Seistan Border, committing raids, and intriguing equally with the
Persian authorities, and the officials of the Amir. In April 1871,
having collected a sufficient force, he invested Herat, which fell on
the 6th May following. The chiefs of that Province, through whose
assistance and treachery he had obtained possession of the city,
assumed control of the finances, and Yakub Khan found his position
as ruler, and his ability to reward his followers, merely nominal.
■^ His mother was a daughter of Saadat Khan, Chief of the Momands—
Mission to Kandahar.
l68 THE KINGDOM OF AFGHANISTAN.
Under these circumstances, he proceeded to Kabul, and with some
difficulty was reconciled to his father, who appointed him Governor
of Herat, subject to the g^eneral control of trusted officials from Kabul.
The check exercised by them was slight, and Yakub Khan retained
all the real power; but he was much hampered by the impoverished
state of that Province.^ The reconciliation between father and son
was not sincere ; and reports of Muhammad Yakub Khan's intrigues
and of the measures he was taking for strengthening his position in
Herat, were a constant source of displeasure to the Amir. The
estrangement on the son's side was completed by the formal nomination
of AbduUa Khan, the youngest son of the Amir, as Heir-Apparent, in
1873 ; no actual rupture, however, occurred. Yakub Khan's main
object now was to secure for himself the independent government of
Herat and money for carrying on the administration. With this
object in view, he suddenly resolved on a visit to Kabul. Before doing
so, he stipulated that he should return to Herat ; should not be detained
at the Capital more than ten days, nor be compelled to wait on or to
see the Heir-Apparent, and should be allowed to take back all his
adherents. These stipulations were agreed to by the Amir's agents,
Asmatullah Khan and Arsala Khan Ghilzai, who had proceeded to
Herat to conduct Yakub Khan to his father's presence. On his
arrival on the ist November 1874, he was treated ostensibly with kind-
ness ; but the policy to be pursued towards him was debated in the
Amir's council chamber, and resulted in his being placed under sur-
veilance, the alleged reason being the Amir's fear that he would make
over Herat to Persia. Muhammad Ayub Khan, who had been left by
Yakub Khan at Herat, retaliated by imprisoning some of the Amir's
officials at Herat, and making preparations for the defence of the city
against the troops which the Amir had sent after Yakub Khan's arrest
to take possession of it. Herat, however, fell without resistance, and
Ayub Khan, deserted by his followers, was compelled to take refuge
For many years after Herat was evacuated by the Persian
troops in 1857; Persian troops had occupied posts in Seistan, and their
title to the possession of the country had been disputed by the
Afghans, whose claims were based on a condition of affairs which had
come into existence about the middle of the i8th century. Previous
^ The impoverished condition of the whole country is illustrated by the de-
crease of the revenue in Amir Sher All's reign. The collections from all the
Provinces of his Kingdom are said to have amounted to no more than about sixty-
six lakhs of rupees (Indian).
' Treaties, Engagements, Sanads. Vol. XI, 4th Edn., 1909.
SEISTAN BOUNDARY COMMISSION. 169
TO this date, Seistan had been for many centuries a part of the Persian
Empire. Persia had more than once invited the interference of the
British Government, notably at the time when the Amir Dost
Muhammad had recovered Herat in 1863. Then the British Govern-
ment was not prepared to intervene, and the Persian Government was
informed that it must be left to both parties to make good their
possession of Seistan by force of arms. As Persia was bound by
article 6 of the Treaty of 1857, not to take up arms against Afghanistan
without first inviting the friendly offices of the British Government,
the effect of this refusal to interfere was to authorise an appeal to
arms. The Persians had occupied the delta of the Helmand, in
consequence of which disturbances were continually occurring, raids
and reprisals took place, which were most injurious to the prosperity
of the country and to the subjects of both claimants in the neighbouring
districts. At length both Governments agreed to refer the question of
the sovereignty and boundaries of the whole of Seistan to the British
Government, on the understanding that both ancient right and
recent possession were to be taken into consideration. It was also
agreed that the decision of the British Government should be binding
on both parties.'
