan declined, as goods began to be manufactured in the
country. One such item was salt, the import of which the Amir
banned after it became possible to obtain salt from mines in
the country.
Afghanistan's isolation from major commercial routes
sometimes forced influential merchants to carry out most of
their activities outside of the country. Irregular transit
duties had also previously hampered trade. But under the
Amir's reign a bureau of Caravan Affairs was established to
274
oversee the safety, supply and transportation requirements of
merchants, travellers, and caravans in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan's major products for export were carpets, fruit,
wool, nuts, silk and horses. Areas became specialized in
generating exports products, i.e. Herat and Kohistan produced
silk; whereas Turkestan exported its horses and cattle. 82
Under British pressure Afghanistan conducted much of its
export trade with India. This left Afghanistan vulnerable to
British India's trade policies. On September 3rd, 1891, the
Amir proclaimed in the royal durbar that Afghan trade was
suffering a loss of 700,00 rupees per year because Indian
trade was being diverted to Iran via Bandar Abbas to
Meshed. 83 The opening of Bandar Abas as a commercial port
had drastic affects on the Afghan trade. Similarly the Trans-
Caspian Railway also diverted Central Asian trade towards
India via Afghanistan. By 1893, the export sales decreased
while imports of European cloth was steady.84 British Indian
basic commodities dominated the Afghan consumer market despite
Afghanistan protectionist policies, while Russian products
declined in the Afghan market. Furthermore, Afghanistan's
r e l a ~ i v e isolation from international markets and the decline
of its over land trade, did not help to develop its economy.
Recognizing the value of foreign trade, Amir Abdur Rahman
gradually began to monopolize the handling of exports. He
initiated this measure on the basis of complaints from Kuchis
275
(Afghan nomads), who traditionally handled the trade between
India and Afghanistan. These Kuchis would take their Afghan
products to Peshawar, in British India, where local brokers
and weighmen would determine the prices thereby diminishing
Afghan profits. Abdur Rahman intervened by setting prices for
commodities himself, which he then leased to individual
businessmen in Peshawar. For example, in 1892, Amir Abdur
Rahman leased the entire export of dried nuts and fruit to an
Afghan trader, Nur Mohammed Khan, who paid the Amir 120,000
Kabuli rupees per year. 85 In this way the Afghan Kuchis
dealt directly wi th the Afghan commercial agent, and then
turned around and leased the products to local brokers in
Peshawar. In time, the sale of pistachio and asafoetida came
under government control. The Afghan government leased these
products to individual Afghan merchants, who then sold them
across the border. However, the Amir's trade representative
sold almonds directly in peshawar.
86
Such methods of export
commodity control became profitable to the Afghan government.
In 1893, one contractor indicated that he remitted 80,000
Kabuli rupees annually to the Amir's government.
87
Another very important measure taken by the Amir was to
order all export trade to proceed via Peshawar. Previously,
merchants, wishing to avoid duties would send merchandise to
India via Multan, Kandhar, Shalkot, Kurram etc. But the Amir
closed these routes and ordered all merchandise to go through
Peshawar. 88
276
Before arriving in India, the merchants paid
customs duties to the Amir' s agent in Peshawar. Al though,
through this strategy the government implemented tighter
control over trade, the Afghan merchants suffered. The new
circuitious route, delayed their products in reaching markets
in India, and the customs duties in Peshawar raised the final
sale prices of their commodities. 89 Because Peshawar
functioned as the Afghan commercial center, when it was
severed from Afghanistan in 1893, the effect on Afghanistan's
already weak economy was devastating.
Another area received the Amir' s attention was industrial
development. Government workshops, initiated by Sher Ali, had
been totally destroyed during the second Anglo-Afghan ~ a ] a r .
Amir Abdur Rahman invited foreign experts to help restore
these workshops and create new small scale industries.
90
In
1886, Salter pyne helped establish steam power that was then
used to manufacture rifles, cartridges, 100 horse power
condensing engines, steam hammers with boilers, etc.. 91
with this new technology workshops, appeared producing boots
and leather products, soap, candles, stamps and dyes for the
mint, leather tanning and dyeing, furniture, etc. These
workshops were created primarily to supply the needs of the
military, but the machinery was used to manufacture other
products as well. In 1893, the Boundary Commission described
the scene at these workshops in Kabul:
••. the shops present a very busy scene ••• every
branch of machinery was in motion; Martini-Henry
cartridges making was proceeding at a great pace,
minting was going on, guns and rifles were being
bored, shells cast, the steam hammer was at work on
a nine-pounder gun cast in the shops, and the new
powerful rolling mill was set in motion. The steam
saw mills, boot factory, candle and soap factory,
harness and tailoring shops were inspected ••. Sir
Mortimer Durand was much surprised and interested,
and allowed that the reports which have appeared in
the Indian Press about the shops were by no means
exaggerated. 11.92
277
The Amir capitalized on his distillery by using the
variety of grapes available in the country to produce wine,
brandy and whiskey, which were then exported to India. 93
Several foreign consultants were brought to Kabul to give
advice on potential development in mining, horse-breeding,
tanning, minting, mechanical engineering and geological
explorations. But these foreign experts sometimes suffered
harassment by Afghans who disliked their presence in the
country. By the end of the Amir' s reign, Afghanistan,
contained thirty-two guilds in operation at productive levels.
In 1857, twenty-three years before Amir Abdur Rahman
came to power, Afghanistan's government revenues (excluding
Herat) were 4,008,800 rupees out of which one million was paid
to the s irdars • Twenty years later, in 1877-78, the royal
income was estimated at 13,323,174 rupees (excluding Farah),
while expenditures amounted to 11,751,112 rupees. However,
when Abdur Rahman ascended the throne, Kabul's revenues alone
were 4 million rupees, of which 2 million were spent. within
278
a few years, in 1883, the Amir raised 13,300,000 rupess from
Kandahar, Herat and Kabul alone. This amount increased
tremendously by 1889, with an annual income of 50 million
rupees, including the British subsidy of 1,800,000 rupees.
94
But, this capital was insufficient to re-build a war-torn
country that was not only isolated from the international
market but also devoid of strong institutions to support its
economy.
SOCIAL PROGRAMS
In the sphere of social programs, the Amir initiated only
a few, several of which were further developed by his
successors. For the first time European medicine was
introduced into Afghanistan. In 1891, an English woman Miss
Lillian Hamilton, the Amir's court doctor, founded the first
hospital and brought in British-trained Indian doctors. 95
Once the hospi tal had established, instructions for
administering smallpox vaccinations were translated into Dari
for local hakims could perform the vaccinations. In time, the
production of soap contributed much to the improvement of
sanitation within the country.
The Amir's public works accomplishments were impressive.
When he first took power, he did not even have a place to
stay, inasmuch as the Bala Hisar complex had been destroyed
during the war. He built a royal palace in Deh Afghan, with
his quarters, the harem, and the treasury situated in the
center surrounded by thick walls. 96
279
Within this palace
compound ammunition was also stored. outside of this structure
were two large courts and the summer palaces.
The Amir saw to it that roads and bridges were built re-
connecting major trading centers, like the roads from Kabul to
Ghazni to Herat, Herat to Kandahar, Kabul to Peshawar, etc.,.
Most important of all, the Amir held the people in the region
responsible for maintenance of the roads and the safety of
travellers in their region. Old and new forts were
reinforced, especially along the Russo-Afghan and Indo-Afghan
borders. The military carried out the actual construction
employing people from the locality to help them. The Amir
also instituted a rahdari or passport system that enabled the
government to restrict travel and control movements.
As one observer noted in 1885: "new roads, new gardens and
palaces had sprung up, and the bazaars and streets are full of
life and energy •.. In short, the keynote of the whole scene was
progress - progress everywhere.
n

97
Other innovations include the introduction of a Persian
printing press that helped develop Pushto literature and basic
texts for education. The Amir declared Persian to be the
official language, but manuals were translated from other
languages as needed. Many of the nobility adopted European
furniture and dress that, in turn affected their lifestyles.
The most important impediments to the Amir' s reforms were
280
the lack of sufficient local expertise, capital, and manpower
necessary to implement those reforms. Furthermore, the Amir
felt constrained to limit the import of foreign expertise,
capital, and technology out of a fear of jeopardizing
Afghanistan's national security. After refusing British and
Russian plans to extend railroads and telegraph lines into
Afghanistan, the Amir explained.
Many of my officials who think themselves very wise
keep on advising me to introduce railways and
telegraphs,saying that it is impossible to get the
full benefit of minerals and other products. But I
again advise my sons and successors not to listen
to these people. Of course, I know myself that what
they say is quite true, but, at the same time, they
do not consider that by making the country easily
accessible, foreign powers would not find so much
difficulty in entering and spreading themselves
over our country. The greatest safety of
Afghanistan lies in its natural impregnable
position. 98
Abdur Rahman waited until Afghanistan was capable of defending
itself from its powerful neighbors before he encouraged such
developments as the introduction of the telegraph. Xenophobia
contributed to Afghanistan's economic backwardness, as did the
heavy taxation on the urban classes that left little surplus
in their hands. Even when they did have surplus, many of them
refused to re-invest that surplus in the economy. The
conclusion of the Durand Agreement in 1893 also contributed to
Afghanistan's backwardness, inasmuch as it made Afghanistan's
economy even more dependent on that of British India.
Taking an overview of the reign of Amir Abdur Rahman
281
(1880-1901), one can identify many positive legacies. The
Amir used Anglo-Russian competition to strengthen his position
in Afghanistan. He built a strong army, reduced the power of
tribal and religious figures, and pacified the country.
Through force he was able to institute a series of reforms.
He imported limited European technology and expertise to
improve Afghanistan's economy. He raised sentiments of
patriotism by encouraging his fellow Afghan to remain united
or else perish under the threat of foreign imperialists. In a
gathering at Jalalabad, for example, he issued a call for
national unity when he declared:
.•• from here (Jalalabad) as far as Herat there are
Shinwaris, Afridis, Mangals, Jajis, Waziris, etc.,
all forming one nation. From Herat you go to
Maimana, Balkh, Shignan, and Badakhshan, these are
situated in a circle and are occupied by one
nation" .99
A major negative legacy of Amir Abdur Rahman's reign was the
fact that a portion of his fellow countrymen were severed from
Afghanistan in 1893 after the conclusion of the Durand
Boundary Agreement.
282
1. Foreign Department Secret September, 1880 no.146
"Russian Abstract - Golos July 27, 1880" August 4, 1880.
2. Cf. in Wheeler, Stephen The Ameer Abdur Rahman, (London:
Bliss, Sands & Foster, 1895) p.57-58.
3. Ibid. p. 58 •
4. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan (ed.) The Life of Abdur
Rahman vol. II reprint (Karachi: Oxford University Press,
1980, 1900) p. 279-280. Initially, this source was considered
an autobiography of Abdur Rahman, and was immediately
translated into Persian. The first volume's authenticity is
proven because the original manuscript was published in 1886
under the title, Pand-Nameh-i-Duniya wa Din (A Treatise of
Advice on the World and Religion). Appparently, the Amir
commissioned Sultan Mahomed Khan to translate his book into
English in order to influence British public op1n1on.
However, the second volume was actually written by Sultan
Mahomed Khan, a punjabi munshi, employed by the Amir as
interpreter and secretary. Although Sultan Mahomed Khan's
claims to have compiled the book as dictated by the Amir, the
Amir's view towards the British as expressed in volume II do
not coincide with those of the previous volume. Despite the
fact that volume II was authored by Sultan Mahomed Khan, it is
still invaluable for this period of study. By 1897 Sultan
Mahomed Khan was forced to leave Afghanistan because he was
charged with corruption and espionage for the British. The
fact that he Khan was not even allowed to return to Afghanis-
tan under Habibullah's rule indicates that perhaps the royal
family did not approve of his work. Foreign Department Secret
June, 1898 no.409 IIInterview of Sultan Mahomed by Donald
Stewart
ll
March 28, 1898.
5. Foreign Department Secret June, 1880 no.305 "Memorandum
by Lepel Griffin", Chief Political Officer of North and
Eastern Afghanistan May 8, 1880.
6. Kakar, Hassan K. "Afghanistan From Disintegration to
Reunification: 1880-1884" , Afghanistan vol. XXIII, no.l
Spring 1970 p.15.
7. Foreign Department Secret June, 1880 no.305 "Memorandum
by Lepel Griffin" Chief Political Officer of North and Eastern
Afghanistan May 8, 1880.
8. Foreign Department Secret June, 1880 no.305 "Memorandum
by Lepel Griffin, Chief Political Officer North and Eastern
Afghanistan" May 8, 1880.
283
9. Foreign Department Secret June, 1880 no.307 "Letter from
Lt. General D.M. Stewart, Commander of Forces, North and
Eastern Afghanistan,. To A.C. Lyall, Secretary to Govt. Of
India, Foreign Department" n.d. •
10. Gregorian, Vartan The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan,
p.131; G.P. Tate states the British gave the Amir a total of
3,900,500 rupees of which only 500,000 rupees came from the
Afghan treasury. The Kingdom of Afghanistan p.179.
11. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman,
vol.I reprint (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1980, 1900)
p. 217-218.
12. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan:
The Reign of Amir 'Abd aI-Rahman Khan, (Austin: University
of Texas Press, 1979) p.xxi-xxiv.
13. Dupree, Louis Afghanistan p.418-419.
14. Tate, G.P. The Kingdom of Afghanistan (Bombay & Calcutta:
Bennett Coleman & Co., 1911)· p.183.
15. Foreign Department Secret-F
"Peshawar Confidential Diary,
Proclamation" October 25, 1893.
November, 1893 no.175
Translation of Amir's
16. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman,
vol.I p.238.
17. After this event the Durrani clan regained their prominent
postion within the royal court, because they had politically
and financially backed the Amir in this campaign. The
Durranis, especially descendants of Payinda Khan, became known
as sharik-i-dawlat or partners of the state. Kakar, Hasan K.
Government and Society in Afghanistan, p.9.
18. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi The Life of Abdur Rahman, vol. I
p.252.
19. Foreign Department Secret-F January, 1893 no.531 "Kabul
Diary" December 27, 1892.
20. For more details on the campaign see: Kakar, Hasan K.
"The Pacification of the Hazaras of Afghanistan" Occasional
Paper no. 4, The Afghanistan Council of the Asia Society
Spring, 1973; Bacon, E. "An Inquiry into the History of the
Hazara Mongol of Afghanistan" Southwestern Journal of
Anthropology vol.7, 1951 ; and Schurmann, H.F. The Mongols
284
of Afghanistan (Lieden: Gravenhage, 1962).
21. Cf. in Kakar, Hasan K. "The Pacification of the Hazaras of
Afghanistan" p.9.
220 Foreign Department Secret-F November, 1892
"Peshawar Diary" September 20, 1892.
no.408
23. Foreign Department Secret-F January, 1893 no.531 "Kabul
Diary" December 27, 1892.
24. Details of the Kafiristan conquest are described in
Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman,
vol.I p.287-292. The Nuristani religion predated Islamic.
25. Tate, G.P. The Kingdom of Afghanistan p.193.
26. stewart, Charles E. Through Persia in Disguise, with
Reminiscences of the Indian Mutiny, (London: 1911) p.430.
27. Nizam al-Mulk initially worked as a bureaucrat for the
Ghazanawids in the eleventh century. His observations and
experiences helped him after he joined the Seljuks in 1040,
where he rose to become Vizier of the ruler Malik Shah. In
1086, Malik Shah commissioned him to write a treatise on good
government as a guideline for successive rulers. Al-Mulk,
Nizam The Siyasat-nama (The Book Of Government or Rules For
Kings) translated by Hubert Darke (London: Routledge & Kegan
Paul, 1960)
28. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman,
vol. I translated from the original monograph, Pand Nameh
authored by the Amir.
29. Foreign Department Secret-F November, 1894 no.153
"Translation of the pamphlet entitled 'Mirat ul-'Akl" by His
Highness Amir Abdur Rahman Khan June 10,1894.
30. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1898 no.313 "K. W.
No.3" translated by Abdur Rahim, Hakim November 11, 1897.
31. Gordon, Sir Thomas E. A Varied Life. A Record of
Military and civil Service, of Sport and of Travel in India,
Central Asia and Persia, 1849-1902, (London: 1906), p. 121.
32. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1898 no.313 "K.W.
No.3".
33. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1898 no.313
No.3" November 11, 1897.
285
"K.W.
34. Foreign Department Secret-F
"Kandahar News-Letter" •
November, 1894 no.153
35. Darke Hubert trans. The Book of Government or Rules for
Kings of Nizam al-Mulk, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul,
1960) p.99.
36. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1898 no.313 "K.W.
No.3" November 11, 1897. Appended to this document is the
entire text of a proclamation by the Amir on the religious
benefits and justification of jihad. Throughout the
manuscript, Abdur Rahman quotes religious scholars like al-
Ghazali, al-Bukhari, and Ibn-i-Abbas.
37. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1898 "Translation of
Amir Abdur Rahman's Proclamation" n.d. •
38. Darke, Hubert trans. The Book of Government for Kings of
Nizam al-Mulk p.66-68.
39. Ibid. p.63-64.
40. Martin, Frank A. Under the Absolute Amir, p.157.
41. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman
vo1.1 p.219.
42. Darke, Hubert trans. The Book of Government or Rules for
Kings of Nizam al-Mulk;, for details see chapter XIII "On
sending Spies and Using them for the Good of the Country and
the People" p.78-90.
43. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman
vo1. I p. 229.
44. At the onset of his reign the Amir issued a proclamation
in which he defined his role as the patriarch of the nation:
The real object of my teaching is that kindness and
compassion of the King towards his subjects
resemble the feelings of a father towards his son;
and as it is natural that a father should be kind
to his son, so it is also natural that the King
should be kind to his subjects ... But when the
father sees the errors of his son, he admonishes
and punishes him. Now this punishment is not due
to ill-feeling, but rather to the excessive love
which the father bears towards his son, so that he
cannot even bear the sight of any wrong-doings on
the part of the son; in the same way the King has
the same feelings towards his subjects as a father
has towards his son... When a boy is young and
ignorant, he hates and despises the advice of his
father, but when he becomes of age and becomes
endued with wisdom and intellect, he considers that
there is none so kind and affectionate as his
father, and it is the whole purport and desire of
is life to obey the orders of his father. In the
same way I, the ruler of you Afghans, have the same
desire of being kind and generous to you, even as a
father is kind and generous to his son. If you are
wise enough to understand and benefit by my advice,
I am confident that you will see that your religion
will flourish and that your country will be
prosperous.
286
Cf. in Curzon, Lord George Tales of Travel,
1923) p.69-72.
(New York:
45. Dupree, Louis Afghanistan, p.430.
46. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman
vol.II p. 188. For detailed analyses of Abdur Rahman's
administration, see Hasan K. Kakar's Government and Society in
Afghanistan, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979); Mir
Munshi Sultan Mahomed Khan's The Constitution and Laws in
Afghanistan, (London: John Murray, 1900), authored in London
during his residency there to study law; and Angus Hamilton's
Afghanistan, (Boston: William Heineman, 1906).
47. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan,
p.24.
48. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Constitution and Laws
of Afghanistan p.58.
49. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Constitution and Laws
of Afghanistan p.61.
50. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman
vol.II p.189.
51. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The consitution and Laws
of Afghanistan p.70.
52. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman
vo 1. I I P . 50 .
287
53. The Amir was himself well-versed in Pushto, Dari, and
Uzbeki. In the foreign affairs department a Qizilbash was
placed in charge of the Dari section, Mullah Mohammed was head
of the Pushto section, and Mir Munshi Sultan Mahomed Khan,
until 1897, handled all English correspondence. He was
replaced by Dr. Abd aI-Ghani, the Amir's personal physician.
Kakar, Hasan K. Government and society in Afghanistan, p.12,
36-38.
54. Gregorian, Vartan The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan,
p.134.
55. Martin, Frank A. Under the Absolute Amir p.249.
56. Martin, Frank A. Under the Absolute Amir p.148.
57. McChesney, Robert D. "The Economic Reforms of Amir Abdul
Rahman Khan" Afghanistan no.3 1968 p.12.
58. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan,
p.36-38.
59. Martin, Frank A. Under the Absolute Amir p.251-252. The
old rupee was made of pure silver, which became devalued as
copper was added to the new mint.
60. Gregorian, Vartan The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan
p.140.
61. Siraj ul-Tawarikh pe687; 1182.
62. In the cavalry (sawara), the basic unit was a piara of 6
men; three piaras formed a platoon under the command of a
subedar; four platoons created a company under the charge of
a kif tan or captain; several of these kif tans formed a risala
or regiment led by a kumaidan or colonel. The infantry
followed the same pattern of organization, with the exception
that the basic unit consisted of eight to ten soldiers. The
artillery's smallest division was a platoon consisting of two
cannons and 32 men under the command of a jamedar. Foreign
Department Secret-F 1893 no.224 "A Report on the Strength and
Distribution of the Army" n.d.; For more details see M.A.
Babakhodjayev's "Afghanistan's Armed Forces and the Amir
Abdul Rahman's Military Reforms" Afghanistan no.2 Summer 1970
p.8-20 & part II no.3 Fall 1970 p.9-23.
63. Wheeler, Stephen The Ameer Abdur Rahman, p.217; Cf. in
Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan, p. 98.
288
64. Cf. in Babakhodjayev, M.A. "Afghanistan's Armed Forces
and the Amir Abdul Rahman's Military Reforms" Afghanistan
part I p.10.
65. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and society in Afghanistan,
p.108.
66. Babakhodjayev, M.A. "Afghanistan's Armed Forces and Abdur
Rahman's Military Reforms" Afghanistan part II no.3 Fall 1970
p.13-15.
67. Foreign DeDartment Political-A June, 1900 no.669
"Kabul DiaryiO May 22, 1900.
68. Cf. in Mottahedeh, Roy Loyalty and Leadership in an Early
Islamic Society , (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1980) p.85.
69. Mottahedeh,
Islamic Society
Roy Loyal ty and Leadership in an Early
p.84.
70. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan
p.20.
71. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan
p.38. Under strong pressure from other officials, Naib Mir
Sultan Afshar was finally hanged in Paghman after the Amir had
no more use for him.
72. Foreign Department Secret-F March 1898 no.313 "K.W.
No.3" November 11, 1897.
73. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan,
p.49.
74. Siraj ul-Tawarikh, p.954.
75. Siraj ul-Tawarikh p.880, 997.
76. Foreign Department Secret-F November,
"Kandahar News-Letter" August 3, 1984.
77. Siraj ul-Tawarikh p.1061.
1894 no.153
78. Foreign Department Secret-E June, 1884 no.254 "Peshawar
Confidential Diary No.5" May 28, 1884. Other prominent
families also fled because of harsh taxes.
289
79. Foreign Department Secret-F January, 1893 no.538 "Kabul
Diary" January 1, 1893. Money brokers, or dalals, were
divided into Hindus and Muslims, each having separate leaders.
80. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman,
vol.II p.75.
81. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman
vol.II p.76-77.
82. Foreign Department Secret-E June, 1884 no.254 "Peshawar
Confidential Diary No.5" May 28, 1884.
83. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1891 no.368 "Kabul
Diary" September 2-4, 1891.
84. Foreian DeDartment Frontier-B March, 1893 nO.160
"Report of the External Land Trade of the Punjab for the Year
1891-1892" n.d.
85. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1893 no. 426 "Report
from Commissioner of Peshawar to Chief Secretary to the Punjab
Government" September 30, 1892. The products involved were
dried apricots, melons, cheese, pistachio flowers used for
dying silk, cumin seeds, grapes, tobacco, raisins,
pomegranates, apples, pears, etc. •
86. Foreign Department Secret-E June, 1884 no.5 "Peshawar
Confidential Diary" May 28, 1884.
87. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1893 no.434 "Extract
From Peshawar Diary" January 23, 1893.
88. Foreign Department Secret-F
"Translation of Statements by Merchants"
May, 1893 no.428
September 18, 1892.
89. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1891 no.368 "Kabul
Diary" September 2-4, 1891. An example of the artificial
value of products was tea, which was bought for 50 rupees but
sold for 10-12 rupees.
90. For details on these workshops see: Ahmad Ali Kohzad
"Maskukat-e-Afghnistan dar asr-e-Islam" Kaboul Almanach,
(1940-1941); Abdul Qadir Khan "Karkhaneha dar Afghanistan"
Kaboul Almanach (1941-1942); and John A. Gray At the Court of
the Amir, (London: 1895) p.372-373.
91. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman,
vol. II p. 26-27 .
92. Foreign Department Secret-F December, 1893
"Kabul Mission Diary" November 8-11, 1893.
290
no.151
93. Gregorian, Vartan The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan,
p.143.
94. All figures listed above are estimates found in Kakar,
Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan, p.90-91;
Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1890 nos .161-181
"Report of Sahibzada Mir Agha to·the Peshawar Commissioner"
November 19, 1889; Mir Mohammed Ghobar states that the
treasury in 1901 had 60 million rupees and some gold coins.
Afghanistan dar Masir-i-Tarikh p.648.
95. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1891 no.29 "List
