The second Anglo-Afghan War has a rich history. The English Cabinet was making futile attempts to reach an understanding with Russia. The Government of India was making equally futile attempts to make friends with Sher Ali in Afghanistan. Somewhere between 1863 till 1876 the situation had in fact; been transformed. Because Russia had advanced within striking distance of the Amir. And he had slipped through our fingers.
We have seen how the proceedings of Lawrence during the Afghan struggle for succession could scarcely have predisposed the new Amir to view our conduct with favor. The acutest Afghan observer of these events preferred seeking shelter with the Russians when he was driven out of Afghanistan, for, as he said: I had never seen the benefit of English friendship.
Sher Ali himself declared that the English had looked to nothing but their own interests. Whosesoever side they see strongest for the time being. They turn to him as their friend. It was the Afghan translation of Lawrence’s letters and dispatches. But once Sher Ali had established himself; numerous attempts were made to secure his goodwill. Lawrence gave him a subsidy’s Mayo continued the subsidy and gave him a meeting at Ambala.
The meeting in 1869 is usually represented as having won over Sher Ali to our side, at all events for the moment. But oriental potentates are usually hard to judge. And it is possible that Sher Ali was less pleased than he was believed to be and thought he had secured more than was intended. He had been disposed of, in his fear of Russian aggression, to admit British officers to parts of Afghanistan, though not into Kabul.
Also, he had asked for two promises one that the Government of India would recognize no other person as Amir, and the other that they would help him in case of any foreign attack. What he got was a letter which was intended to quiet, his apprehensions without going to these lengths. It declared that the attempts of any rivals would be viewed “with severe displeasure” and that the Government would endeavor to strengthen the Amir’s position.
This letter was drafted in English, but it had to be translated into the diplomatic language of Afghanistan into Persian. Now in Persian, words are very apt to carry a somewhat vague and ill-defined significance. It is hard to be plain without at the same time being discourteous. It is, therefore, better adapted for diplomacy where the negotiators are bent on overreaching each other than where they desire to formulate a document which can be strictly interpreted, according to European diplomatic usage.
It is likely that the Persian version of Mayo’s letter was capable of a wider interpretation than intended. The Russian occupation of Khiva in 1872, renewed the Amir’s alarm, and in the following year, he sent one of his ministers to Simla to secure an unequivocal, guarantee against the Russian attack. Lord Northbrook was in favor of giving this, on the condition of the Amir’s binding himself to follow our advice; but the English Cabinet refused.
At that time Mr. Gladstone was. Prime Minister, and the Duke of Argyll Secretary of State for India. They were not prepared to go so far. Inspired by Lawrence they replied that there was no need for any formal guarantee, but that Sher ’Ali might be told we would abide by our settled policy. Sher Ali must be forgiven if he reflected that this settled policy was to decline help until it was no longer needed.
At about the same time, other causes of offense arose. The English were so ill-advised as to arbitrate between Afghanistan and Persia in the matter of their boundaries. This was undertaken with the excellent design of bringing about peace between two neighbors. But the result of the arbitration was to convince Sher Ali that he could not expect partiality from the British. Then North brook sent a letter and presents directly to the chief of Wakhau instead of through the medium of the Amir.’
This was not, of course, so intended, but it bore a strong appearance of a desire to withdraw the chief from his dependence on Afghanistan. Again, the same Viceroy addressed a letter to Sher Ali on behalf of the son, Yakub, whom he had imprisoned. It was interpreted as showing a desire to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. Worst of all, when Sher Ali. announced his son, Abdullah Jan as his chosen heir, Northbrook refused “to recognize him as such.
And the answer ‘ was “designedly couched,” as the Viceroy wrote, “as nearly as circumstances admit in the same language as that in which in 1858. The Punjab Government was instructed to reply to the letter from Dost Mahomed Khan intimating the selection of Sher Ali as their appearance. The Amir was not unlikely to understand the identity of language as covering an identity of intention and signifying that Abdullah Jan would receive no more assistance from the English in securing his succession to the throne of Afghanistan than he himself had.
