« ElőzőTovább »
and the Pishín valley. Communications between Quetta and India were in some measure strengthened between 1880 and 1885; but there was a marked disinclination, whether in Calcutta or in London, to resume a forward movement. With the incident of Panjdah and the events of 1885, activity was resumed. Communications with Quetta by rail and road were hastily recommenced, and unremittingly pushed on. Shortly afterwards, the first of a series of forward movements was made which, when regarded separately and severally, have not been of startling magnitude, but which, taken together, have very materially advanced the frontier from south-west to north-west, parallel to the course of the Indus. Thus the Zhob and adjacent countries have been occupied. Further to the north-west, under an agreement with the Amir, the Kuram valley and Waziristan have been brought under British control. To the further north-west, again, the tribal country sometimes known as Yaghistan has been encircled by territory held under British domination. By the overthrow of the late chiefs of Hunza, Nagar, and Chitral, the supremacy of the British Government has been carried to the Pamirs. Finally, on the extreme north-west frontier of India, the control of Kashmir has passed practically under the Indian Government. In 1884, a British resident, such as he is found in Hyderabad or Gwalior, was for the first time appointed to Kashmir. In 1889, the Maharaja, who had recently succeeded to the throne, was set aside as incompetent, and in his place a Council of Regency was established under the control and direction of the Resident. The resources, responsibilities, and claims of the Kashmir Darbar passed directly into British hands, and it was in vindication of the rights of the Darbar that the rulers of the adjoining native states of Hunza, Nagar, and Chitral were successively deposed, and their authority replaced by British or nominally by Kashmir control. The accompanying sketch map, which is based on maps in Mr. Thorburn's Asiatic Neighbours, will convey an idea of the extent of territory brought within the area of these operations. (In those maps, I observe, Kashmir itself has disappeared, and is incorporated in India.) There has thus been formed beyond the Indus a new dominion and protectorate, within the British pale, and under the supreme control of the Government of India. It may or may not in part be claimed openly as British territory. In part it may at present be only within what is called the political, as distinct from what may be termed the fiscal or actual frontier. But whatever its nominal position, its suzerain, if not in every case its immediate master, is the British Government. British troops are cantoned within it. British residents, directly or indirectly, administer it. British authority is supreme within it. Its area, population, and resources are but vaguely estimated at present. It is still in course of completion. There is one great gap within it; and before it is fully rounded off, the tribal country between the Chitral State and the Peshawar valley must be subsidised or subdued. At present, though the territories composing this new province have been subjected to the permanent authority of the Government of India, they have not been in their entirety absorbed into it. To form a forecast of the probabilities of a peaceful or violent settlement with the tribes, it is necessary to glance at the characteristics, on the one hand, of the occupants of the tribal country of Yaghistan; on the other, to examine a little more closely the events which have brought the Government of India into im
mediate contact with them. The policy which has characterised that Government in the advance towards them, and has found its latest expression in the assertion of supremacy in Chitral, will thus be more clearly understood.
Of the characteristics of the tribes there never has been or can be any question. Their country is 'Yaghistan,' the land of the turbulent. Sir Henry Fowler accurately described them as distinguished by the fierceness of their fanaticism, their love of independence, and their fear of annexation. Since we first came into contact with them, after we had gained possession of the Punjab, they have been animated by uniform hatred of us, which has resulted in some of the most serious fighting experienced by the army in India since 1857. Brief extracts from Mr. Thorburn's description of them may be cited, as summing up the unvarying experience of their character. Enclosed between the southern limits of the Gilgit agency on the north, Kashmir and the British district of Hazara on the east, Peshawar and the Khaibar Kabul route as far as Landi Kotal on the south, and Northern Afghanistan just west of the Kunar or Chitral river on the west, lies a square block of difficult mountains. ... The whole tract measures roughly 125 miles from east to west, by fifty from north to south, and encloses an area of about 6,000 square miles. It is a maze of lofty and precipitous ranges, whose lowest passes are closed by snow for half the
Each community lives from generation to generation in ignorance of most occurrences beyond its own narrow, snowbound horizon. They are, of course, all Muhammadan and priest-ridden.' Mr. Thorburn estimates their fighting strength at 80,000. The Bonerwals he describes as 'simple, austere, religious, and patriotic. All they desire is to be left alone.' The Swátis are bigoted and entirely priest-ridden;' but he adds, notwithstanding, that being naturally peaceful, they would presumably welcome our annexation of their valley, should such a costly and probably useless forward move be ever undertaken. The presumption would surely seem the other way, in the case of a bigoted and entirely priest-ridden tribe. The Mohmands, we are told, are a strong, turbulent people, until lately marauders and robbers by inclination and circumstance, and peaceful only when afraid or bought over.
These clans and tribes are independent of one another, owning no one common head, vassals to no lord, amenable only to priestly influence, divided by blood feuds and distracted by intestine quarrels. It is this peculiarity in their organisation which has made and makes impossible the adoption, in their case, of the policy which, under Jacob and Frere on the south-west frontier, succeeded with the Biluch tribes. There, if the chief or khan can be settled with, the whole brotherhood or clan submits. The body obeys the impulse emanating from the nerve centre. But in the north-west there is no such community of interest, or subordination of clan, brotherhood, or tribe, to the paramount influence of great tribal chiefs.
