페이지 이미지


branch of the Oxus,” but it is stated that this should be forgiven in view of Russia's equally unauthorized annexation of Karategin and that portion of “ Derwáz which lies south of the Oxus.” These matters, however, are to be adjusted by “the Parnir Delimitation Commission"; but as the Russians have annexed nearly the whole of the Pamirs, the designation had better be changed to that of “the Afghan” or “the Northern India Delimitation Commission.” “Grateful for small mercies,” our wanton encroachment on Hunza-Nagyr is, in the polite irony of a Russian prince, called our “shutting the gate of India in the face of Russia," although it is our folly that has pointed out that gate to Russia, and that is constructing a military road from it to Abbottabad to the very heart of the Panjab. Since 1866 I have had the particulars of that road, which, so far as the nomenclature is concerned, was submitted to the British Association by Mr. Hyde Clarke, in 1875, but I have refrained from publishing them for obvious reasons. Now, official aggressiveness has itself disclosed this sore point. * It would be only fair to the Indian Exchequer, as also to the entente cordiale between England and Russia, if half the expenditure of constructing the military roads through the Shináki districts, as also through Chitral, were shared between them, and if Russian and British engineers worked together in breaking down “the barriers of India.” Another

* The recent sad loss of Major Daniell and of 51 men killed and wounded in defending the Chilás Fort against the so-called “rebellious tribesmen," is a result of the alarm caused among the Indus tribes generally by our occupation of Gilgit and the construction of a road to Hunza-Nagyr, countries inhabited by Muláis and Shiahs respectively, with which the Sunni tribes of the Indus have no friendship or indeed any relations. It is the danger to their common independence that has frightened them all and that has revived the raids on the Astor-Bunji road, which the Maharaja of Kashmir managed to keep safe, since 1846, with half a dozen Sepoys. Our Abbottabad Deputy Commissioners have ever reported the Chilásis as a good, quiet people. Now the inspired Press calls them “inveterate slavehunters,” just as it did the slavery-hating Nagyris when they took umbrage at our construction of a road onward from Chalt. When Dr. Robertson occupied the Chilás Fort in December last, some papers announced it as a retaliation for the resistance of the Chilásis to the opening of a road from Abbottabad to Tákk, near the Chilás Fort.-ED.

English Daily, this time a “ Liberal journal,” already points out the peaceful attitude of the Russian press, which, since Russia has obtained all she possibly can for the present, does not now clamour for more, but vents its spite on the Amir. It seems as if the same inspiration guided alike the English and the Russian press, and we now only require Sir H. Rawlinson to preside at a meeting of the "Anglo-Russian Delimitation Commission.” Reverting to Hunza, since “ Jingo sentiments are, after all, relished by the masses of patriotic Britons, the journal in question points out that Colonel Grombcheffsky had lived there four years, and so it had become necessary “to expel its contumacious Chief.” I have shown elsewhere that Colonel Grombcheffsky was never in Hunza at all, for, if he had been there, he would have known of the existence of the opposite district of Nagyr, which his map ignores; but any misstatement seems to be acceptable in party journalism as long as it promotes the error of the moment.


prove, however, that the press is not without its influence on the Amir, I quote his “refutations,” published in pamphlet form, of certain allegations made some time ago in an Anglo-Indian journal. [The pamphlet is in Persian]:

Newspaper.--The Amir has imprisoned Turra Baz Khan, Risaldar, because he was suspected of conveying secret information to the British Agent.

Refutation.—The man named Turra Baz Khan was accused of dishonesty and misuse of the public treasury (Bait-ul-Mal). There is no reason why a fraudulent person should not be punished.

Newspaper.—Maulvi Abdul Rahim, inspector (Nazir) of British · Agent, was noticed to have visited Turra Baz Khan at his house. When the Amir heard of this, he at once issued an order that none of the subjects of Afghanistan should visit any man of the British Agency, without the permission of the State.

Refutation.---At the time of Cavagnari, information was obtained in this way, and hence this order” (to avoid a second Cavagnari massacre).

Newspaper.—Since the Amir thus treats the British Agent, it appears to be of little use to keep an embassy at Kabul.

Refutation.-Such treatment is at once beneficial to both sides. If the people are not treated in this manner, the result would be disastrous. This is the same Afghanistan where, fifty years before, one hundred thousand men of the British Army perished ; and again, only twelve years ago, what a large number of men were killed! The present Amir alone has brought Afghanistan into order.


" Newspaper.— It is very probable that forty or fifty men will be banished from Afghanistan on the charge of their being spies of the English.

"Refutation.-If it be known that they spread falsehood and create ill-will between the two countries, they will not be banished from the country, but put to death at once, and thus be banished from this world altogether.

Newspaper.— Those who believe that the Amir is a friend of the British should explain the following: (1) Why should the Amir be averse to the English? (2) Why did the Amir imprison so many British subjects ? (3) Why did the Amir restrict his subjects from conversing with the British Agent ? (4) Why did the Amir allow the notorious outlaw Chikai to wage war in Turi and destroy the people ? (5) Why are so many persons punished on suspicion of being British spies ?

" Refutation.(1) Had not the Amir been friendly to the English, the traders would not have been protected so well from the hands of the Afghans. The sole enmity is because the Amir has kindly treated Mr. Martin and other Indian traders. (2) The subjects of any country who commit crimes in other States are naturally sent to prison in those States. (3) People conversing with the ambassador disturb their minds, and consequently foment other evils. It is not good that the people should have intercourse with ambassadors from other States ; it is therefore much better that they should be interdicted. (4) How long should the people of Afghanistan suffer from the hands of the Turis ? and consequently the Amir has been obliged to take revenge. The Afghans patiently suffered the aggressions of the Turis for twelve years, but cannot keep patience any longer. (5) It is better that those who distribute the apple of discord should not exist.