All these things were done with the best intentions in the world, but good intentions are no satisfactory substitute for intelligence. Meanwhile, the Russian authorities had been displaying a much more accurate sense of the situation. They had admitted that Afghanistan was beyond their sphere of influence, but that had not prevented the Governor-General of Russian Turkestan from opening a correspondence with the Amir.
In 1870 General Kaufmann wrote to say that Abdur-Rahman, the Amir’s nephew, who had taken refuge at Tashkend, would not receive any assistance against the Amir. Sher Ali was at first not a little perturbed by receiving such a letter from those he had ever regarded as enemies. He sent it to India for translation and advice. Mayo, however, assured him that such letters rightly viewed were a source of satisfaction and confidence.
Other letters followed, also submitted to the Government of India until Northbrook informed the Amir that he did not share the other’s dissatisfaction at their growing frequency. After this, there were no more references. In 1874, when Northbrook refused to recognize Abdullah, Kaufmann did so at once. When the Duke of Edinburgh married a Russian princess, Kaufmann seized the occasion to dwell on this alliance between the two Royal Families and declare that it would strengthen and confirm the friendship between the Emperor and the Amir.
In 1875 not only was there a frequent exchange of letters but also agents began to appear. Therefore, it was stated that during that year there was always some agent at Kabul recognized by the Amir an agent of Russia. When the British Ambassador remonstrated at St. Petersburg, he was encountered first with blank denials, and then with excuses the letters were not lettering of business, but merely letters of compliment. What, one wonders, would St. Petersburg have thought of letters of compliment exchanged between the Governor-General of India. and the Khan of Bokhara?
In Europe indeed more than one attempt had been made to reach an understanding; but they had all been unfortunate. For instance, in 1873, Count Schuval off a prominent advocate of friendship between the two powers, visited England with special assurances from the Emperor that he was not going to retain possession of Khiva; it became a Russian province under the thinnest of disguises.
In 1874 the Foreign Minister declared that the Emperor had forbidden in the most peremptory terms any enterprise directed against the Tekke Turkomans. However, in the same year was constituted a trans-Caspian Government under General Lomakin. Who busied himself with intrigue among the Turkoman tribes, and of whom the English Government was induced to complain?
Perhaps the most curious and illuminating of the diplomatic conversations of this period was that which took place between Lytton and Schuval off, just before the former’s departure to take up office as Viceroy. Chudacoff dwelt upon the advantages that would result from direct communication between the Governors-General of Russian Turkestan and British India. And also, from the development of a friendlier spirit between the two powers, who, if united, could easily crush their Muslim enemies.
The real foe of both Russia and England, he declared, was Islam. In summing up his conclusions to Salisbury, Lytton wrote: “The Russian Government has established those means of direct, convenient and safe communication which Sher Ali refuses to us, and which we are afraid of proposing to him, although we openly subsidize.
His highness at the same time the Russian Chancellor holds us responsible as a matter of course for the exercise of authority over the Amir. Which we neither possess nor know how to acquire these affairs were evidently moving towards a crisis. Both sides were convinced that the other sooner or later would attempt to absorb Afghanistan, and both sides were resolved not to be caught napping.
European Crisis – All Russian activity in Afghanistan was in the first instance intelligent anticipation of a future when the friendship of Sher Ali might be worth having. But it soon assumed a much more serious aspect, for circumstances began to arise in Europe which at one time threatened to create the very situation contemplated. In 1875 the troubles long brewing between the Sultan and his Christian subjects produced the rebellion of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
On May 13th, 1876, Russia and Germany signed the Berlin Memorandum proposing common intervention by the European powers. The Conservatives had then come into the office in England. Thus, Disraeli refused to accept the Berlin Memorandum so this project for settling the Near Eastern question came to nothing. As the situation developed it became more threatening, and at one time in the following autumn, the Cabinet thought it was within three weeks of a declaration of war.