Such is the inflammable matter with which the Government of British India now finds itself in immediate contact. It may be that, by direct and indirect subsidies, peace will be for a time preserved. But if all precedent and experience are guides, there can be only one ultimate issue. Our own experience in India and the history of the Russian advance in Central Asia prove to demonstration that when a civilised power and a turbulent semi-civilised predatory tribe come together, circumstances sooner or later bring about the subjugation of the latter. The Punjab, the Caucasus, Central Asia, if not Hunza and Chitral, are evidence. It is scarcely worth while insisting on a probability so universally admitted. None seem to be more painfully apprehensive on the point than the present Government of India, whose language in May last plainly indicated the anxiety with which they contemplate proximity with the tribes. • If amicable relations,' they write, can be established with the tribes, not only would it be easier to retain for them the autonomy which we should desire to conserve,' but also less costly. If amicable relations cannot be established with the tribes, and not only established but maintained, what then of the autonomy which it is desired to conserve ? It has been stated that fear of the Maxim gun and the Lee-Metford rifle has disarmed the hostility of the tribes; and the feeble character of the opposition to General Low's force is pointed to as evidence of the assertion. But it
But it may be reasonably conjectured that Sir Robert Low's force was not more generally opposed because its advance was so rapid and so unexpected that combination among the tribesmen was made impossible. The Government of India dated its Proclamation, announcing its intentions, on the 14th of March, but some days elapsed before it could reach the tribes. On the 1st of April, the British force was launched upon its way. It is as yet much too early to congratulate ourselves on the submission of any section of the tribes. The ardent assurances of correspondents at Simla, desirous of smoothing over difficulties, rouse the doubts which they are intended to allay. The prominence which is given in English journals to these assurances is denied to the frequent paragraphs which appear in Indian papers describing acts of hostility on the part of the tribesmen. It may be that civilisation and submission are finding their way even into those savage breasts and mountain fastnesses; that 'the tribes will be glad to get the money, and that the people will be induced to adopt more regular habits. It is a consummation devoutly to be wished. But even to attain our end in this way, Indian revenues must be freely spent. All that the Government of India dares to hope for, even should affairs take the most favourable turn, is that the cost of securing our frontier may be greatly reduced.' War or peace, autonomy or annexation, whichever it may prove to be, one thing only is certain : a prolonged strain upon the Indian revenues, and increase in frontier expenditure.
The policy adopted towards Kashmir and the small native States of Hunza, Nagar, and Chitral best illustrates the views and the designs which have of late years guided the Government of India. There is little hope, unless that policy is reversed, that the risks of collision with the tribes of Yaghistan may be lessened by our forbearance. The Chitralaffair has been but the latest milestone marking the advance of the Government of India. Its true significance lies in its relation to preceding events, and to the light which it throws on the final designs of those whose policy brought it about. The history of our recent relations with the states on our north-west frontier may be read in Blue Books. In 1884 Lord Ripon informed the Kashmir Darbar, which up to that year had been independent of British authority, that on the approaching death of the then Maharaja a British Resident would be appointed to Kashmir, and that, for the future, the British representative in Kashmir would have the same status and duties as the political residents in subordinate alliance with the British Government. Lord Ripon's object, as may be judged from the character of his rule in India, no less than from the terms of his despatch, was to introduce much-needed reforms into Kashmir administration, and to bring relief to the oppressed subjects of the Maharaja. Shortly afterwards, in 1885, the Maharaja died; and in 1888 his son and successor, presumably under pressure of the Resident, appointed a Council to aid him in the administration of his State. In 1889 the Maharaja retired voluntarily, we are told, from the control of State affairs, and the Council which he had nominated was dissolved. A new Council was constituted, under the presidency of one of the Maharaja's brothers. Its character and functions, and the nature of the change which in five years had been effected in the authority by which Kashmir was administered, may be gathered from the instructions issued to the Resident. The Resident was to make the Maharaja and the members of Council thoroughly understand that although the Council will have full powers of administration, they will be expected to exercise those powers under the guidance of the Resident. They will take no step of importance without consulting him, and they will follow his advice whenever it may be offered.'
Within a month of the issue of these instructions, proposals for the re-establishment of a British Agency in Gilgit were submitted to the Secretary of State.
The advance of Russia up to the frontier of Afghanistan (wrote the Government of India on the 6th of May, 1889), and the great recent development of her military resources in Asia, have admittedly increased the necessity for strengthening our line of defence, and among the points requiring special attention are the northern passes of the Hindu Kush, which afford a difficult but not impracticable route for a force large enough to cause much excitement, if nothing worse, in Kashmir, and among the tribes of Bajour, and perhaps at Jelalabad, and on the Punjab frontier. We cannot afford to disregard this risk. Further, we cannot afford to permit any foreign Power to establish in time of peace its influence in the country.
The ruler of Chitral, it was added in that despatch, had more than once received with much cordiality English officers within his State. The chiefs of Hunza and Nagar had, of their own accord, asked for a visit from an English officer. This was in May 1889. Before three