of Medical Oficers in the Service of His Highness the Amir"
n.d.
96. Martin, Frank A. Under the Absolute Amir p.51-52.
97. Holdich, Sir T. Hungerford The Indian Borderland, 1880-
1900 reprint (Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1987) p. 166;
Holdich had participated in the second Anglo-Afghan war;
therefore he was impressed by the rapid development in the
country.
98. Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman
vol. II p. 77.
99. Foreign Department Secret March; 1888 no.219
Diary" January 19, 1888.
"Kabul
MAP 3.
- --/
I
I
I
(
Frontier of
: •••••• 11 ••••••
• a ••••
India 1890 -1908.
1).....4,.
Ruo.o- (Mu 6ounc>'ory 01 Indio
Other JJshan A RUI6O- Pani ,. ....
l\oundorica ... on ronber ...
291
Davies, 1932
, ~ .
.'"
,"
- CHAPTER EXGBT -
THE DELIMITATION OF THE RUSSO-AFGHAN BOUNDARY
••• Frontiers are the chief anxiety of
nearly every Foreign Office in the
civilised world, and are the subject of
four out of every five political treaties
or conventions that are now
concluded ••• Frontier policy is of the
first practical importance, and has more
profound effect upon the peace or warfare
of nations than ant other factor,
political or economic.
As Czarist Russia's borders expanded southwards into
Central Asia, both Britain and Russia feared the results of
sharing a coterminous border.
2
British Indian
administrators, apprehensive about their enemies within India,
recognized that petty rulers and people wi thin the empire
might manipulate this competition between Russia and Britain
to try to achieve their own independence.
3
Proponents of the
"forward policy" and the "closed border policy" urged a
reassessment of the British Indian north-west frontier. And
exact territorial definitions of Afghanistan were seen as
crucial to maintain stable Anglo-Russian foreign-policy
relations in Asia.
The first attempt to delineate a boundary between
Afghanistan and Russia was made in 1873, when the Gorchakov-
Clarendon Agreement, concluded between Britain and Czarist
Russia, set out to define the Amu Darya as the limit to both
powers' spheres of influence. However owing to the lack of
292
293
any precise geographical knowledge of the area, this line
remained vague and was never mapped out.
After the Treaty of Gandamak in 1879, making Britain
responsible for maintaining Afghanistan's northern border, the
British became more active in Afghan affairs.
4
They
encouraged the independent chiefs of Afghanistan's northern
provinces to align themselves with Yakub Khan, the new Afghan
ruler, in efforts to help him consolidate his power. For
example, when in 1879 a local chief named Shahzada Hassan took
control over Badakhshan, he requested British aide and
threatened to seek help from the Russians if the British did
not comply. 5 The British, in no fear of the Russians
offered instead to station an agent in Badakhshan and
encouraged Shahzada Hassan to become a subordinate of Yakub
Khan, the Afghan ruler.
6
Traditionally northern Afghanistan has been a scene of
constant rivalry between Bukhara and Afghanistan, both vying
to establish their influence over the region. Shortly after
Abdur Rahman came to power in 1880 he regained control over
Badakhshan with the support of Mir Baba, while Shahzada
Hassan, sought refuge from the British in Gilgit. As soon as
Mir Baba gained power in Badakshan in 1880, he was challenged
by several contenders. Mir Alam Khan with the support of
Bukharan troops succeeded in driving the Afghan partisan out
of Badakhshan.
7
This success did not last very long,
294
however, because immediately there after, the Afghan forces of
Amir Abdur Rahman regained control over Badakhshan.
In efforts to maintain Afghanistan's hold over
Badakhshan, Amir Abdur Rahman constructed a network of
alliances that spread beyond the Oxus line. Matters became
even more complicated when his troops occupied Shignan in
March, 1883 to prevent the local chief from forging a
coalition with Bukhara.The Russian authorities lodged their
objections with the British representative in st. Petersburg,
claiming that Shignan belonged to Bukhara.
8
However, both
powers ignored the immediate need to reassess the border
situation.
For Amir Abdur Rahman it had become crucial to obtain a
clear geographic definition of his country if he wanted to
consolidate his power and to embark on a path of internal
development of Afghanistan. In 1883, after having received no
response to his earlier request in 1882, the Amir Abdur
Rahman, in a letter to Lord Ripon, the Indian viceroy,
requested a copy of a map of northern Afghanistan. He stated:
I have no valid instrument or good map attested by
and bearing the seal of the [British] Government,
showing the boundaries defined between Afghanistan
and Russia and persia; .•. Both for me and for the
people of Afghanistan such a document and map are
indispensably necessary.9
In a subsequent letter, Amir Abdur Rahman underscored his need
295
for such a map by portraying himself to the Viceroy as the
guardian (sarhad-dar) of the British Indian empire who needed
to know the boundaries of his domain.
IO
However, the
British, possessing no such map, could offer the Amir only a
vague definition of the territories according to the 1873
Agreement which, they insisted, had been accepted by Sher Ali.
In his reply, Ripon explained that Afghanistan's northwest
boundary between the Oxus River and the Hari Rud included:
" ••• the internal districts of of Akcha, Sir-i-Pul, Maimena,
Shibergan, and Andkoi, the latter of which would be the
extreme Afghan frontier possession to the northwest .•• ". 11
In addition the British offered to increase the Amir's
annual subsidy (now amounting to 1,200,000 rupees) and to
continue their negotiations with Russia.
12
Meanwhile czarist Russia was steadily advancing towards
the south. Alarmed by these advances, the Amir produced his
own map for the British authorities, a map that showed such
territories as Roshan and Shignan to belong to Afghanistan.
Matters became worse when in January, 1884, Amir Abdur Rahman
sent his troops into Roshan to protect the chief, his ally,
against a local uprising. The British recognized the need to
address the issue of Afghanistan's northern boundary before
there was a Russo-Afghan confrontation.
The Viceroy, Lord Ripon, sent a stern letter to Amir
Abdur Rahman stating that, by crossing into Roshan, the Amir
296
had violated the 1873 Agreement, since that Agreement had
established that the Panja and Amu should be Afghanistan's
northern border from Wood's Lake to Khoj a Saleh .13 The
Viceroy explained that the British had persuaded Russia to
accept Afghanistan's rights over Badakshan, and, in return,
the British had assured the Russians that the Afghans would
abide by the terms of the Agreement. The Viceroy warned the
Amir that if the Amir did not restrain his troops, Britain
would not come to Afghanistan's aid in the event of a war with
Russia.
14
The Amir in response argued, "Should I let Roshan fall
into the hands of an outsider today, I must waive my claim
tomorrow to Shignan and the places below it •.• [all of which
are] Badakhshan territory itself".lS
Some British officials, like Rawlinson, supported the
Amir's claims, perceiving that such an extension complemented
British interests in the area, especially since Afghanistan
was subject to British influence. Rawlinson urged the British
government to represent to the Russian's Afghan claims over
Roshan and Shignan. He argued that if Afghan troops withdrew
from Roshan and Shignan,
Russia will .•. secure a permanent footing in an
advanced and most important strategical position.
From the southern skirts of Pamir, indeed, Russia
would keep up communication in one direction with
her military stations of Kokand and Samarqand,
while to the east she would hold in check the
Chinese of Kashgar ••. and to the south she would
command access by the easy Baroghil pass, both to
Kashmir and Kabul, through the open valleys of
Gilgit and Chitral.
16
297
However, officials in London did not desire to re-open the
Russo-Afghan boundary issue, which they believed had been
finalized in 1873. Therefore, in keeping with the spirit of
the Agreement, Rawlinson suggested that both Russia and
England should delimit their spheres of interest by more
clearly defining each region's boundaries regardless of
whether or not the Amir's troops had violated the 1873
boundaries. 17 It was illogical, he argued, to consider the
Amu river, to form the natural boundary of northern
Afghanistan when in reality people held farms on both sides of
the river.
In earlier correspondence, Amir Abdur Rahman had
attempted to arouse Russophobic sentiments among the British
when he wrote:
Today everyone is making roads from above
Afghanistan, and strengthening their frontiers for
an evil day; but I am trifling away my time in a
sequestered nook of Afghanistan, while I am seeing
with my own eyes and reading in newspapers that
they [the Russians] are using their endeavours to
throw into disorder the affairs of Afghanistan
and. •• India. 18
Regardless of such arguments, the British officials in India
preferred to abide by the Amu and Panja line as defined in the
1873 Agreement. This was unacceptable to Amir Abdur Rahman.
Historically, it could be argued that Afghan claims over
298
Shignan and Roshan were at least as valid as Russian claims to
the region. In 1859, when Dost Mohammed Khan conquered
Badakhshan, whose ruler had obtained his independence from the
Uzbeks, Shignan and Roshan were territories appended to
Badakhshan.
19
During the negotiations of the 1873 Agreement,
Amir Sher Ali insisted on Afghanistan's rights over Shignan
and Roshan, but both the British and the Russians ignored him.
In fact Yusuf Beg, the leader of Shignan, had pledged his
allegiance to Amir Sher Ali.
20
Russia's claims that Shignan
and Roshan belonged to Darwaz overlooked the fact that the
residents of Shignan and Roshan were mainly Shi'ites; whereas
the residents of Darwaz were predominantly sunni.
Furthermore, the father-and-son rulers of Shignan and Roshan
paid revenues to the ruler of Afghanistan.
21
Thus, in a strongly worded letter Amir Abdur Rahman
offered to the British what he perceived to be uncontestable
evidence that Shignan and Roshan belonged to Afghanistan:
Shignanis and Roshanis have sent me the holy Koran,
to which their seals have been affixed. It bears
the seals of the principal men of Roshan. Koran is
the pivot of Islam, and the one thus sent, which
bears the seals, serves as a clear and posi ti ve
proof of the fact that Bokhara can lay no claim to
Roshan. Rest ass.ured and satisfy the minds of the
British authorities as to the validity and strength
of the instrument and authority which I have in my
possession.
22
In response to the Amir' s letter, the British proposed in
April, 1884 to establish a joint Anglo-Russian commission,
299
whose primary function would be to survey the proposed Oxus
CAntu Darya) and Panja line. The Russian response was
negative. They rejected any Afghan claims over Roshan and
Shignan, and they maintained the status of these regions had
been settled in the 1873 Agreement. In fact, Russia's stance
was that no further progress on the boundary issue could be
made unless Afghan troops were wi thdrawn from Roshan and
Shignan. Finally, upon British insistance, the Antir withdrew
his troops. This deferred any further debate on these
disputed territories. Once again British and Russian
interests in the region had superceded those of Afghanistan.
In that same year, 1884, Russia occupied Merv. Perhaps
Russia's advance on to Merv did not generate a very strong
response in Britain, because of complications in Egypt and
Sudan. However, in British India the reaction was one of
nervousness. Herat now shared an ill defined border with
Russia. The British rapidly proceeded with the Quetta railway
project without consulting Abdur Rahman in the hope that the
railway might enable to close the gap between the British
Indian empire and Afghanistan.
Under some pressure from the British authorities in
India, Lord Granville, the British Foreign Secretary, agreed
to discuss the issue with his Russian counterpart, M. de
Giers. The two of them struck an agreement to work jointly on
a definition of Russian and Afghan territories working
300
westwards from Khoja Saleh.
23
This joint-commission, to be
led by generals Lumsden and Zeleni, was to begin its work on
the boundary the following year. The Russians were willing to
accept one Afghan member to serve the joint commission
strictly in an advisory capacity, a condition to which Lord
Granville agreed.
24
Following this high-level agreement, the Viceroy
requested the Amir to send a representative to the joint
commission who was thoroughly familiar with the region. The
Amir refused on the grounds that no such expert existed. But
he agreed to arrange for the joint commission to meet with
regional leaders in the border areas, who could assist by
offering their expertise. 25 The Amir was not too pleased
wi th the proceedings. At one point he told the durbar, "They
thought nothing of us to join in the meetings in which the
discussions were held in regard to the delimitation of our and
the Russian frontiers for which we invited our friends to
assist us". 26
No sooner had the British-Indian authorities begun making
arrangements with the Amir for their mission, then the Anglo-
Afghan dialogue became strained over the number of personnel
authorized to enter Afghanistan. The British submitted to the
Amir a list of 1,000 potential mission participants. In his
reply, the Amir wrote:
When a party of 1,000 people or upwards set foot on
and passes along the border of Afghanistan, among
the tribes, the manner in which those people will
behave and act will give rise to disturbances and
kindle the fire of commotion into a flame, which
will end in hostili ties and an open rupture. It
will then be out of my power to counteract this.27
301
The British understood the Amir's predicament, since anti-
foreign sentiments widely persisted in the countryside.
Ultimately, both parties agreed to allow 600 people into the
region, and to insist that these people deal only with the
Amir's officials.
28
However, a misunderstanding between the Amir and the
Viceroy almost aborted the mission. The British mission
arrived at the Afghan border with nine hundred people. The
Afghan officials refused to grant them permission into the
country because there were more than six hundred of them. The
British maintained they had understood that the six hundred
limit applied to British officers, while no limitations had
been placed on the non-British members of the mission.
29
'While waiting for the Russian party, the British mission
began its. groundwork in the western part of Afghanistan's
northern boundary, with Lumsden and Ridgeway establishing a
network of informants. Complications occurred when Afghan
troops took a post at Zulfiqar Pass, which the Russians
claimed to be beyond Afghan limits. Similar complications
occurred when a dispute arose as to the exact definition of
302
Khoja Saleh, the starting point of the demarcation process. In
March, 1885, upon the Viceroy's inisistence, the Amir Abdur
Rahman went to Rawalpindi, where he explained to the British
that he had no desire to engage in a war with Russia.
30
But
he also explained that he could not relinquish strategic
territory, that was crucial to Afghanistan's national
security. In hopes of retaining Zulfiqar and Muruchak passes,
Abdur Rahman indicated that he was willing to concede Panjdeh
and Badghis • The main outcome of this visit was that the
British were given complete freedom regarding the demarcation
of Afghanistan's northern boundary.
During the Amir's visit to Rawalpindi, in India, Afghan
and Russian troops clashed in panjdeh.
31
Although the
Russians lodged their protest with the British for not
restraining Afghanistan, there was dissent within the czarist
government over Russia's advance into Panjdeh. As a matter of
fact, the Russian Foreign Minister, M. De Giers, threatened to
resign if Russian foreign policy was not restrained,
especially since he personally had guaranteed to the British
that Russia would make that no more advances into the
region. 32
Meanwhile, the British assured Amir Abdur Rahman that the
British would provide arms and forces to Afghanistan in the
event Russia invaded Afghanistan. The Amir graciously denied
the need for any foreign personnel to come into Afghanistan
303
for several reasons: 1) He wanted to avert any panic on the
part of the British in India that might lead them to an
,
imperial launch war on Afghan soil; and 2) He was not sure
that the costs of retaining control over Panjdeh were
economically feasible. 33 He recognized that any imperial
conflict on Afghan territory would be disastrous for his
country. 34 The Amir hoped that once Afghanistan's borders
had been defined, he could focus his attention on the internal
development of his kingdom.
A few days later the Russians defeated the Afghan forces
at Pul-i-Khishti near Panjdeh. Despite strong objections from
the Russian military, the Czar opted to negotiate with the
British over this conflict. The British mission's presence in
Panjdeh provided fuel for the Russian claims of British
involvement. While Anglo-Russian negotiations continued, in
London the Conservatives replaced the Liberals in parliament.
Nevertheless, the Conservatives did not change Britain's
policies, regaring the Russo-Afghan boundary issue. In the
end, the Russians agreed to relinquish claims over Zulfiqar in
exchange for retaining control of panjdeh.
35
Colonels Ridgeway and Kohlberg were assigned to lead the
boundary mission, while Qazi Sayiduddin Khan was the
unoff icial Afghan representative. The commission began the
demarcation process in November, 1885 from Hari Rud to the
Oxus, with Zulfiqar as the starting point. When Qazi
304
Sayiduddin tried to influence the proceedings, Col. Ridgeway
reminded him that his function was solely to communicate to
the Amir the progress of the commission.
36
By June, 1886,
the boundary along the Amu Darya was almost complete, with the
exception of a dispute over the exact location of Khoja saleh,
that took until 1887 to be settled. The rest of the boundary,
from the Amu Darya following the Panja River into the Pamir
Mountains, was satisfactorily completed only in 1895, and its
proceedings were connected with the Durand mission of 1893.
Two interesting outcomes of the Pamir Boundary Commission's
work were renaming Lake Sar-i-Kul "Lake victoria" and calling
the mountain range to the south
Nicholas II".37
"Chaine de I' Empereur
By 1895, the demarcation of Afghanistan's northern
boundary had been concluded with the virtual absence of any
Afghan contribution. Although the Amir had confidence in the
British, he disliked the fact that Afghanistan was effectively
barred from participating in the proceedings. British India's
main concern was to def ine Afghanistan's northern boundary
unambiguously. Otherwise Afghanistan's efforts to impose its
authority along an ill-defined frontier might draw both Russia
and England into a conflict, which both powers desparately
hoped to avoid.
305
1. Curzon, George N. Frontiers, (Romane lectures delivered
at Oxford University, November 2, 1907) (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1907).
2. Influential politicians in the Indian government like Sir
Henry Rawlinson, Lord Curzon, and Alfred C.Lyall perceived
Russia's expansion as its manifest destiny to civilize these
areas inhabited by "barbarians". For details on their views
see: Rawlinson, Sir Henry England and Russia in the East,
(London: John Murray, 1875); Curson, Lord George N.
Frontiers, (Clarendon: Oxford University Press, 1907); and
Lyall, Alfred C. "Frontiers and Protectorates" The Nineteenth
Century vol.30, 1891.
3. Foreign Department Miscellaneous no.261 "Memorandum on
Frontier Affairs" May, 1831.
4. The British compelled Yakub Khan to sign the Gandamak
Treaty, concluded in 1879, which dictated that Afghanistan no
longer controlled the Khyber and Michni Passes. Furthermore,
British agents were to be stationed throughout the country.
See Appendix.
5. Lytton Papers no. 518/4 "Lytton to Cranbrook" November 18,
1879 p.1047.
6. (IOL&R) Political and Secret Letters and Enclosures from
India "Enclosure no. 253" December 31, 1879.
7. *Foreign Department Secret-F no.26 January,1881 "Gilgit
Diaries" November 15, 1880.
8. (IOL&R) Political and Secret Home Correspondence "Kennedy
to Granville" August 27, 1883.
9. Foreign Department Secret-E July, 1883 no.82
"Translation of a Letter from H.H. the Amir of Afghanistan to
H.E. the Viceroy" March 26, 1883.
10. Foreign Department Secret-E July, 1883 no. 77
"Translation of a Letter from H.H. the Amir of Afghanistan"
June 1, 1883.
11. Foreign Department Secret-E July, 1883 no.94 "Letter
from Viceroy, Lord Ripon to H. H. the Amir of Afghanistan"
June 16, 1883.
306
12. Foreign Department Secret-E July, 1883 no.75 "Telegram
from Viceroy to Secretary of State, London" June 6, 1883.
This increase, the British explained would help improve the
Amir's defences, particularly along the northern boundary.
Furthermore, the British Indian authorities promised to supply
additional ammunition and money to the Amir in the event of a
Russo-Afghan conflict.
13. Foreign Department Secret June, 1884 no.141 "Letter
from Lord Ripon, the Viceroy of India to H.H. the Amir of
Afghanistan" March 11, 1884.
14. Ibid. •
15. (IOL&R) Political and Secret Letters and Enclosures from
India nAmir to British Agent in Kabul
ll
March 11, 1884.
British travellers affirmed in their reports that a large
number of the inhabitants of Shignan lived across the oxus
river. Historically, Shignan was a dependency of Badakhshan,
paying tribute to the Mir.
16. (IOL&R) Political and Secret Home Correspondence
(Miscellaneous) "Rawlinson Memo's" October 26, 1883.
17. Ibid ..
18. Foreign Department Secret-E July, 1883 no.69
IITranslation of a Letter from H.H. the Amir of Afghanistan to
the Viceroy" April 26, 1883.
19. Foreign Department Secret June, 1884 no.378 "Memorandum
by Rawlinson on Shignan and Roshan" April 12, 1884.
20. Foreign Department Secret March, 1884 no.94-95 "Notes on
the Shignan Frontier" n.d. .
21. Ibid. .
22. Foreign Department Secret March, 1884 no.136
"Translation of a copy of a letter from H.H. the AInir of
Afghanistan" February 12, 1884.
23. Parliamentary Papers
April 29, 1884.
1884 "Granville to Gladstone"
24. Foreign Department Secret August, 1884 no.116 "Letter to
Amir from the Viceroyll June 10, 1884.
307
25. (IOL&R) Political and Secret Despatches and Enclosures
from India 1884 "Letter from Abdur Rahman to the Viceroy"
August, 1884.
26. Foreign Department Memoranda-A
"Extract from Kabul Diary" n.d ••
no.54 August, 1884
27. Foreign Department Secret October, 1884 no.223
"Translation.of a letter from the Amir to the Commissioner of
Peshawar" September 8, 1884.
28. Foreign Department Secret October, 1884 no.236 "Letter
from Viceroy to the Amir" September 20, 1884.
29. Foreign Department Secret October, 1884 no.259 "Letter
from Viceroy to the Amirll October 4, 1884.
30. Foreign Department Secret-F
Notes" March, 1885.
August, 1885 no.54 "Afghan
31. Panjdeh literally means five villages, but it actually was
a valley whose inhabitants traditionally paid tribute to
Afghanistan. Its strategic location between the Hari Rud and
Maruchak, leading into the Herat valley through the Zulfiqar
Pass, made it important for both the British and the Russians.
32. Granville Papers vol. 186 "Thornton to Granville" May
7, 1885.
33. British Russophobists became so alarmed over the Panjdeh
incident that it was assumed that Herat, "the gateway to
India
ll
would be Russia's next target. Malleson, Col. George
B. The Russo-Afghan Question and the Invasion of India
(London: 1885). In India the Amir's calm reaction to the
Panjdeh incident reflected his understanding of the
difficulties of retaining the area. Parliamentary Papers
1884-85 "Viceroy to Kimberly" April 14, 1885.
34. The India Viceroy was quoted to say that, "An attack on
Herat will mean war between us and Russia everywhere, and the
Amir must leave us to fight the battle in the way we think
most likely to secure success". Cf. in Greaves, Rose Louise
Persia and the Defence of India, 1884-1892: A Study in the
Foreign Policy of the Third Marguis of Salisbury (London:
Anthlone Press, 1959) p.236.
35. Parliamentary Papers 1885 "Letter from Col. Ridgeway to
Salisbury" November 19, 1885.
308
36. Ibid.. A interesting page in an official "Peshawar
Diary" report, several years later notes that, during an open
session in the durbar, the Amir of Afghanistan compared the
Russian and British treatment of Muslims in their respective
empires. The Amir observed: "In Russian territory Muhammadans
obtain higher appointments and posi tions than they do in
British territory. Russia raises them to the high position of
generals and governors, while the British make them only
havildars. During the Russo-Afghan Boundary settlement, when
the British party met the Russian party, the latter appointed
a Muhammadan as Governor of Merv, whose position was equal to
that of a Lord, as their representative and envoy. The British
officers felt somewhat offended and thought it derogatory to
their dignity that Russia had not appointed an officer of her
own nation to meet them. The Governor of Merv understood this
from their manners, and asked the British officers whether
their government had invested any of them with the power of
expending one crore of rupees. The British officers gave no
reply and the Governor of Merv then said, that he was one of
the officers who had such authority, and there was no reason
to doubt his position and ability. ". Foreign Department
Secret-F May, 1890 no.335 "Peshawar Confidential Diary"
April 28, 1890.
37. Aitchison, C.U. A Collection of Treaties. Engagements and
Sanads, vol.XI p.331.
- CHAPTER NINE -
THE DRAWING OF THE DURAND LINE
In his article on "International Boundaries", MacMahon
categorized two stages in the process of defining borders,
namely delimi tation and demarcation. 1 He descr ibed
delimitation as "the determination of a boundary line by
treaty or otherwise, and its definition in written, verbal
terms".2 And he defined demarcation as the final stage when
the boundary line is actually marked on the ground by some
physical device, like pillars.
3
However, the success of any
demarcation depends on having accurate maps of the region,
which in the case of the Durand Line did not exist. Neither
the British nor the Afghans had accurately surveyed the
frontier region between the two countries. consequently, the
delimitation process was flawed at the very outset because,
according to the Boundary commissioner, the Line was
•.. one roughly defined in words, and owing to the
impossibility of more detailed information was in
places one of considerable vagueness, more
especially along the western half of it, where
neither Government possessed any accurate knowledge
of the nature of the country or the limits of the
occupation of the tribes inhabiting it.4
This explains why the demarcation of the Durand Line was
not completed until 1896, and might explains in part why not
only ethnic groups, but also entire tribes and clans who
shared a common history, language and culture with the people
of Afghanistan, were forever separated by that Line. But the
309
310
question remains: To what extent was this separation the
consequence of inadequate knowledge, and to what extent was
this separation part of a British design?
After engaging in two wars with Afghanistan, the British
realized they could not directly govern Afghanistan. They also
realized Afghanistan's potential for becoming a significant
regional power. George Napier recognized this in 1883 when he
wrote, II Afghanistan is naturally the strongest country in
Asia. The Afghan population is war-like and has a strong
national spirit, or what would serve as the basis of national
spirit.
lI