However, that crisis passed, and a new attempt was made at the close of the year. When Lord Salisbury (who had quitted the India Office for the Foreign Office) went to Constantinople, where, after conferring with the Russian Ambassador, he came to an agreement, which this time the Turks refused to accept. This Salisbury thought a great pity, from the Indian point of view, for now, the Russians seemed disposed to concede the point for which we had long striven.
I was proceeding, he writes, on these bases’ abandonment of all claim to political influence in Kashgar, promise on both sides not to communicate without loved with Bockara on the one hand and Kabul on the. Other neutralization of Merve with regulated systems of the chastisement of Turkomans when necessary. If peace could have been made here (he concludes), I think the Emperor would have been very anxious to make everything secure by settling all difficulties on our Indian frontier.”
But it was not to be, and on the breakdown of negotiations, the Russians prepared for separate action. War followed on May 21, 1877, between Russia and Turkey. The Russian successes aroused the liveliest fears in London for the fate of Constantinople. And whatever division of opinion might exist as to the degree of danger involved in the Russian advance in Central Asia. It was universally agreed that Constantinople in Russian hands would give that power predominance in the Eastern Mediterranean, and so command over the shortest sea-route to India, Australia, and the Far East.
As Bismarck truly said, the Suez Canal, was the neck of the “British Empire. A vote of six million was obtained, a fleet was sent to Constantinople, and Indian troops brought to Malta. When Russia forced upon the Turks the Treaty of San Stephano the British Government issued a circular criticizing its terms. But now the tone of the English Cabinet was much more pacific than it had been in 1876. It was agreed on May 30th, 1878 to refer the matter to a European conference. The Congress of Berlin accordingly sat from June 13th to July 13th, and at last, achieved a temporary solution of the European question.
The Forward Policy – Thus from 1875 down to the middle of 1878 Anglo-Russian relations were in a progressive state of tension. The Russians were naturally anxious to secure the best possible position for either putting pressure on or engaging in actual hostilities against England. Kaufmann’s activities in Afghanistan had been based at first on intelligent anticipation, and later the evident possibility of war.
Meanwhile, the English had been busily considering how best to counteract the Russian moves. At this time the Indian Government had an Indian agent at Kabul, but nowhere else; his reports to the Indian Government on the one hand and his representations to the Amir on the seam satisfactory to Lord. The Salisbury, me Secretary of State for India in 1875. His reports neither confirmed nor denied various information from other Central Asian sources.
And although the Secretary of State was strongly disposed to make little of the danger of a Russian invasion of India. He was exceedingly anxious to have full and early accounts of Afghan affairs. The evil, he wrote, was not merely formal; it placed “upon our frontier a thick covert behind which any amount of hostile intrigue and conspiracy might be masked.
He regarded the danger as likely to take one of three forms. Either the Russians might secure an ascendancy over the Amir, or internal disorder never very remote in Afghanistan might enable the Russians to establish an influence ever successful and rebellious chiefs, or the Afghans might come into collision with the frontier fortes of Russia.
Of these the last two he reckoned as Very possible indeed and in any of these cases, early information was a matter of great importance. The case is quite conceivable in which Her Majesty’s Government may be able by early diplomatic action to arrest proceedings which a few weeks or even days later will have passed beyond the power of even the Government of St. Petersburg to control.”
Therefore, he argued, the Government should take immediate steps to secure the reception by the Amir of a British agent to be stationed preferably at Herat, and to serve as the channel of speedy and accurate information. The proposal evoked much opposition in India. Lord Northbrook and most of his Council considered quite rightly as the event showed that such proposals were certain of rejection and should not be made.
But if in this respect they proved wiser than the Secretary of State, they ignored, as men usually will ignore. The inconvenient fact that this situation had been brought about by the clumsy and unintelligent way in which they and their predecessors had handled the matter. It was, as Lytton said with much truth, not a question of letting well alone, but of letting bad alone. Lord Salisbury insisted on his view being adopted.