Accordingly, in the spring of 1872, Commissioners on behalf of the
parties concerned and the British Government assembled in Seistan ;
examined the lands in dispute, and heard the evidence produced on
both sides. An award w^as finally pronounced by Major-General
Goldsmid, the chief of the Mission, which, after some demur, was
eventually accepted by Persia and Afghanistan and confirmed by the
British Government. ^
•^ The substance of General Goldsmidt's arbitral award is as follows :—
" That Seistan proper, by which is meant the tract of country which the Hamun
on three of its sides, and the Helmand on the fourth, cause to resemble an island,
should be included by a special boundary line within ihe limits of Persia ; that
Persia should not possess land on the right bank of the Helmand ; that the fort of
Nad All should be evacuated by Persian garrisons, and the banks of the Helmand
above the Kuhak Band given up to Afghanistan; that the main bed of the Helmand
below Kuhak should be the eastern boundary of Persian Seistan, and that the line
of frontier to the hills south of the Seistan desert should be so drawn as to include
within the Afghan limits all cultivation on both banks of the river from the Band
upwards, the Malik Siah Koh on the chain of hills separating the Seistan from the
Kirman desert appearing to be a fitting point ; that on the north of Seistan the
southern limit of the Naizar should be the frontier towards Lash-Juwein, that
Persia should not cross the Human in that direction, her possession being clearly
defined by a line to be drawn from the Naizar to the Koh Siah hill near Bandan ;
finally that no works were to be carried out on either side calculated to interfere
with the requisite supply of water for irrigation on both banks of the Helmand." —
At this time and for many years subsequently the boundary between
Afghanistan and Baluchistan, from Seistan eastwards, was the Helmand, up to
170 THE KINGDOM OF ATGHANISTAN.
Concurrently with the question of the Seistan Boundary in 1869,
the advance of the Russians into the Central Asian Khanates, caused
the British Government to enter into negotiations with that power,
with the object of defining- the north-west frontier of Afghanistan. In
1872 the British Government proposed that -
(i.) Badakshan, with its independent district of Wakhan, from
the Sarikul (Wood's Lake) on the East to the junction of the Kokcha
river with the Oxus (or Panja), forming the northern boundary of this
Afghan Province throughout its entire extent.
(2.) Afghan Turkistan, comprising 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
Khojah Saleh inclusive, on the high road from Bokhara to Balkh.
Nothing to be claimed by the Afghan Amir on the left bank of the
Oxus below Khojah Saleh.
(3.) 1 he internal districts of Akchah, Siripul, Maimcna, Shibar-
ghan and Andikui, the latter of which would be the extreme Afghan
Frontier possession to the northwest, the desert beyond belonging
to the independent tribes of Turkomans, were to be regarded as
belonging to Afghanistan.
(4.) The western Afghan Frontier between the dependencies of
Herat and those of the Persian Province of Khorasan are well known,
and need not here be defined.
This somewhat vague settlement, known as the Clarendon-
Gortchakofif agreement of 1872-73, was concluded without any
reference to the Amir.
Landi Wall Muhammad, and from this place to the Pishin Lora river between
Nushki and Sharawak, following- that river up to the junction of the stream which
drained the Shal valley which belonged to Kalat. Over the tract to the west of
Nushki, the influence of Azad Khan, Chief of Kharan was paramount. When
in 1884-85, Sir Robert Sandeman caused Azad Khan to recognise the Khan of
Kalat as his overlord, and granted the Kharan Sardar an annual allowance
from the Indian Government, any possible extension of British influence up to the
Helmand was forestalled by Amir Abdur Rahman's far-sighted move, of taking-
possession of Chagai (of which he held effective possession for ten years) in the
winter of 1885.— G. P. T.
The Boundary Commission of 1885 was formed to demarcate Afg-hanistan and
Russian Territory, according to the agreement of 1872.
The Seistan Boundary Commission, 1903-05, had to lay down a Boundary accord-
ing to the Award by General Gold^midt of 1872.
Both the Agreement of 1872 and the Aw?rd were drawn up without an accurate
knowledge of existing geographical conditions, and the task of both Commissions
was rendered very difficult in consequence.
Amir Sher Ali— The Russian Advance in Central Asia —
The War with Afghanistan, 1878 — 81.
THE petty tyrants who ruled the Central Asian Khanates had
earned an evil reputation from their traffic in slaves,
and the Khan of Khiva was the first of those rulers to
feel the resentment of the Russians who had been harass-
ed by the Nomads, nominally the subjects of the Khan of that
State. It was impossible to restrain the depredations of these tribes
without occupying- that State, and in 1839, an expedition had started
from Orenburg- for this purpose. Owing- to the severity of the winter,
and the inhospitable nature of the desert. General Perovsky had been
compelled to fall back on Orenburg, after losing- a quarter of his
army and 10,500 camels.
