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he should have offered no objection to the fourth — the " essential
preliminary," against which his father had fought so stoutly ; but
something had to be yielded to the demands of men who were in
possession of his chief highways, and of one of his three principal cities ;
and by showing himself compliant with regard to a British envoy in
Kabul — he did stipulate that only one European British Officer should
reside in Afghanistan — he hoped to secure the withdrawal of demands
which would limit his authority, and diminish his dominions' or, at
least, to place himself in a better position for combating them ; for,
as he argued in writing to Cavagnari, on the 12th of March, by agreeing
to conduct his foreign relations in accordance with the advice and the
wishes of the British Government, and to allow a British officer to
watch over the manner in which he discharged his obligation, he was
giving all necessary guarantees for the safety of India, and might
fairly look for the extension, rather than for the curtailment, of his
kingdom.^ Lord Lytton had no intention of yielding either in the
matter of the control of the Pass tribes, or of the transfer of Kuram,
Sibi and Pishin from the Afghan to the British Government ;

1 Ibid. p. 15.



yet, he felt so strongly that an entirely one-sided bargain would be
difl&cult to strike, and still more difficult to enforce, that he telegraphed
to Lord Cranbrook, on the 4th of April, asking that Cavagnari who,
with the consent of the Amir, was about to proceed to Kabul, should
be allowed to offer to the son, the concessions which Sir Neville Chamber-
lain had been empowered to grant to the father.^ Lord Beaconsfield
and his colleagues were inclined, in the first instance, to look at the
question from a purely British point of view. They had gone to war
to secure India, once and for ever, against Russian ambition and
Afghan treachery ; they had been assured by the Viceroy that the
presence of British "officers in Afghanistan, and the acquisition of a
certain frontier, now in their possession, would effect this end, and they
saw no reason for promises which might involve them in the quarrels
of two states, whose governments they had ceased to fear. To a subsidy
and a qualified recognition of Yakub Khan's heir, they were willing to
agree, but not to a guarantee of Afghan territory. Eventually, how-
ever, the urgent representations of the Viceroy wrung from Ministers
the desired concession, couched in the following terms : — " If Yakub
faithfully conducts his foreign policy under our direction, we shall
be prepared to support him against any foreign aggression which may
result from such conduct, with money, arms and troops, to be employed
at our discretion, when and where we may think fit.^

Lord Lytton had good reasons for desiring to sweeten the pill
which he was bent on administering to the Amir, for, whilst public
opinion in England was showing itself, more and more, impatient of
the protraction of the war, the prospect of bringing it to a conclusion,
by force of arms, was growing daily more remote. There was trouble
all along Browne's long line of communications, the very JezaUchies
in the Khyber, hitherto faithful, lending themselves to outrages which
they existed to suppress. The whole of the North-West Frontier of

1 Ibid. p. 17.

2 Ibid. p. 17


India, from Jumrud to the mouth of the Gomal Pass, had been thrown
into a state of ferment by Roberts's invasion of Khost. In Afghanistan
proper, the inhabitants were ripe for a holy war ; the Amir's counsel-
lors scouted the idea of surrendering a foot of Afghan territory, and
the common people of Kabul were violently agitated by the report
that an Englishman was about to visit their city.^ And, as the spirit
of the defenders of the country had risen, the resources of its invaders
had declined. Sir S. Browne had found it impossible to concentrate
the whole of his Division at Gandamak ; his Forces there were three
thousand short of eight thousand men, the smallest number with
which he was willing to risk an occupation of Kabul. It was intended
that his deficiency in this respect, should be made good by a simultane-
ous advance of the Kuram force ; but the chances of a successful com-
bined movement were poor where, for lack of transport, one General
was unable to say when he should be able to stir, and the other wanted
to start at once, lest his transport should perish whilst he waited. 2
Cholera, too, had broken out at the great fair at Hurdwar ; the dis-
persing multitudes had carried it to their homes ; it had already
reached Peshawar ; any day it might fall upon the British camps
and sweep away hundreds of tired and sickly men. In such dis-
quieting circumstances, though Colonel Macgregor may have ex-
pressed the prevailing feeling among soldiers, when he wrote to
Roberts : — "I sincerely hope, for our sakes, that Yakub Khan may
not treat," ^ the Indian Government had no stronger wish than to
be spared the necessity of a further advance.

^ Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, pp. 320, 321.

2 General Roberts to Colonel Macgregor : — " I shall be ready to move any
day after the twentieth ; a move will be advantageous, but I trust there will be
no great delay, or camels may disappear." — Life and Opinions of Sir C. Mac-
gregor, vol. ii. p. 84.

' Macgregor suggested that the advance should be by the Lakari Pass,
by which a junction of the two forces would have been made at Tezin, but Roberts
preferred to march by the Shutargardan, on the double ground that the latter


For a time, it seemed as if an advance, however dangerous and
futile, would have to be risked, for days and weeks went by without
Yakub Khan giving effect to his promise to receive a British envoy,
though Cavagnari's messenger, Bukhtiar Khan, was constantly at his
elbow, urging him to do so. Then, just when it looked as though the
negotiations were at an end, came the welcome intelligence that they
were to be renewed at Gandamak.

Weary of finding himself the centre of an administrative chaos,
too short-sighted to recognize the elements of national strength under-
lying a military collapse, and too weak of wUl to dare to place himself
at the head of a movement, which was threatening to carry him with
it, or to sweep him from its path — the Amir had made up his mind
to rid himself of the British by yielding what he must to their demands,
in the hope that, when he had only his own people to deal with, he
should be able to make order follow upon peace ; and as, in Kabul's
angry mood, it would be unsafe for Cavagnari to come to him, there
was nothing left but for him to go to Cavagnari.

The letter announcing his resolve * was brought to Gandamak by
Bukhtiar Khan on the 24th of April, and, on the 25th, the same mes-
senger took back the reply, in which Cavagnari assured Yakub Khan,
in the Viceroy's name, of the most honourable treatment so long as
he remained the guest of the British Government.^ The arrangements
for the journey, which was divided into seven stages,^ were left to
the Afghan officials ; and the Amir, having regard to the fact that the
British army was in " light marching order," undertook to provide
tent equipage for himself and his four hundred followers.

route was known to be practicable for camels, and that, by entering Kabul
from different sides, the area from which supplies and forage might be collected
would be enlarged. — Ibid. pp. 82-4.
^ Afghanistan, No. 7, (1879), p. 18.

2 Ibid.

3 Begrami, Butkhak, Samu-Mulla Umr, Sibi-baba, Jugdallak, Surkhpul,


Leaving the Bala Hissar on the 2nd^ of May, Yakub Khan reached
Surkhpul^ on the 7th. On the 8th, he was met by Cavagnari, with
an escort of one squadron of the 10th Hussars and one of the 11th
Bengal Lancers, six miles from Gandamak ; and, four miles further on,
by Sir S. Browne, who accompanied him to his camp, through two
lines of troops drawn up under General Macpherson's command, on
either side of the Kabul road. On the 9th, he paid a ceremonial visit
to the British Commander in Cavagnari's Durbar tent. So far, all had
gone smoothly ; the guest's good looks had pleased his hosts, and the
hosts' courtesy had laid to rest any misgivings which the guest may
have felt in placmg himself so unreservedly m their hands ; but with
the beginnmg of business came hitches and delays. The Indian
Government saw in the Amir's visit, a token of his unconditional
acceptance of their terms ; he, on his part, was of opmion that
so conspicuous a mark of his confidence and friendship, should be
rewarded by the withdrawal of the most obnoxious of the British
conditions. From the 10th to the 17th, negotiations dragged on ;
then Cavagnari, who had conducted them throughout with scant
ceremony,^ insisted on a private interview — so far, the Mustaufi and
the Commander-in-Chief, Daud Shah, had been present at the con-
ferences. Wliat passed at that interview has never been made public ;
it was currently reported, however, at the time, that Cavagnari boasted
of having rated the Amir as if he had been a mere Kohat Malik ; i.e.
a petty border chieftain.^ But, whether browbeaten or reasoned
into submission, Yakub Khan ceased to struggle; and though Sibi,

^ It was uncertain whether Surkhpul was in British or Afghan possession,
but, for the pleasure of the guest and the convenience of the host, the doubt
was decided in favour of the latter.