Lord Northbrook came home for the benefit of his health, and Lord Lytton was sent out expressly to carry into effect the foreign policy of the Home Government. It was the first emergent instance of the transfer of power brought about by the Red Sea cable. The new Government was authorized to offer terms which Sher ’All had formerly shown to be dear in his eyes. His subsidy was to be increased, Abdullah Jan recognized as his heir, and his territory guaranteed against foreign attack.
If only he would accept the proffered envoy. Had such an offer only been made earlier, it would almost certainly have been accepted. It conceded the essential demands made at the Simla Conference. However, it avoided two of the blunders which in the time of Northbrook had raised Sher Ali’s anger. But it was now too late. Sher Ali declined and declaring that the English were already bound to protect him against Russia. That if he accepted an English envoy, he would have to accept a Russian too.
A conference between one of his Ministers and the British Commissioner of Peshawar came to nothing. Either the Amir was already leaning to the Russian side, or the developing situation in Europe, with its latent possibility of an Anglo-Russian war, disposed him to imitate Lawrence’s behavior during his own dynastic struggle, and to wait and see. He forgot how great dexterity is needed to maintain that attitude in the face of stronger and resolute powers; and indeed, the Government of India had hitherto shown few signs of resolution.
Quetta – The attempts to negotiate with the Afghans thus failed. Hence but, even if the Government could do nothing there, there was still no obstacle to action on the frontier. The weakness of the position was that Government’s authority ceased at the entrance to all the’ passes. This, situation at all events was to be ended. Quetta, it will be remembered, stands between Bolan and the Kohjak Passes, which lead into the open country south of Qandahar.
It possesses two great features of importance. It blocks one of the two main avenues into India. It offers an easy advance on to the flank of an attack proceeding by the Khyber, the other main gate of the North-West frontier. It was in the possession of the Khan of Khelat. Who was a chieftain, by the treaty of 1854, had agreed to allow the British to place cantonments in his country when and where they deemed necessary?
As the Afghan situation developed, more and more attention was paid to Quetta. Its occupation had been strongly urged by General John Jacob (the eponym of Jacobabad) in 1856. Ten years later the idea had been revived by Sir Bartle Frere and rejected by Lawrence. After another ten years later still, it was accepted by Salisbury and Lytton, as a countercheck to Russian movements and a warning to Sher Ali that the Government of India if not regarded as a friend, might act as an enemy.
The occupation was bitterly opposed by the Council of India. The more excitable members inflicted long visits on the Secretary of State and positively stamped about the room in their endeavors to dissuade him. The occupation was ordered and executed. Lord Salisbury regarded it as the father of the Central Asian Mission of the future. The English agent there was intended to collect information, and if need were to try conclusions with English rupees against Russian Roubles.
As against this view, it was declared that the occupation Quetta was a planned threat to the Amir and that it would infallibly throw him into the arms of Russia. When the Afghan war broke out, the friends of Lawrence and the political opponents of Lytton and Salisbury would have been more than human had. They not joined in a chorus of “I told you so.” The historian, however, may take a quieter view. He will remember that the situation in the Near blast was in no way affected by the occupation, of Quetta. But that the Afghan war really sprang out of the clash of interests real or supposed of the English and the Russians at Constantinople.
The Russian Mission. In the course of the diplomatic struggle in Europe, the attitude of the two powers chiefly concerned had undergone a marked revolution. At first, the English were more bellicose. As we have seen, in the autumn of 1876. The Cabinet thought itself within three weeks of war and enquired of Lytton whether in that case, he could undertake a campaign in Central Asia.
Contrary to the opinions of the Indian Commander-in-Chief and the Military Member, the Viceroy contemplated a move “from Peshawar to Balk straight upon Tashkent.” But it was not this that led to war with Sher Ali. So long as the war with’ Russia continued likely, hostilities with Afghanistan were the last thing Lytton wished for. “An Afghan war,” he wrote, “is precisely what Russia would wish to see us engaged in, and by engaging in it we should only be playing her game for her.”