The Kirghiz, vi^ho were the subjects of the Khan of Khokand,
tried to drive the Russians back from the Lower Syr Daria, v.^ith the
result that the number of Russian fortresses was increased, and
Fort Perovsky was built in 1853 as the most advanced post. After a
long period of inactivity, caused by the Crimean war, the eastward
advance was recommenced, the town of Turkestan fell on the 23rd of
June 1864, and Chimkent on October 4th.
Taking advantage of a war that had broken out between Bokhara
and Khokand, the Russians under Tschernajev took possession of
Tashkend in June 1865. A war between them and the Amir of Bokhara
was the result, and the Bokhara Army was routed by the Russians
near Irjar, on the 25th of May 1866, and immediately afterwards
General Romaniski marched against Khokand, now a dependency of
Bokhara, and took possession of the town of Khojent.
Muzaffar-ud-din, Amir of Bokhara, urged by the fanaticism of his
subjects, made preparations for war against the Russians, notwith-
172 THE KINGDOM OF AFGHANISTAN.
Standing- the refusal of the Khans of Khiva and Khokand to take a
part in this enterprize'. Before he was able to take the field, an
army under General Kaufman advanced on Samarkand, defeated the
superior forces of Bokhara, and entered the city on the 14th May
1868. This was followed by efforts to establish communications with
Yarkand. Kuljar was occupied in 1871, and a commercial treaty was
concluded with Yakub Beg' in 1872.
After the annexation of Khokand (March 3rd, 1876), and the final
reduction of Khiva, and of its Khan, to the position of a Russian
vassal, Russia had become paramount in Central Asia, and the
subjugation of the independent Turkomans, who infested the region
between the Oxus and the ill-defined limit to which the influence of
Persia was supposed to extend, was clearly the next step to be taken.
The prestige enjoyed by the Central Asian Principalities, sub-
dued by Russia, was very great, and the resistance of their loosely
knitted forces having been overcome without a check by Russia
caused the fame of her power to obsess the minds of all Asiatics, and it
was the theme of conversation in every bazaar in the east. It is not to
be wondered at, therefore, if the morose Afghan who sat on the throne
in Kabul, was impressed by the Russian victories to such an extent
as to cause him to forget the friendship he had professed (probably
unwillingly and caused by his necessities rather than predilection),
for the British Government. It is popularly believed that he was
disappointed most grievously, at the result of the Seistan Commission,
and perhaps the conclusion of the Clarendon-GortchakoflF agreement
without his being" g'iven an opportunity of expressing his views,
may have fanned his disappointment into an active resentment.
The introduction of the Amir as a third party into the neg^otiations
probably would have had the effect of prolonging the discussion in-
definitely, while the situation in Central Asia was such as to render it
imperatively necessary to obtain from Russia an early acknowledgment
that certain districts belonged to Afghanistan, and as such were to be
regarded as out of bounds for Russian troops, and beyond which
no encroachment in tl.e direction of that country would be permitted
by Great Britain.
From 1872 onwards the relations between Afghanistan and the
British Government became increasingly cold and strained, while the
antagonism or rivalry between Great Britain and Russia in Europe
caused a fresh outburst of activity in Central Asia, and gave the
movement of Russian troops in that continent a definite object — to
menace India. The question of abating- the nuisance of marauding-
^ The Russian Advance on Central Asia. Harmsworths History of the World,
p. 1518 et seq.
ATTITUDE OF THE AMIR.
Turkomans was a secondary object, and Russian statesmen considered
the new move as a check to England. The military party avowed
their belief that the surest way of settling- the Eastern question in
Europe was to frighten England by advancing to the gates of India.
Military men and Civilians alike thought that, at the least, an advance
was the only means of neutralizing hypothetical British intrigues with
the Princes of Central Asia.' Relations between Great Britain and
Russia were strained almost to the point of an open rupture by the
Treaty of San Stefano (March 3rd, 1878)^ and an expeditionary force
of British and Indian troops was despatched to the Mediterranean
from India 2; but the war clouds that had been gathering in Europe
were dispelled by Russia's consent to submit the Treaty to a confer-
ence of the Powers in Berlin, and in July 1878, Lord Beaconsfield
returned to London the bearer of Peace with Honour.
