Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Afghanistan timeline 1901-1910
His eldest son, Habibullah Khan, succeeds to the throne with an absence of disturbance or even excitement that is almost unexpected. Habibullah has been carefully trained by his father in all branches of the administration. Since 1897 he has had control of the State Treasury and Exchequer, and has been the Supreme Court of Appeal from all courts, ecclesiastical and secular. He acted as regent for his father during his prolonged absence in Turkestan, and distinguished himself by the intelligence and sobriety of his administration. He is said to be popular with the people and with the army; he knows English fairly well and is believed to entertain very friendly sentiments towards the British government. After his accession he raises the pay of the army, and he is said to be going to adopt a much more liberal trade policy than his father and to reduce the poll tax on Hindus. His reception of Muslim gentlemen sent by the government of India in November to condole with him on the death of his father and to congratulate him on his own accession is cordial in the extreme. He also issues a proclamation inviting the return of exiles from India, and many of them are expected to go back.
The immediate prospects of the new amir are decidedly favourable. The possible competitors for the throne are few in number, and none of them are at present dangerous. Habibullah Khan's position has been much strengthened by the marriages his father made for him with the families of the leading chiefs. Nasrullah Khan , the late amir's next son, is his full brother, and is destitute of ability, ambition, or influence. His half-brother, Mohammad Omar, whose mother is of high rank and of much ability and ambition, might give trouble, but he is only a boy of twelve, and his mother's great supporter, the commander-in-chief, Gholam Haidar Khan , has lately died. The nearest collateral heir is Ishak Khan , the son of amir Azim Khan, and consequently the first cousin once removed of the new amir. Much was heard of him in his early days; he was notorious for his debauchery and cruelty, and he was hated in Kabul, where he was regarded as a maniac. The late amir endeavoured to conciliate him, but he rebelled against him, and after showing conspicuous cowardice and incompetency fled to Russian territory. He is now a man of fifty; he is not likely to attempt, or to be allowed to attempt, any movement, and should he do so, he would hardly be dangerous. The two sons of the amir Shir Ali Khan, Yakub Khan , who was allowed to succeed his father, but was deposed for not preventing Louis Cavagnari 's murder, and Ayub Khan, who defeated the British at Maiwand, are still political prisoners in India, and are not likely to be let loose.
The first year of Habibullah Khan's reign passes without any internal disturbance, or event of importance. Gen. Mir Attar Khan , who was imprisoned by the late amir, is released and reinstated in his old post of commander-in-chief, or rather of Naib, or deputy commander-in-chief, for this is the title by which the successors of the late Gen. Gholam Haidar Khan in the command of the Army have been designated. The amir is said to be reluctant to confer the full appointment on anyone, and there is a belief current that he is likely to keep it for Yahya Khan, whose daughter, whom he lately married, has become his favourite wife. Yahya Khan is at present in great favour with the amir, and his position in Kabul not unnaturally excites the jealousy both of the amir's own relatives and of the leading chiefs and sardars. There are rumours of intrigues in favour of the amir's youngest half-brother, Mohammad Omar, but they seem to die away, and towards the end of the year Mohammad Omar is reported to be in delicate health. There are also rumours that the amir's full brother, Nasrullah Khan , has fallen into disgrace, and even that he has been imprisoned. These are, as usual, followed by complete denials, and assurances that the best feeling exists between the two brothers.
It is said that the amir intends to put in force the plan of compulsory military service devised by his father, by which one-eighth of the male population will be passed into or through the Army. He also directs the governor of Jalalabad to raise regiments of Afridis, some of whom are to be employed as a bodyguard at Kabul. But this intention causes so much discontent amongst the Afghans that it has to be abandoned, and orders are issued to stop recruiting. It is said that although many Afridis at first came forward as recruits they soon found that the promises of pay and allowances held out to them were not fulfilled, and the tribesmen who wish to take foreign service much prefer the certainties they can obtain from the British government.
