Friday, 10 March 2017

Why the Agreement of Shuja Shah, HEIC, Ranjit Singh was Signed in 1838?

In 1747 when Ahmad Khan Abdali seized control of Kandahar, Kabul, and Peshawar, and, as Ahmad Shah Durrani, was proclaimed Shah of the Afghans. He went on to conquer Herat and Khorasan and established an empire from the Oxus to the Indus. On his death in 1773, the Afghan domain included Baluchistan, Sindh, the Punjab, and Kashmir.

Ahmad Shah Durrani was succeeded by his son Timur Shah Durrani, whose rule of twenty years saw the Afghan tide begin to ebb. Timur Shah left many sons but no heir and the resultant internecine struggles for the throne lasted more than thirty years. During this period the Punjab was effectively ceded to its erstwhile governor Ranjit SinghIran recovered Khorassan, and Sindh broke away.

In 1813 Sikh forces from the Punjab crossed the Indus and seized the old Mughal fort at Attock. In 1819 Kashmir was lost, and west of the Indus Derajat also. Four years later the winter capital of Peshawar came under attack.

In 1826 Dost Muḥammad Barakzai emerged as undisputed ruler in Kabul and was there proclaimed Emir. He defeated a further attempt to oust him by his exiled rival Shuja Shah Durrani in 1833; however, the Sikhs seized all of Peshawar the following year.

In 1837 Dost Muḥammad Barakzai launched a counter-attack through the Khyber, but the Afghan force was halted at Jamrud Fort. Dost Muḥammad Barakzai had sought assistance from the East India Company against the resurgent Punjab but was rebuffed. So Dost Muḥammad Barakzai turned to imperial Russia for help.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh, also called "Sher-e-Punjab" ("The Lion of the Punjab") (1780–1839) was the Sikh ruler of the sovereign country of Punjab and the Sikh Empire. He fought the Afghans, driving them out of western Punjab.

The deposed Afghan King Shuja Shah Durrani rallied a significant number of tribes and received British backing in the form of the Sikh army against the Barakzai King Dost Muḥammad.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the East India Company controlled southern IndiaBengalBihar, and Orissa (modern Odisha). Dominance was gained at the expense of its French equivalent, the Compagnie des Indes.

Britain and France were at war, and the Franco-Persian alliance of 1807, followed the same year by the Franco-Russian Treaty of Tilsit, alerted the HEIC to the external threat posed from the northwest.

By 1819 only Sindh and the Sikh Empire remained outside the Company's control. Napoleon was vanquished, but the Empire of the Tsars had begun to expand south and east.

Russian influence grew likewise, and by the early 1830s, QajarIrān was within the Tsar's sphere. Attempts by Irān to recover Herat in 1834, and again in 1837, raised the specter of Russian armies on the road to Kandahar, whence direct access to India through the Khojak and Bolan passes.

Meanwhile, the conflict between Afghanistan and the Punjab focused on the Khyber route. Dost Muḥammad Barakzai appealed to the HEIC for aid in recovering Peshawar, but the Company could not help him without alienating its treaty ally Ranjit Singh.

When Dost Muḥammad Barakzai redirected his appeal to Russia, the Governor-General Lord Auckland resolved to depose Dost Muḥammad Barakzai and replace him with Shuja Shah Durrani. Dost Moḥammad Barakzai had been dealing with Persia and Russia, while it was thought that Shuja Shah Durrani could be trusted to have nothing to do with them.

Long before 1838 the British in India had been alarmed by the Russian advance into Central Asia and by the interest of the czar’s agents in Persia and Afghanistan. At stake was the market for Russian or British products in Central Asia.

British imperialists dreamed of sending goods in steamboats up the Indus and overland into Central Asia. Russian imperialists aspired to gain possession of Ḵīva in the belief that it would become the center of all the commerce of Asia and would undermine the commercial superiority of those who dominated the sea ([N.] N. Mouraviev, Voyage en Turcomanie et à Ḵīva, fait en1819 et 1820, tr. M. G. Lecointe de Laveau, Paris, 1823, p. 345).