In 1873 the Government of India had presented Amir Sher AH
with 15,000 Enfield rifles, 5,000 Snider rifles and with 200 rounds of
ammunition for each of the latter. In addition, 10 lakhs of rupees was
set aside for him, of which 5 lakhs was regarded as a contribution to-
wards the amount to be paid to the Seistan sufferers, and the
remainder as a contribution towards the general expenses of the Amir,
which he might, if he thought fit, expend in arrangements for the
settlement of Seistan, or otherwise, as he thought best. The ten
lakhs of rupees was deposited in the Kohat Treasury, pending the
Amir's instructions. The money was never drawn. 3
The unchecked progress of Russia in Central Asia, and the
memory of the tragedy enacted in the Passes leading to Jalalabad in
1842 must have led to comparisons unfavorable to the British Govern-
ment by a semi-barbarous Ruler, such as Sher Ali was ; and his still
more ignorant subjects, could not be expected to appraise rightly
the small military value of the undisciplined levies, which alone the
Rulers of the conquered Principalities could oppose to western science
and training. Both the Amir and his subjects probably regarded Russia
as omnipotent, and friendship with that power as likely to be more
profitable to them than friendship with the British Government.
Matters came to a crisis when, on the iith August 1878, the
Amir gave an official welcome to a Russian Mission at his capital.
1 The Russian advance on Central Asia. Harmsworth's History of the
World, p. 1518 et seq.
^ The troops sailed from Bombay, 2^th April 1878. Malta was reached
2Sth May. Troops embarked again for Cyprus 1 8th July. Returned to Bombay
J 8th September 1S78.
^ Parliamentary papers.
174 1""^ KINGDOM OK AFGHANISTAN.
The Government of India thought it necessary to insist upon a similar
reception being- accorded to a British Mission, and preparations were
accordingly made for the despatch of a party of British and Native
officers of rank, under Sir Neville Chamberlain ; but on the 21st Sep-
tember 1878, by the Amir's orders, his officers at AH Masjid, refused
to allow the British Envoy to travel through the Khyber Pass.
In spite of this public affront, it was still deemed to be desirable,
before proceeding to extremities, to give Sher AH z. locus penitentice.
An ultimatum was accordingly addressed to him, threatening him with
war, unless, by the 20th November 1878, he signified, his willingness
to comply with the demands of the British Government ; no answer
having been received by the prescribed date, British troops crossed
the frontier on the 21st November by three main lines of advance, by
the Bolan Pass on Kandahar, the Kuram Valley, and by the Khyber
Pass towards Kabul.
The Afghan forces were everywhere defeated, the principal action
being fought at the Paiwar Kotal on the 2nd December, which opened
the way to the capital. Sher AH, unable to contend against the
troubles he had brought on himself, fled from Kabul on the loth of
December 1878, and in company with the remaining members of the
Russian Mission, took the road to Turkistan. Yakub Khan was
released and left as regent at Kabul.
Communications passed between Yakub Khan and the British
officers, but the troops continued to advance, till, towards the end of
January 1879, they were in military occupation of a considerable part
of Afghanistan. On the arrival of the news that Sher AH had died
at Mazar-i-Sharif on the 21st February, negotiations were opened
with Yakub Khan which ended in the Treaty of Gandamak, signed by
him in the British Camp, on the 26th May, and which was ratified
by the Viceroy four days later. By this Treaty the districts of
Kuram, Sibi, and Pishin were assigned and to remain under British
administration, any surplus revenue over expenditure was to be
handed over to the Amir. The Khyber and Michni Passes were to l>e
controlled by the British Government, who were to retain the control
of all relations with the independent tribes inhabiting the territory
directly connected with these Passes,'
Article 4 provided for the residence at Kabul of a British Agent,
and Sir Louis Cavagnari was selected to fill this appointment. On the
6th of July that officer left Simla and reached Kabul on the 24th of
^ Treaties, Engagements and Sanads, Vol. XI., 4th Edn., 1909.
THE SECONO PHASE OF THE W AK. 1 75
the same month, accompanied by British Officers and a suitable escort,
and was installed in the Bala Hissar close to the Palace of the Amir.
