Thursday, June 28, 2012

Peshawur Khyber Pass War Elephant

 Peshawur Khyber Pass Elephant Battery GRAPHIC 1878

With the spread of Russia's sphere of influence in Central Asia, British foreign policy in the 19th century was motivated by fears of their Indian Empire being vulnerable to Russian moves southwards. The Anglo-Russian rivalry in Asia, termed the Great Game, precipitated the Second Afghan War. The British were trying to establish a permanent mission at Kabul which the Amir Sher Ali, trying to keep a balance between the Russians and British, would not permit. The arrival of a Russian diplomatic mission in Kabul in 1878 increased British suspicions of Russian influence and ultimately led to them invading Afghanistan.
The Khyber Pass is bounded on the east by the Peshawar Valley. Now the capital of Pakistan's North-west Frontier Province, Peshawar or 'frontier town' was given its name by Akbar because of its proximity to the Khyber Pass. It lies within a horseshoe ring of hills on the edge of the mountain range which separates Pakistan from Afghanistan. Its origins are ancient and it was a flourishing Buddhist pilgrimage site under the Kushanas nearly 2000 years ago. It was an important regional capital under the Mughals from the 16th century. With their decline it passed to the Durranis of Afghanistan, but was taken by the Sikhs in 1823. The British defeated the Sikhs and brought Peshawar under their control in 1849. They built a cantonment adjacent to the old town, and established it as their frontier headquarters.