Moreover, in 1877 the English attitude became much more peaceful. Even when the likelihood of an attack by Russia on Turkey became apparent, and it was thought that the Russians would proceed along the Asiatic rather than the European side of the Black Sea. Therefore, this fact was not allowed to constitute an argument for war. It did not really matter to us, Salisbury wrote. In 1877 the only contingency on that side which the Cabinet regarded as requiring action in Central Asia was the case of the Russians occupying Marv; this was to be countered by an advance to Qandahar or Herat.
But the case did not arise; and the crisis of 1878 was produced by, the threat to Constantinople, not to India, that time it was the Russians who prepared to support their designs in Europe by action in the Middle East. When therefore in the early summer of 1878, English and Russian relations were almost at breaking point. When the British flag in the Golden Horn defied the Russians to advance. When the armies of the Queen were assembling to meet them if they did. Therefore, Sher Ali, possibly much against his will, received that Russian mission fear of which he had used as an excuse for not receiving an envoy of the Government to India.
The Russian War Office prepared its rejoinder to the movement of the English fleets and the asset blasé of British troops. From Tashkent they marched one column of 20,000 men towards the Afghan frontier, and another towards the Amir’s and Kashmir. At the same time, and on the very day that the Congress of Berlin met, Colonel Stolietoff was dispatched to Kabul bearing a letter from Kaufmann. Be it known to you,” wrote the Governor-General to the Amir, “that in these days the relations between the British Government and ours about your kingdom require deep consideration.
As I am unable to communicate my opinion verbally to you. I have deputed my agent, Major-General Stolietoft. He will inform you of all that is hidden in my mind. I hope you will believe him as you would myself.” It was the regular Eastern gambit in the game of intrigue. This was in exact accordance with the plan formulated in the previous year.
In the first place the Amir was to be won over or replaced by his nephew Abd-ur-Rahman, then a refugee at Tashkent, and whom Kaufmann did invite to accompany the Russian columns. He is invading forces would halt at Kabul, and there organize masses of Asiatic cavalry which to a cry of blood and booty might be launched into India as a vanguard, thus renewing the times of Timur.
While then, the statesmen of Europe were reluctantly coming to a settlement at Berlin. The Russians were actively preparing for the event of war. It is very possible that Kaufmann, Governor-acted on instructions in which the Russian Foreign Office had a little share and indeed Russian policy in Europe and Asia at that moment betrayed the same lack of coordination as our own was to do in the following months. The envoy, Stolietoft, proceeded to Kabul, which he reached on July 22nd, brushing aside the halfhearted protests of Sher Ali.
However, at Kabul, he negotiated a treaty, to which the Amir refers as follows in a letter which on August 23rd, he addressed to Kaufmann. He has reduced to writing the verbal representations the object of which was to strengthen the friendly relations between the illustrious Government of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor and the God- granted Government of Afghanistan and made it over to me.”
He seems to have received a guarantee against foreign attack, but not to have been asked to participate in the projected attack on India. Because in the interval between the envoy’s dispatch and his entrance into Kabul, the latter had received orders from Tashkent not to go so far in his promises and measures as had been originally intended.
Could Kaufmann have foreseen the issue of the Berlin Congress, he would no doubt, never have sent Stolietoff. Luck, indeed, ran against the Russians at this time. The envoy once on Afghan soil could not be recalled without visible humiliation. But once there his promises, moderated as they were, encouraged Sher Ali to reject the English overtures. So, a prince who had been alienated from the English by their own errors was at a moment when help was impossible, brought into conflict with them by the errors of the Russians.
The Chamberlain Mission. Now, if ever, was I the time for bringing Afghanistan to book, When the European, crisis was past when Russia no longer desired to see English resources involved in an. The Anglo-Afghan war, when Russian help was no longer available for Sher Ali when he might be taught how far he could rely upon Russian promises, and when the Russians themselves had provided an excellent excuse.