s
Some historians argue that the Amir was constrained by
British threats of an economic blockade or war to sign the
Durand Agreement.
6
There is no doubt that the Amir was very
reluctant in accepting the terms of the Agreement, because
subsequent operations of demarcating the border were delayed
and obstructed by the Amir.
A most important point contended by Caroe and Tate is
that no where in the Agreement is the word boundary used to
define the Durand line.
7
Rather it was a line that
functioned to illustrate where the Amir's influence ceased and
limitations of the British sphere. Although the British
envisioned the extension of their authority into the tribal
areas, their border was to remain secured. Caroe argues:
It is true that the agreement did not describe the
line as the boundary of India, but as the frontier
of the Amir's dominion and the line beyond which
neither side would exercise interference. This was
because the Bri tish Goverement did not intend to
absorb the tribes into their administrative system,
only to extend their own, and exclude the Amir's,
authority from the territory east and south of the
line.
8
311
The outcome was a three-tier system of control in the frontier
with 1) directly administrated areas; 2) political agencies;
and 3 ) petty kingdoms. The latter two zones were not
economically integrated into British India but kept
underdeveloped for political reasons. The British extended
communication facilities primarily to have command over the
strategic passes. Thus, this area served as a buffer zone,
which according to Lord Curzon accomplished the "scientific
frontier" that,
uni tes natural and strategical strength, and by
placing both the entrance and the exit of the
passes in the hands of the defending Power, compels
the enemy to conquer the approach before he can use
the passage. It is this policy that has carried the
Indian outposts to Lundi Khana, to Quetta, and to
Chaman. •• .9
Apparently the Durand Line symbolized the extent to where
Afghan influence was restricted. However, beyond in the
tribal belt conditions did allow British power to prevail.
The area remained isolated, with its inhabitants more devided
and economically underdeveloped. The Durand line transformed
Afghanistan into a land-locked country, making it politically
and economically more dependent on British India. ThUS, by
312
negating Afghanistan's role as a strong buffer state between
Russia and British India, perhaps the authorities in India no
longer felt the impending threat of the "Russian bogey".
During the latter part of the nineteenth century, British
strategists and experts became increasingly concerned
regarding the large amount of territory over which
Afghanistan's Amir maintained at least nominal sway. They
recognized that this posed a potential security problem for
British India's "North west Frontier".
The "North west Frontier" was a misnomer for south-
central Afghanistan, a region on which Afghanistan economy
depended for much of its sustenance. In the extreme north of
the "North west Frontier" was chitral, linking Afghanistan's
northeastern territories of Badakhshan and Nuristan.
10
Below
Chitral lay the principalities of Dir, Swat, Bajaur and Buner,
whose l i ~ ~ s to Kunar were deeply rooted. Immediately to the
west was the Hazara tract, while in the south resided the
Mohmand tribes. Living near the region of the Khyber Pass
were the Afridi and Orakzai tribes. The Turis inhabited the
Kurram valley. Waziristan lay between the Kurram and Gomal
valleys. Along the Indus River, from Bannu to Kohat lived the
Khattaks, descendants of the famous Pushto poet Khushal Khan.
Almost all of these tribes could be found elsewhere in Afghan
territory. Dera Ismail Khan was the only pocket inhabited
primarily by Jats. In Peshawar one found a mix of all group.
313
Key passes like the Khyber, Gomal, Khojak, Harnai and
Bolan made this region politically significant. During the
preceding century, the Afghan Amirs held only a nominal
control over this region. Symbolically, the tribes recognized
the Afghan Amir as their ruler by reading his name in the
khutba and occasionally taking oaths of fealty.11 During the
two Anglo-Afghan wars, the majority of these tribes, according
to tradition, supported the Afghan Amir by furnishing levies
or attacking British troops passing through the frontier. The
following list of British actions against tribal groups in
this region during the second Anglo-Afghan War illustrates the
extent of cooperation between the tribal groups in this region
and the Amir in Kabul:
12
Tribe
Zaka Khel in Khyber
Afridis
Mohmands in Ali Masjid
Zaimukhts in Kurram
British Action Against The Tribes
- razed their village to the ground,
in 1878 and 1879
- provided them an annual subsidy
of 85,860 rupees to refrain from
anti-British hostilities.
- punished them in 1878 1nd 1879
for their attempts to prevent the
British from passing through Ali
Masjid.
- destroyed villages in the Kurram
valley because the British lines
of communication had been
destroyed.
Marris at Harnai Pass
Shirani in Zhob
Mahsuds at Tank
314
- sent a mission in 1880 under
Lt. MacGregor in retaliation for
harassment of British troops
guarding communication lines
through the Harnai Pass.
punished residents of the Zhob
valley for attacking a British
column returning to India.
- initiated an economic blockade
against them in 1881 their various
assaults against the British
during the war.
Over the years the British actions against the Afghan
tribes strengthened the tribes hostility against the
foreigners. But that did not imply that the tribes became
more enthusiastic about being incorporated into the Afghan
political structure. In fact, many of the tribes resisted any
of the Kabul government's efforts to impose its authority on
them by imposing taxes or trying to shape local
administration. Most tribes were independent political units
that paid allegiance to the Amir in by Kabul furnishing him
levies in times of war. Otherwise the tribes wanted as little
to do with the Amir as possible. This simplified British
efforts to undermine the Amir authority on the frontier. As
one member of the Afghan darbar put it, "why do the British
authorities interfere in the provinces of Afghanistan such as
Swat, Bajaur, Khybar, Kurram, Baluchistan and Chatral? They
do not take possession themselves, nor do they make them over
to us?" .13
315
The Amir repeatedly underscored the affinity he believed
existed among the Afghans, an affinity he felt was being
threatened by the British. During a court session, Amir Abdur
Rahman challenged someone's reference to Afghan disunity when
he declared:
If by national unity is meant to be of one
religion; if by national unity is meant the inter-
marriages among the same people; if by national
unity is meant to have common fields and adjacent
lands and to take and drink water from the one and
same stream then certainly the people of
Afghanistan have in them the national unity which
has been proved in the two Afghan campaigns.
14
Thus the Amir maintained that a common language, territory,
history, and religion generated an affinity among Afghans.
This affinity, though not structurally apparent, was
culturally manifested in the tribal code of behavior,
pushtunwali
1S
, and in patriotic poetry and literature.
Afghanistan's famous 17th century Pakhtun poet, Khushhal Khan
Khattak (17th century) expressed this strong sense of identity
when he wrote:
The very name Pakhtun spells honor and glory,
Lacking that honour what is the Afghan story?
In the sword alone lies our deliverance,
The sword wherein is our predominance,
Whereby in days long past we ruled in Hind,
But concord, we know not, and we have sinned.
Ah God! Grant honour, concord, sweet refrain,
And old Khushhal,. will rise, a youth again!
sweeter to him is death than any life
Missing the spur of honour, the thrill of strife;
In life, in death, let honour be his guide
So shall his memory in the grave abide!16
The British recognized the dangers this shared identity
316
among Pushtuns posed for them; so they attempted to separate
the Afghan tribes from each other by gradually penetrating
into the frontier region.
Beginning in the early nineteenth century the British
realized that the Amir in Kabul had little influence over the
tribes, and therefore the British insisted on having direct
relations with the tribes.
17
And once the British began
interacting with the tribes they did what they could to wean
the tribes away from Kabul and the Amir influence.
Amir Abdur Rahman, in a letter addressed to the Viceroy,
in 1880 at the beginning of the Amir's reign, expressed his
understanding of the limits of Afghanistan as " .. it was given,
by treaty, to my respected grandfather [Dost Mohammed
Khan].18 In the same letter the Amir specifically mentioned
Herat because it had not been part of Dost Mohammed Khan's
empire. The Viceroy refused to respond to the Amir's request
to honor the 1855 Treaty, which guaranteed British respect of
Afghan territory. 19 And British intervention in tribal
affairs continued to pose problems for the Amir.
In 1880, when Abdur Rahman ascended the throne, the
British insisted on receiving a pledge from the Amir
guaranteeing his protection of those segments of the Afghan
population that had assisted the British during the war.
20
Lepel Griffin, the British Political Officer, outlined
patterns of relations with certain tribes, to be observed by
317
the Amir. For example, the Amir was to secure the jagirs,
allowances and khanship of Lalpura for Mohammed Akbar Khan, a
Mohmand Chief, whose brother had supported the British in
deporting Yakub Khan. In return the British Indian government
had promised to reward him with the above items for his
continued service.
21
Similarly, the Amir was to protect the
estates and grants of the Badshah of Kunar, Sayyid Mohammed.
The Badshah of Kunar, along with the Khan of Lalpura, had kept
the Mohmand tribes in control for the British. In fact,
Griffin even suggested they retain Jalalabad, through which
the British could have controlled Kabul, Laghman, the Ghilzai
country, and the northern passes of chitral.
22
While the British were trying to undermine the Amir's
relations with the tribes on the frontier, Abdur Rahman tried
to convince the various tribal groups to resist the British.
He used his position as an Afghan and Muslim ruler to point
out the British threat to their independence. Several
pamphlets were issued on this topic warning the tribes of
" .•• the increase of Christian troops in the East as well as in
the West, ... and that twice within the last forty years they
[the Christians], have occupied Afghanistan and assert that
they intend to do so a third time".
23
In every region in the
frontier, the British challenged the Amir. By the time the
Durand Agreement was concluded, the Kabul government had
little access to major parts of its frontier territory.
CBITRAL, BAJAUR, SWAT AND DIR.
Ever since they had annexed the
authorities were highly interested in
Punjab,
the
318
British
northern
principalities of Chitral, Bajaur, swat and Dir. In 1877, the
British warned Amir Sher Ali that Bajaur, Swat, Chitral and
Dir were outside Afghanistan's jurisdiction. Neither Amir
Sher Ali, nor subsequent Amirs, accepted this British
warning. 24 After Amir Abdur Rahman came to power, he invited
all the frontier leaders to meet with him in Kabul, to renew
their oath of loyalty to the Afghan Amir. 25 During their
visit, the Amir bestowed upon the leaders gifts and khillats
(robes of honor), and advised them to return to their tribal
areas and confer with their elders about solidifying their
relations with Kabul. Abdur Rahman periodically summoned
these tribal leaders to meet him in order to reaffirm his ties
with them. 26
Amir Abdur Rahman also paid annual subsidies amounting to
31,000 rupees to Bajaur and its dependencies in return for
their support. 27 The British also used money to advance
their cause. For instance, Umra Khan of Jandol, a minor chief
in Bajaur, received British support with which he attempted to
expand his power in the region.
28
Several other chiefs in
Bajaur immediately approached the Amir for help against Umra
Khan, and the Amir pleged them material assistance. Some of
the Amir's courtiers raised fears of British objections, to
whom the Amir responded,
Both these and I belong to the same nation and are
followers of the same faith. It is I who am to see
to their prosperity. What have the English to do
with them? The country does not lie in their
dominions. How can they raise any objections?29
319
Nevertheless, the British authorities in India repeatedly
protested against the Amir's relations with Bajaur, Swat and
Chitral, claiming that they were independent of
Afghanistan. 30 Not only did the British support Umra Khan's
expansionist activities, they also tried to establish contacts
with representatives of other tribal in the area, which
angered the Amir. However, except for Umra Khan, most of the
chiefs in the area recognized Abdur Rahman as the head of
Islam.
31
KURRAM
In the Kurram valley, the British had guaranteed
protection to the Turi tribe for allowing Roberts to use it as
a military base in the second Anglo-Afghan war.
32
During the
border negotiations, British claims to the Kurram valley were
based on the fact that the Turi tribe had supported them.
However, the Turis were the only tribe in the valley, that had
supported the British. since the Kurram valley was "the
natural line of communication between Kabul and Khost"; its
independence from Kabul would def ini tely pose problems for the
Amir.
33
The Amir's relations with the Turis became aggravated
320
when he tried to punish the tribe for plundering his troops
and those of neighboring tribes. The Turis immediately sought
protection from the British Deputy Commissioner of Kohat who,
at a jirgah in Kohat, urged the tribesmen not to meet with the
Amir I s officials. 34 In fact, Akbar Khan of Miranzai, a
British subject, was nominated as governor of the Turis.
Furthermore, in 1893, during border negotiations, British
agents attempted to persuade the Biland Khel of Kurram to
discontinue paying taxes to the Amir arguing that Kurram was
no longer part of Afghanistan. 35 Such intervention by the
British in Afghan affairs irritated the Afghan Amir, who
highly valued his relations with the various tribes, on the
south east border of Afghanistan.
TlRAlI
Tirah, located south of the Khyber Pass and Peshawar, was
the head-quarters of the Kambar, Malikdin, Zakha Khel, and
Kuki Khel tribes, who often attacked British posts on the
Khyber road. British officials blamed religious fanaticism as
the cause for such hostilities, when in actuality the tribes
resented British encroachment into their territory.36
Prior to the border demarcation, the Amir sent representatives
to Tirah, inviting the people to meet with him in Kabul. His
message proclaimed:
You being Afghan and followers of Islam are
gradually coming under English rule. For instance
the English have taken Samana from you, and will
gradually occupy the whole of Tirah. Why are you
not with me? I am the King of Islam and am waiting
to assist all Mussulmans •••• 37
321
Many came to Kabul, where they were honorably received with
presents and khillats. In return they thanked the Amir for his
assistance and pledged their loyalty to him. The Orakzais,
especially announced that " ..• the country of Tirah has been
saved from the oppression of the British Government".38 In
retaliation the British waged several expeditions in attempts
to subjugate the tribes around the Khyber. Where expedition
failed, subsidies sometimes proved to be more effective.
Throughout the Amir's reign he received pledges of
loyalty from various khans.
39
In return he consulted with
them on important affairs, such as the boundary issue. He even
asked them for their opinions about his propposed trip to
London. 40 He also subsidized individual clans belonging to
the Waziri, Shinwari, Mohmand, Afridi and several other tribes
in order to protect his interest. The Amir's influence over
the tribal belt, from Chitral to Baluchistan, alarmed British
authorities in India. They knew for example, that the Waziris
alone could easily furnish the Amir with a military contingent
of 30,000 men.
41
A. strong and united Afghanistan with a
coordinated military machine, could seriously threaten
British imperial interests in the region.
In response, the British pursued a policy of continuing
expeditions and increased stipends to appease the Pushtuns of
322
the frontier. with the establishment of British Baluchistan
Agency, 1877 an entire section of Afghan tribes was separated
from Afghanistan. In 1894 one British official observed:
Thus, in order to make a "strong Afghanistan" they
[the British], actually want, and have begun, to
cut away from the Afghan ruler, and from the
allegiance to and dependence on his government,
every Afghan tribe, with the sole exception of his
own sub-tribe... Nothing better could have been
devised to break up the Afghan state altogether.
42
DURAND LINE DEMARCATION PROCEEDINGS
While the British were busy negotiating the limits of
Afghanistan's northern boundary with Russia, they were
gradually absorbing Afghan territory in the south into the
British Indian empire. The Amir recognized the need to define
his southern boundary before he was denied jursidiction over
further major portions of Afghan territory. The terms of the
Gandamak Treaty in 1879 relinquished Afghan control over the
major passes to the British. Further British attempts to
undermine Afghan authority in the frontier, intensified
Anglo-Afghan friction. Thus the context within which drawing
of the Durand line was carried out was one of increased
hostility between the Afghan and British Indian authorities.
Throughout British relations with Amir Abdur Rahman, a
constant source of conflict concerned their differing
perceptions of the Amir's source of authority. The British
believed that they were the ones who bestowed authority upon
323
the Afghan ruler. By contrast, the Amir understood his
authority to be derived from the will of God and that of his
people. This was the view he affirmed when he signed all his
letters to the British as "Abdur Rahman, Padshah-i-
Afghanistan, ba ikhteyar-i-khud, wa qawm-i-khud mukhtar-i-
khud" or Abdur Rahman, the King of Afghanistan, by his own
will and that of his independent nation.
43
Anglo-Afghan relations continued to sour after December,
1888, especially when Landsowne was appointed Viceroy by the
recently elected Conservative Parliament in London. The new
Viceroy revived the "forward policy" towards Afghanistan by
attempting to interefere in its internal affairs and extending
British power in the frontier. Landsowne, for example, made it
a point to criticize the Amir's handling of his opponents, on
the grounds that such ill-treatment created a poor public
image of the Amir in England. 44 Furthermore, the viceroy
insisted on the view that British envoys should be stationed
in Kabul, a view politely rejected by the Amir.
45
Instead,
Amir Abdur Rahman invited a British-India delagation to meet
with him in Kabul to discuss their mutual borders. However,
just before the British mission embarked on its trip to Kabul,
Ishaq Khan's rebellion broke out in Afghan Turkestan,
necessitating the Amir's departure for that province and the
cancellation of the British visit. Mortimer Durand, who was
to head the mission, expressed the British reaction when he
324
wrote, "The Kabul Mission has broken down, the Amir is going
to Balkh to arrange matters. I believe he was afraid of
having us, lest we should ask too much.".46
Viceroy Landsowne, like Lytton before him, insisted on
dealing firmly with the Afghans. He continued to demand that
British officials be stationed in Afghanistan. He proposed
that a telegraph line be constructed from Peshawar to Kabul,
a proposal the Amir categorically rejected, fearing further
British intervention. 47 To make matters worse, Landsowne
instructed Amir Abdur Rahman that he should send him a
detailed report of the Amir's military strength.
48
Such insensitivity on the part of the British Indian
authorities convinced Abdur Rahman that he should initiate
direct communications wi th London through Salter Pyne, a
British engineer privately employed in Afghanistan. However,
the British Indian authorities intercepted the Amir's letters
and informed pyne that Afghanistan could not conduct
independent talks with London without British India's
approval. 49 Earlier, the Viceroy had despatched a letter to
London, advising them not to encourage the Amir in his efforts
to establish a direct dialogue with London.
50
The situation became more complicated, when British
activites along the frontier increased. These included the
construction of a tunnel through the Khojak Pass with plans
to extend the railroad to Chaman; the sinking of wells near
325
Chagaii the increase of levies at all passes, and the
conducting of railroad surveys along the Kabul River.
The Kandahar governor objected to the Chaman railroad because,
according to him, it ventured nine miles into Afghan
territory. 51 Furthermore, residents of the area complained
to Afghan officials that raw materials were being taken out of
the area for its construction.
Initially, the British position was that since this area
was uninhabited, it was hard to ascertain the exact definition
of the border.
52
Later they rejected Afghan claims to Chaman
and continued to build the railroad. In a letter to the Amir,
the Viceroy argued that the boundary between Afghanistan and
British-India did not place Chaman in Afghanistan, rather the
line fell closer to Kandahar. 53 Furthermore, Landsowne
to the Amir that the Amir controlled Kandahar not
because he inherited it from his ancestors but because the
British had given him its jurisdiction. Therefore, it was up
to the British to decide which territories fell under whose
jurisdiction. 54 Afghan authorities, on the basis of the
Gandamak Treaty, understood the boundary of Pishin to mark the
line between Afghanistan and British India. However, the
British authorities in India defined new margins of influence
as circumstances dictated, gradually advancing British control
into Afghanistan.
It was becoming apparent to the Amir that the
326
delimitation and subsequent demarcation of a boundary between
British India and Afghanistan was crucial to preserve his
kingdom's territorial integrity. In a letter to the Viceroy
the Amir asked,
••• to what place do the limi ts of Afghanistan
extend? I want to know these and inform the people
of Afghanistan about them and make them understand,
so that no bad feelings be engendered in their
minds about the illustrious Government.
55
Abdur Rahman concluded, that the fact that he was not even
consulted before the British began to constrect the railroad
in Chaman, left him vulnerable to critics who charged:
We used to tell you that the Amir Abdur Rahman is
cordially at one with the English Government, and
now gradually he is handing over the Afghan
territory to the English Government. Do you observe
that now the English, without consulting the people
of Afghanistan, are making encroachments in every
direction? .56
The Viceroy's reply to the Amir, outlining the benefits
of the Chaman rail enclosed a new map of the frontier. The
Pushtun tribal belt was defined as independent territory
between Afghanistan and British India.
57
This map provided
alarming evidence that the British intended to separate the
frontier region from Afghanistan's jurisdicition. In
response, the Amir extended an invitation to the viceroy to
visit Kabul, the Viceroy rejected the invatation fearing that
if he went to Kabul it would enhance the Amir's prestige.
Instead the Viceroy invited the Amir to meet him in
Rawalpindi, his invitation, holding that by custom it was the
327
British turn to reciprocate his visit in 1885. Furthermore,
instability within Afghanistan made it unwise for him to leave
the country. 58 The Amir sent a copy of a British-published
map on which he relied that conferred to Afghanistan much of
the frontier territory. The Viceroy explained to Salter Pyne,
a British engineer in employment of the Amir, that this map
was never officially approved, and therefore was of little
value.
Meanwhile, a delegation of merchants from Kandahar
presented a grievance to the Amir, asserting that the new
Chaman rail station deprived their people, many of whom earned
their livelihood by transport, of their income. In order to
prevent the foreigners from making any profit, the merchants
swore to boycott the Chaman rail. 59 Similarly, leaders of
the Noorzai and Achakzai tribes of Kandahar sent petitions to
the Amir objecting to British infiltration into their
territories. In the north, the British improved their
communication facilities with Chitral, Gilgit and Hunza by
building roads. With regards to the groups living in the
frontier, the British underlying position, while acknowledging
Afghanistan's ethnological connection with these groups was
explained in the following passage:
... we should avoid gratuitously alarming the Amir,
while at the same time we absolutely contest his
right to bring them under his own administration,
and claim for ourselves the right and necessity of
dealing direct with them to such extent as may be
328
required in the interests of the Empire.
60
The Amir, in order to strengthen his ties with the tribes send
mullahs and agents to their region to encourage them to resist
the British. 61
Amidst this tension, the Viceroy declined all of the
Amir's invitations to Kabul to discuss their mutual
borders. 62 Anglo-Afghan relations appeared to be on the
brink of another war, when the British detained the Amir's
military supplies at Karachi and then later in Peshawar. 63
The Amir responded by stationing his troops in Wana, Asmar and
Chagai, territories he had insisted belonged to Afghanistan.
Some within the British Indian Government were highly critical
of Viceroy Landsowne' s Afghan policy. For example sensing the
precarious situation along the frontier, A. C. Lyall, the
Secretary to the Punjab Government wrote:
Ever since Abdur Rahman obtained possession of
Kabul, we have, wi th the best intentions, been
thrusting ourselves upon him. We wish to station
British officers on his northern frontiers; we wish
them to be allowed to travel through his dominions;
we wish to make roads, railways, and telegraph
lines. We wish to penetrate every valley, to open
every pass, to take every tribe in our pay. The
Amir •.. sees that, if these measures are carried
out, the independence of Afghanistan, must
disappear, and he, in all probability, believes
that it is with that intention they are
proposed .•. We may think only of defending India and
Afghanistan from the Russians, but the measures we
propose for that end would necessarily have the
effect of destroying the Amir's independence. 64
329
As a result of various political pressures, Viceroy
Landsowne finally relayed to the Amir news of the Viceroy's
appointment of Lord Roberts to lead the British mission to
Kabul. 65 Amir Abdur Rahman was surprised to hear of Lord
Roberts appointment, since Roberts was the military commander
who had been responsible for so many executions in Kabul and
Kandahar during the second Anglo-Afghan war. The Amir used
all sort of means to stall the proceedings until Roberts'
remaining term in India would end.
Since negotiations were conditional upon the withdrawal
of Afghan troops from disputed areas, the Amir complied by
removing his military forces from Wana and Gul Kach. The
British in the meantime consolidated their positions in
Waziristan, Chitral, Bajaur, and Swat in order to strengthen
their claims over those territories. Despite such tactics,
the status remained problematic all along the frontier.
Durand wrote:
We are getting very bad news all along the border,
from the Black Mountain to the Waziri country. The
Amir is threatening Kurrami the Afridis are in a
very shaky condition, with his [the Amir's]
emissaries among them giving them ammunition. It is
almost certain now that if Lockhart [agent sent to
Chitral] had been checked on the Samana, the
Afridis would have joined in, the Khaibar
arrangements would have broken up, and an Afghan
force would have marched into the Turi country.
This sounds almost incredible - I could not believe
it at first. But I am afraid there is no doubt of
it now. 66
Finally Amir Abdur Rahman, faced with an economic and
330
military blockade as well as a threat of war, accepted the
appointment of a British Mission to negotiate the delimitation
and demarcation of a line that would define the territories
and spheres of influence of the British and Afghan governments
respectively. 67 Viceroy Landsowne had been willing to
demarcate the border without Afghan representation, but his
council convinced him otherwise.
Prior to the mission's departure, Abdur Rahman submitted
to the British a detailed outline of his claims in the
frontier regions. His outline included the following passage:
As regards Asmar, it is impossible for me to give
it up, as it is the gate of my territory.
As to Bajaur, Chitral and Swat, God willing I will
not interfere with them.
As for Kafiristan, since it is situated within my
dominions, I must settle its affairs; and no one
such as the Mir of Chitral or the Umra of Bajaur
should interfere.
As regards Waziristan, the districts of Gomal and
the Kakar territory and Chageh (the only place with
water between Nushki and Helmand), my desire is
that they should preserve my honour and dignity, as
I have become renowned as a friend of the [British]
Government, and that they should not put me and my
people to shame, in the eyes of friend and foe, and
not hurt the feelings of the Afghans, and not
dishonour them but draw up and approve a map,
consistent with the maintenance of honour and
dignity of Afghanistan •..• 68
On September 15, 1893 the British Mission, led by
Mortimer Durand, left Peshawar with four British officials and
four Muslim officers.
69
They were met at Landi Kotal by the
Afghan Commander-in-Chief, Ghulam Hyder, who escorted them to
Kabul. On October 2, 1893 the Durand Mission formally arrived
331
at Kabul. Although the atmosphere there was warm and
friendly, none of the members of the Mission were allowed to
travel outside of the palace.
The objects of the British Mission were 1) to enforce
Russian boundary demands on Afghanistan with regards to
Shignan and Roshan; 2) to insist that the Amir take possession
of the Wakhan corridor, a strip of land that would separate
British India from czarist Russia; 3) to retain British
possession of Bajaur, Swat, Dir and Chitrali 4) to resolve the
conflict over Chaman and Chagaii and 5) to demarcate a
mutually accepted border defining Afghanistan's territorial
limits.
Since the demarcation of Afghanistan's northern
boundary up to the Pamir Mountains had not yet been completed,
the Mission concluded a separate agreement in which the Amir
accepted Russian and British demands both to resign any claims
over Shignan and Roshan, and to but concurrently assume
responsibility for guarding the Wakhan.
70
(see Appendix VI)
Durand maintained that these negotiations went smoothly as
they did because the Amir was more interested in the British
frontier than he was in the northern boundary:
At the end, he [the Amir] said to me quietly ... we
must finish this business first, as you have begun
it, but really the other frontier is the important
one. My people will not care, or know, whether I
go backwards or forwards in Roshan or Shignan, but
they care veri much to know exactly how they stand
on your side. 1
332
Negotiations of the Durand line were conducted without
one basic instrument, a mutually agreed upon map of the
region.
72
It was assumed that disputes over ill-defined
areas would be settled during the demarcation process.
The British initial strategy was to include all the
territory known as Yaghistan comprising the independent tribal
belt, within British-India, separating it from Afghanistan.
73
Therefore the proposed, British line defining Afghanistan's
limits started south from Koh-i-Malik Siah extended upwards
bordering the south of Helmand and Rudbar, excluded Chagai
(although claimed by the Amir), continued north of Nushki
towards Chaman, following the Kandani River to Domandi.
According to the British line, the Kakar tribes in the area
were no longer under Afghan jursidiction; and Waziristan,
inclusive of Wana, spin, Birmal and even as far west as Urghun
was not considered part of Afghanistan. From Domandi the line
ran west of Tirah, Landi Khana to Daka and then across the
Kabul river, excluding all of Bajaur with the exception of
Lalpura on the Afghan side. Nuristan up to the Hindu Kush was
given to Afghanistan.
74
The Amir was extremely unhappy with this proposal as it
gave him very little jurisdiction over any tribal region. In
order to assure Bajaur's independence from the Amir, this line
cut the Mohmand tribes into two, with their chief residing in
Lalpura on the Afghan side.
75
The Amir was unable to resist
333
the British demands. On November 12, 1893 he signed the
Durand Agreement. This Agreement 1) increased his annual
subsidy to 1,800,000 rupees; 2) delimited Afghanistan's and
British India's spheres of influence, with the understanding
that neither party would interfere with the other's sphere of
influence;; 3) relinquished Afghanistan claims over Bajaur,
chitral, swat, Waziristan, Chagai, and Chaman in return for
retaining control over Asmar and Birmal; 4) Lifted all
economic and military blockades; and 5) agreed that further
territorial diputes arising during the demarcation process
would be settled by commissioners of both parties.
76
Ironically, Mortimer Durand was transferred to Persia
while the Durand line, was being demarcated. the actual
demarcation of the Durand line began in March, 1894 with four
commissions. The first commission was to demarcate the region
from Landi Kotal along the Kabul river up to southern Chitral.
The second commission was to assist in marking the border from
Peiwar Kotal to Kurram. The third and fourth comissions split
the task of demarcating the long border from Tirah to Koh-i-
Malik Siah. It was agreed that, once the boundary marks placed
in the ground, each border would receive official approved
from both governments before the line was finalized.
77
It must be noted that, at the onset, there was some
confusion over what territories were being defined. Amir
Abdur Rahman understood that the mission would begin to
334
demarcate the border between Kafiristan (Nuristan) and
Chitral. 78 However, the progress of all four commissions
was halted because Afghan and British officials possessed
totally different maps. A major delinquency in the Durand
Agreement was the failure to formalize the agreement with a
mutually agreed upon map. Although Mortimer Durand furnished
a map, it was never signed by the Amir of Afghanistan as being
accurate, a fact even Durand conceded.
79
By August, 1894 the
entire demarcation process was halted because of territorial
disputes.
The new Viceroy, Elgin, was anxious to complete the
border line, as evidence of tribal resentments were begining
to crop up in the region. In order to hasten the completion
of the process, the British conceded Iltaz Karez, valued for
its underground water channels, to the Amir in return for his
accepting the line from Chaman to Koh-i-Malik Siah.
80
Similarly, the Bashgal valley, previously erroneously
considered by the British to be part of Chitral, was included
as belonging to Kafiristan. While the British conceded such
minor areas to the Amir, Afghanistan conceded such important
populations as the Waziris, Afridis, Mohmands, etc to the
British. The line cutting through Mohmand teritory near the
Khyber Pass was never demarcated, since the maps made it
impossible to do so.81 In protest, the Amir's commissioners
abstained for a time from the demarcation proceedings in
335
Waziristan; so these were not concluded until 1895. In the
ends, it took the Boundary Commissions two years, from 1894 to
1896, to complete demarcating the Durand line.
The conclusion of the Durand Agreement, brought no
immediate improvement in Anglo-Afghan relations. The Amir in
a proclamation directed to the frontier tribes, stated,
"Russia and England are in friendly alliance they are not
hostile to one another, but are both enemies of my country.
If you understand my anxiety on your behalf you would pray for
me day and night.". 82 Unable to occupy Afghanistan, the
British adopted a policy of acquiring a dominant military
position in the area and providing subsidies to potential
challengers a combination that guaranteed them the ability to
wield control over a large area.
83
The imperial formula to "neutralize" Afghanistan
initially required surrounding Afghanistan with buffer zones,
then seizing control of strategic passes and other areas. By
holding control over Quetta and Chaman, the British could
threaten Kandahar. Similarly, by possessing the Kurram
valley, the British could maintain a watch on Kabul.
84
Finally, through treaties, the British could quarantine
Afghanistan from external contacts. In 1890, the British
compelled Afghanistan to close its old trading post in Meshed
because, according to policy, " ... the Government of India did
not admit the Amir's right to establish agencies of his own in
336
foreign states". 85 In fact the British proposed that Afghans
obtain their passports from British agencies, a proposal that
was largely ignored.
For the British, the Durand Line served primarily to
define Afghanistan's limits of influence. In fact according
to some analysts, the Durand Line did not identify an
international boundary between two countries because it did
not define where the territory of Afghanistan ended and the
territory of British India began. 86 The British, in order
to defend their Indian empire, created several layers of
buffer zones with British outposts to assure their dominance.
The British tried to impose three-tiers of administration,
over the buffer zones, varying from direct rule to the virtual
absence of rule. The annual maintenance of the Khyber Pass
cost the British-Indian empire 87,880 rupees, Peshwar itself
required approximately 4,274,953 rupees annually. Even then,
the region was unsafe. 87 The Pushtuns east of the Khyber
pass and the Afghans throughout Afghanistan deeply resented
the Durand Line. Amir Abdur Rahman warned the British with
the following words:
As to these frontier tribes known by the name of
Yaghistan, if they were included in my domains I
should be able to make them fight against any enemy
of England and myself, by the name of a religious
war, under the flag of their co-religious Muslim
ruler (myself). And these people being brave
warriors and stauch Mahomedans, would make a very
strong force to fight against any power which might
invade India or Afghanistan. I will gradually make
them peaceful subjects and good friends of Great
Britain. But if you should cut them out of amy
domains, they will neither be of any use to you nor
to me: you will always be engaged in fighting in
troubles with them, and they will always go on
plundering. As long as your Government is strong
and in peace, you will be able to keep them quiet
by a strong hand, but if at any time a foreign
enemy appear on the borders of India, these
frontier tribes will be your worst enemy. You must
remember that they are like a weak enemy who can be
held under the feet of a strong enemy, as long as
he is strong; and the moment he ceases to be strong
enough to hold him, the weak one gets out of his
hold and attacks him in return. In your cutting
away from me these frontier tribes who are people
of my nationality and my religion, you will injure
my prestige of my subjects, and will make me weak
and my weakness is injurious for your
Government. 88
337
338
1. McMahon, Sir A. Henry "International Boundaries" Journal
of the Royal Society of Arts vol.84 November, 1935 p.4. The
author was a member of the Durand Mission, who later in 1894
led the boundary commission that demarcated the line from the
Gomal River to Koh-i-Malik Siah (Persia). In 1902, McMahon
was appointed to settle the Afghan-Persian dispute over water
rights in Seistan. In 1913 he became involved in the
settlement between China, Tibet and British India, leaving a
boundary that still bears his name, the McMahon Line.
2. Ibid. .
3. Ibid. •
4. Ibid. p. 7 •
5. Foreign Department Secret March, 1884 no. 2 "George
Napier's Notes on the Afghan Northern Boundary commission
Reports" September 22, 1883.
6. Some treatises that support this claim are: Mohammed Ali's
The Mohammedzai Period. (Kabul: 1959); and Ahmad Shah
Mohabbat's Pakhtun National Self-Determination: The Partition
of India and Relations wi th Pakistan. (unpublished
dissertation) (Missouri: st. Louis University, 1979).
7. Tate, George P. The Kingdom of Afghanistan,
Bennett Coleman & Co., 1911).
8. Caroe, Olaf The Pathans. 550 B.C-A.D. 1957.
MacMillan and Co. Ltd., 1958) p.182.
9. Curzon, Lord George N. Frontiers. p.19.
(London:
(London:
10. The Dorah Pass leads into Badakhshan, while Afghanistan's
Nuristan Province is easily accessible through the Shawal
Pass.
11. Foreign Department Secret-F August, 1893 no.365
"Peshawar Confidential Diary" June 24, 1893.
12. Nevill, Hugh L. campaigns on the North West Frontier
(London: John Murray, 1912) p. 81-92. These tribes identified
themselves with the Amir of Afghanistan to the extent that
they participated in the struggle against the foreign enemy,
the British. Whatever differences previously existed tended
to disappear during those periods when they rallied against
their common enemy, the British.
339
13. Foreign Department Secret-E March, 1884 no.400 "Kabul
Diary" January 22, 1884.
14. Foreign Department Secret-F
"Kabul Diary" July 17, 1891.
August, 1891 no.192
15. A tribal code of behavior based on the concept of nang or
honor. For a detailed study on this topic see Akbar S. Ahmed
Pukhtun Economy and Society: Traditional Structure and
Economic Development in a Tribal Society, (London: Routledge
& Kegan Paul, 1980).
16. Cf. in Caroe, Olaf The Pathans p.238.
17. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1890 nos. 38-41
n Arrangements for Better Administration of the Punj ab Frontier
Districts and the Management of the Trans-Frontier Tribes"
May 10, 1890.
18. Foreign Department Secret July, 1880 no.264 "Letter from
Amir to Viceroy" June 21, 1880. The Amir, by linking himself
to Dost Mohammed Khan, refused to acknowledge Sher Ali and
Yaqub Khan as past legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.
19. Foreign Department Secret July, 1880 no.277 "Letter
from Ripon to Marquis of Hartington, Secretary of State for
India" July 6, 1880.
20. Foreign Department Secret June, 1880 no.305 "Memorandum
by Lepel Griffin, Chief Political Officer in northern and
eastern Afghanistan" May 8, 1880.
21. Ibid. .
22. Ibid. .
23. Foreign Department Secret-F no.575 September, 1892 "From
Government of India to Secretary of State" August 16, 1892.
Pamphlet cited "Turghib ul-jihad".
24. Ibid. Letter reviews India's frontier affairs.
25. Foreign Department Secret October, 1884 no.147
"Translation of a Letter from Lt. Col. Sirdar Muhammad Afzal
Khan, British Agent at Kabul" September 5, 1884.
26. In January, the leaders of Nawagai, Dir, Asmar, Balin
Karra, Pashat, Mohmand and Salarzai tribes, Bajaur, etc. went
to meet the Amir in Jalalabad. Foreign Department Frontier-A
340
March, 1888 no.52 "Letter from Commissioner of Peshawar to
Secretary of Punjab" February 4, 1888
27. Foreign Department Secret-F August, 1891 no.180
"Peshawar Confidential Diary" August 8, 1891.
28. Interestingly, Umra Khan was not considered a respectable
man by many of the people of Bajaur. Apparently the community
resented his personal relations with a Hindu concubine, a fact
that embarassed even the British. Foreign Department Secret-F
May, 1888 no.387 "Letter from Tupper, Secreary to Punjab to
Durand" April 6, 1888.
29. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1888 no. 408 "Kabul
Diary" April 6, 1888.
30. Foreign Department Secret-F June, 1890 no.292 "Letter
from Viceroy to the Amir" June 13, 1890.
31. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1888 no.66 "Extract
from a Letter of the British Agent in Kabul" January 24,
1888.
32. Ibid .•
33. Foreign Department Secret-E July, 1884 no.221 "Letter
from Tucker, Deputy Commissioner of Kohat to Waterfield,
Commissioner of Peshawar" November 3, 1883.
34. Foreign Department Secret-E
from Commissioner of Peshawar
December 23, 1883.
July, 1884 no.220
to Secretary of
"Letter
Punjab"
35. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1893 no.469 "Extract
from the Panjab Report" January 28, 1893.
36. Foreign Department Frontier-A FebruarY,1890 no.15
"Memo on the Advantages of Making an Altenative Road from the
Peshawar District to Landi Kotal" July 9, 1889.
37. Foreign Department Secret-F
"Report from Deputy Commissioner
commissioner" September 12, 1892.
November, 1892 no.7
of Kohat to Peshawar
38. Foreign Department Secret-F December,
"Translation of a Letter from Mullah Gulandaz"
1892.
1892 no.531
November 28,
341
39. Foreign Department Secret-E August, 1883 no.131 "Peshawar
Diary" June 22, 1883; Orakzais of Tirah, Waziris, Mohmands,
Afridis, etc. pledged allegiance to Amir.
40. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1892 nos.74-75
"Amir's Proclamation and Letters of Response" September 5,
1891.
41. Raverty, Maj. H. G. "The Independent Afghan or Pa than
Tribes" The Imperial and Asiatic Quarterly Review. vol. VII
nos.13 & 14 January-April, 1894 p.319.
42. Ibid. p.325.
43. Foreign Department Secret-F August, 1892 no.575 "Amir
to Viceroy" July 6, 1892.
44. Foreign Department Political-A November, 1889 no.425
"Letter from viceroy to Amir" September 30, 1889. Abdur
Rahman's resentment towards this interference in
Afghanistan's internal affairs was expressed in the following
passage:
•.. letters from Lord Landsowne, addressed to me in
a different tone that I was not accustomed to; and
very different to that adopted by other Viceroys of
India, for he wrote in a dictatorial manner,
advising me upon matters on internal policy in the
administration of my kingdom, and telling me how I
ought to treat my subjects.
Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman.
vol. II p.135.
45. Ibid •. Landsowne, in many ways repeated Lytton's pattern
of behavior. While Ripon and Dufferin always addressed the
Amir in polite terms, Landsowne's tone was more blunt and
rude. This only aggravated relations between the two
countries, especially since Abdur Rahman was an extremely
sensitive person.
46 . Cf . in Sykes,
Durand. A Biography
Percy M. The Honourable Sir Mortimer
(London: Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1926) p.200.
47. The rationale behind this reluctance to improve
communications is best expressed in the following passage:
There is no doubt that the day will come when
railways and telegraphs will be most beneficial,
and when they will be welcomed in the country, and
that day will be when we see that we have a great
army, strong enough to fight our neighbours, but
until we are strong enough to hold our own, we must
not weaken the strength of our hilly country with
our own hands.
342
Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur Rahman,
vol. II p. 77.
48. (IOL&R) Political and Secret Letters and Enclosures from
India "Secretary of State to Foreign Minister" February 15,
1892.
49. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1892 no.104 "Letter
from Salter pyne to the Amir" January 16, 1892.
50. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1892 no. 100 "Letter
from Viceroy to Secretary of State" November 14, 1891. The
Amir had received recognition from some members of Parliament,
which the Indian authorities felt would undermine their hold
over Afghanistan. Landsowne interpreted the Amir's overtures
as a ploy to identify Afghanistan as being separate from the
status of the princely kingdoms of India, which was an entire
debate in itself.
51. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1889 no.357
"Translation of a Letter from the Governor of Kandahar to
Colonel Robert Sandeman, Agent to Governor-General of
Baluchistan" February 23, 1889. Chaman Fort marked the
boundary between Pishin and Kandahar.
52. Ibid ..
53. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1889 no.379 "Enclosure
From Government of India to the Secretary of State" May 13,
1889.
54. Ibid .. After the second Anglo-Afghan war, the British
were anxious to leave Kandahar since holding it posed much
difficulty. When the British left Kandahar, no specific treaty
or agreement was concluded that marked the transfer of power
from the British to Abdur Rahman. Thus, the Amir felt that he
independently established his authority in Kandahar, and that
his authority was not awarded to him by the British.
55. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1890 no.154
"Translation of Letter from the Amir to the Viceroy" February
4, 1890.
56. Foreign Department Secret-F
Viceroy" February 18, 1890.
May, 1890 no.156 "Amir to
343
57. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1890 nos. 34-37
"Observations of the New Map of Afghanistan" May 5, 1890;
This new map worked to Britain's advantage during border
negotiations.
58. Foreign Department Secret-F June, 1890 no.292 "viceroy
to Amir" June 13, 1890.
59. Foreign Department Secret-F June, 1892 no.475-488
"Afghanistan Papers" February 28 - March 25, 1892.
60. Foreign Department Secret-F Ocotber r 1890 nos. 38-41
"Arrangements for Better Administration of the Punjab Frontier
Districts and the Management of the Trans-Frontier Tribes"
May 10, 1890.
61. Foreign Department Secret-F September, 1892 no. 510
"Warburton to Durand" May 6, 1892. The Amir also sent letters
to the tribes, many of which fell into the hands of British
informants, who were, according to Griffin, posted in every
household of many of the tribal leaders. Cf. in The Imperial
and Asiatic Quarterly Review. January, 1893 nos. 5 & 6
p.327.
62. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1892 no.35 "Amir
to Viceroy" Novemenber 20, 1891; July, 1891 no.202 "Amir to
Viceroy" March 24, 1891; and August, 1892 no.199 "Amir to
Viceroy" February 25, 1892;
63. Foreign Department Secret-F June, 1893 "K. W. No.2" May
15, 1892.
64. Foreign Department Secret-F August, 1892 no.199 "Memo
on Afghan Affairs" June 20, 1892; previously others like Mr.
Fanshawe, Chief Secretary to the Punjab Government (1890)
held:
All the Pushtu-speaking tribes consider themselves
Afghans whether they reside in what is now
distinctly the Amir's territory or what is now
British territory, or in the intervening hills now
occupied by what we call border tribes; ••• were
politically part of Afghanistan till Sikhs annexed
them; the fact that these border tribes are
independent or semi-independent is nothing new;
they were so when the Afghan boundary extended to
the Indus, and then there were governors of the
Amir of Kabul in Peshawar and Kohat, and they were
so still earlier when the whole of Afghanistan was
part of the Mughal Empire. And in fact, not only
these border tribes which are semi-independent; the
same position has generally been held by the
mountain tribes in most parts of Afghanistan .•.
These mountain tribes, including those we call
border tribes used to say that they were Afghans,
and the Amir of Kabul their Amir, though they
repudiated his right to levy taxes from them, or to
appoint officers to interfere in their internal
affairs.
344
Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1890 nos. 38-41
"Arrangements for Better Administration of the Punjab Frontier
Districts and the Management of the Trans-Frontier Tribes"
May 10, 1890.
65. The decision to send Roberts was communicated to London in
the following passage:
The time has however now come when a def ini te
settlement of these frontier questions can no
longer be deferred. We are of opinion that it is
essential to the security of our position in India
that we should maintain good relations with the
independent tribes on our north-western frontier
through whose territory the main passes lead into
Afghanistan. This cannot be accomplished if the
Amir annexes them into his territory... • We are
quite prepared to admit that it would be
unreasonable to apply to His Highness the standard
by which it is usual to judge the ruler of a
civilised community. He is by race, by nature, by
training, and in virtue of his position, profoundly
suspicious.
Foreign Department Secret-F September, 1892 no.575 "From
the Government of India to the Secretary of State" August 16,
1892.
66. Cf. in Sykes, Percy M. The Right Honourable Sir Mortimer
Durand. A Biography. (London: Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1926)
p.204.
67. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1893
"Secretary of State to Viceroy" November 18, 1892.
no.70
68. Foreign Department Secret-F August, 1893 no.546 "Amir
to Viceroy" July 15, 1893.
69. Other members of the mission besides Mortimer Durand
included Edmond Elles, Intelligence, Henry McMahon, Political
Officer, and Dr. Fenn, Medical Supervisor. Foreign Department
Secret-F Ocotber, 1893 no.3 "Amir to Durand" September 7,
345
1893.
70. Aitchison, c. U. A Collection of Treaties, Engagements
and Sanads p.360.
71. Cf. in Sykes, Percy M. The Right Honourable Sir Mortimer
Durand, A Biography, p.216.
72. The Amir, recognized the inaccuracies in the British map
and at one point related to Durand,
Whenever you are dealing with one of my alleged
encroachments, it is made very big on the map. When
you are dealing with one of your own, I notice it
is quite a tiny little thing.
Durand, Sir Mortimer "The Amir Abdur Rahman Khan"
Proceedings of the Royal Central Asian Society vol.6
November, 1907 p.15.
73. Foreign Department Secret";'F May, 1893 no.329A
"Intelligence Branch Memorandum" July 23, 1893.
74. Foreian Deoartment Secret-F April, 1894 no.34 "Kabul
Mission Diary" November 1, 1893.
75. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1894 no.34 "Extracts
from Peshawar Diary" February 15, 1894.
76. See Appendix VI.
77. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1894 no.24 "Letter
from cunningham, Secretary of GOI to Amir" March 14, 1894.
78. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1894 no.271 "Amir to
Foreign Secretary" April 15, 1894.
79. Foreign Department Secret-F June, 1894 no.332 "MacMahon
to Foreign Secretary" June 14, 1894. see also T. H. Holdich
The Indian Borderland p.230.
80. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1895 no.405 "Viceroy
to Udny" February 13, 1895.
81. Sykes, Percy M. The Right Honourable Sir Mortimer Durand,
A Biography p.220.
82. Foreign Department Secret-F Ocotber,
"Extract from Peshawar Confidential Diary"
1895.
1895 no.402
September 29 ,
346
83. Cf. in Singhal, Dilp India and Afghanistan, 1876-1907,
p.102.
84. IVA Check to the 'Forward Policy'" EX-Panjab Official
(Anonymous) The Imperial and Asiatic Quarterlv Review
vol. VII nos.13 & 14 January - April, 1894 p.18.
85. Foreign Department Secret-F June, 1890
"Enclosure No.1, India Office to Foreign Office"
1890.
no.179
March 8,
86. Caroe, Olaf The Pathans p.382i and Dupree, Louis "The
Durand Line of 1980: A Case Study in Artificial Political
Boundaries and Culture Areas" Current Problems in Afghanistan
(Princeton: Thirteenth Near East Conference, 1961) p.80.
87. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1890 nos.38-41
"Arrangements for Better Administration of the Punjab Frontier
Districts and the Management of the Trans-Frontier Tribes"
May 10, 1890.
88. Cf. in Mahomed Khan, Mir Munshi Sultan The Life of Abdur
Rahman vol.II p.157-158.
347
MAP 4.
c.c. 1932
69 70 11

