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opposition, and so, in default of Yakoub Khan, were compelled to fall

, back upon the present Ameer, Abd-al-Rahman Khan, a Russian pensioner, and a man abhorred by the Afghans as being, on his mother's side, not an Afghan at all. The forcing this unwelcome ruler upon an unwilling people, was described as the conferring of “institutions” upon Afghanistan. The "institutions"

proceeded at once to put to death, either by public execution or secret assassination, the leaders of the people, who, under Shere Ali, had raised the country to an unprecedented height of prosperity ; and became, in consequence of his cruelty and treachery, so detested by his subjects, that the Indian Government had to come to his assistance with an annual subsidy of £120,000, extracted from the well-filled coffers of the opulent Indian ryot. The Indian Government were as loth to abandon Kandahar as to restore Yakoub Khan, and for precisely the same reason. It was equivalent to an acknowledgment of error. And there can be little doubt that in this respect also they would have triumphed over the feeble resolution of the Cabinet, but for the important assistance which, at this critical moment, the latter received from Eyoub Khan. It was the battle of Maiwand, and not the popular voice expressed in the election of 1880, which effected the evacuation of Kandahar. But at this point, the victory of the Government ceased. As for Afghanistan, we have never evacuated it; we have merely withrawn our outposts to a distance of seventy miles from Kandahar, retaining under our immediate supremacy the whole of the Pisheen Valley, and keeping a garrison in Quetta.

Since then this policy has secretly received still further developments, and preparations are being made for once again advancing into the interior of Afghanistan. The entire district of Quetta has been taken over from the Khan of Khelat, and we are now about to unite Quetta with the Indus by means of a railway, which will cost the Indian taxpayers a sum, at the very least, of three millions sterling. In a word, while ostensibly engaged in carrying out a policy for the complete evacuation of Afghanistan, the present Government have quietly matured one for its rapid military occupation a short time hence. The railway once completed to Quetta, will certainly not be allowed to terminate there. It will be pushed on to Kandahar, if not by the present Government, at any rate by the next Conservative Government. All this activity on one side of Afghanistan will probably produce a corresponding activity on the part of the Russians in Central Asia, and the unhappy Ameer, Abd-al-Rahman Khan, will be compelled to choose a side either with or against us. In this dilemma it is hardly a matter of doubt on which side he will elect to stand. If he declares against us, he will lose Kandahar ; but if he declares against the Russians, he will lose Balkh, which is the chief source of his power, and from which he draws the Turcoman soldiers, without whom he could not maintain his authority for a day in Kabul. Is there not too much reason to fear that by this policy in Quetta and Afghanistan, this country and India will be committed to a reoccupation of Kandahar, and a war with Russia in the neighbourhood of Herat within the next ten or fifteen years ?

Now this policy may be a sound and defensible one. It is possible that the safety of India needs that we should hold Kandahar, and be prepared to fight with Russia in Central Asia for the possession of Herat; but it is monstrous that a free nation should be involved in these tremendous responsibilities without its full knowledge and sanction. It may be argued that the consequences which I have stated to attach to this Afghan policy are not natural or probable deductions therefrom; but the really important question is—and of the answer to that there can be no doubt whatever—are they not so regarded by the Indian Bureaucracy ?* Quetta, Pisheen, and Kandahar, have never been regarded by that body as merely defensive positions, but as favourable posts from which to carry on aggressive operations against the Russian possessions in Central Asia. This view of the occupation of Kandahar has been very frankly stated by Sir Frederick Roberts :