2 Afghanistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 20.

3 Confirmed by a letter from Cavagnari to Lord Lytton, dated 23rd of
May, 1879 : — " Their arguments were so feeble," he wrote, " and far from the
point that I at once made up my mind to deal with the case as if it concerned
an ordinary afTair connected with border Pathan tribes." — Lord Lytton' a Indian
Administration, p. 322.


Peshin and Kuram were not formally alienated from his dominions,
but retained by the British Government under an assignment, he really
agreed to all that originally had been asked of him, except that, as a
personal favour, the limits of British administration in the Kuram
were fixed at Alikhel, instead of at the crest of the Shutargardan.

The treaty of peace signed at Gandamak on the 20th of May, and
ratified on the 6th of June, contained articles by which the Amir
further bound himself to grant an amnesty, to give trade facilities,
to permit the construction of a telegraph line to Kabul, and to guarantee
the safety and honourable treatment of all British agents, whether
permanently resident in the capital, or temporarily deputed to the
Afghan frontier ; also others, by which he received from the British
Government the promise of a subsidy, and a conditional guarantee
against foreign aggression, but not an undertaking to recognize and
support his heir.

In the opinion of Lord Lytton, Yakub Khan left Gandamak not
merely submissive, but satisfied, trustful, and friendly.* Some men
would have been disturbed to find in the Amir's farewell letter 2 not
one word of praise for the instrument by which peace had been re-
established between the British Government and his own ; but the
Viceroy seems not to have been troubled by the omission. His
aim had been " to secure for British interests and influence in Afghan-
istan, a position substantially independent of the personal caprices of
any Afghan ruler" ; and as " the territorial conditions of the Treaty,"
by placing " the British Power in permanent command of the main
avenues from India to Kabul," had provided " strong natural guaran-
tees " ifor the " effectual maintenance of that position " •' he could
afford to be indifferent to the distaste which they had inspired in the

1 Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, p. 326. The above are not Lord
Lytton's own words, but the biographer's summing up of his impressions.
^ Ajgluinistan, No. 7 (1879), p. 22.
3 Ibid. p. 36.


man, on whom he had imposed them. Nor does he appear to have
had any misgivings as to the feelings of the Afghan people m respect
of the practical transfer of a portion of their comitry to a foreign
power, and of the approaching advent of British officers in thek midst.
He had Cavagnari's assurance that m Afghanistan " so long as we
have wealth and strength on our side, we shaU always be able to
count on having plenty of supporters" ; ^ and what better proof of
the probable acquiescence of the subjects m the arrangements accepted
by their ruler, could be desired, than the fact that Yakub Khan should
have returned quietly to Kabul, after repeatedly protestmg that he
would either take back a settlement satisfactory to his countrymen
or else go to India as a pensioner.^ Yet the most noticeable feature
of the despatch m which Lord Lytton reaffirmed the objects of his
Afghan policy, explained the military measures adopted for its attam-
ment, and counted up its gains— is its studied moderation. No one
reading it would suppose that the writer had ever dreamed of drivmg
the Russians across the Oxus, or that the army which halted at the
Helmand, had dragged across the Sind desert heavy cannon mtended
to batter down the walls of Herat. Something of the old boastful
spirit peeps out m the remark ^ that " the capture and occupation
of Kabul ofiered no mUitary difficulty," but, for the most part, the
desire to conciliate public opinion at home by showmg that operations
had been kept, of set purpose, withm the narrowest lunits, and had
inflicted the least possible loss on everybody concerned— colours the
whole document, and lends to it a cautious and sober tone. Its value
as a measure of Lord Lytton's statesmanship, cannot be estimated
till it has been studied in the light of subsequent events ; but its trust-
worthiness as an historical document, will be understood by the readers
of the foregoing chapters when they discover that it contains not a

1 Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, p. 326.

2 Ibid. p. 323.

3 Afghanistan, No. 7, p. 28.


single admission from which the true state of the British armies in
Afghanistan could be inferred, not a hint that the Indian Government's
ability to keep up their strength and efficiency was exhausted, and not
an allusion to the fact that, three weeks before peace was signed, a
third of Stewart's force had returned to India, because, in the richest
province of Afghanistan, there was not food enough, without starving
the inhabitants, to feed twenty thousand alien troops.