The Stolietoff mission had cut away Sher Ali’s ground for declining to receive an English envoy, Lytton, with the approval of the Home authorities, at once repeated the former demand. His letter reached Kabul on August 17th, the day on which died the Amir’s favorite son, ’Abdullah Jan. This event was seized on as a pretext for putting off the answer.
But Stolietoff was still in Kabul, and the paternal grief which delayed the answer to Lord Lytton did not preclude the Amir from conferring in Durbar with the Russian envoy. Yakub afterward informed Roberts that Stolietoff with great unwisdom urged the Amir to do everything in his power to keep the proposed mission at a distance, while he himself proceeded to Tashkent to secure official intervention by the Cabinet of St. Petersburg.
Thus, encouraged Sher ’Ali returned no answer. In order to bring matters to a definite issue, Lytton sent Neville Chamberlain with a small escort through the Khyber. He was stopped at ’Ali Masjid. Sher ’Ali had acted on Stolietoff’s advice; and, as Lytton said, it was no longer possible to describe him as an honored but capricious friend.
In the long tangle of error and miscalculation which makes up the history of the Central Asia question, either Lytton or Kant man n has usually been chosen out as the villain of the piece. Both blundered, but both blundered because their instructions did not sufficiently represent the European situation and the swift changes of European policy. Lytton’s main mistake lay in – sending Chamberlain with, a small escort into the Khyber, where he was likely to be opposed, whence he could much more easily have circumvented opposition; and the Viceroy made the further error of taking diplomatic action before he was ready to support his policy by force.
Competent observers thought that Chamberlain’s mission would have had much more chance of being received if it had been supported by an assemblage of troops on the frontier than it had when Backed only by moral influences. Sher Ali was misled by the apparent absence of preparation to compel compliance. And the English Cabinet had, it seems, taken it for granted that the mission would be accompanied by an effective force.
The net result was a situation-which the English Cabinet found vastly embarrassing. Their foreign policy had overall been very unpopular. The public feeling had been roused to a great pitch of indignation at the idea of supporting the Turks, guilty of Bulgarian atrocities. Also, Mr. Gladstone’s moral fervor had enabled him fully to exploit this vein of sentiment.
Beaconsfield and Salisbury had indeed succeeded in avoiding the war. That at one moment had seemed so likely, both in London and St.’ Petersburg, in Tashkent and Calcutta. But the Russians still had not evacuated the Balkans, in accordance with the Treaty of Berlin. It was most inconvenient to see another war looming up in so sensitive a region like Central Asia. Both Beaconsfield and Salisbury felt this strongly.
Both would have been satisfied for the moment with the Russian explanation that the Stolietoff mission has been a measure only adopted in the near view of war, and both were highly indignant with Lytton for sending his envoy before the discussions still proceeding with Russia had been completed. Indeed, Beacons fields in a later conversation with Count Schuvaloff, informed him that, he had wished to temporize with Sher Ali, had been forced “by the inopportune haste of the endian Government.”
The remark made future answers more difficult to the point which the Russians had always put forward in defense of their own indiscretions that they were the unauthorized actions of local officials. Meanwhile, Lytton assembled troops and recommended action. Long and stormy nice messages of the Cabinet took, place on October 25th and 30th.
Lord Cairns and others objected that they could see no casus belli. Lord Salisbury complained that Lytton was forcing Government’s hand. Beaconsfield proposed a plan that had been to him by Salisbury, namely, the occupation of the Khurram ’Valley, as a “material guarantee, not as an act of war, which would have required the immediate assemblage of Parliament.
His plan would perhaps have been adopted, but tor the Secretary of State for India, Lord Cranbrook, declared that this proposal would look more like timidity than moderation, That war was inevitable, that it would be best to meet it without delay, and that he would not. Therefore, take responsibility for any other course. This declaration carried the Cabinet, not so much. Because Lord Cranbrook dispensable, but because his resignation produces a bad effect outside and betray dissensions in a Government already uncertain of popular support.