* In connection with this subject it will perhaps interest my readers to recall the judgment of General Sir H. Norman upon the probable consequences of an occupation of Kandahar :-“The amount of force required at Kandahar depends first upon the territory we take, and, secondly, upon the supposed object of holding Kandahar. If weoccupy the whole province and hold Khelat-i-Ghilzai, Girishk, Furrat, and other necessary places, besides Quetta and our lines of communication, I do not see that less than 20,000 or 22,000 men would be sufficient, and this force would have to be very thoroughly equipped for movement, and require a strong reserve to be brought from Sind and India, if ever operations were to be extended towards Herat; for I need hardly remark that our being at Kandahar would not hinder Russia, if so minded, from occupying Flerat, unless we are prepared to bring up a large force to that place. It may be urged that if we make a railway a more moderate force will answer. I doubt this. The railway, for about 250 miles, will have to be strongly guarded, and it is not only liable to attacks, but also to interruption from floods, of which instances occurred this year, although the rainfall was not excessive. No doubt a railway is useful in bringing reinforcements and stores, but it must not be implicitly relied on, and, at all events, the force I have specified is the least that I think should be maintained above the passes, completely equipped for movement and quite independent of the railway. The entire cost of the occupation of Kandahar would be about £1,400,000 per annum. .... Besides this, no doubt much would have to be done in the way of constructing permanent shelter for the troops, and in improving or constructing fortified posts, and these, together with the completion of the railway from Sibi to Kandahar (250 miles), and the probable improvement that will be necessary to the railway up to Sibi can hardly take less than £2,000,000 sterling. . . . . Entire withdrawal from Afghanistan would be hailed with joy by our Native Army. Nothing short of this will restore the old popularity of our service. We know that recruiting, even though a bounty is given, has been practically stopped, and this, to those who know the Native Army, is not surprising. Good and loyal soldiers as they are, and always anxious for a campaign, prolonged service out of India, and especially in Afghanistan, is hateful to them. No device of a reserve will remedy this defect, for neither army nor reserve can exist without recruiting, and I can conceive nothing more disastrous to the popularity of the service than a continuance of the liability to be sent to Afghanistan, combined with the formation of a reserve which should give the State a claim to re-enrol a man when he had left active service and settled down at his home. We cannot do without our Native Army, so let us not tamper with it. It serves our purpose for all really necessary objects connected with the defence of India, but it will not serve us if we condemn a large part of it to duty in Afghanistan. We cannot this army in Afghanistan by Afghan levies, for they would eventually turn against us, and to replace them by Europeans would be too heavy a burden.”

The seaport town of Kurrachee," must, in his opinion, " be the base of all military operations undertaken in the direction of Kandahar and Herat, which line, unless I am much mistaken, will henceforth be the theatre of any war carried on against us by the Russians in Central Asia. . . . . With the completion of the railway to Kandahar, that place would be our starting-point. Thence Herat is distant only 350 or 400 miles. The road is quite practicable for wheeled guns, and for some part of the way a fair amount of grain and forage is procurable. .... I am of opinion that it is by this line that all · offensive operations on our part could most advantageously be carried on."

As I have already stated, I am not calling attention to the policy of the Government in order to condemn it, perilous though I believe it to be, but in order to emphasize the secrecy with which it has been carried out. Had there been no Indian Council, and had its place been occupied by a Standing Committee, such as I suggested in my former article, every step in the carrying out of this aggressive policy in Afghanistan would have been known to and discussed by Parliament and'the nation. Nothing but good could have come from such a discussion. If the policy were sound, the hands of the

a Government would have been greatly strengthened ; if unsupported by adequate reasons, the policy would have been abandoned.

As it is, the nation stands committed to an armed intervention in Afghanistan, -a course which has been tried twice already, in 1838 and again in 1879, and on both occasions with most disastrous consequences.

It is by the Indian officials themselves that the keenest dislike is manifested to a more efficient Parliamentary control over them and their doings. This is only natural. The members of the Indian services, civil and military, doubtless posssess excellent qualities; but an appreciation of Parliamentary Government and the value of free and fair discussion is not to be expected from them. The best part of their lives is spent in the administration of a most rigid, exclusive, and irresponsible system of Government. Of this system, they become, as we all know, the staunch, the almost fanatical admirers. They regard it, to quote the enraptured language of Sir Lepel Griffin, as "the most perfect system of Government which the world has ever seen.” To any one who holds this extraordinary opinion, it is hardly possible that the constitutional system which he left behind him in England should appear other than the worst form of Government which the world has ever seen. It certainly is the opposite in every respect to that which we have allowed to grow up in British India; and the incapacity of even the most successful Indian officials to accommodate themselves to the conditions of public life in England is seen in the obscurity which overtakes so many of them upon their return. Their opposition, therefore, to the authority of Parliament, really counts for very little. It is the natural dislike of men to a method of Government which they do not understand, and in which they are disqualified, by their training and education, to

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take a leading part. They instinctively cling to such an institution as the Indian Council as the one dry spot on which the Indian Bureaucrat can still find safe lodgment amid the rising waters of Radicalism.