72 13
- CHAPTER TEN -
THE DURAND LINE AND ITS AFTERMATH
No sooner had Amir Abdur Rahman warned the British of
the probable consequences of separating the Pushtuns from
the Afghan kingdom, then the impact of this separation was
manifested in the'. tribal uprising of 1897.
1
From the Gomal
River to Chitral, the entire frontier region rebelled
against the British. Despite severe reprisals, that
temporarily brought stability, this area remained and still
continues to be problematic for the authorities.
The Durand Line also had a deep effect on Indo-Afghan
trade relations. For instance, products from Bajaur had
derived a significant amount of income for Afghanistan in
its foreign sales. However, Afghanistan's loss of control
over Bajaur, became profitable for the British Indian trade.
Similarly, after 1893, Afghanistan's trade with British
India radically declined. Having become a land-locked state,
Afghanistan became dependent on British India for transport,
which further complicated trade relations.
The Pushtun revolt in 1897 posed a formidable challenge
to British power in the region.
2
with the drawing of the
Durand Line, a large territory inhabited by Pushtun tribes
had come under British India's sphere of influence. A local
British officer justified British attempts to bring these
frontier tribes under their control in the following
348
passage:
••. these tribes can produce a large number of well
armed fighting men, and their attitude in the
event of complications arising beyond our North
West Frontier is a matter of primary importance.
The attitude might be friendly, neutral or
hostile; if the first or second they would not
hamper our military operations for the control or
reinforcement of Afghanistan; if the third, our
available military resources would be absorbed to
a very dangerous extent in holding them check. In
fact it may be safely predicted that, under such a
contingency, we should have to wait until the
tribes have been dealt with before we could move a
single battalion into Afghanistan.
3
349
Evidently, the fear of Afghanistan's potential threat to
British interests in the region was a propelling factor that
led to the conclusion of the Durand Line in 1893, which
attempted to estrange these tribal units from the Afghan
polity. But, in the final analysis unless these Pushtun
tribes remained "friendly" or "neutral", British India's
imperial aims would not be fulfilled.
In the years preceding the drawing of the Durand Line,
British activity in the frontier had increased. They
initiated extensive railway, telegraph and road projects in
the frontier not only to ensure themselves of military
control over strategic points but also to facilitate
commercial penetration of the area; the Chaman, Bolan, and
Pishin railroad lines were just a few examples of such
ventures. The British establishment of military posts in
the Samana, Kurram, Zhob, Pishin, Gomal etc .. confirmed
350
tribal suspicions.
4
This foreign presence intensified
during the Durand Line demarcation proceedings, when the
local people felt that their territory and customary ways of
life were being endangered by the British. Most local
people presumed that any extension of governmental
bureaucracy into tribal territory was aimed at undermining
their independent status, which they had enjoyed for
years.
5
The Pushtun uprising, in 1897, was the ultimate
expression of their malaise with the Durand Line. The
inhabitants of the area were not included in the boundary
proceedings, nor was any referendum taken. During the
Anglo-Afghan negotiations, the British presented to the Amir
documentation of individual tribal leaders expressing their
desire to remain outside of Afghan jursidiction.
6
Subseqently it became evident that such petitions were not
valid proof of tribal acceptance of the and Line. According
to Holdich for the Pushtuns this border was not fixed or
closed:
[a] boundary line indicated by piles of stones had
been drawn across their hills to show that
theoretically they were shut and that beyond that
line they might appeal no more to people of their
own faith and their own language in times of
difficulty or disaster. How should they understand
that their independence was not only not
threatened by such a line, but actually more
effectively secured to them? All they could see
was a boundary placed between themselves and
Afghanistan; and they assumed that it was a
British frontier boundary as surely it was an
Afghan boundary.7
351
In attempts to disavow this arrangement, tribal deputations
went to Kabul prior to and during the rebellion, seeking
Kabul's assistance against the British.
There were several reasons why the frontier was set
ablaze in 1897, which necessitated the employment of 70,000
British Indian troops to quell the resistance.
8
1)
Officials in India cited religious fanaticism primarily
fanned by the mullahs as the main cause for tribal
resistance in the frontier.
9
One official explained the
general uprising in the frontier in the following statement:
Numbers of tribesmen joining in this jehad under
threat of being proclaimed infidels, by Mullas
threatening to burn their houses, or not to attend
their marriages, their funerals, or the many
domestic ceremonies in which the priest takes a
part. We are too apt to consider that the people
have risen unanimously of their own will, as a
protest against a threat to their independence,
instead of realising that it is the priestly
influence which works them up, and which they have
not the strength to throw off.
10
While Islam provided some of the ideological impetus for the
resistance, the anti-colonial appeal of the resistance
attracted the tribes who were extremely discontented with
the existing conditions.
2) For years the Pushtun tribes in this region enjoyed
relative independence, that was now being undermined by
British India's "forward policy". The establishment of
352
military posts, water tanks, railroads, telegraph, and
highways invaded tribal territory, jeapordizing their
autonomy. 3) the British imposition of taxes and fines on
entire clans for individual acts of violence impoverished
the people. Since the political agencies and princely
kingdoms served to sustain British control of the frontier,
the area remained a military garrison devoid of any surplus
wealth. 11 4) Most of all the British tactics of divide
and rule infuriated tribal leaders, who already felt that
the status quo was being challenged. Tribes receiving
'British subsidies were not paid equally even if they
provided the same services.
12
5) Finally, the Pushtuns felt dishonored because of British
interference in their domestic affairs. There were incidents
of British personnel consorting with Pushtun women; any
woman who fled into British territory was not returned by
the British to her tribe. Such British actions caused much
tribal indignation, especially since the preservation of
their women's honor was so intertwined with the status of
tribes in Pushtun society.
The mullahs were able to channel and organize these
various forms of discontent into an uprising that became
widespread through out the region.
THE ROLE OF THE MULLAHS IN THE RESISTANCE
Throughout the history of Anglo-Afghan relations,
353
mullahs actively incited anti-colonial sentiments among the
people. For instance, during the second Afghan War (1879),
the Mullah of Sapri and Mullah Adkan (Khost) led the attack
against the British post in the Kurram valley.13 A short
time after Abdur Rahman ascended the throne, he received a
letter from the leading religious figures of Kandahar that
stated, "If you are an Amir of Islam you will march in the
direction of Peshawar and head jehad, in which case all
Afghanistan will submit to you and acknowledge your
supremacy. •. ".14 Islam provided a political programme of
action in which jihad was the key component.
1S
The Amir's
1888 treatise on the benefits of jihad encouraged the
frontier people to resist the "infidels".16 Mullahs from
Afghanistan, supplied with copies of this treaties,
distributed them to the religious men in the frontier. The
frontier tribes felt they had ample proof of the Amir's
support to resist the British.
Political action couched in religious terms offered one
alternative to deliver the people from British oppression.
In addition, Islam gave the tribes a heightened sense of
commonality that may have encouraged, them to resist their
powerful opponent, the British. In the local context Islam
functioned to " ... [enable] people to store information about
their microscopic world and to rationalize the situations
tha t confront [ ed] them". 1
7
354
At the very top of the hierarchy was the Amir of Islam,
Abdur Rahman, who sanctioned jihad. The network of mullahs
functioned as catalysts for political action in the
frontier. Most of the mullahs in eastern Afghanistan
identified with one of the two prominent sufi pirs, the
Akhund of swat or Pir Mangai.
18
In 1897, the followers of
both tariqats coalesced to organize the uprising.
Among those mullahs who were active in the revolt was
Mullah Najm ud-Din of Hadda, a disciple of the Akhund of
Swat. 19 Two key followers of Mullah Najm ud-Din were
Mullahs Sayyid Akbar and Sa'adullah. Mullah Sayyid Akbar, an
Aka Khel Afridi who resided in Tirah, led the campaign in
the Samana Ranges and the Khyber region. He called on the
local mullahs of the area to mobilize the tribesmen. Mullah
Sa'adullah (or Mullah Mastan or Sartor Faqir) was a native
of Buner and the chief instigator of the rebellion in Swat,
Dir, and Bajaur. The British referred to him as the "Mad
Mullah" because of the intensity of his anti-British
campaigns. 20
A contemporary of Mullah Najm ud-Din was Mullah
Powindah, a Mahsud Waziri from Bannu, who initiated the
attac}c on Wana in 1894.
21
Mullah Powindah had his own
circle of followers. His supporters were more regional than
were the supporters of the Mullah of Hadda.
The other prominent sufi pir was Pir Mangai. Pir
355
Mangai's supporters included Mullahs Shah Jahan, Alam Khan,
Ghias ud-Din, and Darwesh Shah.
22
The followers of Pir
Mangai, though widespread, were not active in the planning
stages of the resistance. Later on they joined in the
struggle.
The organizational structure of the resistance
conisisted of influential mullahs at the top, who received
their legitimacy from the Amir of Afghanistan, from whom
many also received stipends. These key figures had a core
of disciples, who were connected with local religious
leaders and khans, who in turn were linked to the tribesmen.
There is no doubt that these local leaders coordinated the
movement with the support of the khans and maliks. Through
the maintenance of a core structure of disciples who
campaigned actively amongst the people, these local leaders
transformed local problems into more general issues that
combined to form a frontier-wide national resistance against
the British.
23
THE 1897 UPRISING
In the three-tiered system of British frontier
administration, during the 1890's anti-colonialism was most
prevalent in the political agencies and princely kingdoms.
The British, by maintaining these areas as military
garrisons virtually devoid of any economic development,
imposed a repressive system where peace and order were
accomplished either directly through brutal force or
indirectly through intermediary agents equipped to use
brutal force. Officials in India outlined their frontier
356
strategy as one that was " ••• definitely shaped by higher and
more imperial objects than the temporary prevention of
plunder on the British border".
24
Furthermore, in order
to assure British paramount power in the region, the
Government reiterated the following:
We desired that, as far as possible, interference
with the autonomy of the tribes should be avoided.
We desired, that by means of tribal allowances in
payment for services rendered, and by cordially
supporting the legitimate influence of the
headmen, a friendly and responsible authority
should be established in each tribe.".
25
However, in the end it was British interference in tribal
affairs that became a major cause to spark the 1897
uprising.
The history of British India's relations in their north
west frontier was generally characterized by conquest and
violence (see Appendix III). Especially during that
decisive period when the Durand Line demarcation proceedings
were in progress, British personnel often became targets of
violence, subsequently stalling the commission. In 1894 a
total of 2,000 Waziris tribesmen, led by Mullah Powindah,
attacked the British camp at Wana, which temporarily halted
the marking of the border. The Waziris succeeded in
confiscating weapons and cash from the British post, leaving
357
behind a toll of forty five dead and seventy five
wounded. 26 Mr. Bruce, the British officer at Wana,
immediately put forth demands that involved: 1) the
surrender of all resistance leaders; 2) the expulsion of
Mullah Powindah from Waziri country until the boundary
commission completed its work; and 3) the return of monetary
compensation for all government property seized.
27
Furthermore, Mr. Bruce warned that if all of these terms
were not met within days, a British expedition would be
dispatched to punish the tribes. In January 1895 Colonel
Lockhart led a military campaign into Waziristan that
destroyed entire villages and burned crops. This brought the
waziris into submission temporarily; it also cost the Indian
tax-payers 2.8 million rupees.
28
As soon as Waziristan was calm, the situation in
Chitral became tense. with the British Boundary Commission
in progress, news spread that the country was being occupied
by British India, generating hostilities throughout the
region.
29
The situation became precarious when Amir ul-
Mulk, with the aide of his uncle (the popular Sher Afzal)
and Umra Khan of Jandol in Bajaur led an uprsising that
killed his brother, Nizam ul-Mulk, the ruler of Chitral.
30
Nizam ul-Mulk had assumed and retained his power solely
through British financial and military support; he was
corrupt and very unpopular, and the people of Chitral
resented the large British military force that served to
prop him up.31 After Nizam ul-Mulk had been killed, the
358
British mission in Chitral became the target of a combined
attack of some 3,000 tribesmen, both Adamzada Pushtuns and
Chitralis, incited by their local mullahs. The Indian
Government responded promptly by despatching a 15,000-person
armed force to reinstate their hold in chitral, a mission
that cost India 2 million rupees.
32
After relieving
their personnel in the besieged Chitral fort, the British
recognized Shuja ul-Mulk, the ten-year old brother of Amir
ul-Mulk, as the Mehtar of Chitral. Although Sher Afzal, the
late Mehtar's brother, remained the popular choice, the
British deported him to India in order to curtail the growth
of Afghan influence in Chitral.
33
Initially, Chitral's
governmental affairs were managed by the Political Officer,
but within a few months the kingdom was officially annexed
by British India, and its border with Afghanistan determined
in a separate agreement.
34
At a time when there was
hardly any threat from either czarist Russia or Afghanistan,
the British continued to adopt this forward advance.
TOCHI VALLEY
~
The British method of employing brute force in
addressing tribal grievances might have temporarily allayed
the situation, but in the long run it increase resentment
against the British. After the Wana and Chitral uprisings,
359
an outburst in the Tochi valley ignited the entire frontier
to revolt against the British. The Tochi valley is just
north of Waziristan and south of Kurram, and is inhabited
predominantly by the Mahsud and Darwesh Khel Waziris.
Waziristan was a troublesome spot for British
administrators, especially since Afghan claims to the area
were disregarded during the boundary settlement. In 1890 the
British built a military post in Spin to wield effective
control over the Mahsuds near the Zhob Valley. Subsequently,
in 1894, the British built an army cantonment in Wana.
Despite efforts to maintain control, several British
personnel were murdered in the region.
35
Political
officers suggested to the British Indian Government that a
similar military post in the Tochi Valley would enable them
to exercise effective control over Waziristan.
36
the
British began negotiations with tribal leaders for
permission to station British military posts, with
headquarters at Miranshah. In the end the British received
the needed permission in e ~ c h a n g e for an annual subsidy to
the tribal leaders.
In June 1896 Honda Ram, a Hindu employee of the British
post in the village of Sherani was killed, and the British
imposed a penalty of 2,000 rupees on the entire Madda Khel
clan.
37
The village of Mazar refused to pay such an
exorbitant amount on the grounds that the inhabitants of the
360
Sherani village should be held solely responsible for the
crime, not the entire clan. However, the British insisted on
payment by the entire clan, using this as a means of
accomplishing tribal submission to British authority.
Meanwhile the actual offender absconded to Afghanistan.
On June 10, 1897, a British escort, led by Mr. Gee,
arrived in Nazar to collect the assessed fee, which by now
had been reduced to 1,200 rupees.
38
After a warm
reception, the British camp was attacked and killed by the
tribe. The tribes immediately sent messages to the Darwesh
Khel and other Afghan authorities requesting assistance in
their struggle against the British.
39
Mullah Powindah, a
member of the Mahsud clan, attempted to raise a jihad by
cooperating with Mullah Ghain ud-Din, a local a'lim, whom
the British blamed for instigating the murder of Honda Ram.
Although Mullah Ghain ud-Din and his followers actively
participated in the resistance, British reprisals of
scorching the villages of Madda Khel forced many of the clan
to flee the area, some of whom, like the Mullah found refuge
in Afghanistan.
40
The British force of 7,000 men who came to Tochi
compelled the tribes: 1) to surrender all the prominent
leaders of the rebellion; 2) to return British property or
pay compensation; and 3) to pay a fine of 10,000 rupees for
their bad conduct.
41
Initially the Madda Khels refused to
361
submit to such conditions, but in November, as winter
approached, some of the khans agreed to pay the fines in
installments. It was only in 1901 that the British achieved
an effective settlement with the Mahsuds.
Several factors contributed to the revolt in the Mazar
village, where the British escort was attacked and killed.
Although the Mahsuds had authorized the British to set up a
military base in their area the building of water tanks and
other facilities without tribal approval generated
resentment towards the British.
42
The tribes did not
believe that allowing British troops to be stationed in
their territory implied that they thereby relinquished all
claims over their territory.
The Madda Khel interpreted British actions to be
undermining their tribal independence, especially when
British political agents began to impose and collect fines,
a role typically restricted to the tribal jirgahs
(councils) .43 The large fines, the agents often imposed
not only made the tribes increasingly dependent on British
subsidies for their livelihood, but also contributed to the
deterioration of their tribes' economic situation.
Furthermore, by forcing the tribes to pay these fines, the
British began to perceive these tribes as their subjects,
which generated considerable indignation among the tribes.
Rumors of British plans to annex the tribal territory
362
into British India were reinforced by the recent events in
Chitral, which were interpreted and relayed through the
religious leaders. Mullah Powindah attempted to instigate a
wider uprisising in the Tochi Valley, but the time proved to
be not yet ripe.
44
However, the significance of the
uprising in the Tochi valley was ttlat it created an
immediate response throughout the frontier.
SWAT
The British characterized the people of swat as
religious bigots, easily aroused to collective fanaticism,
especially since it was the home of the famous mujahid,
Abdul Ghaffur or the Akhund of swat.
45
Followers of the
Akhund were numerous in the frontier, especially in Swat,
where his family, the Mian Guls, continued the religious
legacy. The locality of the Akhund had not only become a
ziarat, but many plots to rebel against the British had been
initiated here. All efforts were taken by the British to
weaken the power of the Mian Guls in Swat.
By the 1890's followers of the Akhund recognized Abdur
Rahman as the King of Islam, especially because they felt
threatened by British attempts to assert their position in
Swat. 46 Many tribal leaders went to Kabul, where they
received khillats and money from the Amir. When it became
evident that swat, Buner, Dir, and Bajaur fell on the
British side of the Durand Line, feelings of anxiety were
widespread among the tribes.
swat, Buner, Dir and Bajaur were important to the
British in maintaining their communication lines with
363
Chitral. In the various expeditions to chitral, Gilgit and
Hunza, the British troops faced hostilities in passing
through Swat country. To surmount these difficulties, the
British established garrisons at Malakand and Chakdarra in
order to contain any tribal violence, while they arranged
with local khans to guard the roads.
47
The very presence
of British troops provided ample ammunition for resentment,
which the mullahs exploited in raising hostilities.
News about the Tochi valley revolt had spread like fire
throughout the frontier. Mullah Najm ud-Din and Pir Mangai
raised the call of jihad and instructed their disciples to
mobilize the people in this religious struggle. One such
message sent to the mullahs proclaimed:
The Kafirs have taken possession of all Mussulman
countries, and, owing to the lack of spirit on the
part of the people are conquerng every region •••• I
inform you also that you may try your best to
further the cause of "jehad," which is the best of
all devotions and the truest of all submissions,
so that we may not be ashamed before God on the
day of judgement and be glorious before His
Prophet. 48
The main actor was Mullah Sa'adullah, whom the British
called the "Mad Mullah". In 1885, while in Afghanistan with
the Buner jirgah, he received 1,000 rupees separately from
Amir Abdur Rahman. Thereafter he kept in touch with
364
Kabul. 49 After events in Chitral unfolded, Mullah
Sa'adullah went to Buner, where he disseminated copies of
the Amir's treatise on jihad and preached against the
British. It was reported that the Mullah was accompanied by
two Afghans, one of whom travelled back and forth to
Afghanistan returning each time with money and letters of
instruction. 50
with a following from Buner, Mullah Sa'adullah
proceeded to Landakai, in lower Swat, where he began to
expound on the vices of British rule.
51
Meanwhile the
Mullah of Hadda sent letters to the Mian Guls in Swat
seeking their cooperation. Major Deane, the Political Agent
at Malakand, received reports that nothing serious was in
the offing. But Mullah Sa'adullah and other local mullahs
were actively encouraging the people to rise up against the
British. They were especially effective among the Yusufzai,
utman Khel and Bajaur Pushtun tribes.
In July 1897 Mullah Sa'adullah organized two frontal
attacks, one directed at the British post in Chakdarra and
the other at the British post in Malakand.
52
On July 26th
Mullah Sa'adullah personally led a march to Malakand. By
the time he and his forces arrived at the British
cantonment, the tribal lashkar (fighting force) had swollen
to 12,000 in number.
53
The same night approximately 8,000
men assembled at Chakdarra and launched an assault on the
365
British military post.
54
People from the Peshawar
District, Buner, Bajaur, Cis-Indus, etc. had all flocked to
the call of jihad, including many disciples of Mullah Najm
ud-Din.
No sooner had the tribal attack begun than British
reinforcements from neighboring garrisons headed towards the
relief of Chakdarra and Malakand. Heavy fighting continued
until August 2nd, when a force of 10,000 men, under the
command of General Bindon Blood, entered swat.
55
Upon
hearing of this massive response, more tribes like the
Mahmunds joined in.
The British force did not withdraw until February of
1898, eighteen months later by which time the entire swat
valley had been subjugated. The "Blood" mission involved
separate operations against each tribe that participated in
the swat revolt. A total of some 5,000 local people were
killed, while entire villages and crops were scorched.
56
Tribal subsidies were suspended, and those tribals who
surrendered were forced to pay heavy fines. For example,
the British demanded 47,000 rupees just from the Rainzai and
Khan clans of lower swat.
Although in February 1898 some local mullahs attempted
to revive the resistance, most tribes had already suffered
tremendously and did not respond. At the end of the year,
Mullah Sa'adullah, who had fled to Buner, initated another
uprising, but his group was immediately defeated and
disbanded by the Nawab of Dir's troops.
366
The mullahs, through using Islamic symbols, mobilized
both Pushtuns and non-Pushtuns to resist the British. This
mobilization was widespread and included a network of local
mullahs, who were contacted and advised by Mullah
Sa'adullah. Other leading mullahs provided support. Local
grievances were expressed in widly-shared Islamic
terminology. The drawing of the Durand Line left a deep
impression on many people's minds that their ties with their
Kinsmen had been severed and their independence had forever
been lost. Although the British refused to acknowledge any
Amir complicity in these uprisings, as a matter of fact
Afghan officials often provided material assistance to the
fighters and gave refuge to those who fled across the border
into Afghanistan. For example, the Afghan brigadier in
Kunar not only encouraged the Mahmund tribe in their
compaigns but also urged Afghans to cross over into swat to
participate in the uprisings.
57
Back in early 1897, when
the British built their garrisons, the Swatis had complained
to the Amir:
At the commencement of the British rule it was
agreed by the British Government that the country
of swat would remain "muaf" (remitted) to the
Akhundzada of Swat, and an agreement to that
effect was reduced to in writing; but the country
was taken possession of in violation of that
agreement, and after possession was taken, the
British officers began to accept bribes and to
outrage the modesty of our women.
58
The people of swat could not understand why they were
367
treated as subjects, when they were paid allowances by the
British in exchange for British use of the area, an exchange
they felt clearly established their independence. The
people also resented the British discriminatory practice of
granting unequal payments to tribes providing the same
services. 59 Tribals who found regular employment with the
British came to be increasing identified with British
interests and alienated from their own tribes.
swat's economy depended on its exports of rice, fruit,
and timber into British territory.60 This meant that it
was vulnerable to blockades, since the major passes,
especially Malakand, were controlled by the British.
Therefore Malakand became a main target of the resistance.
Moreover, under the British system, a few khans, like those
in Thana and Palai, were granted trading privileges that
enabled them to amass much wealth in the valley.61 This
emerging elite class, utilized their newly acquired
positions to violate their tribal ethos and exploit members
of their own tribes, by employing them as hired laborers.
In time this privileged group of khans became partners with
the colonial administrators in maintaining control over the
region. In fact one Abdul Hamid Khan, a grain contractor,
used his employees to collect information about the
resistance to pass along to the British.
62
KHYBER PASS AND THE SAMAHA RANGES
368
No sooner had the swat uprising occurred, than Mullah
Najm ud-Din sent out a proclamation to the Afridi, Mohmand,
and Orakzai tribes around the Khyber that stated:
Be it known to all the followers of the religion
of the Chief of the Messengers of God, may peace
be on him, residing in Ningrahar, Shinwar and
other places, that all the people of Swat, Buner,
and Bajaur have united and assembled together.
They have killed all the troops of the infidels
who were in Swat and have plundered all their
property and belongings.
I therefore wrote to all the followers of Islam
that all the Mohmands have collected together
here. We will go by the Gandab route to Dehri
(Shankargarh) for the purpose of making jehad. I
hope therefore that, as soon as you receive this
letter, you should, positively come taking the
necessary provisions with you, as soon as
possible. God be pleased, the time for the
annihilation of the infidels has come .... 63
The Durand Line dissected the Mohmand territory,
separating some of the Mohmands from their tribal chief, who
resided in Lalpura on the Afghan side. Although this
territory was delimited, it was never exactly mapped out,
owing to Anglo-Afghan disputes and the inacessibility of the
area. When the British had annexed Punjab in 1849, they had
incorporated large parcels of Mohmand tracts in Peshawar
district and had never compensated the tribes.
64
After
the Durand Line was formally demarcated, the British, unable
to determine the limits of Mohmand country, warned the clans
369
to the east of the line, that they were forbidden to have
any contact with Afghanistan.
65
This became sufficient
reason for the clans to mobilize against the British. As a
matter of fact, the Mohmand tribes were so eager to fight
the British that they personally contacted Mullah Najm ud-
Din and asked him to lead them into the Peshawar valley.
On August 7, 1897, Mullah Najm ud-Din led a group of
5,000 Mohmand tribesmen in an attack on the village of
Shankargarh and the British military post at Shabkadar, some
15 miles north of Peshawar. British reinforcements from
Peshawar were promptly rushed to the scene and temporarly
dispersed the tribal forces. Interestingly enough, several
of the neighboring villages joined the Mohmands in looting
and burning the houses of the Hindus residing in
Shankargarh, reflecting local resentment against the
increased presence of Indians in the region.
66
Meanwhile news arrived that Mullah Sayyid Akbar, along
with other mullahs was urging the Orakzais and Afridis to
unite against the British in Tirah and in the Khyber. At
Bagh in Tirah several tribal deputations were sent to meet
with Mullah Sayyid Akbar, who deliberated on the plans to
resist the British.
67
Several reports also came from
Kabul, indicating that the British were at that moment very
vulnerable because many of their territories in the Middle
East were being so challenged by the Ottoman Sultan, that
370
Indian troops were urgently needed in the Middle East.
68
Moreover, the Turkish victories in the war with Greece
provided inspirational stories for the tribes. It appeared
that the time was appropriate to pressure the British to
leave the frontier. Mullah Najm ud-Din sent letters to the
mullahs and elders of Afridi and Orakzai tribes in which he
stated:
The Kafirs have taken possession of all Mussulman
countries, and owing to the lack of spirit on the part
of the people are conquering every region ••.• I have
myself informed the people of Laghman and Kunar and the
Mohmands, Ningraharis and Shinwaris, and they are all
prepared to take part in the fighting.
69
At the jirgah in Bagh it was decided that the Afridis should
attack the Khyber, the Mahsuds and Chamkanis should deal
with the Kurram, and the rest of the Orakzais and some
Waziris should seize control over the Samana.
70
On August 17, 1897, an Afridi lashkar of 10,000 men and
some 1,500 mullahs and tribesmen from Afghanistan started
from Bagh in Tirah towards the Khyber.
71
On August 23rd
the Afridis attacked the Khyber, capturing first the Ali
Masjid fort held by the Khyber Rifles. Those Afridis
employed as irregular forces defending the fort broke rank
and joined their fellow tribesmen. Subsequently, both Fort
Maude and Landi Kotal fell to the tribesmen, and the Khyber
Pass remained in their hands for five months.
Inspired by the Afridi successes, the Orakzais, under
371
the leadership of Mullah Sayyid Akbar, rose on August 26th
in Tirah, where they first attacked British military bases
near Kohat. Next, they went westwards towards posts in the
Kurram valley, with the British forts in the Samana range
becaming the main targets. By September 1897, a combined
tribal force of 15,000 Afridi and Orakzai gathered to attack
the British at forts Sangar, Lockhart, and Gulistan in the
Samana range.
72
This force provided neighboring villagers
with weapons to assist in the revolt. Tribal forces had
almost achieved success in the battle at Gulistan, when
British reinforcements arrived and changed the course of the
battle, inflicting heavy casualties on the tribals - 400
dead and 600 injured.
73
In efforts to bolster their postion, Orakzai and Afridi
deputations went to Kabul seeking assistance. The Amir
responded by offering to become an intermediary negotiator
who could represent their interests to the British.
74
In
addition he did not prevent his Afghan subjects from
providing material assistance to the tribals, or from
crossing the border. In fact, the Amir's sipah Salar, Ghulam
,Haider, helped to coordinate the revolts. Earlier the Amir
had told Mullah Najm ud-Din, "We have given instructions to
Ghulam Haider. You should consult him and act upon his
advice ....
75
Officially, the Amir denied giving any
assistance to the frontier tribes. But evidence indicates
372
that his officials were involved in many of the revolts, and
this could not have been possible without the Amir's
knowledge.
In September, 1897, two British columns marched into
Mohmand country, one led by General Bindon Blood from swat
and the other led by General Elles from Shabkadar. It took
nearly seven weeks of scorching and burning entire Mohmand
villages to bring the Mohmands into submission. The British
for the first time entered Mohmand territory, where they
destroyed several hamlets, including Jarobi, the home of
Mullah Najm ud-Din.
76
Furthermore, as a means of
acquiring supplies the British compelled the -tribes to pay
penalties in cash and in kind. The British assigned some of
the Mohmand revenues to the Nawab of Dir. And the British
insisted that some of the tribes be partially disarmed.
77
Perhaps as a result such of harsh measures, the Mohmand
tribal territory remained hostile towards the British until
the disintegration of the British Indian Empire.
While the British were engaged in military operations
against the Mohmands, they decided to retaliate against the
Waziris and Orakzais. In October, 1897 the British sent a
massive force of some 50,000 troops, 100,000 transport
animals, and thousands of non-combatants to the
frontier. 78 The plan was to start from Kohat and continue
to Tirah, in the process relieving the forts in the Samana
373
range. Finally the British troops were to move up into the
Khyber. The British launched a most dreadful campaign of
burning and destroying tribal villages which continued until
January, 1898 when the tribes terminated their hostilities.
The British, in in a symbolic gesture destroyed the
residence of Mullah Sayyid Akbar in front of his
tribesmen. 79
The British terms of submission for the Afridis were:
1) the restoration of all government property; 2) the
surrender of all the major leaders of the resistance; 3) the
payment of 50,000 rupees in cash; 4) the turning over of
some 1,000 or more rifles; 5) the granting of permission for
the British to survey Afridi country and to re-open the
Khyber Pass according to British arrangements; and 6) the
formal submission of an Afridi jirgah and the surrender of
individuals to be held hostage by the British in order to
guarantee their good behavior.
so
Similar fines were
extracted separately from each Orakzai clan, thereby
ensuring the partial disarmament of these tribes.
To what extent did the drawing of the Durand Line spark
these widespread revolts? For the Afridis, the Durand Line
denied them access to their summer residence across the
border in Afghanistan. Furthermore, many of the Mohmand,
Afridi and Orakzai tribes had family members living across
the border in Afghanistan.
a1
Similarly, by building forts
374
in the Samana, the British deprived certain Orakzai clans of
access to the fertile valley of Miranzai.
82
The British
repeatedly threatened the tribes with harsh consequences if
they joined the insurgency. One such threat was phrased as
follows:
Be it know to all you, Afridis, •.• especially
those that came down from Peshawar to Tirah Bazar,
Ilacha, Karamna, Chora, and Srar Ghar, with
articles for sale, such as potatoes, mazari, wood,
nuts, etc., and who take back other commodities
for their own use, with a safe passage via Jamrud
and Kajaurii and those Afridis who during the
winter season, finding no pasturage in Tirah on
account of the snow, come down and settle at
Bagiari, Kajuri, Dawar, Karawal, Bazgurai and
Uchagaro to graze their cattle; and those Kambar
Khels, Malikdin Khels and Sepahs who come down and
find shelter and livelihood in the villages of the
Peshawar District •.. , be it engraved on your minds
that, if they even attempt to take any part in the
approaching outbreak, the result for them will not
be good and that they will reap the fruit of their
rashness in a be nefitting manner. The fact too
should be borne in mind and well pondered over
that every tribe includs a number of pensioners
besides receiving allowances from Government, and
that, if once any tribe's character is lost, their
after repentance and apology will prove injurious
instead of doing them any good.
83
Despite such dependence on the British, some people, even
from Peshawar, participated in the uprising against the
British. The Afridi and Orakzai leaders, in their petitions
to Amir Abdur Rahman, outlined their grievances against the
British. Their most frequent objection was that the
British, especially after the conclusion of the Durand Line,
assumed tribal territory to be under British control. After
375
the second Anglo-Afghan war (1879), the British had made
separate monetary arrangements with the tribes residing in
the Khyber to safeguard the Pass. The tribes interpreted
this as British recognition of their tribal
independence. 84 The tribal jirgah concluded: nlf we had
been the subjects of the British Government, why should they
have been paying us annually ..•. If we were their subjects,
we should have paid money to the Government. It thus appears
that we were not their subjects.
n