The conclusion of the peace was hailed in England with nearly
universal satisfaction. To the Government, the treaty of Gandamak
brought increased confidence in its stability at home,^ and the hope of
greater mfluence abroad ; ^ to the great mass of the people, who had
begun to tire of the war while continuing to lend it their support, it
meant liberty to dismiss the subject from their minds ; to the minority
who had opposed the war, and who still condemned it as begun on
flimsy pretexts for foolish ends, it was welcome as an escape from
the worse things threatened by an indefinite prolongation of hostilities.
The only malcontents were to be found in the advanced section of
the Forward Policy party, men who had always desired for India a
frontier that should include Kandahar and Jellalabad, and who now
refused to be convinced that to be within striking distance of strategic
points, was tantamount to having them in actual possession ; and even
they had the satisfaction of knowing that Kandahar must be retained
till the cold weather,^ since there was always the chance that Yakub

^ See Lord Beaconfield's letter of 11th August, p. 331 of Lord Lytton's
Indian Administration.

" The great military success has done us yeoman's service in negotiating
with Russia, and I hope that the moderation of your terms will be of no smaller
utility at Constantinople." — Letter of Lord Salisbury to the Viceroy, 23rd May,
1879; Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, pp. 330-1.

3 Yakub Khan was much annoyed when informed by Cavagnari that Kanda-
har would not bo evacuated till the beginning of winter. He must have known
that the troops could not re-cross the desert during this hot weather, but he
may have hoped that they would be withdrawn to Quetta. — H. B. H.


Khan's inabUity to fulfil his engagements, might release the British
Government from theirs.

Yet, had the whole truth as to the situation created by the Treaty
of Gandamak, or which continued to exist in its despite, been known
in England, public satisfaction over its signature would have been
qualified by much anxiety, for never did a state of peace bear a
stronger resemblance to a state of war, than in the countries which
it was supposed to have reconciled to each other. There was unrest,
throughout the summer of 1879, all along India's North-West Frontier,
tribes, once trustful and friendly, showing themselves suspicious and
hostile ; and not only in the ceded provmce of Kuram, but also at
Kandahar, an army of occupation had to be maintained on a war-
footing ; even on the Khyber Lme, the troops could only be slowly and
partially withdrawn. But the maintenance of large forces on a war-
footing, meant a contmuance of the waste of India's resources. Convoys
and transport trains still toiled through passes reeking with fever and
cholera, and left their toll of dead camels and dead men behind them.
In the Punjab, supplies of every kmd were at famme prices, and agri-
culture and commerce languished for lack of beasts of draught and
burden. The finances of the whole country were in the utmost con-
fusion ; no one knew what the war had cost, and, in this uncertainty,
Civil Officers were forbidden to introduce administrative improvements,
however desirable, if they involved mcreased expenditure; the
Provincial Governments were warned that it might be necessary to
decrease the sums allotted to public works, and the Central Govern-
ment had already reduced its grant of capital for reproductive public
works, an economy which, as the Times pointed out, " went far to
impoverish the whole future of India." ^

1 Times, 23rd May, 1879. All quotations from this Journal have been taken
from its weekly edition.


Translation of Letter from His Highness the Amir of Kabul, to
His Excellency the Viceroy, dated 19th November, 1878.

Be it known to your Excellency that I have received, and read from
beginning to end, the friendly letter which your Excellency has sent
in reply to the letter I despatched by Nawab Ghulam Hassan Khan.
With regard to the expressions used*{,by your Excellency in the
beginning of your letter, referring to the friendly^ character of the
Mission and the good-will of the British Government, I leave it to
your Excellency, whose wisdom and justice are universally admitted,
to decide whether any reliance can be placed upon good-will, if it be
evidenced by words only. But if, on the other hand, good-will really
consists of deeds and actions, then, it has not been manifested by the
various wishes that have been expressed, and the proposals that have
been made by British Officials during the last few years to Officials
of this God-granted Government — proposals which, from their
nature, it was impossible for them to comply with.

