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SIR DONALD STEWART REACHES KABUL interested satisfactorily concluded, and with the prospect of permanent results; and I dreaded that a change of Government might mean a reversal of the policy which I believed to be the best for the security of our position in India. Moreover, it was not in human nature to feel absolute satisfaction in yielding up the supreme command I had so greatly delighted in, into the hands of another, even though that other was one for whom I had so great a personal regard, and under whom I had already served in the field.

The amalgamated troops were now styled the Northern Afghanistan Field Force, and I retained the command of the two divisions at Kabul, with Major-General John Ross as second in command; while Major-General Hills was given the brigades from Kandahar, which now became the third division of the Force.

The idea in bringing Stewart away from Kandahar was that he should occupy Ghazni and Kabul; that my divisions should operate in Kohistan and in the direction of Bamian; that General Bright should move against the Ghilzais; and that a column from Kuram should march over the Shutargardan to Kabul. It was hoped that these operations would have the effect of quieting the country, and, by the time they had been carried out, it would be possible to evacuate northern Afghanistan.

With a view to having my divisions thoroughly efficient and mobile for the service they were expected to perform, I had largely replenished the numbers of my transport animals, which had suffered greatly from the strain put upon them in supplying the troops with food and other necessaries during the winter months; they had been continuously at work in the most inclement weather, numbers had died, and those that remained required to be carefully looked after and given complete rest to render them fit for the contemplated operations. Major Mark Heathcote, who had taken, at my particular request, the arduous charge of this department, wished to revert to regimental duty, so I applied for, and obtained, the services of Lieutenant Colonel R. Low* as Director of Transport, under whose energetic and intelligent management the transport service was rendered as perfect as it was possible to make it. In the end, circumstances prevented the concerted movements for which these preparations were made being carried out, but I reaped the benefit of them when later in the year I was required to undertake a rapid march to Kandahar, which could not possibly have been successfully accomplished had my transport not been in such admirable condition.

In order to relieve the great pressure put upon the Commissariat Department by having to provide for the increased number of troops at Kabul, and with a view to opening up the roads upon which traffic

*Now Major-General Sir Robert Low, G.C.B.


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467 Soon after this the situation began to improve, and early in July Mr. Griffin was able to inform the Government of India that the probabilities of a settlement with Abdur Rahman appear far more favourable than they did last week. . . .' 'Abdur Rahman has seen that we have been fully informed of the game he has been playing, that trickery and treachery would not be tolerated, and that, if he intends coming to a settlement with us at all, he must be prepared to accept our terms rather than dictate his own.'

A few days later a letter was received from Abdur Rahman, announcing his arrival in Kohistan. His near approach, and the report that he was willing to accept our terms, excited a keen and hopeful interest throughout the country, for the Afghans had at length become convinced that the only chance of getting rid of us was by agreeing to any form of settled government we might establish, and they had grown heartily tired of perpetual fighting and of having to maintain bands of ghazis to oppose us, who were eating them out of house and home. With the exception of the Sher Ali faction, therefore, whose interests were directly opposed to his, Abdur Rahman's advent was welcomed by the people, and several of the most influential amongst them went to meet him.

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Towards the end of July Sir Donald Stewart was empowered to conclude all political and military arrangements preparatory to withdrawing from northern Afghanistan. Abdur Rahman was to be recognized as Amir of Kabul'; he was to be provided with a sufficient number of guns to strengthen effectively his occupation of the city, and he was to be given as much money (within a maximum of ten lakhs) as was thought necessary to meet his present wants. It was to be clearly explained to Abdur Rahman that the Government of India would not engage to give him a regular subsidy, or a continuous supply of arms or money, and that after he had taken possession of his capital he would have to rely upon his own resources for holding it. There was to be no treaty, and all questions of reciprocal engagements between the two Governments were to be postponed until some settled and responsible administration had been consolidated.

General Stewart was directed to make the best arrangements he could with Abdur Rahman for the protection of the tribes and individuals who had assisted us, and the Sirdar was to be informed that, if he desired our goodwill, he could give no better proof of his friendly disposition than by his behaviour towards those of his own nation in whom the British Government were interested.

Sir Donald Stewart considered that the best way of giving effect to these instructions was to publicly proclaim Abdur Rahman as Amir of Kabul; for this purpose he held a durbar on the 22nd July, at which the Sirdar's representatives were received. Sir Donald, in a few words, gave his reasons for summoning them to meet him, and Mr.


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