SS
The Afridi and
Orakzai leaders further argued that the British construction
of prisons, posts and water tanks and their employment of
non-residential tribals in Ali Masjid, Jamrud, Loargai,
etc., not only violated the terms of the agreement but also
encroached into tribal territory.
Those Afridi and Orakzai individuals whom the British
emloyed sometimes became alienated from their fellow
tribals. As government employees they often identified with
British interests, rather than the interests of their
tribes.
86
Furthermore, the Afridi and Orakzai leaders
complained to the Amir that the British policy of paying
unequal allowances to those clans guarding the pass, caused
internal feuds. They now understood this and demanded fair
payments. For example, the British did not pay the Malikdin
Khels, the Sipah, Kuki Khels, Kambar Khels, Zakha Khels,
etc .. the same amounts for providing the same services.
87
By granting higher payments to certain sectors of the
population, like the khans of the Sipah clan, the British
helped undermine egalitarian intra-tribal relationships.
376
Most damaging of all were the fines the British imposed
on an entire tribe for the misconduct of any of its members.
Two Afridi sepoys deserted from the British military, for
which the British collected an 1,800 rupee fine from an
entire Afridi clan. The Afridi response was "we have no
guarantee for any man, who should engage himself under the
British Government; then what right had he [Commissioner
Warburton] to punish us?".88 Similarly a British employee
was robbed in territory not under the control of the
Orakzais. Nevertheless, the British find each Orakzai clan
rupees 140.
89
In cases such as this the Orakzais felt the British
unjustly held them responsible for incidents beyond their
control. Furthermore, the Orakzais felt that the British
violated some of their agreements. For example, the
British and the Orakzais had agreed that in exchange for
permitting the British to construct a road to Kohat through
Adam Khel country, the price of salt from Kohat would be
fixed at eight one rupee for maunds.
90
Later the price
was increased to two rupees for eight maunds. The tribes
perceived this as a clear violation of the agreement. The
increased price of imports and the periodic British
37,7
imposition of penalties contributed to the impoverishment of
the tribes, making them increasingly dependent on British
subsidies.
Finally, British interference in their domestic affairs
angered the tribals. The Afridis complained that the
failure to return tribal women who had fled into British
territory brought dishonor to the tribes. According to
Pushtunwali (the tribal code of behavior) one would rather
lose one's head than one's honor, with which the status of
the woman in one's tribes was closely intertwined.
91
The
Orakzais described instances in which Englishmen married
Pushtun women, something the Orakzais resented. On one
particular occasion an English officer even took the wife of
an Orakzai tribesman to become his wife, thereby causing
disgrace to the entire tribe.
92
As the Pushtun themselves
said it in one of there petitions to the Amir of
Afghanistan, "we have fought with the English of our own
accord, and we were driven to it, because they have
tyrannised over us and oppressed us.".93
The drawing of the Durand Line helped exacerbate the
friction that existed betweeen the Pushtuns and British
Indian authorities. For the tribes in the frontier, the
demarcation line marked the final phase of their
independence. After the line was drawn they could no longer
recognize the Amir as their leader, and Abdur Rahman's name
could no longer. be read in the khutba. The Durand Line
separated the Pushtuns from their qawm.
378
British policy in the frontier stressed the primacy of
free trade and the supreme importance of law and order. Law
and order meant the imposition of British control. Free
trade encouraged the influx of money lenders and merchants
from the sub-continent into areas such as Bajaur and Chitral
where they undermined the traditional economy.
Through the extension of the governmental apparatus,
more and more tribes found themselves subjected to British
taxation, which they deeply resented. British fines and
penalties imposed on entire tribes further aggravated the
tribes, economic hardships. But, most of all the Pushtuns
resented payments to the British because, to the Pushtuns,
this implied that the British perceived them as subjects and
not as independent people.
The fact that the frontier tribes were almost
successful in regaining control over the Khyber and
challenging British power in the region had both domestic
and international repercussions. In the Indian press
articles appeared questioning British valor. Some articles
even questioned the myth of British valor on which rested
British rule in India.
94
The Irish press lauded the
"heroic" tribesmen and compared their resistance to the
Irish struggle to emancipate Ireland from British
379
tyranny. 95 The Irish press argued that the prestige of
Britain, which kept millions of people under its rule, was
now fatally damaged. A Chicago newspaper penned its
assessment of the political developments on the Afghan
frontier in the following passage:
On the southern frontier of Afghanistan are
numerous barabarous tribes owning quasi allegiance
to the Amir, but practically independent, and
owning no master but one strong enough to hold
them in subjection. These tribes are to the power
of the Ameer what the great foot hills are to the
giant peaks of the Himalayas. They must first be
subdued before Afghanistan becomes British
territory •.. This is the logic of Lord Lytton and
the pursuance of the Lytton policy is that which
has brought the present Indian government into its
ignominious quagmire in northern India. This
policy has been condemned by the ablest and most
e}rperienced authorities of British India as
utterly impractical and ruinious in waste of blood
and treasure. It was adopted without the
slightest regard to the interests or wants of the
people of India, but because England was jealous
of Russian expansion in Asia. It was lawful for
England to grab every rock that nourished an ounce
of seaweed and had room for a British flagstaff,
but it was decidedly criminal and unlawful for
Russia to extend her boundaries in Asia. Hence to
prevent it, tribesmen and Afghans must be
ruthlessly slaughtered, their villages burned, and
their wives and children turned out naked to
perish on the wintry hillsides. And a miserable,
doughfaced, white livered cad acting as an
American correspondent with the British forces,
calls the mountaineers sharpshooters and murderers
because they picked off the officers in command of
England's villainous, cowardly and beaten raiders.
God bless the brave mountain men, is our heartfelt
prayer.
96
British economic policies in the region intensified the
processes of differentiation amongst the tribes. One such
380
British policy was granting large land assignments to
individuals and tribal lineages who assisted the British
during the military campaigns in the frontier. Another such
British policy was subsidizing certain clans and clan
leaders who functioned to preserve colonial control. Sirdars
or Khans who received such monetary benefits from the
British often became divorced from their locality,
especially if they took residence in the towns or cities.
In the cities they no longer played a role in the
productivity of the land, but simply used their land as a
form of capital investments. The positions of these
landholders were protected by the British, who introduced an
array of legislative machinery that benefitted these khans.
TRADE
In the commercial sphere, the demarcation of the Durand
Line (1894-1896) contributed to the deterioration of Indo-
Afghan trade. Kakar attributes this decline in trade to the
Amir's excessive tariffs and his monopolization of
trade. 97 However, Gregorian asserts that in the 1880's
czarist Russia took measures to exclude Anglo-Indian
merchandise from Central Asian markets, which hurt
Afghanistan's economy.98 Furthermore, because of the
development of maritime trade, Afghanistan gradually lost
its prominence in the overland trade. Commodities like
Indian tea were now diverted to the sea route via Bandar
381
Abbas in Iran. In the Khanate of Kalat, ports like Gwadar
and pasni, previously used only to export fish to the Arab
gulf region, became interconnected with the Karachi sea
traffic.
Historically, four major routes connected northern
India with Afghanistan, namely Badakshan-Punjab (Chitral
Passes), Kabul-Peshawar (Khyber Pass), Ghazni-Dera Ismail
Khan (Dera Ismail Khan), and Kandahar-Sind {Bolan and
Gomal).99 After the British gained control of all of the
major passes, the Afghan government.no longer received its
previous quantities of revenues through its custom duties
and tolls. In order to compensate for this loss of income,
the Amir increased toll posts within Afghanistan, making
trade a less profitable profession.
lOO
Anxious about British designs in the region, the Amir
adopted protectionist policies, hoping thereby to develop
Afghanistan's internal trade. For example, the Amir
prohibited the import of salt in order to encourage the salt
business in Balkh.
101
The Amir improved roads and leased
to Afghans the sale of domestic products. The British,
resenting Afghan monopoly over its products, discouraged
merchants from conducting business with the Amir.
Meanwhile, Afghan officials at the frontier who levied
duties on imports and exports no longer possessed the
authority to enforce Afghan laws on merchants who avoided
382
custom duties. Instead Afghan officials had to file their
complaints with the British authorities, who then evaluated
the case according to their own interests.
102
In the 1830's Russian and Central Asian commodities,
like cotton, glass, copper, paper, leather, etc., were
predominant in the Afghan bazaars.
103
The British were
determined to chang this. In time Russian and Central Asian
cotton were driven out of the Afghan market by less
expensive Anglo-Indian cotton products.
104
After Russia
completed the construction of the Trans-Caspian railway, the
Central Asian market was closed to British India. Merchants
in northern Afghanistan continued to trade with Bukhara,
Samarkand, and other places in Turkestan, thereby enabling
Central Asian products to continue to be available to Afghan
consumers. However, between 1886 and 1892, Russian exports
to Afghanistan declined while English and Indian exports to
Afghanistan increased, reflecting the success of the British
policies. lOS
In the years prior to the incorporation of the frontier
into British India, Indo-Afghan trade was gradually
increasing. For example, in 1885 the total Indo-Afghan
trade amounted to 1,709,380 rupees, whereas by 1888 the
total trade amounted to 2,705,850 rupees.
lOG
Improved
diplomatic relations contributed towards greater trade
between the two countries. Meanwhile, British India's trade
383
with Tirah and Bajaur (frontier territories) was unstable.
In 1887-88, British trade with Tirah and Bajaur decreased
because of anti-British hostilities in the regions. And the
sharp decline in Britain's trade with seistan (in
Baluchistan and Iran) could be attributed to the development
of maritime trade.
l07
British India, aiming to get a better foothold in the
frontier, diverted much of its former Afghan trade to
Kashmir and its adjacent countries. The statistics below
indicate that Indian trade with Bajaur significantly
improved during the 1890-1900 decade. loa In the years
preceding the delimitation of the Durand Line, this
improvement strengthened British claims over Bajaur. Despite
the Amir's claims to Bajaur, the British presented pro-
British petitions from those Bajauris who benefitted mostly
from this improved trade.
IMPORTS AND EXPORTS BETWEEEN BRITISH INDIA AND ITS
NORTHWESTERN NEIGHBORS, 1890-1900 (IN RUPEES) 109
TOTAL
YEAR BAJAUR KABUL KASHMIR TlRAH TRADE
1890
-
1891 1£864£646 6
1
681
1
648 11
1
254
1
470 199
1
783 20£000
1
547
1891
-
1892 1,%834
1
377 8
1
726£394 13
1
128
1
899 209
1
643 23«899£313
1892
-
1893 2«576«701 8
1
217
1
586 10«190!735 232«135 21«217
1
157
1893
-
1894 3«596,108 5
1
819«156 10
1
047
1
308 217«946 19£680
1
518
1894
-
1895 4«682£759 4
1
181«929 13
1
3721: 157 250!415 22«487«260
1895
-
1896 3£548
1
715 4
1
764£709 13
1
748£170 173
1
713 22
1
235£307
1896
-
1897 8«443«347 4«434
1
278 14«625«815 290«529 27
1
793
1
969
1897
-
1898 5 , 711«318 3£997«942 14
1
413.:858 231
1
906 24£355«024
1898
-
1899 7
1
364
1
467 5£240£725 17£854£303 365£741 30
1
825
1
236
1899
-
1900 12£333£828 2
1
448£503 20,,737£796 600£052 36
1
120 , 179
'l'OTAL
AMOUNT51,956,26654«512«870139,373,5112
1
771
1
863248,614
1
510
The decline in trade with Kabul from 1890-1900
384
corresponded with the increased British Indian commercial
relations with Kashmir and Bajaur. Thus, the British Indian
trade did not suffer any loss from the decline of overland
trade towards Central Asia.
British reports often blamed Russian protective
policies and the Amir's excessive taxation as the chief
reasons for the dwindling of the Indo-Afgan trade. lID
These factors aside, until 1893 the trade with Kabul
improved only moderately over the years. However, from 1893
onwards Indo-Afghan trade diminished drastically; what
little remained provided reduced returns for Afghanistan.
This deterioration of trade coincided with the deterioration
of Anglo-Afghan political relations after the conclusion of
the Durand Agreement (1893).
The shrinking of the Kabul trade was counter-balanced
by the steady growth of the Kashmir trade, which by 1895
accounted for 55 percent of British India's external trade.
The above table shows that in 1895-96, the trade with Tirah
and Bajaur was interrupted because of the resumption of
anti-British hostilities in the regions.
The trade from Kabul flowed primarily through two
channels, namely Peshawar and Quetta. Since an Afghan
official was stationed in Peshwar, the Amir preferred to
have all merchants take their merchandise through the
Peshawar route.
111
No accurate statistics exist for the
trade that went through Quetta, but the extension of the
railroad to Chaman, and its proximity to Bombay made it a
more appealing route for some of the merchants.
385
As the table above indicates, during the 1897 uprising,
trade dropped in Kabul, Bajaur, and Tirah.
112
Similarly,
the Khyber toll revenues declined from 51,161 rupees in
1895-96 to 46,546 rupees in 1896-97.
113
Once hostilities in the frontier died down, British
India's trade improved with Tirah and Bajaur. From Tirah,
export products like timber, raw fibers, hides, and dyeing
materials became popular. Timber was primarily in demand for
re-building military posts, especially in Kohat were wood
was scarce.
114
The British imported fruits, butter, and
grain from Bajaur, which Afghanistan had previously
supplied. Immediately after the disturbances in 1897, trade
with Kabul increased. Items such as horses, hides, timber,
drugs, and wheat were imported into British regions in many
instances to be used by the British military.
386
czarist Russia's protectionist policies continued to
contribute to the diminished role of Indian trade in Central
Asia. Having been brought under the British sphere of
influence, Afghanistan could no longer foster its once-held
privileged status in the overland trade with Central Asia.
Impeded in its efforts to make contacts with foreign states,
Afghanistan became increasingly isolated. And once the
Durand Line was formalized, Afghanistan's trade with India
was increasingly filtered through British border
restrictions and a constant threat of economic blockades.
Successive Afghan rulers, recognizing their land-locked
vulnerability and plagued with xenophobia and paranoia, were
reluctant to introduce significant economic innovations into
their country.
387
1. In the autumn of 1837, exactly sixty years prior to the
1897 insurrection, Alexander Burnes led the first British
mission to Kabul. At that time the Afghans had no indication
that this contact would cost them the loss of a major part
of their territory to the British.
2. Ahmed, Akbar S. Pakistan Society: Islam, Ethnicity, and
Leadership in South Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press,
1988) p.122-123.
3. Foreign Department Secret-F January, 1898 no.666 "Letter
from General Officer of Tirah Expeditionary Force to Foreign
Secretary, Simla" November 5, 1897. Such statements suggest
that military officers may have encouraged the British
government to adopt a more aggressive "forward policy" that
would politically sanction possible greater British
extensions into Afghanistan. it may be worth noting that a
member of British politicians, like Winston Churchill,
initiated their careers in the Indian frontier.
4. Davies, C. Collin The Problem of the North-West Frontier
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932) p.71-98.
5. Singhal, D. P. India and Afghanistan, 1876-1907 p.158-
162.
6. Foreign Department Secret-F December, 1893 no.94 "Kabul
Mission Diary" October 9-11, 1893. The Amir was not able to
determine the authenticity of these petitions, so be
accepted British claims of support reluctantly. However, he
expressed his resentment when tribal leaders approached him
for assistance against the British.
7. Holdich, T. Hungerford The Indian Borderland, 1880-1900
(Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1987, reprint) p.338.
8. MacMunn, George Afghanistan From Darius to Amanullah
p.234.
9. Foreign Department Frontier-A January, 1898
on Frontier Affairs by the Government of India,
George Hamilton, secretary of State for India"
1898.
no.77 "Memo
to Lord
January 13,
10. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.452
"Letter From Major H. A. Deane, Political Agent for Dir,
Swat, and Chitral, to the Secretary to the GOI, Foreign
Department" November 18, 1897.
388
11. Gardezi, Hassan N. "Feudal and Capitalist Relations in
Pakistan
U
ed. Hassan Gardezi and Jamil Rashid Pakistan:
The Roots of Dictatorship (London: Zed Press, 1983)
p.33.
12. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.904
"Translation of a Petition from Kazi Mirza Khan and others,
to the Address of the Amir of Afghanistan" November 4,
1897.
13. Foreign Department Secret October, 1879 no.95 "Letter
from the News-writer at Dera Ismail Khan to the Punjab
Government" September 16, 1879.
14. Foreign Department Secret-E October, 1882
"Translation of a Letter in cipher from Kabul"
1881.
no.112
July 1,
15. Gulzad, Zalmay "The Social Structure of the Afghan
Mujahideen (Fundamentalists and Traditionalists)" A Chapter
in Alternative Perspectives on Afghanistan (Clarendon:
Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
16. Foreign Department Secret-F March, 1898 no.313 "K.W.
No.3" November 11, 1897. Translation of "Takwim-ud-Din"
published by the Amir in 1888 with the assistance of
thirteen mullahs and qazis.
17. Levi-strauss, Claude The Savage Mind
p.16-17.
(London, 1972)
18. The Akhund of Swat, born in 1794, was a unifying force
for his tribesmen. He engaged in several campaigns against
the British, including the 1863-Ambela campaign. The
Akhund's participation in these campaigns compelled the
Indian authorities to acknowledge him as an important force
in the region. Pir Mangai, was more of a religious scholar,
who had theological differences with the Akhund's tariqat.
19. Mullah Najm ud-Din was born in 1817 in Hadda, near
Jalalabad (Afghanistan). At an early age he went to Swat
and became a disciple of the Akhund of swat. Later he
returned to Afghanistan and established a learning center in
Nangrahar. In the 1880's, Amir Abdur Rahman arrested some of
Mullah Najm ud-Din's followers who opposed his measures to
control the mullahs. Although not a vocal opponent of the
Amir, Mullah Najm ud-Din felt threatened and left for
Chamarkand, a village in the heart of Mohmand country in
eastern Afghanistan. It was here that Mullah Najm ud-Din
was able to widen his influence among the surrounding
people. Edwards, David B. "Charismatic Leadership and
Political Process in Afghanistan" Central Asian Survey
vol.S no.3/4 1986 p.273-299.
20. Ibid ••
389
21. Mullah Powindah, a Mahsud of the Shabi Khel, was between
40 and 50 yrs old at this time, and had a wide following in
Bannu. In 1886 and 1887 two of his associates were arrested
in Bannu, shortly after Mullah Powindah left for Idak in
Lower Dawar. In Lower Dawar Mullah Powindah became a
disciple of Mullah Gulab-ud-Din, who was in turn a disciple
of the Akhund of Swat. After the Akhund of Swat's death,
Mullah Powindah inherited his position and became prominent
in Waziristan. In 1894 Mullah Powindah went to see Pir
Mangai to coordinate a larger revolt but met with little
success. Eventually Mullah Powindah settled in Mahsud
country at Jarobi, where the he cultivated a core of
supporters who became useful in the anti-colonial movement
of 1897. Their activities included the harassment of maliks
in the pay of the British; they also demanded the release
of prisoners in British jails. Frontier and Overseas
Expeditions From India, Selection From Government Records
vol.II p.416-418.
22. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1898 no.312 "List of
Leading Mullas and Religious Characters" March 3, 1898.
23. Foreign Department Secret-F April,1898 no.75
"Translation of a Letter from the Daulatzai and Sturi Khel
Mullahs to the Aka Khel Mullah and other Afridi Mullahs "
n.d.; Foreign Department Secret-F April,1898 no.76
"Translation of a letter from the Mullah of Adda to the
Mullah of Sipah, the Mullah of the Aka Khel, Badshah Sahib
[the Malikdin Khel Sayyid who during the second Afghan war
proclaimed himself the Badshah of Tirah to issue the jihad],
Maliki Amin Khan [receives allowances with Khyber road
arrangements], ... " n.d .. Several letters indicate that
throughout the general campaign, the religious leaders
maintained a network of communication to organize and incite
the people.
24. Foreign Department Frontier-A January, 1898 no.77
"Memo on the Frontier by the Government of India to Lord
Hamilton, Secretary of State for India" January 16, 1898.
25. Ibid.
390
26. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India: Selection
from Government Records vol.II reprint (Quetta: Nisa
Traders, 1979, 1910) p.420. The newly arrived Viceroy,
Lord Curzon's, first action affecting the frontier was to
sanction the building of a military post in Wana, an issue
forestalled in the previous administration because opinions
the Indian Council were equally divided.
27. Ibid. p.421.
28. Holdich, T. Hungerford The Indian Borderland, 1800-1900
p.238.
29. Foreign Department Secret-F February 1898 no.69
"Letter from R. Udny to Punjab Government" September 24,
1897.
30. Singhal, D. P. India and Afghanistan. 1876-1907 p.158-
162.
31. In 1889, the British arranged with Aman ul-Mulk, the
Mehtar of Chitral, to re-establish their Political Agency in
Gilgit, which they had withdrawn in 1881. This gave the
British control over the northern passes. Furthermore, the
British, sensing the forging of an alliance between the
Mehtar of Chitral and the Amir Abdur Rahman, demanded the
right to station a Political Agent in Chitral, who from
there could easily monitor all internal and external
affairs. From this point onwards, Anglo-Chi'tral relations
soured. The situation became explosive in 1892; when Aman
ul-Mulk died of a heart attack, and a battle of succession
plagued Chitral. Initially Afzal al-Iofulk denied his elder
brother, Nizam ul-Mulk, the succession by seizing power
himself. The British recognized Afzal ul-Mulk. But within a
few months, when Sher Afzal, the late Mehtar's brother, with
the support of Umra Khan of Jandol easily overthrew the
increasingly unpopular Afzal ul-Mulk, the British became
suspicious of Afghanistan's involvement. Since Sher Afzal
had been residing in Afghanistan, and border negotiations
were in progress concerning the Amir's claims to Bajaur, the
British recognized Nizam ul-Mulk as the rightful ruler of
Chitral, hoping to sabotage any Afghan plans in the region.
Meanwhile, the British sent several military missions into
Hunza, Gilgit, and upper Chitral in order to quell tribal
resistance against their presence in the region. For more
details see, Roberts, Sir George Scott Chitral (London:
1923); and W.R. Robertson's An Official Account of the
Chitral Expedition (Calcutta: 1898).
391
32. Alder, G. J. British India's Northern Frontier, 1865-
1895 p.289; and D.P. Singhal India and Afghanistan. 1876-
1907 p.159.
33. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions vol.I p.79.
34. The annexation of Chitral was a decision taken in India
and caused much debate in London. In fact London requested a
re-evaluation of the Chitral policy, but India cited
Chitral's importance for the empire's national security.
Chitral became part of the Kashmiri princely kingdom. On
April 9th, 1895 the boundary line from the Hindu Kush to the
neighborhood of Arnawai was determined in a separate
agreement by the Afghan and British Boundary Commissioners.
Aitchison, C.U. Treaties. Engagements, and Sanads Relating
to India and Neighboring countries vol.13 p.365-367.
35. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.II p.429-430.
36. Foreign Department Frontier-A January, 1898 no.77
"Memo on the Frontier, by the Government of India to Lord
Hamilton, secretary of State for India" January 16, 1898.
37. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.II p.430.
38. Ibid. p.431.
39. Ibid. p.433.
40. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1898
Leading Mullahs and Religious Characters"
41. Ibid. p.435.
no.312 "List of
March 3, 1898.
42. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.407
"Memo on North-West Frontier Disturbances" October 11,
1897.
43. Ibid ..
44. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1898
Leading Mullahs and Religious Characters"
no.312 "List of
March 3, 1898.
45. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India. Selection
From Government Records vol.I p.328.
392
46. Foreign Department Secret-F
from Peshwar Confidential Diary"
May, 1888 no.431
May 14, 1888.
"Extract
47. Chakdarra, an important village, was situated at a
crossing on the road to Chitral and Bajaur. Malakand was
important for its proximity to the Malakand Pass.
48. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1898 nos.74
"Annexure A - Translation of a letter, without date, from
the Mulla of Adda to all the Mullas and elders of the Afridi
and Orakzai tribes".
49. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.445
"Diary of the Political Agent for Dir, Swat, and Chitral"
October 25, 1897.
50. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.445
"Diary 'of Political Agent for Dir, Swat, and Chitral'
October 25, 1897.
51. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.407
"Letter from W.S. Davis, Asst. Political Officer at Malakand
to General Bindon Blood, Commander of Malakand Field Force"
October 11, 1897.
52. Gazetteer of the Peshawar District. 1897-1898 (Lahore:
Punjab Government Press, 1898) p.275.
53. Khan, M. Fahim "The Frontier Rising of 1897" Central
Asia no.15 Winter, 1984 p.170.
54. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.I p.380.
55. Gazetteer of the Peshawar District, 1897-1898 (Lahore:
Punjab Government Press, 1898) p.275.
56. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, Selection
From Government Records vol.I p.381-390.
57. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.407
"Letter from W.S. Davis, Asst. Political Officer in Malakand
to General Bindon Blood" October 11, 1897.
58. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1878 no.70
"Translation of a Proclamation issued by the Amir in Pashtu
under the name of "Izahul-Bayan-fi-Nasihati-ala'l Afghan"
August 13, 1897.
393
59. Ibid. •
60. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, Selection
From Government Records vol.I p.323.
61. Ibid. p.364.
62. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.445
"Diary of the Political Agent for Dir, Swat, and Chitral"
October 25, 1897.
63. Foreign Department Secret-F November, 1897 no.2
"Translation of a Letter of Invitation Issued by Mulla Najm-
ud-din, the Mulla of Hadda to the Tribesmen" n.d.
64. Foreisn Frontier-A January, 1898 no.77
"Memo on the Frontier" January 16, la98.
65. Ghobar, Mir Mohammed Dar Masir-i-Tarikh p.694.
66. Gazetteer of the Peshawar District, 1897-1898 p.281.
67. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1898 no.91
"Summary of Events During the Disturbances on the Kohat
Border" August 14-0ctober 2, 1897.
68. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1898 no.80
"Translation of a Letter From Kazi Mirza Khan at Kabul to
Mulla saiyid Akbar" n.d.
69. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1898 no.74
"Translation of a Letter from the Mullah of Adda to all the
Mullahs and Elders of the Afridi and Orakzai Tribes" n.d.
70. Foreign Department Secret-F April, 1898 no.91
"Summary of Events During the Disturbances on the Kohat
Border" August 14-0ctober 2, 1897.
71. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.II p.70.
72. "The Northwest Frontier Province" Imperial Gazetteer of
India vol. XIX (Clarendon: Oxford University Press, 1908)
p.158.
73. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.II p.264.
74. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.903
"Letter From Amir to Viceroy" December 4, 1897.
394
75. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1895 no.291
"Translation of a Firman from H.H. to Mullah Najm ud-Din of
Hadda" March 6, 1895 •
76. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.I p.490.
77. Ibid. p. 491.
78. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.II p.7S-77.
79. Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.II p.92.
80. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.6
"Proclamation to the Tirah Afridis" n.d.
81. foreign February, 1898 nOo189
:iLetter from the A:ild:e to 'the Viceroy;; October 20, 1897.
82. Holdich, T. Hungerford The Indian Borderland. 1880-1900
p.349.
83. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 nO.404
"Government of India to Lord Hamilton, the Secretary of
State" November 11, 1897.
84. Frontier and Overseas Exoeditions From India. Selection
From Government Records vol.II p.SO-51.
85. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.90S
"Translation of a Petition from the Jirgas of the Afridi and
Orakzai inhabitants of Tirah and the Khyber to H.H. the Amir
of Afghanistan" October 20, 1897.
86. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.904
"Translation of a. Petition from Kazi Mirza Khan and others
to H.H. the Amirof Afghanistan" November 4, 1897.
87. Foreign Department Secret-F February, 1898 no.90S
"Translation of a Petition from the Jirgas of the Afridi and
Orakzai inhabitants of Tirah and the Khyber to H.H. the Amir
of Afghanistan" October 20, 1897.
395
88. Ibid.
·
89. Ibid.
·
90. Ibid.
·
91. Ibid.
·
92. Ibid.
·
93. Ibid. •
94. Foreign Department Frontier-B September, 1898 no.399
"Extract for Moda Vritt [Bombay]" January 14, 1898.
95. Foreign Department Frontier-B September, 1898 no.400
"Extracts from the Irish World" January 22, 1898.
96. Foreign Department Frontier-B September, 1898 no.400
"Extract from The Chicago citizen" March 12, 1898.
97. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan
p.200-209.
98. Gregorian, Vartan The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan
p.145-147.
99. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in Afghanistan
p.200-201.
100. Cf. Kakar, Hasan K. Government and Society in
Afghanistan p.209.
101. Ibid. p.126.
102. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1895 no.493
"Letter From the Secretary to the GOI to the Government of
Punjab" September 17, 1895.
103. Burnes, Alexander Cabool: Being a Personal Narrative
of a Journey to and Residence in that City in the Years
1836-8 London, 1842.
104. Davies, R. H. Report on the Trade and Resources of the
Countries on the North-Western Boundary of British India
(Lahore: Government of India Press, MDCCCLXII) p.250.
396
105. Foreign Department Frontier-B March, 1893 no.160
"Proceedings of the Lt. Governor General of the Punjab in
the Revenue and Agricultural Department" september 2, 1892.
106. Punjab Administration Report (Lahore: Punjab
Government Press, 1901) p.103.
107. Ibid. In 1887 the Seistan trade amounted to 231,845
rupees; whereas in the following year the total figure
decreased to 146,650 rupees.
108. Ibid. p.124.
109. Punjab Administration Report (Lahore: punjab
Government Press, 1901)
110. Ibid. p.124.
111. Foreign Department Secret-F October, 1895 no.473
"Report From the Commissioner of Peshawar to the Peshawar
Government" January 31, 1895.
112. Ibid. p.140.
113. Ibid p.8-9.
114. Ibid. p.141.
- CONCLOSION -
The preceding discussion has examined on the nature and
scope of Anglo-Afghan relations in the nineteenth century. As
a modern political unit, Afghanistan first took shape in the
eighteenth century, when Ahmad Shah Baba conquered territories
extending to the borders of Kashmir.
By the early 1800'S Afghanistan had already been affected
by the forces of imperialism in Asia. Afghanistan's position
at the crossroads of the major overland trade routes, made it
vulnerable to the political instability in the region. Then
with the development and European domination of maritime
trade, Central Asian overland commerce lost its predominant
postion in the wor ld market. Afghanistan's economy, dependent
on the prosperity of the overland trade, began to suffer as a
consequence.
1
British imperialism has often been attributed to arise
from the basic need to satisfy metropolitan interests.
2
However, this study illustrates that Anglo-Afghan relations
provides a case where factors within the dynamics of this
relationship played an active role in shaping British policy
towards Afghanistan. Furthermore, Anglo-Afghan relations also
provided the catalyst that influenced imperial policy in the
north-west India. While the non-European is often pot rayed as
a passive agent in the making its history, here, historical
analysis proves that Afghanistan rather than simply reacting
397
398
to the British, often were responsible for generating imperial
responses from the British.
Afghanistan's strategic location aroused the interest of
British interests. In 1809-1810, Mountstuart Elphinstone led
the first British diplomatic mission into Afghanistan and
produced an extensi ve monograph about the society and the
country.
3
This contact generated various British missions
into Afghanistan and beyond into Central Asia.
In the 1830's, Amir Dost Mohammed Khan was engaged in the
process of centralizing political power in Afghanistan. But
British penetration and British alliance with the sikhs in the
area denied the Amir revenues from Kashmir and Peshawar. When
Amir Dost Mohammed attempted to regain control over Peshawar
from the Sikhs, the British not only discouraged Dost Mohammed
Khan's attempts to recover Peshawar but also instigated the
exiled Shah Shuja to stake his claim to the Afghan throne.
Early British fears about Afghanistan's capacity to
invade India and incite Muslim support influenced British
authorities in India to adopt a hostile policy towards
Afghanistan.
4
By now, it had become apparent to the
authorities in India that an independent Afghanistan could
interfere with British imperial interests in the region.
As early the 1830 I s the British considered plans to
create an Afghanistan fragmented and dependent on British
India. Claude Wade, the political agent in Punjab, proposed to
the British Indian government:
Whilst distributed into several states, the
Afghans, are in my opinion, more likely to subserve
the views and interests of the British government
than if we attempt to impose on them the yoke of a
ruler to whose authority they can never be expected
to yield a passive obedience.
s
399
However, decsion makers in India preferred to try a policy of
annexation in Afghanistan.
In 1839, British India initiated the first of its three
wars with Afghanistan. The British met with a disastrous loss
in men and capital. Furthermore, the first Afghan war
shattered the invinceable image of the British army. To
compensate for their failure in Afghanistan r the British
expanded their central and northern territories in India by
annexing Sind (1842-43), Punjab (1846-49), Berar and Nagpur
(1853), and Oudh (1856).6 Continuing Anglo-Afghan tensions
on the frontier compelled successive Afghan rulers to
concentrate their resources on winning support of the Pushtuns
in their eastern territories.
Between 1869 and 1872 the British made several attempts
to station a British envoy in Afghanistan, but Amir Sher Ali
refused on all accounts. Frustrated by their inability to
impose control over Afghan affairs, British officials, like
Sir Henry Rawlinson, expounded on the need to adopt a more
aggressive policy in Afghanistan to contain possible Russian
designs on British India.
7
Supporters of the stationary
400
policy denied any Russsian threat to India but concurred with
Afghanistan's potential strength. In 1868, Sir John Lawrence
gave the following description of Afghans when he stated:
••• that Affghans are superior in courage,
hardihood, and force of character to all other
races of Central Asia. I am inclined to think that
this opinion is correct; and that the Affghans, if
united, bearing in mind the remarkable strength of
their country, could hold their own a ~ a i n s t any
enemy which might come against them ••••
Increased British activities in the frontier, especially
military campaigns against: the Push'i::Ul1 tribes, contributed to
a deterioration in Anglo-Afghan relations. Amir Sher Ali's
attempts to improve the economy and liberalize the political
atmosphere ran into di"fficulties. Much of country's resources
were diverted towards the development of the military, which
evolved into a strong but expensive institution dominated by
the lunir.
In 1873, Czarist Russia and British India concluded an
agreement that guaranteed Russia's recognition of Afghanistan
as an intermediary zone between their respective empires. More
importantly, Russia and Britain delimited Afghanistan's
northern boundaries. They did this without possessing
accurate maps of the territory involved and without
Afghanistan's participation. As a result of this agreement,
Czarist Russia recognized Afghansitan to lie within British
India's sphere of influence.
Despite such assurances by the Russians, on the
justification of eliminating Russian influence
401
from
Afghanistan, the officials in India declared war a second time
on Afghanistan. This time the British were more successful.
They ousted Sher Ali from the country, and forced his zon,
Yakub Khan, to sign the Gandamak Treaty (1879), which ceded
Afghan control of the strategic passes, the fertile districts
of Pishin and sibi. The Gandamak Treaty also gave the British
the right to station a permanent political mission in
Afghanistan.
9
However, the British victory in Afghanistan soon ended in
defeat when the people attacked and killed the British misson.
The entire country f under the coord1.nation of the tribal
sirdars, ulema, and bureaucracy united and brought an end to
foreign occupation in Afghanistan. Although, the British army
temporarily resisted the opposition, it had become apparent
that the British could no longer maintain power amidst such a
hostile environment.
At this juncture in Anglo-Afghan relations, British-
Indian officials in Calcutta realized that conquering
Afghanistan was impossible. They therefore chose an
alternative strategy, which was to maintain a weak and divided
Afghanistan. 10 To effect, it was necessary that the Pushtun
territories east of the Khyber pass should be separated from
Afghanistan.
When the British left Afghanistan after the second Anglo-
402
Afghan war, Amir Abdur Rahman was able to ascend the throne
with the help of internal support and tacit British approval.
