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1901.) Afghanistan.—Prospects of the New Amir. [343 immediate prospects are decidedly favourable. The possible competitors for the Throne are few in number, and none of them are at present dangerous. Habibullah Khan's position was much strengthened by the marriages his father made for him with the families of the leading chiefs. Nasrullah Khan, the late Amir's next son, is his full brother, and is destitute of ability, ambition or influence. His half-brother, Mahomed Umar, whose mother is of high rank and of much ability and ambition, might give trouble, but he is only a boy of twelve, and his mother's great supporter, the Commander-in-Chief, Ghulâm Haidar Khan, has lately died. The nearest collateral heir is Ishák Khan, the son of the drunken and cowardly Amir, Azim Khan, and consequently the first cousin once removed of the new Amir. Much was heard of him in his early days, he was notorious for his debauchery and cruelty, and he was hated in Kabul, where he was regarded as a maniac.
The late Amir endeavoured to conciliate him, but he rebelled against him, and after showing conspicuous cowardice and incompetency fled to Russian territory. He is now a man of fifty; he is not likely to attempt, or to be allowed to attempt, any movement, and should he do so, he would hardly be dangerous. The two sons of the Amir Sher Ali Khan, Yakub Khan, born about 1849, who was allowed to succeed his father, but was deposed for not preventing Cavagnari's murder, and Ayub Khan, born 1857, who defeated us at Maiwand, are still political prisoners in India, and are not likely to be let loose.
On the North-West Frontier our only serious trouble during 1901 has been with the Mahsud Waziris. The tribe which occupies the hilly country to the west of the Dera Ismail Khan district, known as Waziristan, had been fined a lakh of rupees, or rather this sum had been fixed as a composition for accumulated offences ; the tribesmen had paid about 70,000 rupees,
but were unable or unwilling to pay the balance. They were therefore blockaded, that is, all commercial and other intercourse between them and British territory was stopped. In the latter part of the year, in consequence of fresh and serious outrages, the blockade was supplemented by short punitive expeditions ; columns entered the country in various directions, destroyed villages and crops and then retired. It appears that an expedition on a large scale was contemplated by the military authorities, and that reserve brigades were ordered to assemble. however, stopped by a peremptory telegram from the Viceroy, who was then on his tour in Burmah, and at the close of the year matters were still in statu quo. Shortly before the Amir's death many of the Jajis of Khost (his subjects beyond our Durand line) sought an asylum in Kurram. Habibullah Khan has since his father's death been conciliating them, and it is to be hoped they will all go back.
II. BRITISH INDIA.
THE NEW FRONTIER PROVINCE.
The new North-West Frontier Province, as it is styled officially, finally came into existence on November 9 when Colonel Deane, the new Chief Commissioner, held a durbar at Peshawar. Its territorial limits include the districts of Hazára Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu (except Isa Khel and Mianwali), and Dera Ismail Khan (except Leia and Bhakkar) and the transborder territory up to the Durand line. The four tahsils taken from Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan are formed into a new Punjab district. The Administrative Staff of the new Province will consist of a Chief Commissioner, a Judicial and a Revenue Commissioner, two Divisional Judges, five Deputy Commissioners or District Officers with Assistants, an Inspector General of Police, a Head of the Public Works Department, and a Principal Medical Officer, who will also have charge of jails and sanitation. This staff has been drawn in the first instance almost entirely from the Punjab Commission, but in two years the connection with the Punjab will be cut and the officers of the new Province will be graded in, and recruited from, the general Political Department. The two Commissionerships of Peshawar and Derajat have been abolished, but a new Commissionership, that of Moultan, has been created in the Punjab, and the Commissionerships of Rawal Pindi and Lahore have consequently been rearranged.
How far the creation of the new province will effect a change in the internal administration of the districts composing it cannot now be stated, for the orders of Government on this subject have not yet been made known. The object of the creation was, however, not to improve internal administration, but to bring our external policy, that is, the management of the Border tribes, under the direct control of the Government of India. Lord Curzon made the discussion of the Budget in the Legislative Council on March 27 an occasion for the delivery of a speech in which he explained his policy in general, and his Frontier policy in particular. He said that it was a mistake to suppose that there were only two possible policies for the Frontier : the Lawrence policy and what was called the forward policy; the Lawrence policy was based on a state of things which had long since passed away, and it was absurd to call dead men from their graves and dogmatise as to how they would have acted under circumstances which they could never have foreseen. The forward policy was one of those elastic terms which might mean anything from statesman-like prevision of military and political danger on and beyond the frontier to a rash indulgence in military adventure. He strongly deprecated the use of "labels,” and urged the adoption of a policy on which all might agree, and cared not by what name
[345 it was called, so long as it was based on "up-to-date common sense. He claimed for his own policy that it was one of military concentration as against diffusion, and of tribal conciliation in place of exasperation ; and it was to give effect to this policy that a new Frontier Province had been created.
