Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/214

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210 THE CONSOLIDATION OF BRITISH INDIA. ference in Afghanistan, the usurper Dost Muhammad Barakzai was firmly established at Kabul. His great ambition was to recover Peshdwar from the Sikhs. When, therefore, Captain Alexander Burnes arrived on a mission from Lord Auckland, with the ostensible object of opening trade, the Dost was willing to promise everything, if only he could get Peshawar. But Lord Auckland had another and more important object in view. At this time the Russians were advancing rapidly in Central Asia ; and a Persian army, not without Russian support, was besieging Herat, the traditional bulwark of Afghanistan on the east. A Russian envoy was at K&bul at the same time as Burnes. The latter was unable to satisfy the demands of Dost Muhammad in the matter of Peshawar, and returned to India unsuccessful. Lord Auckland forthwith resolved upon the hazardous plan of placing a more subservient ruler upon the throne of Kdbul. Shih Shuja, one of the two royal Afghan exiles at Ludhiana, was selected for the purpose. At this time both the Punjab and Sind were independent kingdoms ; and both lay between British India and Afghanistan. Sind was the less powerful of the two, and accordingly a British army escorting Shah Shuja made its way through Sind into Southern Afghanistan by way of the Bolan Pass. Kandahar surrendered, Ghazni was taken by storm, Dost Muhammad fled across the Hindu Kush, and Shah Shuja was triumphantly led into the Bala Hissar at Kabul in August 1839. After one more brave struggle, Dost Muhammad surrendered, and was sent to Calcutta as a State prisoner. The Governor-General, Baron Auckland, was created Earl of Auckland in 1839. British Retreat from Afghanistan, 1841-1842.— But although we could enthrone Shin Shuja, we could not win for him the hearts of the Afghans. To that nation he seemed a degenerate exile thrust back upon them by foreign arms. During two years Afghanistan remained in the military occupation of the British. The catastrophe occurred in November 1841, when our Political Agent, Sir Alexander Burnes, was assas- sinated in the city of Kabul. The troops in the cantonments were under the command of General Elphinstone (not to be confounded with the able civilian and historian, the Hon.