His primary task, as he saw it, was to centralize political
authority and erradicate opposition forces.
Meanwhile British penetration into the frontier regions
heightened tension in Anglo-Afghan relations. In a letter to
the Viceroy, the Amir asked, " .•• to what place do the limits
of Afghanistan extend?".!! The Amir resented foreign
encroachment into what he considered Afghan territory. He
urged the British to meet with him in order to reach a mutual
agreement regarding Afghanistan's territorial definition in
order to avoid future conflict.
The British intended to separate the frontier tribes from
Afghan control; this would reduce Afghanistan' s military
strength. Furthermore, if these tribes were friendly towards
the British, it would add to the strength of the British army.
British control over the passes enabled them to develop
relations with the tribes, especially since the British
offered subsidies to different tribal segments protect special
routes. But most important were the British economic measures,
such as employment, subsidies, land grants, etc. that
generated considerable tribal cooperation with the British,
especially around military garrisons.
The Amir was unable to compete with such incentives.
Faced with a possible economic blockade and the threat of war,
403
the Amir signed the Durand Agreement in 1893, relinquishing
Afghan claims over large tracts of Pushtun territories that
possessed very little commercial value. In subsequent years
the British spent vast amounts of resources and manpower to
retain nominal control over this territory. Despite British
assurances to the Amir that they had no intention of annexing
the Pushtun tribes into the empire, one official despatch
stated:
instruct our officers on the frontier not to push
forward, and not to give the Amir any cause for
suspicion; I would wait until the Amir dies before
making any further endeavours to bring the tribes
under our control. I believe we shall lose nothing
by the delay. 12
Immediately after the demarcation of the Durand Line in the
end of 1896, the Pushtun tribes to the east and south of the
line revolted against the British. They resented their formal
separation from their fellow Afghans across the border. And
they resented British penetration into the region, that
undermined their traditions and political structure and
threatened their independence. The British employed a massive
military force to put down the resistance, but their relations
with the frontier were never stabilized.
Throughout the nineteenth century, Anglo-Afghan relations
were marked by hostility. British India's repeated failures
to conquer Afghanistan led them to adopt a policy of
generating a weak and divided Afghan state that would be
dependent on them.
404
However, as a direct result of Anglo-
Afghan interactions, there emerged within Afghanistan a sense
of national indentity. Abdur Rahman forged this sense of
identity by combining Islamic and Afghan traditions. But, for
many decades, Afghan xenophobia and intentional British
policies insulated the country from major technological
innovations and investments of foreign capital. Consequently,
the development of state institutions in Afghanistan began
late and proceeded slowly.
405
1. Saunders, J.J.
of World History
"The Problem of Islamic Decadence"
vol.VII no.3 1963 p.715.
Journal
2. Hobson, John A. Imperialism: A Study.
3. Elphinstone relying mainly on informants during his visit
to Peshawar, published An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul
(London: Messr Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Murray,
1815) .
4. Davis, H.W.C. "The Great Game in
Proceedings of the British Academy 1926
Asia, 1800-1844"
p.240.
5. Cf. in
Afghanistan
Gregorian,
p.98.
Vartan The Emergence of Modern
6. Green, William A. and John P. Deasy Jr.
in the History of British India,
Historiographical Analysis;; Albion vol.17
p.21.
"unifying Themes
1757-1857: A
no.1 spring 1985
7. Parliamentary Papers 1878-79 "Rawlinson's Memorandum on
the Central Asian Question" July 2 0, '1868.
8. Parliamentary Papers 1878-79
Lawrence" November 25, 1868.
"Memorandum by Sir John
9. Aitchison, C. U. A Collection of Treaties r Engagements and
Sanads vol.XI p.344-347.
10. Foreign Department Poli tical-E April, 1884 no. 258 "Memo
on Afghan Affairs" February 12, 1884.
11. Foreign Department Secret-F May, 1890
"Translation of a Letter From the Amir to the
February 4, 1890.
no.154
Viceroy"
12. Foreign Department Secret-F August, 1892 "K.W. No.4"
August 12, 1892.
406
APPENDIX I
THE TRI-PARTITE TREATY OF 1838
*In the preamble of this Treaty it was stated that Shah
Shuja and Ranjit Singh had entered into this Treaty of
Alliance under the guarantee of the British Indian Government.
The eighteen articles of the Treaty were:
1) Shuja would abandon all claim to territories held by
Ranjeet Singh on either side of the Indus, from Multan in the
south to Kashmir in the north;
2) The people of the Khyber pass would keep the peace;
3) No one would be allowed to cross the Indus in Runjeet's
territories without a passport issued by his Government;
4) Ranjeet Singh would abide by a settlement of the Sikh
claim to Shikarpur;
5) Once established in Kabul and Kandahar Shah Shuja would
annually send gifts to Ranjeet Singh, including 'fifty five
high bred horses of approved colour and pleasant paces,
eleven Persian cimeters, seven Persian poniards •.. 'and so on;
6) Each party would address the other in terms of equality;
7) Afghan merchants in the Punjab would not be molested;
8) Ranjeet Singh's annual gifts to Shuja would include
'fifty-five pieces of shawls ..• ';
9) Officers sent to one side or the other for the purchase of
horses (for instance) would be treated with due attention;
10) No kine would be slaughtered when armies of the two states
were assembled together;
11) Any booty would be shared;
12) The two states would constantly exchange missions with
letters and presents;
13) If one side should need military aid from the other, the
force sent would have a senior officer at its head. Any Sikh
auxiliary force would be composed of Muslims;
407
14) The friends and enemies of each of the three powers would
be the friends and enemies of all;
15) Shuja would abandon his claim to supremacy in and tribute
from Sind in return for ' such sum as may be determined under
the mediation of the British Government ••• ';
16) Shuja would pay two lakhs a year to Ranjeet Singh for the
maintenantce of 5,000 troops in the Peshawar area, to be sent
to his aid whenever needed;
17) Shuja would neither attack nor molest his nephew the ruler
of Herat;
18) Shuja would not enter into any negotiations with foreign
powers without the knowledge and consent of Britain and the
Punjab; he would 'oppose any power having the design to invade
the British and sikh territories by force of arms, to the
utmost of his ability.
408
APPENDIX II
THE SIMLA MANIFESTO, 1838
Proclamation
1. The right Hon'ble the Govt. Genl. of India having, with
the concurrence of the Supreme council, directed the
assemblage of a British force for service across the Indus,
His Lordship deems it proper to publish the following
exposition of the reasons which have led to this important
measure.
2. It is a matter of notoriety that the treaties entered
into by the British Govt. in the year 1832, with the Ameers of
Sinde, the Nawab of Bahawulpore, and Maharajah Runjeet singh,
had for their object, by opening the navigation of the Indus,
to facilitate the extension of commerce and to gain for the
British nation, in Central Asia, that legitimate influence
which an interchange of benefits would naturally produce.
3. with a view to invite the aid of the de facto rulers of
Affghanistan to the measures necessary for giving full effect
to those Treaties, capt. Burnes was deputed, towards the close
of the year 1836, on a mission to Dost Mahomed Khan, the Chief
of Cabul. The original objects of that officer's mission were
purely of a commercial nature.
4. Whilst Capt. Burnes, however, was on his journey to
Cabul, information was received by the Govr. Genl. that the
troops of Dost Mahomed khan, had made a sudden and unprovoked
attack on those of our ancient ally, Maharajah Runjeet Singh.
It was naturally to be apprehended that His Highness the
Maharajah would not be slow to avenge this aggression; and it
was to be feared that the flames of war being once kindled in
the very regions into which we were endeavouring to extend our
commerce, the peaceful and beneficial purposes of the British
Govt. would be altogether frustrated. In order to avert a
result so calamitous, the Govr. Genl. resolved on authorizing
capt. Burnes to intimate to Dost Mahomed Khan that, if he
should evince a disposition to come to just and reasonable
terms with the Maharajah, His Lordship would exert his good
offices with His Highness for the restoration of an amicable
understanding between the two powers. The Maharaj ah, with the
characteristic confidence which he has uniformly placed in the
faith and friendship of the British Nation, at once assented
to the proposition of the Govt. Genl., to the effect that, in
the meantime, hostilities on his part should be suspended.
409
5. It subsequently came to the knowledge of the Govr. Genl.,
that a Persian Army was besieging Herati that intrigues were
actively prosecuted throughout Affghanistan, for the purpose
of extending Persian influence and authority to the banks of,
and even beyond, the Indus; and that the court of Persian had
not only commenced a course of injury and insul t to the
officers of Her Majesty's mission in the Persian territory,
but had afforded evidence of being engaged in designs wholly
at variance with the principles and objects of its alliance
with Great Britain.
6. After much time spent by Capt. Burnes in fruitless
negotation at Cabul, it appeared, that Dost Mahomad Khan,
chiefly in consequence of his reliance upon Persian
encouragement and assistance, persisted, as respected his
misunderstanding with the Sikhs, in using the most
unreasonable pretensions, such as the Govr. Genl., could not,
consistently with justice and his regard for the friendship of
Maharajah Runjeet Singh, be the channel of submitting to the
consideration of His Highness; that he avowed schemes of
aggrandizement and ambition, injurious to the security and
peace of the frontiers of India; and that he openly
threatened, in furtherance of those schemes, to call in every
foreign aid which he could command. Ultimately he gave his
undisguised support to the Persian designs in Affghanistan, of
the unfriendly and injurious character of which, as concerned
the British power in India, he was well apprized, and by his
utter disregard of the views and interests of the British
Govt., compelled Capt. Burnes to leave Cabul without having
effected any of the objects of his mission.
7. It was now evident that no further interference could be
exercised by the British Govt. to bring about a good
understanding between the sikh Ruler and Dost Mahomad Khan,
and the hostile policy of the latter Chief showed too plainly
that, so long as Cabul remained under his Govt., we could
never hope that the tranquillity of our neighbourhood would be
secured, or that the interests of our Indian Empire would be
preserved inviolate.
8. The Govr. Genl. deems it in this place necessary to
revert to the siege of Herat, and the coduct of the Persian
nation. The siege of the city has now been carried on by the
Persian Army for many months. The attack upon it was a most
unjustifiable and cruel aggression, perpetrated and continued
notwithstanding the solemn and repeated remonstrances of the
British Envoy at the Court of Persia, and after every just and
becoming offer of accommodation had been made and rejected.
The besieged have behaved with gallantry and fortitude worthy
410
of the justice of their cause, and the Govr. Genl. would yet
indulge the hope, that their heroism may enable them to
maintain a successful defence, until succours shall reach them
from British India. In the meantime, the ulterior designs of
Persia affecting the interests of the British Govt. have been,
by a succession of events, more and more openly manifested.
The Govr. Genl. has recently ascertained by an official
despatch from Mr. McNeill, Her Majesty's Envoy, that His
Excellency has been compelled, by the refusal of his just
demands, and by a systematic course of disrespect adopted
towards him by the Persian Govt., to quit the Court of the
Shah, and to make a public declaration of the cessation of all
intercourse between the two Govts. The necessity under which
great British is placed, of regarding the present advance of
the Persian Arms into Affghanistan as an act of hostili ty
towards herself, has also been officially communicated to the
Shah, under the express order of her Majesty's Govt.
9. The Chiefs of Candahar (brothers of Dost Mahomad Khan of
Cabul) have avowed their adherence to the Persian policy with
the sarr.e full knowledge of its opposition to the rights and
interests of the British Nation in India, and have been openly
assisting in the operations against Herat.
10. In the crisis of affairs consequent upon the retirement
of our Envoy from Cabul, the Govr. Genl. felt the importance
of taking immediated measures, for arresting the rapid
progress of foreign intrigue and aggression towards our own
territories.
11. His attention was naturally drawn at this conjecture to
the position and claims of Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk, a monarch
who when in power,hed cordially acceded to the measures of
united resistance to external enmity, which were at that time
judged necessary by the British Govt., and who, on his empire
being usurped by its present Rulers, had found an honorable
asylum in the British Dominions.
12. It had been clearly ascertained, from the information
furnished by the var.ious officers who have visited
Affghanistan, that the Barukzye Chiefs, .from disunion and
unpopularity, were ill fitted, under any circumstances, to be
useful Allies to the British Govt., and to aid us in our just
and necessary measures of national defence. Yet so long as
they refrained from proceedings injurious to our interest and
security, the British Govt. acknowledged and respected their
authority. But a different policy appeared to be now more
than justified by the conduct of those chiefs, and to be
indispensible to our own safety. The welfare of our
411
possessions in the East requires that we should have on our
western Frontier, an ally who is interested in resisting
aggression, and establishing tranquillity, in the place of
chiefs ranging themselves in subservience to a hostile power,
and seeking to promote schemes of conquest and aggrandizement.
13. After a serious and mature deliberation, the Govr. Genl.
was satisfied that a pressing necessity, as well as every
consideration of policy and justice, warranted us in esposing
the cause of Shah Shoojah-ool-Moolk, whose popularity
throughout Affghanistan had been proved to His Lordship by the
strong and unanimous testimony of the best authorities.
Having arrived at this determination, the Govr. Genl. was
further of opinion, that it was just and proper, no less from
the position of Maharajah Runjeet singh, than from his
undeviating friendship to"t-lards the British Government, that
His Highness should have the offer of becoming a party to the
contemplated operations. Mr. Macnaghten was accordingly
deputed in June last to the Court of His Highness, and the
result of his mission has been the conclusion of a Tripartite
Treaty by the· British Government, the Maharajah, and Shah
Soojah-ool-Moolk, whereby His Highness is guaranteed in his
present possessions, and has bound himself to co-operate for
the restoration of the Shah to the throne of his ancestors.
The friends and enemies of anyone of the contracting parties,
have been declared to be the friends and enemies of all.
Various points have been adjusted, which had been the subjects
of discussion between the British Govt. and His Highness the
Maharajah, the identity of whose interest with those of the
Hon' ble Company, has now been made apparent to all the
surrounding states. A guaranteed independence will, upon
favourable conditions, be tendered to the Ameers of Sinde; and
the integrity of Herat, in the possession of its present
ruler, will be fully respected; while by the measures
completed, or in progress, it may reasonably be hoped that the
general freedom and security of commerce will be promoted;
that the name and just influence of the British Govt. will
gain their proper footing among the natives of Central Asia,
that tranquillity will be established upon the most important
frontier of India; and that a lasting barrier will be raised
against intrigue and encroachment.
14. His Majesty Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk, will enter
Affghanistan surrounded by his own troops and will be
supported against foreign interference, and factious
opposition, by a British Army. The Govr. Genl. confidently
hopes, that the Shah will be speedily replaced on his throne
by his own subjects and adherents, and when once he shall be
secured in power, and the independence and integrity of
412
Affghanistan established, the British Army will be withdrawn.
The Govr. Genl. has been led to these measures, by the duty
which is imposed upon him of providing for the security of the
possessions of the British crown; but he rejoices that, in the
discharge of this duty, he will be enabled to assist in
restoring the union and prosperity of the, Affghan people.
Throughout the approaching operations, British influence will
be sedulously employed to further every measure of general
benefit; to reconcile differences; to secure oblivion of
injuries; and to put an end to the distractions by which for
so many years, the welfare and happiness of the Affghans have
been impaired. Even to the Chiefs, whose hostile proceedings
have given just cause of offence to the British Govt., it will
seek to secure liberal and honorable treatment on their
tendering early submission; and ceasing from opposition to
that course of measures, which may be judged the most suitable
for the general advantage of their country.
By Order of the Right Hon'ble the Govr. Genl. of India,
(Signed) W.H. MACNAGHTEN,
Secy. to the Govt. of India with the Govr. Genl.
Year
1840
1850
1851
1852
1852
1852
1852
1853
1853
1853
1854
1854
1855
1855
1856
1857
1857
1859
1860
1863
1863
1868
1868
1872
1877
1878
1878
1878
1878
1879
1880
1881
1883
1888
1890
1891
1891
1891
1894
1895
1897
1897
APPENDIX III
FRONTIER EXPEDITIONS (1849-1908)
Tribe
Baizais
Kohat pass Afridis
Mohmands
Ranizais
utman Khel
Waziris
Black Mountain Tribes
Hindustani Fanatics
Shiranis
Kohat Pass Afridis
Mohmands
Afridis
Orakzais
Miranzai
Kurram
Bozdars
Hindustani Fanatics
Waziris
Mahsuds
Ambela
Mohmands
Black Mountain Tribes
Bizotis
Tochi
Jowakis
utman Khel
Zakha Khel
Mohmands
Zaimukjts
Zakha Khel
Marris
Mahsuds
Shiranis (Takht-i-suliman)
Black Mountain tribes
Zhob Valley
Black Mountain Tribes
Miranzai
Hunza and Nagar
Mahsuds
Chitral
Tochi
Malakand
413
1897
1897
1897
1900
1908
1908
Mohmands
Orakzai (Miranzai and Kurram)
Afridis (Khaibar and Tirah)
Mahsuds
Zakha Khel
Mohmands
414
My Lord,
415
APPENDIX IV
THE GRANVILLE-GORTCHAKOFF AGREEMENT OF 1873
Earl Granville to Lord A. Loftus
Foreign Office,
January 24,1873
Her Majesty's Government have attentively considered the
statements and arguments contained in prince Gortchakow's
despatch of the 7/19th december, and the papers that
accompanied it, which were communicated to me by the Russian
Ambassador on the 17/29th December, and to your Excellency by
Prince Gortchakow in the 29th of that month.
Her Majesty's Government gladly recognise, in the frank
and friendly terms of that despatch, the same spirit of
friendliness as that in which, by my despatch of the 17th of
october, I desired to convey through your Excellency to the
Russian Government the views of that of Her Majesty in regard
to the line of boundary claimed by Sher Ali, the Ruler of
Cabul, for his possessions of Afghanistan.
Her Majesty's Government see with much satisfaction that,
as regards the principle part of that line, the Imperial
Government is willing to acquiesce in the claims of Sher Ali,
and they rely on the friendly feelings of the Emperor when
they lay before him, as I now instruct your Excellency to do
, a renewed statement of the grounds on which they consider
that Sher Ali's claim to remainder of the line of boundary,
referred to in my despatch of the 17th of October, to be well-
founded.
The objections stated in Prince Gortchakow's despatch
apply to that part of Sher Ali's claims which would comprise
the province Badakshan with its dependent district of Wakhan
within the Afghan state. The Imperial Government contend that
the province of Badakhshan with its dependency, not having
been formally incorporated into the territories of Sher Ali,
is not legitimately any portion of the Afghan state.
To this Her majesty's government reply that the Ameer of
Cabul having attained by conquest the sovereignty over
Badakhshan, and having received in the most formal manner the
submission of the chiefs and people of that province, had the
right to impose upon it such a form of government as he might
think best adapted to the position of affairs at the time. In
the exercise of this right he appointed a local governor, and
he consented experimentally to receive a fixed portion of the
revenues of the country, instead of taking upon himself its
general financial and other administration. But the Ameer
416
one year, of at any time subjecting Badakhshan to the direct
Government of Cabul, and of amalgamating the revenues thereof
with the general revenue of the Afghan state. Her Majesty's
government cannot perceive anything in these circumstances
calculated to weaken the claims of Sher Ali to the absolute
sovereignty of Badakhshan. The conqest and submission of the
province were complete; and it cannot reasonably be urged that
any experimental from of administration which the Ameer, with
the acknowledged right of sovereignty, might think fit to
impose on Badakhshan, could possibly disconnect the province
from general territories south of the Oxus, the sovereignty of
which the russian Government has without hesitation recognised
to be vested in the Ameer of Cabul.
Her Majesty's Government have not failed to notice in
portions of the statements of the Russian Government to which
I am now replying, that its objection to admitting Badakhshan
and Wakhan to be under the sovereignty of Sher Ali is rested
in part on an expressed apprehension lest their incorporation
with the remainder of Afghanistan should tend to disturb the
peace of Central Asia, and specifically should operate as an
encouragment of the Ameer to extend his posses ions at the
expencse of the neighbouring countries. I alluded in my
despatch, of the 17th of October, to the success which had
attended the recommendations made to the Ameer by the Indian
Government to adopt the policy which had produced the most
benificial results in the establishment of peace in countries
where it had long been unknown; and her majesty's Government
see no reason to suppose that similar results would not follow
on the like recommendations. Her Majesty's Government will
not fail to impress upon the Ameer in the strongest terms the
advantages which are given to him in the recognition by great
Britain and Russia of the boundaries which he claims, and of
consequent obligation upon him to abstain from any aggression
on his part, and her Majesty's Government will continue to
exercise their influence in the same direction.
Her Maj esty' s Government cannot however but feel that, if
Badakhshan and Wakhan which they consider the Ameer justly to
deem to be part of his territories, be assumed by England or
Russia, or by one or either of them to be wholly independent
of his authority, the Ameer might be tempted to assert his
claims by arms; that perhaps in that case Bokhara might seek
an opportunity of acquiring districts too weak of themselves
to resist the Afghan state; and that thus the peace of Central
Asia would be disturbed, and occasion given for questions
between great Britain and Russia, which it is on every account
so desirable to avoid, and which Her Majesty's Government feel
sure would be as distasteful to the Imperial Government as to
themselves.
Her Majesty's government therefore feel that the Imperial
417
Government, weighing these considerations dispassionately,
will cocure in the recognition which they have made of Sher
Ali's rights as stated in my despatch of October, and by so
doing put an end to the wild speculation, so calculted to
distract the minds of Asiatic races, that there is same marked
disagreement between England and Russia, on which they may
build hopes of carrying out their border feuds for purposes of
self-aggrandisement.
Her Majesty's Government congratulate themselves upon the
prospect of a definite settlement as between the two
governments of the question of the boundaries of Afghanistan,
the details of which have been so long in discussion.
Your Excellency will read and give a copy of this
despatch to Prince Gortchakow.
I am &c., Granville.
418
APPENDIX V
TREATY BETWEEN THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT AND HIS HIGHNESS
MUHAMMAD YAKUB KHAN, AMIR OF AFFGHANISTAN AND ITS
DEPENDENCIES, CONCLUDED AT GANDAMAK ON THE 26TH MAY, 1879.
ARTICLE 1-
From the day of the exchange of the ratifications of the
present treaty there shall be perpetual peace and friendship
between the British Government on the one part and His
Highness the Amir of Affghanistan and its dependencies, and
his success ores , on the other.
ARTICLE 2.
His Highness the Amir of Affghanistan and its dependencies
engages, on the exchange of the ratifications of this Treaty,
to publish a full and complete amnesty, absolving all his
subjects from any responsibility for intercourse with the
British Forces during the war, and to guarantee and protect
all persons of whatever degree from any punishment or
molestation on that account.
ARTICLE 3.
His Highness the Amir of Affghanistan and its dependencies
agrees to conduct his relations wi th Foreign States, in
accordance with the advice and wishes of the British
Government. His highness the Amir will enter into no
engagements with Foreign States, and will not take up arms
against any Foreign States, except with the concurrence of the
British Government. On these conditions ,the British
Government will support the Amir against any foreign
aggression with money, arms or troops, to be employed in
whatsoever manner the British Government may judge best for
this purpose. Should British troops at any time enter
Afghanistan for the purpose of repelling foreign aggression,
they will return to their stations in British territory as
soon as the object for which they entered has been
accomplished.
ARTICLE 4.
with a view to the maintenance of the direct and intimate
relations now established between the British Government and
His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and for the better
protection of the frontiers of His Highness's dominions, it is
agreed that a British Representative shall reside at Kabul,
with a suitable escort in a place of residence appropriate to
his rank and dignity. It is also agreed that the British
419
Government shall have the right to depute British Agents with
suitable escorts to the Afghan frontiers, whensoever this may
by considered necessary by the British Government in the
inerests of both states, on the occurrence of any important
external fact. His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan may on
his part depute an Agent to reside at the Court of His
Excellency the Viceroy and Governor General of India, and at
such other places in British India as may be similarly agreed
upon.
ARTICLE 5.
His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies
guarantees the personal safety and honorable treatment of
British Agents within his jurisdiction; and the British
Government on its part undertakes that ats Agents shall never
in any way interfere with the internal administration of His
Highness's dominions.
ARTICLE 6.
His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies
under takes on behalf, of himself and his successors, to offer
no impediment to British subjects peacefully trading within
his dominions so long as they do so with the permission of the
British Government and in accordance with such arrangements as
may be mutually agreed upon from time to time between the two
Governments.
ARTICLE 7.
In order that the passage of trade between the territories
of the British Government and of His Highness the ~ . . m i r of
Afghanistan may be open and uninterrupted, His Highness the
Amir of Afghanistan agrees to use his best endeavours to
ensure the protection of traders and to facilitate the transit
of goods along the well-known customary roads of Afghanistan.
These road s shall be improved and maintained in such manner
as the two Governments may decide to be most expedient for the
general convenience of traffic, and under such financial
arrangments as may be mutually determined upon between them.
The arrangements made for the maintenance and security of the
aforesaid roads, for the settlement of the duties to be levied
upon merchandize carried over these roads, and for the general
protection and development of trade with, and through the
dominions of His Highness, will be stated in a separate
Commercial Treaty, to be concluded within one year, due regard
being given to the state of the country.
ARTICLE 8.
With a view to facilitate communications between the allied
Governments and to aid develop intercourse and commercial
420
relations between the two countries, it is hereby agreed that
a line of telegraph from Kurram to Kabul shall be constructed
by, and at the cost of the British Government, and the Amir of
Afghanistan hereby undertakes to provide for the proper
protection of this telegraph line.
ARTICLE 9.
In consideration of the renewal of a friendly alliance
between the two states which has been attested and secured by
the foregoing Articles, the British Government restores to His
Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies the
towns of Kandhar and Jellalabad, with all the territory now in
possession of the British armies, excepting the districts of
Kurram, Pishin, and sibi. His Highness the Amir of
Afghanistan and its dependencies agrees on his part that the
districts of Kurram and Pishin and Sibi, according to the
limits defined in the schedule annexed, shall remain under the
protection and administrative control of the British
Government: that is to say, the aforesaid districts shall be
treated as assigned districts, and shall not be considered as
permanently severed from the limits of the Afghan Kingdom.
The revenues of these districts after deducting the charges of
civil administration shall be paip to His Highness the Amir.
The British Government will retain in its own hands the
control of the Khyber and Michni Passes, which lie between the
Peshawar and Jellalabad Districts, and of all relations with
the independent tribes of the territory directly connected
with these Passes.
ARTICLE 10.
For the further support of His Highness the Amir in the
recovery and maintenance of his legitimate authority and in
consideration of the efficient fulfilment in their entirety of
the engagements stipulated by the foregoing Articles, the
British Government agrees to pay to His Highness the Amir and
his successors an annual subsidy of six lakhs of Rupees.
Done at Gandamak, this 26th day of May 1879, corresponding
with the 4th day of the month of Jamadi-us-sani 1296, A. H.
( Sd. ) AMIR MUHAMMAD
YAKUB KHAN
(Sd.) N. CAVAGNARI,
Major,
Polt. Officer on
Special Duty
421
APPENDIX VI
AGREEMENT between HIS HIGHNESS AMIR ABDUR RAHMAN KHAN
G. C. S. I., AMIR of AFGHANISTAN and its DEPENDENCIES, on the one
part, and SIR HENRY MORTIMER DURAND, K. C • I • E. , FRONTIER
SECRETARY to the GOVERNMENT of INDIA, representing the
GOVERNMENT of INDIA on the other part---1893
Whereas the British Government has represented to His
Highness the Amir that the Russian Government presses for the
literal fulfillment of the Agreement of 1873 between Russia
and England by which it was decided that the river Oxus should
form the northern boundary of Afghanistan from Lake Victoria
(Wood's Lake) or Sarikul on the east to the junction of the
Kokcha with the Oxus, and whereas the British Government
considers itself bound to abide by the terms of this
agreement, if the Russian Government equally abides by them,
His Highness Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, G. C . S. I ., Amir of
Afghanistan and its Dependencies, wishing to show his
friendship to the British Government and his readiness to
accept their advice in matters affecting his relations with
Foreign Powers, hereby agrees that he will evacuate all the
districts held by him to the north of this portion of the oxus
on the clear understanding that all the districts lying to the
south of this portion of the Oxus and not now in his
possession by handed over to him in exchange. And Sir Henry
Mortimer Durand, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., Foreign Secretary to the
Government of India hereby declares on the part of the British
Government that the transfer to His Highness the Amir of the
said districts lying to the south of the Oxus is an essential
part of this transaction, and undertakes that arrangments will
be made with the Russian Government to carry out the transfer
of the said lands to the north and south of the oxus.
KABUL: ( Sd) H.M. DURAND
12th November 1893 (Sd) AMIR ABDUR RAHMAN KHAN
422
AGREEMENT between HIS HIGHNESS AMIR ABDUR RAHMAN KHAN,'
G.C.S.I., AMIR of AFGHANISTAN and its DEPENDENCIES on the one
part, and SIR HENRY MORTIMER DURAND, K. C. I • E., C. S. I ., FOREIGN
SECRETARY to the GOVERNMENT of INDIA, representing the
GOVERNMENT of INDIA on the other part---1893
Whereas certain questions have arisen regarding the
frontier of Afghanistan on the side of India and whereas both
His Highness the Amir and the Government of India are desirous
of settling these questions by a friendly understanding, and
of fixing the limit of their respective spheres of influence,
so that for the future there may be no difference of opinion
on the subject between the allied Governments, it is hereby
agreed as follow:-
(1) The eastern and southern frontier of His Highness's
dominions, from Wakhan to the Persian border, shall follow the
line shown in the map attached to this agreement.
(2) The Government of India will at no time exercise
interference in the territories lying beyond this line on the
side of Afghanistan, and His Highness the Amir will at no time
exercise interference in the territories lying beyond this
line on the side of India.
(3) The British Government thus agrees to His Highness
the Amir retaining Asmar and the valley about it, as far as
Chanak. His Highness agrees on the other hand that he will at
no time exercise interference in swat, Bajaur or Chatral,
including the Arnawai or Bashgal valley. The Government also
agrees to leave to His Highness the Birmal tract as shown in
the detailed map already given to His Highness who
relinquishes his claim to the rest of the Waziri country and
Dawar. His highness also relinquishes his claim to Chageh.
( 4 ) The frontier line will hereafter be laid down in
detail and demarcated, wherever this may be practicable and
desirable, by joint British and Afghan Commissioners, whose
object will be to arrive by mutual understanding at a boundary
which shall adhere with the greatest possible exactness to
the line shown in the map attached to this agreement, having
due regard to the existing local rights of villages adjoining
the frontier.
(5) with refrence to the question of Chaman, the Amir
withdraws his objection to the new British cantonment and
concedes to the British Government the rights purchased by him
in the Sirkai Tilerai water. At this part of the frontier,
the line will be drawn as follows:-
423
From the crest of the Khwaja Amran range near the Pasha
Kotal, which remains in British territory, the line will run
in such a direction as to leave Murgha Chaman and the Sharobo
spring to Afghanistan, and to pass half way between the New
Chaman Fort and the Afghan outpost known locally as Lashkar
Dand. The line will then pass half way between the railway
station and the hill known as the Mian Baldak, and turning
southward will rejoin the Khwaja Amran range, leaving the
Gwasha Post in British territory, and the road to Shorawak to
the west and south of Gwasha in Afghanistan. The British
Government will not exercise any interference within half a
mile of the road.
(6) The above articles of agreement are regarded by the
Government of India and His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan
as a full and satisfactory settlement of all the principle
differences of opinion which have arisen between them in
regard to the frotierj and both the government of indi and His
Highness the Amir undertake that any differences of detail
such as those which will have to be considered hereafter by
the officers appointed to demarcate the boundary line shall be
settled in a friendly spirit, so as to remove for the future
as far as possible all causes of the doubt and
misunderstanding between the two Governments.
(7) Being fully satisfied of His Highness good will to
the British Government, and wishing to see Afghanistan
independent and strong, the Government, of India will raise no
obj ection to the purchase and import by His Highness of
munitions of war, and they will themselves grant him some help
in this respect. Further, in order to mark their sense of the
friendly spirit in which His Highness the Amir has entered
into these negotiations, the Government of India undertake to
increase by the sum of six lakhs of rupees a year the subsidy
of twelve lakhs now granted to His Highness.
KABUL (Sd) H.M. DURAND
12th November 1893 (Sd)AMIR ABDUR RAHMAN KHAN
DOCUMENTS
OF INDIA (New Delhi,
Foreign Department:
Miscellaneous
Secret
Political (A & B)
Secret-F
Frontier (A & B)
Memoranda (A & B)
Private Manuscripts:
Lytton Papers
Durand Papers
Ripon Papers
Landsowne Papers
1830-1870.
1840-1900.
1840-1900.
1845-1900.
1854-1900.
1865-1900.
NEHRU MEMORIAL LIBRARY (New Delhi, India)
Parliamentary Papers 1836-1878.
INDIA OFFICE LIBRARY AND RECORDS (London, U.K.)
Enclosures and Secret Letters to India
1831-1845.
424
Political and Secret Letters and Enclosures from India
1879-1885.
Political and Secret Home Correspondence
1883, 1891-1893.
PUBLIC RECORDS OFFICE (London, U.K.)
Private Manuscripts:
Campbell Papers
Granville Papers
Foreign Office 1835-1848.
INDIAN PUBLICATIONS
Annual Reports on the Administration of the Panjab (Lahore,
1860-1896) .
Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India (Simla, 1907-
11) •
Gazetteer of the North West Frontier
Gazetteer of the Peshawar District (Lahore, 1898).
Imperial Gazetteer of India (Oxford, 1908).
The Military Geography of Afghanistan (Simla, 1893).
Panjab Trade Report (Lahore, 1876-1880).
Report on the External Land Trade of the Panjab
1880-1900).
PERSIAN LITERATURE
425
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Habibi, Abdulhayy Khan Tarikh-i-Afghanistan
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Dar Asr-i-
Habibi, Abdulhayy Khan
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Tarikh-i-Afghanistan Bad az Islam
Hassan Khan, Yakub Negahi Ba Tarikh-i-Qadim-i-Afghanistan
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VITA SHEET
Ti tle of thesis The History of the Delimitation of the Durand
Line and the Development of the Afghan State (1838-1898)
Major professor
Joseph W. Elder
Major History
Minor
Political Science
Name
Za1may A. Gu1zad
Place and date
of birth
Kabul. Afghanistan. August 1,
1950 .
Colleges and
universities:
years attended
and degrees
Northeastern Illinois University, 1976-78 (BA)
" " "
1978-80 CBS)
" " "
1980-82 (MA)