Second Afghan War  1876

A monsoon failure began a terrible famine in 1876 that was especially devastating in Madras and Mysore but also affected Hyderabad, Bombay, and the United Provinces. The rains failed again in 1877. About 36 million people were affected, and an estimated five and a half million died of disease and starvation. Mysore tried local relief efforts, and its Government bought up large quantities of grain. Viceroy Lytton complained that they needed high prices to stimulate imports and limit consumption, but high prices caused the poor to starve. They reacted by fixing wages for relief work so high that many who did not need the jobs as badly went there. Richard Temple and the finance minister John Strachey believed that mitigating the suffering had to be tempered by economic considerations, and Temple was appointed Famine Commissioner in January 1877. He found that in Madras many were getting relief who did not need it. The imperial Government sent General Kennedy to Madras to organize relief works on a much larger scale, and he reduced the number of those receiving gratuitous relief. Between January and September 1877 Temple increased those employed in relief work from under a half million to over two million. Rains came in the fall, and relief operations were phased out in 1878.
The Government of India lost £2.5 million of land revenue and spent £11 million on famine relief compared to the £6.5 million spent in Bihar where very few had died. However, proportionately this was less, and the economizing caused the loss of many lives. General Strachey headed the Famine Commission, which recommended in 1880 that they add 5,000 miles of railways and more irrigation works, especially in precarious areas. They described six basic principles for famine relief.
1. Employment must be provided for those in need without putting others out of work.
2. The state should distribute raw grain or money in villages rather than feed people in poorhouses and temporary camps except in extreme cases.
3. Government should allow private commerce to supply and distribute food whenever possible.
4. Loans should be made for purchasing seed grain and bullocks and to landlords while suspending rents.
5. Local administrators should have responsibility for expenditures unless extra assistance is needed, especially for water storage.
6. Migration of cattle from drought areas to grassy forests may be facilitated.
These recommendations were generally accepted. Strachey proposed setting aside £1.5 million annually for famine relief, and this insurance fund reduced the borrowing for public works. A new Famine Code was promulgated in 1883.
During the worst part of the famine in 1877 the Parliament obliviously removed the five-percent import duty on manufactured cotton goods which Northbrook and the Council had opposed doing. The Government of India was thus short of money while it was also spending much on the war in Afghanistan. The Indian Whipping Act had been passed in 1864, and the number of judicial floggings reached a high of 75,223 in 1878. Wasudeo Balwant Phadke blamed the misery in India on the foreign rulers, and after the famine he tried to organize an armed rebellion in Bombay. He and about 45 men robbed the village shops of Dhamari in February 1879. He used the money from this and other robberies to hire five hundred Rohillas, giving him nine hundred armed men. However, Phadke was captured in July and was transported for life for waging war against the Queen. Also in 1879 Lytton forced through the removal of duties on coarser cotton goods. Varied salt duties had required a customs line of almost 2,000 miles of thorny hedges and walls guarded by an army of 8,000 men. Lytton made salt a Government monopoly with uniform duties. The tax on salt was less than three farthings per pound, but it gave the Government an annual revenue of more than £7 million. The Viceroy made it even harder for Indians to pass civil service exams in England by reducing the maximum age to 19 in 1877. Two years later he opened one-sixth of the covenanted service positions to Indians, but they had to be approved by the Governor-General-in-Council. The conservative Lytton also enacted the Vernacular Press Act against sedition in native-language newspapers with the argument that they were more susceptible than English readers, but his liberal successor got this repealed.
Major Robert Sandeman, who had skillfully settled disputes on the border of Dera Ghazi Khan's district in the Punjab with the Bugti and Mufti tribes, was sent to calm the quarrels between Khudadad Khan of Kalat and his local chiefs. In July 1876 they were reconciled. Viceroy Lytton sent Col. George Pomeroy Colley with a force to make a secret treaty with Khudadad at Jacobabad in December. The Khan received an increased subsidy and agreed to let the British build a railroad and telegraph lines through his territory so that they could occupy Quetta, where Sandeman became the British agent for Baluchistan. The Act of 1876 made Queen Victoria sovereign over the Indian states as of the beginning of 1877. Lytton wanted to send Lewis Pelly to Kabul to announce his becoming viceroy and Victoria's inauguration as Empress of India, but Afghanistan's Amir Sher Ali refused to receive a British envoy. Instead he suggested that the native agent Atta Muhammad go from Kabul to Simla, and the British promised him money and arms against unprovoked aggression and recognition of Sher Ali's son Abdulla Jan as his heir. Lytton also implied threats that Afghanistan could be smashed between Russia and England or be wiped out by both of them.
Amir Sher Ali sent his minister Nur Muhammad Shah to meet with the British envoy Lewis Pelly at Peshawar in January 1877. Negotiations broke down upon the Amir's refusal to accept a British agent in Afghanistan, and a few days later Nur Muhammad died of illness. After the British put a garrison in Quetta, Sher Ali sent troops to Qandahar. While the Russo-Turkish War raged, Lytton recognized the Maharaja of Kashmir's authority over the chiefs of Chitral and Yasin, whom Sher Ali wanted to control.
In June 1878 Konstantin Petrovich Kaufmann, the Russian governor-general of Turkestan, sent General Stolietoff from Tashkent to Kabul with troops and a draft treaty offering Russian support to Amir Sher Ali against external aggression and recognition of his son Abdulla Jan as his heir. Because the Russians might turn to his nephew Abdur Rahman, Sher Ali reluctantly received the Russian in July. However, news of Russian and English agreement on the Berlin Treaty caused Stolietoff to withdraw quickly. Abdulla Jan died on August 17, the day Sher Ali received a message from Indian emissary Gholam Hussain that a British mission was coming. A month later he sent back a message threatening resistance unless "conciliatory letters" were sent.
Neville Bowles Chamberlain led the British contingent and left Peshawar on September 21, but they were turned back at the Khyber Pass. British public opinion was outraged, but John Lawrence wrote a letter to the London Times asking, "Have not the Afghans a right to resist our forcing a mission on them, bearing in mind to what such missions often lead, and what Burma's mission in 1837 did actually bring upon them?"4 Despite Gladstone's warnings, both houses of Parliament approved the war and put the cost on India. Lytton sent Sher Ali an ultimatum, demanding an apology and acceptance of a British mission in Afghanistan by November 20. Sher Ali fled to Russian Turkestan in December and died in February. General Frederick Roberts led a British army through the Kurram Pass to Kabul, and General Donald Stewart occupied Qandahar. Already the Punjabis complained they had lost 80,000 animals to starvation.
Before he left Kabul, Sher Ali had released his oldest son Yakub Khan from prison. Yakub negotiated with Major Louis Cavagnari and signed the Treaty of Gandamak on May 26, 1879. Yakub Khan was recognized as Amir, accepted a permanent British representative in Kabul, and ceded to the British the Khyber Pass, Kurram Valley, and Pishin and Sibi by Baluchistan. The British agreed to pay him 6 lakhs of rupees annually, remove their troops from Afghanistan, and defend him from foreign aggression. Cavagnari was knighted for his diplomatic success and became the first British Resident at Kabul in July. However, as Lawrence and others had predicted, he and his staff of two hundred were murdered on September 3 by mutinous troops from Herat.
General Stewart was still in Qandahar, and he sent General Roberts with 6,000 men to avenge the massacre. They defeated a small Afghan force at Charasiab and entered Kabul in October. Yakub Khan abdicated and was sent to India, where Lytton refused to consider restoring him because he blamed him for Cavagnari's death. Roberts had 87 people hanged for suspected complicity in the massacre or for resisting the British; those not cooperating with British foragers had their villages burned. Muhammad Jan gathered more than 20,000 Afghan warriors north of Kabul by December; but the British beat back their attacks, and by Christmas they had dispersed. In March 1880 the war, which had been estimated to cost £6 million so far, had already spent £11 million. Because the British would not withdraw from an Afghanistan in chaos, the operations were expected to cost another £7 million by the end of the year.
A British force from Bombay was sent to Qandahar, and General Stewart led his 7,000 men through a fight at Ghazni to Kabul by May 3, 1880. Partly because of his Afghan policy, Disraeli's party lost the election, and he resigned on April 28. Lytton was trying to break up Afghanistan but also resigned. Prime Minister William Gladstone appointed the liberal George Ripon as viceroy, and he arrived in June. Although Abdur Rahman, Sher Ali's nephew, had found refuge in Russian territory, he agreed to the British terms and was proclaimed the Amir of Kabul on July 22. Ayub Khan, the brother of Yakub Khan, was governing Herat, and he marched on Qandahar, where Sher Ali Khan had been proclaimed an independent governor; he appealed to the British. General James Primrose had less than 6,000 men, and he sent General George Burrows with about 2,500 men. Ayub Khan had 16,000 men, and at Maiwand they gave the British their worst defeat by Asians, killing 969 British soldiers and most of their baggage animals. Hearing of this, General Roberts with help from Abdur Rahman led 10,000 men from Kabul, and after marching 318 miles they defeated Ayub Khan's army outside of Qandahar on August 9. Ayub Khan lost nearly 3,000 men and fled back to Herat. Sher Ali Khan was persuaded to retire in India on a pension, and Abdur Rahman took over Qandahar province in April 1881. Later that year Ayub Khan marched on Qandahar again and defeated them; but Abdur Rahman led his forces to victory over Ayub Khan, who fled to Persia.
Abdur Rahman had become the ruler of all Afghanistan with an annual subsidy of 12 lakhs of rupees. The British had spent £17.5 million on an unnecessary war because of an irrational fear of Russian power. Frederick Roberts agreed with Lawrence that the forward policy had failed. He believed that if the Russians went into Afghanistan, they would have the same problems or worse. Viceroy Ripon was able to reduce military expenditures.

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