From 1829 onward the British considered it a matter of urgent national importance to extend their influence into Central Asia before the Russians arrived (J. A. Norris, The First Afghan War 1838-1842, Cambridge, 1967. ch. 2). They also feared that their hold on India would be jeopardized if Russia were dominant in Central Asia and militarily present in or near Afghanistan.

To protect their interests, they sent an envoy, Alexander Burnes, by way of Sindh to Lahore in 1830 and by way of Kabul to Bokhara in 1831-32 (for which he became famous as an explorer and political agent and earned the nickname “Bokhara Burnes;” see A. Burnes, Travels into Bokhara, Containing the Narrative of a Voyage on the Indus, London, 1834).

At this time the strong Russian influence in Persia was being used to encourage a Persian campaign against the strategically important fortress of Herat, which was ruled by a Sadozay (see Afghanistan x). The British sought to save Herat from Persia and thus to hold the Russians at bay in the west.

Meanwhile, the only Indian state of any significant independence and military power was the Punjab under Ranjit Singh. The British could not hope to establish a strong influence beyond the Indus unless they first either conciliated or conquered the Sikhs.

The spectacle of the well-trained and equipped armies of Lahore persuaded the British to make friendship with the Sikhs a high priority. It was impossible for the British to befriend Ranjit Singh and Dost Muhammad Barakzai at the same time, for there was a fierce quarrel between them over the Sikh occupation of Peshawar and the shelter and encouragement given to Shuja Shah Durrani. Even Burnes, on a mission to Kabul, was unable to reconcile Dost Muhammad Barakzai with Ranjit Singh. Burnes’ masters could not offer Dost Muhammad Barakzai anything that he really wanted in return for giving up a correspondence with Persia and Russia.

In 1838 the Governor-General, Lord Auckland, signed the Simla Manifesto, which was in effect a declaration of war upon the Barakzai rulers of Kabul and Qandahār and of intent to restore Shuja Shah Durrani while saving Herat from Persian designs. The Sikhs played a minimal part in subsequent military operations. The Army of the Indus, as the British called it, entered Afghanistan in the spring of 1839 and made its way through Qandahār and Ḡaznī to Kabul.

Governor-General Lord Auckland restored the throne of Shuja Shah Durrani in Kabul, on term and condition that the exiled former ruler would accept the Sikh gains west of the Indus, and the Company controlling his foreign policy. The agreement was formalized with the Treaty of Simla signed in June 1838 between Shuja Shah Durrani, the HEIC, and Ranjit Singh.

Note: - Almost the Same game was played once again in 1980’s. Three players 
Russia, Pathan, and Punjabi were the same players but British were replaced by the America and Punjabi nation supported the America in the game, as supported the British in 1839?

Almost the same game is again in practice. Three players Russia, Pathan, and Punjabi are the same players but British are replaced by America. However, British is still a joint venture player with the main player America and India is also included in the game as a proxy player for AmericaChina is an additional player. Whereas some regional players are also added in the game but these players are assisting the America, China, or Russia, therefore, they may be called as the extra players of the game and game is called as a Great Game.

Nevertheless, the role of Punjabi nation in present Great Game is not only essential, as the role in previous games but it is significant too, due to the inclusion of China in the Great Game and project of CPEC as a joint venture project of Pakistan and China.

What will be the strategy of Punjabi nation in the present Great Game?

1. Will the Punjabi nation support the America in the game, as supported the British in 1839 and supported the America in the game of 1980’s to obstruct the Russian advancement via Central Asia into Afghanistan to reach the warm water?

2. Will the Punjabi nation support the Russia in present Great game to facilitate the Russia to reach the Gwadar via Central Asia and Afghanistan to join the CPEC project by expanding the CPEC (China, Pakistan Economic Corridor) project into PCPREC (Pakistan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Economic Corridor) project?

3. Will the Punjabi nation keep himself neutral in the present Game in Afghanistan and concentrate on the CPEC project, therefore, the game in Afganistan be played by the America, Russia, and China?