It was therefore decided to strengthen the English position by giving the Amir one more chance. Accordingly, in a letter dated November 2nd, Lytton demanded an apology and an answer accepting the proposed mission by the 20th. No answer came, and two British columns entered Afghanistan by the Khurram and the Kohjak Passes.
All this time Sher Ali had been waiting for the expected Russian help. At last, in October he addressed a letter to Kaufmann enclosing another for the Emperor pointing out what was in fact the case. That the growth of friendly relations between Afghanistan and Russia had angered the English. And that since the Russian Mission had “strung; the pearls of friendly sentiments on the thread of statement” they had become more hostile than ever, and at last were attacking him.
Kaufmann replied that Sher Ali had better make the best terms he could. The letter, so different tone from what He had hoped. Also, they reached Sher Ali shortly before the English ultimatum expired; but annoyance only led him to address Lytton in a tone complaint. He was now to pay the penalty for the miscalculations of the Russian War Office. Also, its anxiety to have all things ready to move the instant the diplomatists asked for their passports.
The campaign, which opened in November 1878, was short and brilliant. Roberts forced the Khurram Pass; Stewart occupied Qandahar Sher Ali fled into Turkestan and died. Hence, his son Yakub opened negotiations on May 26th, 1879, was signed the Treaty of Ganclamak, which placed Afghan foreign relations” under British control. It was admitted a British envoy to Kabul and assigned to the British the district of Pishin as a bridgehead beyond the passes in consideration of a subsidy of six lakhs a year. The English seemed to have secured all they had desired. The peace ‘was as moderate as the war had been successful.
The Cabinet was delighted. Even Salisbury, who had been Lytton’s severest critic, declared that his conduct had much facilitated the negotiations with Russia. Soldiers, however, doubted whether these negotiations had not been premature and whether the Afghans really felt that they had been beaten. If that were so, the more brilliant the treaty, the less likely its faithful observance. The choice of Kabul as the residence of the English agent was dubious and ill-omened. Lytton had intended to propose some other place, such as Herat; but when Yakub himself expressly chose Kabul, no satisfactory ground was discovered for opposing his wishes.
The settlement was good and might perhaps have proved permanent but for the personal qualities of the Amir and the envoy. They were not the right men for their respective posts, Yakub had made some military reputation for himself by his defense of Herat during the wars of Sher Ali. But those who met him regarded him as shifty, unstable, lacking in character. Sometimes had negotiated the treaty, that his intellect is weak, and he certainly is of a changeable temperament.
Some of his proposals indicate such a want of knowledge of state business that it is impossible not to feel anxious about his ability to manage the affairs of his kingdom in the future. The defects of the envoy, Major Cavagnari, were just the opposite. He was a clever, energetic, imperious man, more fitted: for war than diplomacy, more likely to do well in a position requiring action than in one demanding a high degree of tact and delicacy.
He reached Kabul on July 24th, 1879 and was well received the Amir s band even tried to play “God save the Queen.” But he soon found himself regarded with suspicions. Yakub feared he would intrigue with the discontented nobles of whom there were plenty, visitors to the Embassy were discouraged. The Afghan guard had orders to report the names of all who went thither. The envoy procured its removal and urged Lytton to sanction the establishment of a dispensary, which would afford a decent excuse for those who came to see him. His activity led him to dictate, or at ail events to appear to dictate, to the Amir, Early on September 3rd he was massacred by riotous troops.
The degree of Yakub’s complicity was never ascertained; the Amir can. neither ‘be acquitted of complicity nor convicted of design ; but if it was not he who brought about the murder in quick disgust at the situation in which he found himself, it was instigated by dynastic enemies eager to see him hopelessly embroiled with his English protectors. this disaster Afghan affairs once more into confusion. The web of policy rudely shattered.
Roberts once more marched to’ Kabul at the head of his troops and maintained himself there, despite Afghan attacks; and in June of the next year, he affected his famous march to relieve Qandahar, thought to be endangered by the disaster of Maiwand. But though British military predominance was thus maintained, it seemed that the policy of Gandamak must be abandoned. Lytton had hoped to consolidate Afghanistan under an Amir strong in British support; Yakub had failed, and there was now no other eligible candidate.