The relations of Habibullah Khan with the British government are reportedly of the most friendly nature throughout the year, and he orders his officers on the frontier to prevent all outlaws from British territory from entering Afghanistan. He is reported to have said in durbar that he found by experience that a mild rule was unsuited to the Afghans, and that he has consequently ordered the revival of his father's Secret Intelligence Department. But although the domestic history of Afghanistan during 1902 is comparatively colourless, a very important move is made or attempted by Russia in what may be called its foreign policy. The Russian government suggests to the British government that whilst it fully recognizes the existing agreement between the two countries by which it is precluded from direct diplomatic intercourse with Afghanistan, it would be of the greatest convenience if the Russian and Afghan officials on the frontier were allowed to communicate direct with one another for commercial purposes only. To this proposal the British foreign secretary, Lord Lansdowne, answers that before expressing any opinion on it he would like to know exactly what it means. As to what takes place since, no information is given to the public, except that correspondence is ongoing. But if there is any doubt of the true meaning of the Russian proposals this is removed by the Russian press, which declares openly that the time has come that the agreement excluding Russia from Afghanistan should be set aside and that Russia should insist on as full commercial and political intercourse with that country as is enjoyed by England itself.
Early 1902The Hadda mullah, Najibuddin, visits Kabul and is received by the amir with great favour and distinction. It is first reported that the amir is completely under his influence; then it is said that he is virtually a prisoner, and that the amir never visits him. Towards the end of the year he is sent back to his own country, with an allowance of Rs. 16,000 a year. Badakhshan, from Kabul to the Oxus, and from Balkh to Bala Murghab, on the Russian frontier. Persia and Afghanistan, reaches the Helmand, and is joined by the Afghan commissioner on February 12. The work is said to proceed satisfactorily. A joint Afghan and British commission was appointed to demarcate the boundary between the two countries, from Nawa Kila, where Sir Richard Udny left off in 1895, to the Peiwar, where Mr. Donald began on the Kurram side.
Early 1903The amir is compelled to abandon his project of forming a bodyguard of Afridis owing to the jealousy which it excited, and those who were enlisted are disbanded and sent back to their homes, and their rifles are taken back from them. cholera at Kabul, which proves fatal to more than one of the amir's leading officials. The amir himself remains in Kabul throughout the outbreak, doing his utmost to allay the alarm, and personally superintending sanitary reforms.
Late 1903It is reported that the amir's half-brother, Mohammad Omar, is suspected of intriguing against him, and that there is a serious dispute between the amir and Mohammad Omar's mother about family jewels.
Early summer 1904The amir injures his hand whilst snipe shooting, and the viceroy at his request sends his own doctor to Kabul to treat him. The treatment is entirely successful, and the amir's pleasure at this is possibly helpful in paving the way for the despatch of the special mission under Louis Dane , the Indian foreign secretary, which leaves Peshawar on November 26 and reaches Kabul on December 12. Its work is reported to be progressing very satisfactorily.
The nature of this work is not made public, but it is not difficult to conjecture what must be the most important points in the discussion between the amir and Mr. Dane. In the first place, Russia, despite her Far Eastern difficulties and disasters, has by no means lost sight of Afghanistan. Both in Turkestan and the north and towards Herat in the south the Russian railway system is fast being completed to within striking distance of the frontier; the question of direct commercial relations between Russian and Afghan officials on the frontier appears to be still open, and Russia can easily create local trouble whenever it suits her to do so. No doubt the amir likes to know what help Britain would give him in a case of "unprovoked aggression," and, on the other hand, the Indian government likes to know how far the amir can defend himself, what number of troops he can put into the field, and what is their state of efficiency. The relations of the amir and of the Indian government with the tribes on the North-West Frontier also require further adjustment.
A formal settlement was arrived at when what is known as the Durand Boundary was agreed on, and the present amir at first seemed anxious that the work of demarcating this boundary should be completed, but latterly he appears to have changed his mind, and the work has been suspended. Lastly, it is thought that an endeavour might be made to secure greater facilities for trade between Afghanistan and India. Whilst the foreign secretary is engaged in important work with the amir at Kabul the amir's eldest son, Inayatullah Khan, is paying a visit to the viceroy at Calcutta. As he is only a lad of sixteen his visit is only regarded as a social one, but one which may bear good fruit later if he comes to the throne.