gf
Memberships in
learned or
honorary
societies
Publications
"The Social Structure of the Afghan Mujahideen
z
(Fundamentalist and Traditionalists)," - a chapter in Alterna-
tive PersEectives on
1991)
Afghanistan (Clarendon: Oxford U. Press
z
Current date
May 23, 1991
F-5266

~copyright by zalmay Gulzad 1991

All Rights Reserved

ii

iii

Dedicated to my family and especially to the memory of my younger brother Nangalai Jan.

iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

As I draw towards the conclusion of my graduate studies, I realize of all the people that have contributed towards this achievement, I am most grateful to Professor Joseph Elder, who truly surpassed his role as my mentor. source of Joe was not only a of thought.

inspiration but encouraged freedom

Also, he unhesitantly provided solace to me especially during the most difficult times. I am indebted to Joe for his

invaluable comments on the dissertation and most of all for his persistent faith in me throughout my graduate studies. I consider myself fortunate to have known both Joe and Joann Elder and will always be grateful for their constant support. I would also like to extend my thanks to Professor Andre Wink, who was most gracious in accepting to join my committee at the later stages. criticism truly Nevertheless, his comments and valuable an I important role towards the

played

ref inement of this work.

express my utmost thanks to

Professor David Gibbs, whose reassurance and comments were always readily available. I He has truly been of great

assistance in my work.

would also like to acknowledge

Professor Kemal Karpat for his contribution in my studies. Throughout my graduate career Professor David Knipe has always been reassuring and receptive of my work. I am most obliged

to Professor Stephen Humphreys for his invaluable guidance

v
during his tenure in Madison. contributed immensely towards Professor Humphreys' seminars my research and studies.

Finally, Professor Manendra Verma was most effective in my lanuage training. lowe a tremendous amount of gratitude to my family for their continuous support, my his love and committment Zaffar and a in this who My

endeavor;

Especially offered to

brother,

Gulzad, support. true

unhesi tantly special

encouragement who has been

thanks

Lata,

companion

personally and academically.

To my comrade and friend Rick

Rozoff, I am most obliged for his insightful suggestions. without the generous funding of the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIlS), this study would not have materialized. I must thank Kaye Hill and Pradeep Mahendirata for all their help during my AIlS fellowship. my gratitude for to the Indian me to I would also like to extend Government have and the to Afghan

Government

allowing

access

documents

pertaining to my study. the Nehru Memorial

Dr. Ravindra Kumar, the Director at contributed immensely to my

Library, I

research in India.

must acknowledge the staff at the

National Archives in India and at the India Office Library and Public Records Office in London, who were most generous in their assistance. The staff at the Memorial Library,

especially Judy and Dineen, were most patient and helpful in the use of the facilities.

vi Finally, without the guidance of Judy Corchoran and the aide of the History Department staff, this study would not have been possible. Afghanistan's specific historical experience has

contributed towards its current political quagmire.

Almost the

every family has experienced the loss of a loved one, psychological consequences are inexplicable.

The colonial

legacy of the region has only intensified the conflict, which if history must not repeat itself, Afghans everywhere must work towards uni ty and the restoration of peace in their country.

vii TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS INTRODUCTION CHAPTER ONE: CHAPTER TWO: CHAPTER THREE: CHAPTER FOUR: CHAPTER FIVE:
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • 0 • • • 0 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

iv
1
23 69

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0. . . .

~

Q

The Establishment of Afghanistan Under the Suddozais •••• e • • • • • • • • • The First Anglo-Afghan War: The Rise of the Imperial Frontier ••••

Sner Ali's Internal Reforms Prior
to the Second Anglo-Afghan War ••• The Second Anglo-Afghan War (1879-1880) •••••••••••••••••••••• The Origins of RUSsophobia and Its Impact on Anglo-Russian Relations in the Nineteenth century •••••••••••••••••••••••••• Anglo-Russian Imperial Rivalry in central Asia ••••••••••••••••••••• The Power Structure and social Change During the Reign of Amir Abdur Rahman (1880-1901) ••••••••• The Delimitation of the RussoAfghan Boundary •••••••• e • • • • • • • • • The Drawing of the Durand Line ••• The Durand Line and the Aftermath
117

150

181 206

CHAPTER SIX: CHAPTER SEVEN:

244 292 309 348
397

CHAPTER EIGHT: CHAPTER NINE: CHAPTER TEN:

CONCLUSION. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

APPENDICES ••••••••••••••••••••••••••

0................

406

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Ghazni and Herat. 3 The Ghaznawid military base and more so that of the Ghurid rested largely on Afghan tribal support. prior to the development of maritime trade. Khurasan (medieval). these Afghan tribes acquired capital and more importantly land. 1 . Consequently. In the tenth and ninth centuries. forming a series of market networks. 2 It was along these networks that dynasties like the Ghaznawids (963-1148) and the Ghurids (1173-1206) established their power in Afghanistan.. Kandahar.INTRODUCTION - Afghanistan (modern). or Aryana (antiquity) were geographic and cultural expressions that were used historically by outsiders to denote the area and its inhabitants. which in turn strengthened their position within the country. Balkh. Under the Ghaznawid and Ghurid dynasties. Afghanistan was subjected to a continuous flow of population migrations and invaders. overland trade routes across Afghanistan intersected at centers like Kabul. Farah. Early attempts to organize an indigenous state are evident around the Ghor and Suleiman Mountains in the tenth century when Sheikh Hamid Lodi organized the local Afghans. various campaigns into India helped stimulate Afghanistan's economy by bringing capital and products into the region. Peshawar. Afghanistan's commerce became linked to the Indiari trade. 4 As important partners of the rulers. 1 Because of its geographic location.

became a desert. is an example of tribes coalescing to overthrow Mughal power in the region.2 But the credit goes to his successor.? Afghanistan's geographic location exposed its people to . s with the advent of the Mongol invasions beginning in the 1220's. Safawids. once fertile. During encouraged development in the arts and commerce. However Timur's successor. Afghanistan suffered tremendously. Bamian and many more were laid to waste repeatedly by the Mongols. this period large scale migrations of populations to the north and east strengthened the Kabul-Ghazni-Kandahar axis. Shahrukh (1407-1444). sultan Bahlol Lodi. However it was during this period that literary sources mention indigenous struggles against the Mughals around the Kabul-Peshawar-Kandahar axis. and Uzbek Khanates. By the sixteenth century the area today identified as Afghanistan was divided between the Mughals. Balkh. religious. the irrigation system was destroyed to the extent that Seistan. who later built an empire in India patterned after the early kingdom of Sheikh Hamid Lodi. 6 Such instability contributed to a decline in commerce causing Afghan society to return to a more simple structure. Flourishing urban centers like Ghazni. interpreted by several scholars as a national. Under the reign of Timur-i-Lang (1336-1405). or class struggle. The Roshani movement (1545-1585).

The Pushto poet. much of the area known In this dissertation. as: a community of people who feel that they belong together in the double sense that they share deeply significant elements of a common heritage and that they have a common destiny for the future.3 many foreign invaders and populations. The Kabul-Ghazni-Kandahar axis became the basis of the Durrani empire established in the 18th century by the Suddozai clan. 9 A cultural identity of this sort was activated by Ahmad Shah Durrani when he established a kingdom in the 18th century. More importantly. Khushhal Khan Khattak's (1613-89) compositions illustrate the development of an Afghan identity.ssues. a nation is defined today as Afghanistan was ruled by a tribal confederacy that owed quasi-allegiance to the Suddozai clan. . however deeply they may differ among themselves on other • J. Then. which appeared in poetry and literature around the 17th century..8 Kushhal Khan Khattak's writings relect a struggle between the Afghan nation and internal tribal discord. Under the Suddozais. In the contemporary world that nation is for great portions of mankind the community with which men most intensely and most unconditionally identify themselves. even to the extent of being prepared to lay down their lives for it. At that time Europe. in the 19th century. Afghan interaction with foreigners affirmed their sense of identity as Afghans. that area began to feel the repercussions of European imperialism. after its industrial revolution. . .

various authors have suggested that British imperialism arose primarily to satisfy metropolitan interests.4 held an economically and militarily dominant postion vis-avis non-Europe. K. not from metropolitan interests alone. virtually ignore Afghanistan's role in generating this policy. while stressing the primacy of peripheral reasons for Britain's expansion of its northwest frontier. D.13 Most of these stutiies view Britain's relations with Afghanistan as a sub-category of . Fieldhouse contends that imperialism stems from peripheral factors. 10 While economic motives may have played an important role in the making of the British Indian empire. were able to tap into market networks. 11 He elaborates: A basic weakness of many Eurocentric theories of imperialism is that they treat non-Europeans as lay figures. Such reactions are intrinsic to a peripheral approach to European expansion. and particularly Britain. European powers. From this position. and impose political power in practically all continents. whereas modern research has emphasized the vast and decisive importance of the way in which indigeneous peoples reacted to the intrusion of Europeans and its associated problems. 12 Previous studies of Anglo-Afghan relations. they were only one of the many propelling factors that may have guided British expansion. for in many places it is clear that the main if not the only stimulus to alien occupation and formal rule was the problem of deteriorating relations with non-Europeans. extract raw materials.

Later in the nineteenth century. evidence suggests that as early as in the 1830's British Indian officials feared Afghanistan's capacity to instigate internal instability. 14 This study proposes that. In neither instance did Russia threaten India or its interests in the region. the British realized that the large fighting force at the Amir of Afghanistan's disposal posed a threat to imperial interests.5 Britain's regional rivalry with Russia. Instead. especially among the Muslim populations in India. a period predominated by British attempts to annex Afghanistan into the British Indian empire. In order to analyze Afghanistan's active role in influencing British imperial policy this study focuses on Anglo-Afghan relations from 1838 to 1898. while imperial rivalry in the region influenced British policy makers to pursue an aggressive role towards Afghanistan. Twice during this period in (1839 and 1879) British Indian authorities endeavored to conquer Afghanistan. neutralize this threat that initially proposed It was to British Indian authorities British troops or personnel stationing . ultimately Anglo-Afghan relations provided the major stimulus for imperial policy in the region. Nor did economic factors figure prominently in the British decision to try to annex Afghanistan.

A & B.A & B. and Miscellaneous categories. Of these the most important were the Secret.". By 1901. where the Foreign Department Proceedings and Consultations were extensively used. Afghan resistance to such efforts led the British to adopt a policy of pre-emptive annexation. much of the infrastructure necessary for the development of a modern polity. Frontier . contiguous. at the National Archives of India. at the end of Amir Abdur Rahman's reign. Afghanistan had evolved from a tribal confederation into a territorial state with the gradual extension of governmental authority within a fixed territory.. The research for this study was conducted primarily in New Delhi. Political .. Secret-F. geographic units. Memoranda .6 inside Afghanistan.16 Afghanistan had acquired boundaries and other But at that time it still lacked basic features of a state.A & B. But. did they abandon their policy of annexation and embark on a policy that separated a large number of eastern tribes from the rest of Afghanistan and created an Afghanistan dependent on British India. who often drew lines without regard for cultural or ethnic realities and sometimes even dissected meaningful. " . Only after the British failed (twice) to conquer Afghanistan.lS Afghanistan's territorial boundaries today are largely legacies of nineteenth century European imperialists. The private .

During this same period. Gazetteer of the North west Frontier. The Board of Directors of the East India Company felt that any extension of British influence in Afghanistan would facilitate the East India Company's access to the Central Asian markets. and Landsowne were invaluable to this study. the East India Company.7 manuscripts of Lytton. especially for the early period in Anglo-Afghan relations. Ripon. Durand. Chapter One explores British policies towards Afghanistan in the early nineteenth century. publications such as: British Indian government The Annual Reports on the Administration of the punjab. the documents in the India Office Library and Records and the Public Records Office provided detailed information regarding many decades of official correspondence between London and India. under the . thereby enabling it to control a large share of this important part of the world trade. Afghanistan. and Punjab Trade Reports were also used. situated at the crossroads in the overland trade between India and Central Asia. Report on the External Land Trade of the Punjab. In London. In the early years of the century. established relations with Afghanistan mainly because of its geo-political location. The Parliamentary Papers at the Nehru Memorial Library in New Delhi were consulted. This study is divided into ten chapters.

These . In 1839. The British local political officers in India concluded that a strong Afghanistan might generate internal instability in India. Amir Sher Ali embarked on a modernization program that aimed to revive Afghanistan's economy and introduce political and social reforms. and mullahs. tribal sirdars. with socio-economic and political institutions that combined Islamic and Pushtun principles of organization. The British now had to address the problem of a strong Afghanistan they could not readily conquer. Chapter Three analyzes Amir Sher Ali's attempts to develop the Afghan state with limited resources and in the shadow of Anglo-Russian rivalry. under the pretext of removing Russia's influence from Afghanistan. emerged as a regional power. the British declared war on Afghanistan and sent their military forces into Afghanistan in order to pave the way towards greater British control over Central Asia's economy.8 Suddozais. The British were surprised when the Afghans. his son. in order to compete more effectively with such foreign rivals. Akbar Khan. Furthermore. Chapter Two traces the formulation of the British policy calling for the conquest of Afghanistan. under the leadership of Amir Dost Mohammed Khan. French Russian economic and political competition in the region provided the British with justification for expanding their Indian empire's borders. defeated the British army.

In 1869 the British and Russians began negotiations with the intention of carving . the British took advantage of the situation and gradually penetrated into the frontier region. Chapter Four probes into the forces leading up to the second Anglo-Afghan war (1879-1880). diluting Qizilbash dominance in the bureaucracy.9 changes laid the foundations for a modern centralized Afghan state. At the economic level. more loyal to the Afghan Amir than to their tribal groups. He also reorganized the Afghan military and made it into one of the strongest institutions in the country. Although Pushtun dominance remained solid. Subsequent Afghan rulers concentrated much of their state resources on the military. The aim of this policy was to separate a number of the major tribes from the Afghan Amir. Sher Ali standardized the monetary system and encouraged the payment of taxes in cash. when Amir Sher institutions relatively unattended. A new political elite emerged in urban centers. and ultimately to increase British control over Afghanistan. other tribes emerged as influential partners of the state. with the introduction of a rudimentary parliament that functioned to advise the ruler in state affairs. This diversion of funds left other Later. Ali Khan did implement internal reforms. pacifying some of the Pushtun tribes and gaining control of several of the strategic passes.

in 1879 Lytton initiated a war with Afghanistan. Local political agents claimed that Russian advances in Central Asia necessitated a British extension into Afghanistan. the sirdars and the ulema coalesced to drive the British out of Afghanistan. they reached an agreement in which Afghanistan came under British jurisdiction with a delimited northern boundary separating it from Russia. The Viceroy of India. Convinced that the time had come to assert British paramount power in Afghanistan. reducing it to a protectorate state. when the Afghan nobility. this short-term victory ended. Sher Ali. British now became convinced that a weak and divided . For a second time British attempts to conquer Afghanistan had failed. But ultimately the proponents of the "forward school" succeeded in convincing the British administrators that nothing short of occupation would protect British imperial interests in the region. the Amir of Afghanistan. But in the process the British became aware of how The fragmented the country had become at all levels. But. Lytton considered stationing British personnel in Afghanistan.10 out their respective spheres of influence in Central Asia. In 1873. Initial successes. enabled the British to impose the Gandamak Treaty (1879) on Afghanistan. had no knowledge of this AngloRussian pact until later. Ironically.

By the nineteenth century Anglo-Russian trade declined as both countries acquired new colonies. would serve the imperial objectives in the region. who commented on Russia's general backwardness. Chapter Five looks at the rise of Russophobia in nineteenth century British society. Furthermore. . particularly the partition of Poland (1772). Polish political refugees in England. subject to British influence. because of competing economic interests.11 Afghanistan. advocating support for their struggle against Russia through literature and political organizations. ambitious. aroused anti-Russian sentiments among the British elites. generated an outpouring of literature on all aspects of Russia. Britain and Czarist Russia often found themselves opposing each other. Information about Czarist Russia became available to the British public in the sixteenth century through the published reports of the employees of the British Muscovy Company. During the eighteenth century Anglo-Russian ties were strengthened when the loss of American raw materials led Britain to SUbstitute materials obtained from Czarist Russia. The authors of this literature generally potrayed Russia as "semi-civilized". Russsophobia gained a foothold in Britain in the late eighteenth century because of events in Eastern Europe. The British demand for more information about Czarist Russia.

Anglophobes. Although British authorities potrayed Russia's drive into Central Asia as part of a set of plans to threaten Afghanistan and India. But. economic factors played an important role in Russian expansion. privately British officials seriously doubted Russia's capacity to invade India or conquer Afghanistan. Russian policy makers. depended on expansion. were justified to the public in England on the grounds of an impending czarist Russian threat to India. Aside from political reasons. fearing that British products would come to dominate the Central Asian market. The rise of Russophobia in England coincided with the rise of India's significance to the British Empire. British political agents capitalized on Russophobic sentiments to urge policy makers to expand the empire's border to contain the Russian bogey. Chapter six compares czarist Russia's expansion into Central Asia to British Indict's activities in its northwest frontier. Russian officials feared that British activities in Afghanistan were aimed at preventing czarist Russian penetration into Central Asia. supported expansion initiated by ambitious Russian military commanders whose careers. Subsequent British invasions into Afghanistan. tried to establish their control in the region by monopolizing its trade. dominating the Russian military. like those of British political agents. .12 and power hungry.

13 there was no actual verification of such plans. Afghanistan needed clearly defined borders. Chapter Seven analyses the formation of the modern Afghan state under Amir Abdur Rahman. Abdur Rahman tried to create an absolutist form of government by breaking tribal power. Having received religious approval for his activities. Rahman Having inherited a fragmented country. the Amir tried to use Islam. By the 1870's it became clear to both imperial powers of a need for a buffer zone between the two empires. capital and technology. but the British opposed such measures that . constrained by the lack of manpower. rather than tribal consent to legitimize his power. The absence of government authority allowed independent tribal leaders to appropriate agricultural surplus. Traditionally in Afghanistan. But to be an effective buffer zone. eliminating adversaries. During his reign the British and Russians formalized Afghanistan's ill-defined borders. Abdur attempted to consolidate his power and strengthen But he was the state apparatus and the military. The Anglo-Afghan wars had left the countryside devastated. state power was highly decentralized and tribal units governed themselves according to their own rules. Abdur Rahman attempted to monopolize trade in Afghansitan. and stationing his military throughout the country.

the Amir depended on British subsidies for the success of any of his reforms. the Viceroy of India maintained that the 1873 Agreement had already finalized Afghanistan's northern limits.se from the territory defined as Afghanistan.14 denied profits to their merchants. He disseminated literature couched in religious and nationalistic phrases to encourage the tribes to resist British encroachment. with a limited capacity to generate capital. were compelled to migrate into non-Pushtun areas. such as the Ghilzais. one defined to suit czarist Russia's and British India's interests. In 1893 the Durand Line separated a major element of the Amir's power ba. Furthermore. Afghanistan was not officially represented during their negotiations. the political postion of the border tribes remained volatile during subsequent decades. Some tribes. British pressure compelled Afghanistan to withdraw its troops from . Chapter Eight briefly describes the actual demarcation of Afghanistan's northern boundary. Afghanistan became vulnerable to British political pressure. Abdur Rahman fostered the growth of a Pushtun identity through internal imperialism. Despite Amir Abdur Rahman's insistence on retaining control over Shignan and Roshan. Consequently. As all the major trade routes and passes were increasingly controlled by the British.

From the outset. the British employed a variety of methods to undermine the Amir's authority. Moreover. British policy makers weighed two options: either 1) to incorporate Afghanistan into the British Indian empire. British and Russian concerns over a possible confrontation diminished. Afghanistan was obliged to relinquish any claims on Panjdeh and the Zulfiqar Pass. or 2) to sustain a weak and fragmented state dependent on the British. Meanwhile. British activities among the frontier tribes increased. then the British presented that segment's petitions to the Amir claiming that those Pushtuns no longer wanted to be under his jursidiction. Chapter Nine expands further on the definition and demarcation of the the Durand Line. In this way the Faced with an economic blockade and threat of another war. Once the British made alliances with certain segments of some Pushtun tribe. But the agreement was not .15 territories held in the north. Once Afghanistan's northern boundary was formalized. the Amir agreed to sign the Durand Agreement. By the 1890's it had become evident to the administrators in India that the latter plan was more viable. British eroded the Amir's power base. Although this line was never finalized as a boundary between British India and Afghanistan. it defined the extent of each of their power in the area.

This British failure to understand tribal resentment continued to pose problems for the British in the frontier until the end of their empire. "savagery". British penetration into the frontier also increased altercations between different Pushtun tribes. the agreement was vague. Chapter Ten focuses on the aftermath of the Durand Line. and the British negotiators did not possess acurate information about the frontier territory. especially the reactions of the Pushtun tribes. The Boundary Commission's efforts were often disrupted by differences of opinion. and even then certain tracts like the Mohmand country remained unmarked. It took two years (1894-1896) to complete the mapping of the Durand Line. The colonial administrators attributed Pushtun defiance against their authority.16 supplemented by a mutually agreed-upon map. By 1897 the Durand Line demarcation proceedings had ended. Colonial administrators often concluded that brutal force was the only appropriate way to deal with Pushtun resistance. to such Pushtun characteristics as "fanaticism". Those Pushtuns who entered into British service were identified by . and recognized an implicit British agenda of denying Afghanistan a substantial fighting force. Even otherwise. The British met with resistance and violence from the Pushtun tribes in the frontier areas. The Pushtuns to the east of the line resented being separated from their qawm. and "anarchy".

transformed local issues into a wide anti-colonial movement that set ablaze the frontier from 1897 through 1898.17 their fellow kinsmen as representing British interest in the region. Although the Arnir denied any personal involvement in the uprising. loss of territorial integrity. . In almost every locality where the Pushtuns revolted the symptoms of dissent were similar . large numbers of tribals crossed the frontier border to join in the anti-colonial movement. Islam provided a unifying ideology to which almost all sections of the population could be mobilized by a network of local religious leaders. etc. During the 1897 and 1898 Pushtun uprisings against the British. intra-tribal differentiation. Such Pushtuns were sometimes seen by the tribal elites as a new emerging political force challenging the tribal status quo. after the drawing of the Durand line. The concluding chapter reviews additional dimensions of Anglo-Afghan relations and the shaping of Afghanistan as a state. British challenge to tribal status-quo. some of his officials encouraged and even participated in channelling support to the resistance. with the support of tribal leaders. • The mullahs. Key religious leaders often met with the Arnir and cited his support to legitimize the jihad.British penalties.