At the same time the plea, under cover of which this dislike to Parliamentary control is disguised, possesses a superficial plausibility which has caused Parliament itself to hesitate and halt in the proper enforcement of its authority. That plea is that Parliament, as a body, possesses no such knowledge of the needs of India as to qualify it to intervene with advantage in the government of the country. The Indian officials do possess this knowledge. And they are the only Englishmen thus exceptionally qualified. The management of

dia must therefore be left almost exclusively in their hands, unless we are prepared to assert, and to act upon the paradox, that for the good government of a great empire ignorance is a qualification superior to knowledge and experience. Specious as this reasoning appears upon the surface, it will be found on closer investigation to have in it a fatal flaw. It would, perhaps, be wise to leave the Government of India exclusively to Indian “experts," if these gentlemen were unanimous as to the manner in which India ought to be governed. Unhappily this is so far from being the case, that there is no Indian question, and there never has been one during the whole of the past century, on which the great body of Indian“ experts have not been divided into two irreconcilable camps. These divisions, together with the absence of any supreme arbitrator to decide between the combatants, have inflicted deep and lasting injuries upon the people of India. They have robbed our administration of all continuity. As the chances of promotion brought one or other party into power, the fundamental principles on which the Government was conducted have oscillated violently from one extreme to the other. The Government of India has, indeed, been little better than a series of disastrous experiments in which the population has been regarded as a sort of corpus vile on which our huge crowd of Indian administrators were entitled to exhibit their legislative ingenuity. These irreconcilable differences of opinion are a necessary consequence of a despotic Government such as exists in India. Where there is no free and thorough discussion of public questions, there can be no approximation made to a common platform for the disputants on either side. The officials in power carry all before them, right or wrong. Their opponents bide their time. They know that a very few years will see these gentlemen not only out of office, but altogether withdrawn from the scene of their labours, and as impotent to control or fashion Indian legislation as if they had never set foot in the country. Then comes their opportunity, and they are quick to seize it, knowing that their time, too, is but short. The young

plants of legislation which their predecessors had planted are plucked up in order to examine the roots. These are declared to be in a state of mortal disease, and a new crop is forthwith planted, to be subjected to similar treatment a few years hence, We make careful provision for depriving ourselves of all knowledge of the currents of native feeling, and then declare that India must be ardently loyal because we get no intelligence to the contrary. We invest many hundreds of quite ordinary Englishmen with absolute power, and insist that this power is never abused upon the unsupported assertions of those who wield it. But no internal reform is possible in India which does not directly touch some privilege of the ruling body; and, what is far worse, does not establish a precedent, which, if pur

would in course of time obliterate those privileges altogether. All internal reforms therefore are opposed, and so long as a Governor-General has for his sole support, not the Parliament of the nation, but merely a secret council, composed in the main of Indian Bureaucrats, it is impossible that he should overcome this resistance. In sending a Viceroy to India, and then interposing between him and the natives the dead wall of an Indian Council, we destroy the very object for which the Viceroy is sent. The Viceroy is in India as the representative of the English nation, to act as arbitrator between the ruling class and the people of India, and this high function it is impossible for him to discharge until he is brought into direct relations with Parliament.

So far, at least, I think, there are not many Englishmen, and probably no Members of Parliament, who do not agree with me. What has been objected to is the means by which I propose to obtain this end—namely a Standing Committee with authority to call for all official documents relating to India, and to raise debates upon Indian subjects. I will therefore give the reasons which commend this particular machinery to my mind. All men-at least all official men-are greedy of power; all are impatient of popular control and supervision; and so we find that there is a constant endeavour to withdraw their proceedings as much as possible from the intervention of the House of Commons. The invariable pretext on which this is done is that, in the particular matter concerning which information is requested, secrecy is essential to the public interests. The gentlemen who allege this pretext are undoubtedly sincere, and the "public interests,” in their judgment, would in all probability be immensely benefited if this secrecy were never infringed. But as regards our Colonies or our foreign relations, it is only occasionally that those burning questions arise in which the intervention of Parliament is imperatively demanded ; and then there are so many sources of information open to Parliament and the nation that neither Colonial nor Foreign Office can long adhere to its policy of silence and con

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