Early 1905The amir issues a proclamation inviting the Hazaras to return, and allowing them till October to do so. A large number of them accordingly return during the summer, and many of the leading supporters of Shir Ali who were exiles in India since his overthrow also seek and obtain permission to return to their homes. Habibullah Khan, of the treaty formerly made with his father, with an increase of his annual subsidy from twelve to eighteen lakhs of rupees, but the relations between him and Dane were throughout of the most cordial and intimate character, and all matters affecting the interests of the amir and the government of India were fully and freely discussed. It is thought in some British quarters that more might have been obtained from the amir, but it is seen as far better to accept what he was prepared to offer of his own free will than to obtain larger concessions from him by pressure.
Suggestions which have been put forward that there should be a British resident in Kabul, that British officers should be lent to organize the Afghan army, or that railways should be pushed forward into Afghanistan to connect its chief cities with British India, so that they might be at once garrisoned by British troops in case of threatened attack, are all open to the objection that any such steps would arouse the deepest resentment amongst the people. As it is, Britain secures the friendship and confidence of the amir, who shows the change in his relations with Britain by drawing the arrears of his subsidy, which he had declined to receive for some time, and employing the money to strengthen the defenses of his country. On the evening before the mission left Kabul its members were entertained at dinner by the amir, who had Dane on his right, whilst the other officers were placed between the chief men of his court. This was the first time that he or they had eaten with infidels.
Summer 1906The amir makes a three months' tour of inspection through Jalalabad and the adjoining districts, and during his absence Sardar Nasrullah Khan acts as governor of Kabul with considerable success. Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 1st Earl of Minto), the amir reaches Landi Kotal and, on January 28, Calcutta, after witnessing a grand review of some 30,000 troops at Agra, with which he is said to have been much impressed. From Calcutta he proceeds to Bombay, where he arrives on February 12. He leaves by sea on February 25 for Karachi, landing on the 27th, and leaves Peshawar on his return home on March 7. The arrangement that no political questions should be discussed was strictly adhered to; the visit was purely for the exchange of personal courtesies and for enabling the amir to gain as great a general knowledge of India as was possible in so short a time. He appears to have been most genuinely pleased with his reception, but on his return to Afghanistan the more fanatical of his subjects express great dissatisfaction at his eating with Europeans. Nothing however comes of this, and if any outward signs of it are shown they are speedily suppressed.
- The British government disclaims any intention of changing the political position in Afghanistan, and undertakes neither to take measures in Afghanistan, nor to encourage Afghanistan to take measures, threatening Russia. The Russian government recognizes Afghanistan as outside the Russian sphere of influence, and agrees to act in all political relations with Afghanistan through the British government, and it also undertakes to send no agents to Afghanistan.
- Britain adheres to the provisions of the treaty of Kabul of March 21, 1905, and undertakes not to annex or to occupy, contrary to the said treaty, any part of Afghanistan, or to intervene in the internal administration. The reservation is made that the amir shall fulfil the engagements contracted by him in the aforementioned treaty.
- Russian and Afghan officials especially appointed for that purpose on the frontier, or in the frontier provinces, may enter into direct relations in order to settle local questions of a non-political character.
- Russia and Britain declare that they recognize the principle of equality of treatment for commerce, and agree that all facilities acquired already or in the future for British and Anglo-Indian commerce and merchants shall be equally applied to Russian commerce and merchants.
- These arrangements are not to come into force until Britain has notified to Russia the amir's assent to them. The general effect is merely to maintain the status quo; it is to the advantage of England that Russia shall definitely renounce all right to treat directly with Afghanistan, while on the other hand the grant of commercial equality is a decided gain to Russia.
Summer 1910A joint British and Afghan commission appointed to settle tribal disputes arising out of raids and counter-raids on each side of the British-Afghan border commences its work, starting from the Kurram Valley . Its labours are brought to a satisfactory conclusion before the close of the year. The agreement reached provides that outlaws from either side shall be removed to a distance of not less than fifty miles from the border, and orders to give effect to this within British territory are at once issued.
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