1956-59) vol.:t::. he points out that the Ghaznawids utilized local institutions to govern the population when he states: . in Sanskrit as AryaVartta or Arya-Varsha. However. Hammed ud-Din "The Loodis" The Delhi Sultanate ed. 3.. Kakar.25-27. Marshall's The Afghans in India Under the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire: A Survey of Relevant Manuscripts (New York: The Afghanistan Council of Asia Society..:::lg~h~a~n~i::.::l:. the center of the Ghaznawid empire was intentionally built in Afghanistan because of its proximity to India. Caroe. W.N. Kakar claims that "Modern Afghanistan is almost coextensive with the land mentioned in the old Greek as Ariana. 1979) p. and in Zend as Eriene-veejo. Bosworth.". Olaf The Pathans (London: Macmillan and Co. 5.:l.::a~n~:~--"A~S~t. K. For details on sources see. R. ... Brown. The Ghaznavids.C.. The Lodi dynasty retained power in India between 1451 and 1526. According to Bosworth.:f:. in the old Persian as Airyana. 1976).::.. there cannot have been any question of imposing from outside a completely new system in local affairs. 353-54. The geographer Abu sayid al-Balkhi was a product of Balkh. 1958) p.xvi. Clifford E.u=d~y--=o:. Ghobar asserts that the term Khurasan. A Literary History of Persia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mir Gholam Muhammad Afghanistan dar Masir-i-Tarikh (Kabul: Books Publishing Institute.'c:::... Ltd.-:P. 1951).::i~t::. Edward G.• The chief innovation which the Turkish ghulam commanders introduced into the village organisation of the Ghazna region lay in the system of military fiefs for their followers. Majmundar (Calcutta: Royal Publishing House. 2.42-43.•. but beyond this.!:s::.a=l Development in Central and South Asia (London: Oxford University Press. ~A=f... Fraser-Tyler. 1970) p.::o::.18 1.124-125. Hassan Kawun Government and Society in Afghanistan: The Reign of Amir 'Abd aI-Rahman Khan (Austin: University of Texas Press. institutions and practices can rarely be transplanted en bloc from their [Ghaznawid] homeland to a strange environment •.347-49.::::. or "land where the sun rises" was initially applied to only portions of Afghanistan but eventually came to mean the entire country.385. 4. Ghobar. D. 1967) in Persian p.I p. an important intellectual center during this period. Their Empire in Afghanistan and Eastern Iran: 994-1040 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 1950) p.

. and M. B. I alone am concerned for my nation's honour. 7. Olaf The Pathans p. 8. 9. Boyle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. tilling their fields . sisters. The following phrases extracted from poems indicate that Khushhal Khattak Khan grasped the notion of an Afghan nation: A.C. 'Ala aI-Din 'Ata. H. since first the battle clashed Upon Tahtarra's peak. The Yusufzais are at ease.131-133. Malik Juvaini The History of the World Conqueror ed. Leyden's "On the Roshanian Sect and Its Founder Bayazid Ansari" Asiatic Researches vol. B. by Mirza Muhammad Qazvini translated by John A. Smith's "Lower-Class Uprising in the Mughal Empire" Islamic Culture vol. the proud man of this day. According to Juvaini.XI. Cf. 135.19 6.178-180. C. Ibn Batuta Travels in Asia and Africa. all that they held dear. Similarly Ibn Bauta in his travelogue observed that in the 1300's Balkh was totally abandoned and Kabul resembled a small village. in Caroe.237-246. I bound on the sword for the pride of the Afghan name.R. For details see: J. Gibb (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press..1-4 January. For full five years the tribal sword has flashed Keen-edged and bright. 1946. vol. I am Khushhal Khattak. 1812.. wives.A.I p.67. 1971) p. Young. a religious scholar who mobilized the tribes by utilizing traditional symbols and values. where at one blow Twice twenty thousand of the Mughal foe Perished. Fell captive to the all-conquering Afghan spear. 1976) p. The Roshani movement was led by Bayazid Ansari. 1981). Aslanov's "The Popular Movement 'Roshani' amd Its Reflection in the Afghan Literature of the 16th-17th Centuries" Afghanistan: Past and Present (Moscow: USSR Academy of Sciences. Crawford The Politics of Cultural Pluralism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 1958). 1325-1354 trans. only a few artisans remained in the city while the rest of the population were massacred.XX nos.

1984). offered an explanation of imperialism as emanating from metropolitan interests. 1902). 1976). G. along with nominal control over much of the territory defined today as Afghanistan. Malcolm Yapp. 1963). in an excellent study of British activities in India's northern borders. However. D. 11. 1830-1914 (London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. with capitalism in its highest stage necessitating overseas expansion for profits. 1976) p. Fieldhouse. Young. Iran and Afghanistan. Ibid. hoping to enlarge their spheres of interest. Hobson's classic study attributes Britain's drive to acquire colonies to a "conspiracy theory". India and Afghanistan. According to this "theory" special pressure groups influenced parliamentary politics and the public media to adopt an expansionist foreign policy that benefitted these groups. 1876-1907 (Queensland: University of Queensland Press. 1939).P. 1963). Singhal. Ltd. K. Edward A. British India's Northern Forntier. Crawford The Politics of Cultural Pluralism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.81. Hobson.. p. J. Yapp. and Chakravarty.67. Suhash From Khyber to Oxus: A study in Imperial Expansion (New Delhi: Orient Longman Ltd. Crawford Young describes nineteenth cenutry Afghanistan as a territorial state possessing such major properties as territoriality and sovereignty as a consequence of AngloRussian imperial rivalry in the region. 1973. 1980). 1798-1850 (New York: Oxford University Press. Ingram. 12. 14. British political agents. . Alder. sovereignty had already been established. during the reign of Ahmad Shah Durrani (1747-1772). asserts that the reason for expansion originated in the periphery. Imperialism: A study (Ann Harbor: University of Michigan Press. raw materials and alternative markets. Malcolm E. Lenin. strategies of British India: Britain. John A. D. 13.. 1865-1895: A study in Imperial Policy (London: Longmans. Economics and Empire.20 10.. 18281834 (New York: Oxford University Press. advocated within the appropriate channels of the Indian bureaucracy the need to extend the empire's borders in order to protect British India from some impending threat. Vladmir I. Lenin. Imperialism: The Highest stage of Capitalism (New York: International Press. too. 1979). The Beginning of the Great Game in Asia. 15. Green & Co.

Dupree.2. . Louis "Afghanistan: Problems of a PeasantTribal state" Afghanistan in the 1970's ed.21 16. 1974) p. Louis Dupree & Linette Albert (New York: Praeger Publishers.

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1 to tr ibes by and supported Kandahar contingents. armed 1747 .CHAPTER ONE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AFGHANISTAN UNDER THE SUDDOZAIS Afghanistan as a recognizable state was established in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani. Consequently. who belong to the Durrani tribe. Turkmen After the assassination of Nadir Shah Afshar by in his June. and have been the rivals to Suddozai rule throughout Afghan history. Ganda Singh.. Afghanistan's position in the Central Asian trade was strengthened. Ahmad Shah Durrani and 23 his followers carried out . patriotism and national honor. ruler of returned the proclaimed Khorasan provinces. Sind and Kashmir. belong to the same tribe but are a sub-division known as the Mohammadzai. an Afghan military commander of the Persian ruler Nadir Shah Afshar. 2 The Suddozais are a sub-division of the Popalzai The Barakzais also clan. Ahmad Shah Durrani appealed to all Afghans for loyalty through religion. 3 From 1747-1758 Ahmad Shah expanded his empire to incorporate such fertile tracts as the Punjab. According to the historian. Political instability in neighboring areas enabled first the Ghilzais in Kandahar. and then the Abdalis (Durranis) to declare their independence from Persian rule. tribal himself Ahmad Shah Baba Durrani. as these new dependencies produced commodities that were in demand in widely-scattered markets.

Punjab. in these ways. The resentful Pushtuns made several attempts to . who had been a supporting political base of Ahmad Shah's empire. though not entirely comprehensive. was achieved through taxation. Turkestan. Ahmad Shah Durrani's extension of state power over these areas. 4 and sQvereignty. military recruitment. can be identified in this period of Afghan history. It could be argued that Ahmad Shah Durrani. the key properties of a Territoriality state. In 1772 Ahmad Shah Durrani died of cancer. Seeing this.24 approximately eight campaigns into India that brought them much wealth and land. many tribes were lured to support Durrani control on condition they were assured a share in the booty which in turn increased their positions also forged alliances in society. in order to break away from the dependency of the Kandahar nobility. This caused much resentment among the Kandahari Pushtuns. Kashmir. Arranged marriages among several powerful tribes and ethnic groups. public works and agricultural projects. and his son Timur Shah succeeded him as ruler of Afghanistan. established a state that covered the core regions today identified as Afghanistan along with the additional territories of Persian Khurasan. One of Timur Shah's first moves was to transfer his capital from Kandahar to Kabul. and Baluchistan. by incorporating Qizilbashis origin) into his army and Timur Shah offended them further ( a Shiah minority of Turkmen also using them as personal bodyguards.

the fifth son of Timur Shah. Afghanistan. and her active policy of expansion was sometimes justified by invoking the "Afghan threat". When Zaman Shah. For example. their efforts finally failed. espousing the legitimacy of another heir's claim to the throne. In part this notion was affirmed because some Muslims in India. portions of the Punjab and Sind still belonged to Afghanistan. inherited the empire.25 overthrow Timur Shah. a petty chief in the Punjab. a few of Afghan origins. in 1791 Mohmand and Afridi tribesmen rebelled. In 1793 he died in Kabul. In fact. Although the Mohmand and Afridi tribesmen attacked the Bala Hissar of Peshawar. By the turn of the nineteenth century Britain was gaining paramountcy in India. consequently it's nexus with Kabul was not only politically but also economically significant. and many of them were arrested and put to Peshawar served as the winter capital of death by Timur Shah. openly advocated Afghanistan's intervention in Indian affairs in order to preserve Mughal power which by this time was declining. His efforts to regain lost territory led to his forming an alliance with Ranjit Singh. Afghanistan's intervention was perceived by many as a natural or logical step because . Much of Timur Shah's reign was spent crushing internal revolts to bring stability throughout the country. the Governor of Lahore and Ranjit Singh was then appointed in turn he acknowledged the suzerainty of the Afghan ruler. and capturing Lahore.

6 Ahmad Shah significantly relied on plunder as a source of income. . the progenitor of the Mughal empire. In the process of engaging becoming in part plunder. The British. The empire he inherited was in disarray and was in dire need of capital. . British India was allowed to go to war only if it were attacked . the British began to recognize the possibility of a real threat of Afghan expansion into India.. Zaman Shah may have had other. of the territories Afghan were and often thus conquered empire providing additional revenues to the state treasury. Yapp Lahore to further argues that.•. they cited the presence of Afghans in increase their troop strength in Oudh. These rigid . had once been the ruler of Kabul. they necessarily believe in the "Afghan threat". did not all However.•• a forward policy was expressly and explicitly forbidden by the East India company's Board of directors. Thus. more pressing.. perpetuated the myth in order to justify their designs in India. Previous capital rulers through in Afghanistan had periodically Durrani's obtained kingdom plunder. For example. according to Malcolm Yapp. reasons.26 Babur. it seemed to some Indian Muslims that with Zaman Zaman Shah was the only hope in India for Islam. 5 Shah now in control of Lahore. by the British Government and by the Act of Parliament . Although the British saw Zaman Shah's eastward campaigns to be motivated primarliy by the desire for territory.

joined forces with Shah Mahmud of Herat. Zaman Shah was barely thirty-two years old when he was He spent the rest taken captive by Shah Mahmud and blinded.27 prohibitions. could be dissolved by the solvent of the external enemy. and Zaman Shah had the leaders executed. Meanwhile. 8 Fatteh Khan. revolts within his own empire forced Zaman Shah to return to Kabul. In order to prevent this from happening the British adopted the policy of expansion to the north-west under the guise of creating alliances to protect their rule in India. In fact the Barakzai Sirdars of Kandahar. a half-brother of Zaman Shah. led by Payinda Khan Mohamadzai. By now the British administrators were more afraid of internal foes than of external enemies and they felt particularly uneasy with their Muslim subjects. the son of Payinda Khan. This fear prevailed to the point that some British conjured up grand plots that saw external powers forming alliances with internal dissidents against the British allover India. were suspected of intrigues. had sympathies with the Mughal power or wanted to align themselves with other Muslim powers. However this rivalry had diminished by the nineteenth century. of his life in Lodhiana as a pensioner of the East India . who they feared. and overthrew the King.7 During the eighteenth century the French had threatened British interests in India especially in the Carnatic region of southern India.

Rivalry between Mahmud and Shuja plunged the Afghan The political kingdom into chaos and disorder at all levels. and forcing many tribes consequently trade suffered. was sent on a mission to meet with Shah Shuja in Peshawar. As a result economic disorder prevailed. and the power of the central government weakened. to resort to raids and looting. Elphinstone sought an . Shah Mahmud held the Kabul throne for three years (18001803) after which he was replaced by Shah Shuja (1803-1809). Afghanistan counter Afghanistan and Persia could be convinced of British India's friendship. In many the local amirs increased the taxes and placed undue demands on the ra'iyah in order to maintain their local military forces. As the Kabul government local became bogged down with matters of its own survival. the British envoy to Kabul. prompted Lord and Anglo-French Minto Persia decided to competition to forge French in the region with If alliances designs. amirs began to carve out territories for themselves.28 Company. 9 This marked the beginning of official relations between Afghanistan and British India. influences they might be less friendly to the French and more willing to protect British interests. Shah Shuja was Zaman Shah's full brother and Mahmud's half brother. On Febuary. 1807 Mountstuart Elphinstone. elites of the ruling stratum were divided. Meanwhile. 25. instances.

On June 17. Elphinstone's primary function at his juncture was to gather intelligence about the Afghan kingdom. power in Afghanistan was bifurcated. areas local commanders or tribal leaders were emerging as petty rulers of their own regions. This agreement guaranteed that. When he arrived Afghanistan was plagued by political rivalry Instead of between Shah Shuja and his half-brother Mahmud. should the Persians and French invade against Afghanistan.29 alliance with Kabul in the event France initiated any hostilities towards British interests in India. 10 The importance of this Agreement was that mutual friendship was established between the two parties which hereafter was to shape the course of events in Afghanistan's history. 1809 an agreement was concluded between Shah Shuja as ruler of Afghanistan and the British Indian government. the off icials in Calcutta felt that Afghanistan's role in the regional power play would not be as crucial. . in Peshawar. However if Persia were to form a coalition with British India. with Shah Shuja's base in the Kabul-Peshawar In the peripheral region and Shah Mahmud's base in Kandahar. British India would join in the defence of Afghanistan primarily intending to prevent such hostilities from spreading into India. there being a central government. The British mission sent to Afghanistan to meet Shah Shuja actually strengthened his image as a ruler.

30 One of Shah Shuja's main reasons for forging this alliance with the British was to thwart Shah Mahmud's efforts to overthrow him.Shah Shuja's troops and advisors when they were en route to battle Shah Mahmud in Jalalabad. Shah Shuja had hoped that by signing such an agreement with the British he could acquire some political legitimacy and also obtain some financial aide. Shah Shuja spent much of his treasury raising armies and launching expeditions. joining his blinded half-brother Zaman Shah in the Punjab. Finally. The campaign to Kashmir. with the help of the Qizilbash ethnic group from Kabul marched from Kandahar and captured Kabul. They were thus in constant rivalry against not only the ruler but also each other. As his funds began to diminish. in 1809. for example. Shah Shuja faced a situation of general disorder. According to the Afghan historian M. even in Peshawar. They. met very little success. The conclusive event was the defection of . the for the royal family to allowance . however. Ghobar. British increased the When Shah Shuja arrived there.!! In an effort to control the various rebellions. was a total failure. Shah Shuja was forced to flee into exile. Shah Mahmud. since Shah Shujas's power was only nominal. throughout Afghanistan local sirdars began to carve out territories of power for themselves. Tax revenues to the royal treasury in Kabul began to diminish rapidly because many of the local sirdars stopped paying provincial dues to the government.

Hence. Persian Sind. was able to gain power in Kabul and unite all opposition forces. pursued his father's goals of development but was not enthusiastic about conquering additional territories. A major Suddozai contribution to Afghanistan's history had been the founding of the country in 1767. of his son Prince Kamran. Kandahar. which became the basis towards the development of the state.50. who now remained in exile with their financial support. even with the help vIas incapable of controlling a A period country faced with political and economic upheavals. development of Afghanistan. In the years to come. of civil war prevailed until a different clan of the Durranis known as the Barakzais. Balkh. one result of the 1809 Agreement was that the British found an ally in Shah Shuja. Timur Shah. 12 His son. resources For example. on the other hand. Shah Mahmud. Peshawar. Khulam. Instead. they had participated in the political Subsequently. led by Dost Mohammad Khan. Multan. Kabul and Baluchistan. a vast empire including the following areas: Khorasan.31 Rs. including new territories into his empire.000 per annum. Shah Mahmud's reign ushered in the end of the Suddozai clan's rule in Afghanistan. he was to play an important role representing British interests against his own country. Ahmad Shah Durrani expanded the and revenues of the country by conquering and He left behind him Herat. he focused on the internal administration of his . Kashmir.

he left behind twenty- nine sons and ninteen daughters . in its early stages. or elders . having paramount authority to levy taxes and collect money in times of war. and Ahmad Shah followed a policy of non-interference in such areas.• " . However. Fushtunwali tribal customs For prevailed over Islamic practices whenever they differed. " . Elphinstone notes that Timur Shah's " ••• policy was directed to secure his tranquility •.a situation which led to the fragmentation of the kingdom through fraternal discord and rivalry. The Durrani government. The mullahs' assistance . IS POLITICAL STRUCTURE OF THE DURRANI REGIME Afghan society mirrored the patterns of organization found in medieval Islamic dynasties of the Buyyids (10th C ) .. lived on the reputation of his father. Ghaznawids (10th-11th C ) . and the Seljukids (11th -12th c ). as is typical of many rulers. (were) conducted before a Jirgah. trials composed of Khans.32 political kingdom. In general.13 Masson's historical verdict is less kind when he says that the Shah. He was assisted by a councilor jirgah comprising of the various tribal leaders or elders. 14 When Timur Shah died. Maliks.16 which (was) " ••. decision-making did not rest solely on his authority. consisted of a tribal confederation with Ahmad Shah at its head. example in the event of trying criminal cases. Each tribe had its own customary laws according to which their internal matters were governed..

advice if not to administer justice but rather to needed. position that was the Durrani tribe. after them a Pushto verse was cited stating that. but deliberation is allowed to man. and Simultaneously. peak of the Durrani Empire. providing additional revenues and military personnel independent of the tribes.33 was sought here. Also.". By tradition the Durrani Sirdars were to meet in However. "Events are with God. such council to decide the heir to the empty throne. the usual Muslim prayers were offered. collection As the of justice were king's by in his the expanded. before the provide jirgah was convened. This was the situation during the At the top of the Durrani Empire was the monarch whose function was to maintain peace and order in society. a council typically became merely a front for the shifting of . were of the state. and revenues were collected to partake qazis appointed administering of justice. always to belong to the Suddozai branch of However. Shah's rudimentary form of government was gradually transformed as new lands were conquered. title was His a Shah-i-Dur-i-Duran or "King of the Pearls". the rule of primogeniture was not affixed which caused much confusion in the event of the death of the king.17 Ahmad. The Durrani Sirdars were part of the nobility and were taken into the jirgah to their discuss powers the of matters revenue curbed. administration bureaucracy officials.

who had absolute power within their dominions. 3) Hicarah Bashee. and 4) Zubt Begi. commanded the armies. The ruling ideology was a combination of Islam. they maintained their own As long as the tribal chiefs transmitted the appropriated revenues to the royal treasury. who was in charge of the informants and managed crimes and punishments. 2) Munshi Bashi. and was the sole arbitrator on crimes against the state. In the administration of the government. or Chief Secretary. 18 King had no right the to take the his life of to a But the Suddozai. the King pursued a policy of non-interference. who dealt with the ruler's correspondence. only check on their power was the fear of revolt of their subjects. or Head of Intelligence.34 alliances and rivalries among the nobility. He controlled the military levies. Pushtunwali and military autocracy. country's destiny rested on the In principle. who confiscated property. or Chief Minister. To resist such revolts. Shah delegated power chiefs. the King was assisted by the following: 1) Vazir Auzim. 2) 3) Ishakaghazi Bashi or Master of Ceremonies. Arzbegi or . the entire will of the Shah. There were also several functionaries of the Royal Court and household such as: 1) Mir Akhor or manager of the house. armies. who had the entire control over the collection of revenues and over the internal and external political officers. the tribal The Furthermore.

Suddozai reign.35 Announcer. In cases of treason. 6) Mushrif. the monarch was the sole judge but. who was the wardrobe keeper. from taking the life . The kingdom was divided into twenty-some provinces of which eighteen were governed by a Durrani Sirdar called the Hakim. by other subordinates. Sandukdar Bashi. who also commanded the militia and collected revenues. and 7) Peshkhidmats. In especially assisted by his qazis. therefore all regal. he was prohibited. Gradually one sees the central bureaucracy replacing tribal functions. daroghas and kishikchis (watchmen). who had several criers of the court. the King had absolute power. Thus. principle. The police functions were performed by the In mirshab. muftis and maulvis. or eunuchs. who often had much influence on court affairs. 4) presented grants and dismissed the Chous 5) Bashi . his authority was supported The administration of justice in the rural areas was under the sirdar. In these matters he was assisted by the qazi and the head of the division of the tribe. 19 cities. who in turn directed them to the qazi according to the nature of the case. At least this was the case in the latter part of the Formerly the j irgah had settled the disputes. military and jUdicial functions were united in one person. mohtasibs. fact much did depend on the arbitration of the In King. especially complaints were referred to the King. who was counseled by the qazi. by tribal custom. the Pri vate Treasurer of the King. who court.

some of these slaves became the King's most important source of power independent of the tribes. As a result. especially during the earlier years of Ahmad Shah's reign. if those however. In time some of these mercinaries emerged to become influential commanders. states: Essential to the survival of each ruler was the . such mercinaries. in analyzing the role of ghulams in Islamic society. Mottahedeh. recruited mercenaries from Central Asia to serve in the army.36 of a Suddozai. could be influenced to join rival camps. camps provided them with more generous financial support. In fact. so strong was the bond between the ghulam to his master that it was a more patriarchal relationship. In contrast were the Ghulam-i-Khaas. and this loyalty continued as long as they received financial support. Their relationship to the King was one of loyalty to a patron. when he relied on the support of the tribes from Gradually this arrangement began to change as he Kandahar. who were slaves Some. captured during the various campaigns. THE MILITARY The army in Afghanistan was in general controlled by the sirdars. who were reared and fostered at a very early age by the King had strong ties not only to the ruler but also to the royal family and their sense of obligation was based on an emotional attachment rather than on material gains.

20 The Ghulam-i-Khaas division in the army was divided into separate corps and were commanded by officers named Qular Aghasis who were responsible to the King. and no one else was supposed to tamper with their affection of the King or call them to account i and outside parties seldom did so . these men often remained unpaid. the Ghulam-i-Khaas disintegrated to be replaced by a new group.000 men. and who shared the strong affection that ghulams usually felt only for patrons who had sustained their careers in this manner. Timur Shah's reign. incorporated the Qizilbash into his army. Inspite of these new elements.. These were the 'king's men' in a very special way. in a move to diversify his source of power. as did newly-incorporated ethnic groups. When the Suddozai dynasty crumbled. 22 for their iljauri were tribes given rent-free lands military service. but this provided the King with more leverage against potentially disaffected sirdars. others were paid directly from the royal . "always While employed some as The tribes near Kabul were almost during times of emergency.. and they sometimes revolted. towards the end of the Suddozai dynasty the majority of the fighting forces were still provided by the tribes of which the Durranis furnished 12. times of instability. were paid through village taxes.37 corps of ghulams whose training he had himself fostered. in poorer classes. 21 The Ghulam-i-Khaas still existed. The iljauri. The sirdars of the tribes were not pleased with this. a militia of However.

the recognize alientation of property led to the formation of a class of appropiators of the surplus. The major source of income came from agricultural revenues. This meant large parcels of lands were given to chiefs who inherited the right to collect and keep the revenues in return for providing military service for the ruler. 18th century. customs. The ancient custom of wesh. Agricultural income was paid in kind In earlier times. In time. passed. 23 Collection of farm taxes were in actuality the task of tribal sirdars or nazims..38 treasury. provisions supplied to the King and his army when they passed through an area. in times of war a share of the spoils became an added source. (i. town duties. state funds had increased with But by the end of the the rapid accumulation of territories. most of the lands had been distributed in the form of jagirs. However. They became the elites in the .e. entire villages were transferred from one tribe to another. inalienable. who in turn transferred this duty to the village headmen. It was a form of communal tenure which was In some instances. fines and land revenues. the periodic redistribution of land among tribal clans) was also practiced. REVENUES OF THE EMPIRE: ECONOMIC BASE state including revenues were derived from several sources. and in cash. as time this practice fell into disuse as people began to the advantage of fixed tenure.

etc. i. It is reported that Ahmed Shah's revenues amounted to thirty million rupees annually.. ulema. heavy taxes tended to be imposed in times of Very political instability when other sources of income were being diverted by the jagirdars or tomandars. on a Military officers granted lands. who actively participated in the political affairs of the country. By contrast. permanent basis: constantly supervision n ••• the area granted and the grantee were system pillage weakened rather government than to the changed .39 society.000 rupees per year.e. in Although the actual improvements of lands was in the best interest of the principle. In theory the state was the supreme owner of all lands and had the right to collect taxes. This was commonly practiced throughout the Islamic world and was especially utilized under the Buyyids and successive were dynasties the in medieval but not times. however. a right that it transferred to the sirdars. there were cases where maximum taxation impoverished the cultivators. 25 . n24 In contrast the jagirs the in Afghanistan were more permanently assigned unless central government changed hands. cultivators assigned to those lands. khans. Elphinstone estimates Shah Shuj a's treasury was As more and more receiving only 900. the maliks. commanders to develop territorial This practice allowed claims in times when authority was weak. the and led to more development of the lands granted.. were.

and the ulema. Tajiks. many of the soldiers. less income went into the royal treasury. including the nobility and their followers.40 lands were assigned as jagirs. for which they did receive pay and from which they profited very little.000-70.000 annually. their trade. were a into or thirty-two chief. which in times of prosperity annually brought into the treasury rupees 60. but duties were imposed on whatever products they exported. these Hindus However wi th the decline diversified aside from of overland trade The communities and Sikhs. their services were demanded. such duties and taxes produced only rupees 25. from these communi ties rose to prominence in the Durrani empire. Originally they were merchants from Shikarpoor who . Jews and Armenians. the organized kudkhuda. Persians or Afghans. monopolized banking. Bankers professions.000 rupees. goldsmithing and horticulture. 27 Afghanistan's external trade was dominated by Hindus. However. shopkeepers trades. services were not taxed. Sikhs. during Shah Shuja's reign (1803-1809). that Their had in dealing with the government. Furthermore. when the royal entourage was in town. The cities in Afghanistan sheltered heterogeneous groups of people. Merchants paid customs duties and road taxes. 26 represented and Each them artisans guild The city merchants were primarly According to Elphinstone.

29 G. compelled the Jews and . communities power. silk and wool. Both the Jews and Armenians were settled in Afghanlstan by Nadir Shah Afshar to encourage the Indo-Persian trade. In some instances this booty was left under their management. in turn.41 had financed several of Ahmad Shah's military campaigns. In return they had received a percentage of the captured booty. 31 Armenians were a significant force in the overland trade of spices. economic conditions within Afghanistan. especially since they had established posts throughout the ottoman empire and Persia. Many of the Hindus and sikhs also found employment with the state as treasurers. 28 The Hindu merchants also provided the Durranis and other members of the nobility with necessary supplies as well as luxury items. who at times committed the entire revenues of their provinces as collateral. often sold the booty and put the money from the loot back into circulation. book-keepers and secretaries. British India's and poor monopolization of external affairs. 30 Afghan Jews turned towards other professions like medicine and specialized in lambskin trade. amassed much Gradually members of these and gained political income was capital Forester notes that Timur Shah's managed by these merchants who were specially protected by the government. 32 Afghanis~an's In time. scribes. These merchants sometimes made loans not only to the government but also to other officials. They.

nor was there any unity in doctrine. the religious establishment must also be included. and their strength was derived from their followers. The fees for their services and the charitable donations given in-kind supported the local mullah. "As the highest body among the Sunnis the ulema issued fetwas on subjects concerning religion and state. etc. belonged to one tariqa (mystic order) or another. this period in Afghan an society. into important group Al though there were many religious men throughout the country. In cities and towns could be found organized religion in the form of the ulema. Charitable ouqaf lands were given to . faqirs. sayids.". sometimes they became involved in politics because.g. 33 authority transformed into political power Their moral through the patronage of the crown. Many of them.. Of the several tariqqas. the Naqshbandiyya In the rural areas these men order was the most prominent. THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT In a discussion of the internal structure of the Durrani Empire.. sufis. who were theologians or scholars of the faith interpreting daily matters according to the principles of Islam. pirs. they did not belong to any hierachical body. khwajahs. e. performed the necessary Islamic rituals and satisfied the spiritual needs of the people.42 Armenians to leave the country. the At ulema within was the gradually political evolving structure.

led Another Imam. the crown supported a group of religious men who carried out various functions. the actual place where the festical of Id was celebrated. they For had different the overlapping loyalties. one. theologoy as a The group's common bond was their knowledge of the or ilm. mosque the Shah patronized.43 the religious men. level. In Kabul. one Imam who recited the prayers on Fridays and on Id. tribal sirdars at times gave charitable lands to the ulema. Finally there were the muderris {who were basically . political interests of the ulema in Herat differed from the political interests as those in Kabul. the lands was in their own control. head of the ulema under the King. every day subordinate to the except Fridays and prayers At the Idgah. This meant that the ulema sometimes came to own large During this period. The administration of and the surplus they At the provincial appropriated was not subject to any tax. sources aside of from that. perceived authority. previous holidays. the ulema could not be monolithic body owing allegiance to one tracts of land. If the King went on At the royal a journey he was attended by the Imam Parekab. Many of the ulema identified their interests with those of their patrons. and through the income from these lands they were able to support themselves. the Mullah-i-Khatib recited the prayers. 34 example. The Mullah Bashi was the The peshnamaz ( or the monarch's Imam) read prayers to the King.

. For example in Kabul alone. muftis. instead they were provided with fees for their services. who served the king in the judicial affairs of the towns. Islam. in the west (Afghanistan) their power is much more limited and their character much more respectable. was slowly gaining ascendancy in the ruling stratum. the sheikh-ul-Islam managed the administrative affairs of the ouqafs while the suddur served as bookkeeper. outside of Kabul.000 and 70. Even so... trade had declined. Peshawar and its adjoining regions. On the recommendation of the Mullah Bashi.35 Amidst the political chaos in the latter part of the Saddozai reign in Afghanistan. describing the powerful influences of the mullahs in Peshawar says. the income to the royal treasury steadily .44 instructors at the mosque) and the muezzin (who called believers to prayers). in smaller towns. They received no regular salaries.000 rupees per year. the mullahs were not an entrenched Things were different in Elphinstone. " . the king appointed various qazis.000 rupees by the early 1800's it was a mere 25. etc. 36 As more and more lands were assigned to jagirs. . in organized unit in Afghan society.. I! • • • I believe they are more feared than loved •. bringing in only trifling amounts of revenue. where previously the annual income from trade had been betwen 60. " and in comparison. the established religion in Afghanistan. In the later part of the century.

Many of the jagirdars took advantage of the rivalry between Shah Shuja and Shah Mahmud to carve out for themselves centers of power. During this period the British were struggling to gain paramountcy in India. the sikh leader. for the Sikhs. Its revenues provided Ranjit Singh Ranj it Singh was able to expand with a strong financial base. his power north-east across the Indus and southwards to the borders of Sind.45 declined. Between 1786 and 1805 the British were able to seize large territories in . In 1803 Lord Minto sent Charles Metcalfe to Lahore to try to include the sikhs in the British strategic plans to form an alliance with Afghanistan against the French. Metcalfe discovered soon enough that Ranjit Singh did not favor an alliance with Afghanistan because of the sikh leader's had plans to expand westward. Bengal. RANJIT SINGH AND BRITISH STRATEGIES Lahore. to whom Zaman Shah granted Lahore as a jagir for his services. One case in particular was R