" Newspaper.—The Amir has several times declared in Durbar that if the English were allowed to construct railways in the country, they would soon overcome the people and take possession of Afghanistan.

" Refutation.-Twice before the English have been unsuccessful in keeping possession of Afghanistan. They are not likely to try it again. But it is unfortunate that we, the people of Afghanistan, have neither the ability nor power enough to open railways.

" Newspaper.— It is wrong to believe that the people of Afghanistan do not understand the value of railways. There is no reason that a people who are adopting English manners, and using English boots and English coats, should not value the advantages of railways. But it is the Amir alone who thinks that the English would cheat him, and that their intention to construct railways in Afghanistan is founded on such treacherous motives.

Refutation. As regards the treacherous designs assigned by the correspondent to the British Government, the Government should honour him with a khillat (dress of honour or other reward), and treat him very courteously, and should be happy with their own free laws.” [“This is sarcasm.”] “But as regards Afghanistan, when order is fully restored in the country, and an arny of six or seven hundred thousand will be ready, then will be the fit occasion for the construction of railways, but not till then."*

* This is perfectly true, for nothing short of a large army could protect railways through Afghanistan from every kind of depredation.


[ocr errors][merged small]

Newspaper.—The Amir well knows that in case the railway is constructed as far as Kabul, he would not be able to carry on his intrigues with Russia." (There can be only one reply to such a calumny, and that reply is given in the following “refutation.”).

Refutation. If the Amir be supposed to have opened a secret correspondence with Russia, or intends to do so in future, who could prevent his doing so ? He is independent.

Newspaper.--The answer to those who affirm that the Amir shall never be against the English, since it was through the latter that he got the throne and Amirship of Afghanistan, would be that the Amir knows at the same time that he got the throne through Russia also. When the Amir was driven out of his country, and there was no place of refuge for him, Russia treated him so well that he remained to succeed to the throne of Kabul, and came to the scene at the proper moment. Besides, the British Government has not given over the throne of Afghanistan simply to oblige him. The throne of Kabul was given to the Amir because none could be found to control and govern the country, and the British Government pays a large annuity to the Amir that he may not join Russia.

Refutation. The Amir knows that the country belongs to God. He alone is the bestower. No man can possibly give over a country to another. “Thou honoureth whomsoever thou wisheth, and putteth to shame whomsoever thou wisheth. Thou art all-powerful.' The Amir, through God's favour and his own knowledge, because God has given him knowledge, took the reins of government of the country of his own people frorn the hands of a foreign empire whose people were always in great danger and disquietude from the hands and tongues of the Afghans. He then quieted his own people at a time when there was none to govern and control the country, and there is none else even now. And the reason which the English put forth, has been asserted over the Amirs of Afghanistan since many years. But this is not a new thing.

Newspaper.--A man named Nur Ahmed Khan took the contract of vegetables and fruits for one hundred thousand rupees. The contract continued for two years. Meanwhile, he eluded the officers, and made away with fifteen thousand rupees. On the Amir being apprised of this, he ordered the man to be prosecuted. Nur Ahmed Khan got due notice of this, and when they came to capture him it was found, after a long and fruitless search, that he had run away with all his money and furniture and his family. The Amir has now ordered that every person of his tribe, wherever he be, should be seized, and the sum of fifteen thousand rupees realized from them.

Refutation. The vegetables and the fruits have never been given on contract in Afghanistan. The correspondent has created all these green and yellow gardens from his vivid imagination. There is no such person as Nur Ahmed said to be a contractor. And even supposing that any man absconds with public money, and runs away, or remains at home, his tribe and relations would be required to clear themselves of any complicity in his crimes. And whenever any tribe is informed of such wrong-doing they should watch the wicked persons. If wicked people commit offences

and are not checked by their tribesmen, the tribesmen become abettors, since they were aware of the crime and did not inform the Government, but preferred to remain quiet. This silence proves that they were partners in the crime. The functions of a Government are to punish and suppress crime, and thus have its influence felt. The correspondent is evidently ignorant of this great secret. It is not within the capacities of every weaver and menial."* “Dated 5th Shaban, 1309 A. H.”

The Amir's notice of attacks in the Press may not seem to some to be of great importance, but it, at any rate, indicates which way the wind blows and the inconveniences that may be caused by irresponsible and subservient papers. There is no danger to India except from the ambition of certain officials. There is no necessity for warlike preparations, for the construction of military roads or even for a railway to Kandahar.+ The question is not how can we best fight Russia, but is there any necessity for fighting her at all ? There is none, if we leave the Buffer-States alone and if we strengthen an independent Afghanistan. We have a score of Hindukush-Circassias between ourselves and the Russian outposts in Central Asia, which no command of a Black Sea can circumvent, even after a struggle of 36 years for the possession of each one of them. Behind, but not in front of, these “Circassias," stands British India in an impregnable position, with unlimited supplies from the Indian Continent or Seaboard. Pushed forward, we confront an enemy that then, in his own turn, commands an uninterrupted supply of men and material on his own territory and from nearer bases of operations, not to speak of the military Cantonments and Colonies that have so skilfully been advanced during a generation. In a race for battle we must be lost, for no system of fortifications yet

* This may be an allusion to the class of persons that are often employed as correspondents or spies.

+ With Pishîn in our hands, we can control Kandahar within a week, in the event of a War, without, in times of peace, rousing Afghan suspicions by the construction of a railway to Kandahar. We also require no British agents at Kabul, Kandahar and Herat, as they may try to justify their appointment by interfering in Afghan affairs. Telegraphic communications of information, that had better “ keep,” are also not wanted, and the existing restrictions on trade are matters for the Amir and the traders concerned.

« 이전계속 »