The alternative policy was that of disintegration the region in which we were most interested was Qandahar, control of which always meant easy access to the Hindu Kush and its passes along the line of the Helmund. It was decided, therefore, to recognize a chief who seemed to have some prospect of establishing himself at Qandahar, and to support him by establishing a cantonment at Pishin.
The Settlement with, Abdur Rahman. However, after this decision had been taken, but before Roberts march to Qandahar, there returned to Afghanistan Sher ’Ali’s long-exiled nephew, Abdur Rehman. He was at this time about 40, and as a young man, he had taken an active though thankless part in the dynastic wars of 1864-68. He was decidedly the ablest man whom the Barukzai family had produced since Dost Ali. Throughout his long exile of twelve years, he had from his residence at Samarkand kept a close watch on of Afghan affairs.
In 1878 Kaufmann meant to establish him as Amir in case. Sher Ali proved intractable; after the min of his plans. The Russian Governor-General saw no better scheme than to allow the refugee’s return. Accordingly, ’Abd-ur-Rahman borrowed 2,000 sovereigns, bought 100 horses, and set out on a Friday day after he was favored with a sign.
As he rode along, he heard a multitude of horsemen following him, who presently joined his ranks and then passed on ahead. “By this,” he said, “I reasoned that God had cleared my way for me,” and would either overthrow the English or turn their hearts. He quickly got into touch, with the English authorities, and was negotiating for Iris recognition as Amir when Lytton was replaced by a new Viceroy.
The Beaconsfield Government had fallen on April 28, 1880, and Gran brook and Lytton had been replaced the Secretary of State and Ripon as Viceroy. His change had turned much on foreign policy. On reaching India Ripon ransacked the records of his predecessor in the hope of finding something discreditable. He believed Lytton had been sent out with the deliberate intention of annexing Afghanistan. Hence nothing was too wild for him to credit, but his own policy was such, as Lytton himself would have recommended.
He came to terms with Abd-ur-Rahman; and secured control, of the foreign relations of Afghanistan. Then he retained Pishin and it is true that he abandoned the demand for a British envoy. But the control of foreign relations made that the less necessary. But Ripon was able to persuade the Secretary of State of the need of keeping it. Like Lytton, he held that it was necessary to be able either to support or control the Amir; like Lytton.
Therefore, he held that a strong position at Pishin was the best vantage-ground from which the observance and maintenance of any treaty with the Amir could be secured. However, the abandonment of Pishin would in all probability be followed in ten years’ time by another Afghan war. He even gave a strong hint that he would rather resign his office than overrule his Council in such a cause. At last, therefore, the matter was quietly dropped.
The Second Afghan War has frequently been condemned as a war of aggression, and as a war that failed of its object. But as we recede from party strife and the desirability of a party triumph. It becomes possible to survey the matter more judicially than either Gladstone or Beaconsfield could do. It was clearly a war to which many had contributed.
As a background, we have the anxiety of both England and Russia for predominance in Afghanistan, in Russia on European considerations. We have Lawrence and Northbrook making little of that anxiety and directing their policy. Hence, as though the conditions were those of the previous century; we have Kaufmann eagerly taking advantage of the opening offered; we have Salisbury and Lytton striving to recover the lost ground.
All this evidently pointed to a time when a crisis in Europe would cause more active Russian interference. Also, when England would have to fight unless she was content to see Afghanistan fall into the condition of Bokhara and Khiva. Nor was the war fruitless, though it was marked by misfortune. The Russianized Amir was expelled; the new Amir had lived long enough in Turkestan to have learned to prefer his less active neighbor. Further, the war indicated what should never have been in doubt, that there were limits to our patience; and it secured the Afghan alliance for more than a generation. Read More on Wikipedia
Read More – Taq-e-Kasra The Arch of Ctesiphon
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