Afghanistan Early History Part IV

By | December 16, 2021

Second AFGH war ā na. – Three English armies invaded Afghānistān; Shēr ‛Alī, abandoned by the Russians, died; his son Ya ‛qūb Khān, recognized by the English, gave them tracts of territory near Bōlān and Kuram, and concluded the treaty of Gandamak, with which he entrusted all his foreign relations to England, received guarantees of defense against foreign aggressions, and he accepted a British envoy to Kābul. Four months later, the envoy Sir L. Cavagnari and all his employees were massacred in an uprising. Punitive expedition: General Roberts took Kābul and deposed Ya‛qūb. A situation similar to that of 1842 followed, given the difficulty for England to leave the turbulent country without a regular government.

Abd arRa ḥ m ā n. – In 1879 ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān, nephew of Shēr‛ Alī, who after taking up arms against his uncle, had spent ten years in exile, a guest of the Russians in Samarkand, passed the Amū Daryā, entered into correspondence with the authorities British from Kābul, and entered into agreements with them, he was recognized as an emir.

Independent internally, he entrusted all his relations with foreign countries to England; the latter undertook to defend him in case of aggression, and renounced the resident of Kȧbul, limiting itself to placing a Muslim agent of his own. For Afghanistan 1997, please check

With the occupation of Belūcistān and Quetta (1883) the position of India with respect to Afghānistān then improved considerably; in fact it dominated then also the passes of Bōlān and Khogiak, easier than the Khaibar. A few years later he occupied the Kuram pass.

In 1883 the viceroy began to pay ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān a subsidy of 120,000 rupees (raised to 180,000 in 1996) for the defense of the country. In 1884 Russia annexed Merw. ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān understood the need for an exact demarcation of the NE borders, imperfectly marked by the Anglo-Russian agreement of 1873, and asked, to Russia’s chagrin, for a mixed commission. He was accommodating to the demarcation of the border, completed in 1887, and sacrificed his discontent to the country’s independence.

After 1888, with the viceroy Lord Lansdowne, a suspicious policy began towards Afghānistān: India established direct relations with the leaders of the Afghan border, occupied New Ciāman, making it the terminus of the Quetta railway, which thus reached the border afghāno, and built a whole system of fortifications on the border, to guard against possible about-face of ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān, or upheavals after his death; this produced great tension, and the war was hardly averted by the intervention of the London government.

In 1893-95 the Anglo-Russian commission of Pāmir delimited the N. border of Afghānistān, up to the Chinese territory, in ’93 the Durand Commission marked the one with India, not without further territorial sacrifices of Afghānistān, which was however the possession of the Kāfiristān recognized, which ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān conquered and annexed in ’96.

‛Abd ar-Raḥmān had to suppress many and serious riots. He had found the country in a state of anarchy: the tribal chiefs, the mullās, the local tyrannies were in fact independent from the central power, exercised banditry, committed all sorts of abuses and cruelties. He inflexible extirpated them, without sparing his own tribe: in 86 the Ghilzā’ī rebelled, in 88 the Turkestān and Badakhshān, in 91-93 the Hazāra, all tamed with sometimes ferocious energy. These riots are said to have cost the lives of half a million people.

By imposing conscription (one man in eight) and importing weapons through India ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān managed to form a modern armed regular army. While using the mull ā to isolate the country while keeping fanaticism alive, he subordinated them to the state, and confiscated the waqf assets., which were administered by the crown. He organized the civil administration, which he had found very deficient, tightened and severely collected the taxes. He founded an autocratic state, highly centralized, closed to any form of foreign penetration, also defended by the espionage system that the sovereign had learned in Russia, militarily formidable and calm inside. “I have broken the tribal leaders,‛ Abd ar-Raḥmān used to say, and for thirty years after my death my successors will have nothing to fear from them. After that, they will reap what they have sown. ”

He governed with the assistance of a Supreme Council, made up of high civil, military and court offices, and a General Assembly. Their members came from three classes: royal tribe, tribal chiefs and mullā. Among the reforms due to ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān are the law on the legal position of women (1883) and the abolition of slavery (1896).

‛Abd ar-Raḥmān is one of the most interesting figures in recent Eastern history. Though uneducated, he wrote a beautiful autobiography, and a treatise on the duties of Muslims. Kipling’s poems The Ballad of the King’s Mercy and The Ballad of the King’s Jest refer to him.

Kingdom of Ḥ ab ī b Ull ā h. – ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān died in 1901 and his eldest son Ḥabīb Ullāh succeeded him without conflict. He appointed a Legislative Council, which divided the administration into twelve sections, and functioned as an advisory body to the sovereign; however, he replaced it in the first year of his reign with a council of nobles, which he convened in case of need.

Afghanistan Early History Part IV