One of these proposals referred to my undutiful son, the ill-starred
wretch Muhammad Yakub Khan, and was contained in a letter
addressed by the Officials of the British Government to the British
Agent then residing in Kabul. It was written in that letter that if
the said Yakub Khan be released and set at liberty, our friendship with
the Afghan Government will be firmly cemented ; but that otherwise
it will not.

There are several other grounds of complaint of a similar nature
which contain no evidence of good will, but which, on the contrary,
were effective in increasing the aversion and apprehension already
entertained by the subjects of this God-granted Government.

With regard to my refusal to receive the British Mission, your
Excellency has stated that it would appear from my conduct that I
was actuated by feelings of direct hostility towards the British

I assure your Excellency that, on the contrary, the Officials of
this God-granted Government, in repulsing the Mission, were not
influenced by any hostile or inimical feelings towards the British
Government, nor did they intend that any insult or affront should be
offered ; but they were afraid that the independence of this Govern-
ment might be affected by the arrival of the Mission, and that the


friendship which has now existed between the two Governments
for several years might be anniliilated.

A paragraph in your Excellency's letter corroborates the statement
which they have made to this Government. The feelings of appre-
hension which were aroused in the minds of the people of Afghanistan
by the mere armouncement of the intention of the British Government
to send a Mission to Kabul, before the Mission itself had actually
started or arrived at Peshawar, have subsequently been fully justified
by the statement in your Excellency's letter that I should be held
responsible for any injury that might befall the tribes who acted as
guides to the Mission, and that I should be called upon to pay com-
pensation to them for any loss they might have suffered ; and that,
if at any time those tribes should meet with ill-treatment at my
hands, the British Government would at once take steps to protect
them. Had these apprehensions proved groundless, and had the
object of the Mission been really friendly, and no force or threats of
violence used, the Mission would, as a matter of course, have been allowed
a free passage, as such Missions are customary and of frequent occur-
rence between allied States. I am now sincerely stating my own
feelings when I say that this Government has maintained, and always
will maintain, the former friendship which existed between the two
Governments, and cherishes no feelings of hostility and opposition
towards the British Government.

It is also incumbent upon the Officials of the British Government,
that, out of respect and consideration for the greatness and eminence
of their own Government, they should not consent to inflict any
injury upon their well-disposed neighbours, and to impose the burden
of grievous troubles upon the shoulders of their sincere friends ;
but, on the contrary, they should exert themselves to maintain the
friendly feelings which have hitherto existed towards this God-granted
Government, in order that the relations between the two Governments
may remain on the same footing as before ; and if, in accordance
with the custom of alUed States, the British Government should
desire to send a purely friendly and temporary Mission to this country,
with a small escort not exceeding 20 or 30 men, similar to that which
attended the Russian Mission, this Servant of God will not oppose
its progress.


Treaty between the British Government and His Highness
Muhammad Yakub Khan, Amir of Afghanistan and its depen-
dencies, concluded at Gandamak on the 26th May, 1879, by His
Highness the Amir Muhammad Yakub Khan on his own part,
and on the part of the British Government by Major P. L. N.
Cavagnari, C.S.I., Political Officer on Special Duty, in virtue of
fuU powers vested in him by the Right Honourable Edward
Robert Lytton, Bulwer-Lytton, Baron Lytton of Knebworth,
and a Baronet, Grand Master of the Most Exalted Order of
the Star of India, Knjght Grand Cross of the Most Honourable
Order of the Bath, Grand Master of the Indian Empire, Viceroy
and Governor-General of India.
The following Articles of a Treaty for the restoration of peace and
amicable relations have been agreed upon between the British Govern-
ment and His Highness Muhammad Yakub Khan, Amir of Afghanistan
and its dependencies : —

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
Afghanistan and its dependencies, and his successors, on the other.

Article 2.

His Highness the Amir of Afghanistan 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 respon-
sibility for intercourse with the British Forces during the war, and

Online LibraryH. B. (Henry Bathurst) HannaThe second Afghan war, 1878-79-80 : its causes, its conduct and its consequences (Volume 2) → online text (page 29 of 32)