There may have been many eye-witnesses of the calamitous retreat
of the British forces in 1843, ^^^^'^ ^^ this time, and very many more
who had viewed with their own eyes, clear evidence of the destruction
of British troops in the passes that lead to Jalalabad. The arrival
ot the Herati regiments, which Ayub Khan had despatched to
Kabul, appears to have giv^n an impetus to the inflated idea of
their own prowess, which the memory of 1843 had created in the
minds of the Afghans, and to their dislike to the residence of
foreigners in their capital. That which had been done in 1843, they
probably considered could be repeated in 1879. Once more Kabul
was in uproar. Gandamak v.'as several days' journey from that city,
the troops were being withdrawn to India, and the Amir was unwil-
ling- or unable to control the outburst of feeling- against the foreigners.
The residence of the British Agent was surrounded by a horde of
infuriated Afg-hans, thirsting for the blood of foreigners, and
conspicuous among them were the men belonging to the Herati
regiments. After a heroic defence, the small garrison in the Residency
was annihilated (3rd September).
This tragedy arrested the evacuation of the country and the
second phase of the war was opened by an advance on Kabul. Yakub
Khan hastened to meet the advancing troops under General (Lord)
Roberts, at Kushi, on the 28th of September. On the 12th October the
day on which the Bala Hisar of Kabul was formally occupied, he signified
his intention of resigning the throne of Afghanistan; his tents and
those of his personal attendants were removed to the Head-Quarter
Camp. On the 28th, as he was contemplating- a flight to Turkestan,
he was placed under close arrest. On the 29th orders were received
from Simla for his immediate deportation to India, and at 6-30 a.m.
on the 30th of October Yakub Khan left the camp on his way to
At Chaharasia, in the Logar Valley, the troops which had parti-
cipated in the massacre of the British Agent and his devoted compan-
ions, aided by larg-e numbers of the disaffected townsmen of Kabul, and
local tribesmen, had attempted to oppose the advance of our troops on
Kabul. They had been conspicuously defeated in the open field ; their
organisation was at an end, and their leaders had taken to flight.
The army which Sher Ali bad endeavoured to create had failed him at
1 The Second Afghan War, 1878-80, Abridged Official Account.
176 THE KINtmOM OF AFGHANISTAN.
his need. Time was, however, necessary, before the jealousies and
enmities of the clans and their chiefs could be composed, and the latter
induced to subordinate their personal aims and resentments in order to
allow a national movement being- set on foot to drive the foreig^ner from
their country. The occupation of Sher Ali's unfinished cantonments in
the vicinity of Kabul, the dismantlings of the Bala Hisar, and the
deportation of Yakub Khan, coupled with the absence of any member
of the family who could be raised to the throne with any prospect of
retaining possession of it, unaided by foreig-n troops, proved that an
immediate evacuation of Afghanistan was not contemplated. The
memories of 1842-43 revived ; and only jealousy and distrust of each
other, prevailing- among- the leaders of the people, prevented them from
making* common cause against the enemy in their midst. At length
the exertions of the Mulla of Ghazni, Mushk-i-Alim, seconded by the
appeals of Yakub Khan's family, who had remained in Kabul, and of
the priesthood generally, succeeded in causing- all other considerations
being set aside in favor of combined action against the invaders.
The rising tide of popular feeling was evidenced by the appearance of
large numbers of armed men in the country round Kabul, which afford-
ed constant occupation for the troops in Sherpur, the defences of
which were being strengthened in view of the attack which was
impending, and which, in course of time, became known to have been
fixed for the morning of the 23rd December 1879. During the dark
hours of the night, the armed bands of the national militia gathered
in the shelter of gardens and villages, drawing in towards the hastily
erected defences of Sherpur' as the hours passed, under the leadership
of Muhammad Jan, the Wardak Chief, and Mir Bacha, of the Kohistan.
The aged Mushk-i-Alim fired the beacon with his own hands, on the
summit of the Asmai hills at 5-30 a.m. which had been agreed upon as
the signal for a general advance on the position held by the foreigners.
The latter, barely more numerous than the force which had occupied
the cantonments near Kabul in the winter of 1842-43, were animated
with a very different spirit, and by midday, when the British troops
were able to take the offensive, the assailants were in full retreat ;
their rapid movement and the depth of the snow saving them from
the pursuit of the cavalry. On the 24th December not a single
Afghan was to be found in the villages near the Capital, or on the
The defeat of the nationalists proved that the British grip on
their country was not to be loosened by force, yet the Afglians were
1 The Second Afghan War, 1878-80, Abridged Official Account.