The Blue Book published by the India Office early last March, which contains a long minute by Lord Curzon, severely criticising the past management of the frontier by the Punjab Government, and a note on this minute by Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick, shows that although it is no doubt due to Lord Curzon that a decision has at last been arrived at, the question of forming the frontier into a separate province has been under discussion for the last twenty years, and this discussion certainly originated in a conflict between the Lawrence and the forward policy. Lord Curzon deprecates the use of “labels," but they may be employed for the purpose of brief description, and need not necessarily be waved as emblems of faction. What is known as the Lawrence policy held that in the event of a Russian advance on India the best course was to await it in India itself, retiring if necessary behind the Indus ; the forward policy, on the other hand, held that the advance should be prevented by the occupation of a line beyond our Frontier, say one extending from Peshawar and the Khaibar Pass through Kabul and Kandabar to the Bolan and Quetta, which would prevent an enemy from seizing the passes leading into India. The merits and demerits of these two policies cannot be discussed here, but it was a natural consequence of the Lawrence policy that the Frontier tribes should be left severely alone, and that no attempt should be made to penetrate the veil drawn by them between India and Afghanistan, whilst the forward policy made it necessary that the tribes should be brought under control, and the passes through their territory surveyed and secured. Accordingly, down to the time of the second Afghan war and the adoption of the forward policy of Lord Lytton, the action of the Punjab Government towards the tribes was confined to preventing, and from time to time punishing, raids by them into our territories. Since then our efforts have been directed to discovering the passes which lie between India and Afghanistan, and occupying strategic positions to secure them. The management of the frontier has nominally continued in the hands of the Punjab Government; the political agents and assistants in direct communication with the tribes have been its officers; it has received their reports and forwarded them to the Government of India with the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor, and it has communicated to the local officers their final orders. But throughout the directing and controlling hand has been that of the Government of India ; it has prescribed the policy to be followed; the orders for carrying it out have been its orders; the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor has often been dis
regarded, and in some cases not even asked. Under these circumstances the Punjab Government had become merely a fifth wheel to the coach ; only two courses became possible, either to restore the real management of the Frontier to the Punjab Government, subject, of course, to the general control of the Government of India, or to hand over to the latter the whole management and responsibility. The latter course has been adopted, and at least this may be said in its favour, that it will be an improvement on the state of things which has existed of late years.
The strictures of Lord Curzon on the management of the Frontier by the Punjab Government are clearly shown by Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick to have been undeserved. It may be true that a record of forty military expeditions in the last fifty years is hardly, on the face of it, proof of good management; but, it may be asked, How many of these expeditions occurred whilst the Frontier was really under the management of the Punjab Government and how many have occurred since? How many were taken on its recommendation and how many without or even against its advice? The state of the Border in the early days immediately after annexation must be fairly considered; it naturally took some time before the tribes could be taught that British territory must be respected. But there is good reason to believe that they were being taught this, and that, had the old policy been continued of respecting their territory as long as they respected ours, raids and outrages would have ceased or have become very rare and insignificant. The new policy, by whatever name it may be called, or by whatever means it may be carried out, is clearly incompatible with the real independence of the tribes. Whether we crush this independence by force or whether we destroy it by bribes and
management” the result as regards the independence itself will be much the same, and when Lord Curzon speaks of the new policy being one of conciliation he must be contrasting, not the policies of the Punjab Government and the Government of India, but the different methods employed in turn by the Government of India for giving effect to its own policy. That this policy is exposed to many risks Lord Curzon frankly admits; he can only ask, what frontier policy is not so? Those who take a hopeful view of the future believe that the tribes when once they have fully felt our strength will contentedly accept us as masters, or that when they have tasted our gold they will realise the blessings of peace. Those who take a more gloomy view believe that the tribes will not accept us as masters unless they are crushed, and that we cannot crush them except at a cost quite disproportionate to the result; that whilst they take our gold they will hate us for offering it and despise themselves for accepting it. Which of these two views is the correct one time alone can show.
The Annual Financial Statement.
The annual financial statement was presented in the form of a minute by Sir Edward Law on March 20, and was discussed at length at the meeting of the Council on March 27.
The Revised Estimate, 1900-1, showed an excess of revenue over the estimate presented in March, 1900, of 5,010,2001., but of this the increase of 2,900,0001. under the head of profits on the coinage of rupees was merely nominal, as the whole of it was eventually credited to the Gold Reserve Fund and a corresponding debit was accordingly shown in the statement of expenditure. The real increase of Revenue was therefore only about 2,100,0001., which was thus accounted for : Opium, owing to the unexpectedly high prices realised, showed an increase of 572,0001. ; Salt gave an increase of 106,0001., due to increasing consumption; to the same cause was due the increase in Excise of 138,0001. and of 190,0001. in Customs. The increase of 86,0007, in Telegraphs is attributed to exceptional circumstances, such as the famine, the wars in South Africa and China, and the illness and death of the Queen-Empress. The Railways earned 965,0001. more than the Estimate, partly owing to the increased carriage of food-stuffs caused by the famine and partly owing to the increased mileage open. It was also the famine which raised the income from irrigation 208,0001. above the original Estimate; the increase of 130,0001. under the head of Military Department Receipts merely represented the value of stores sent abroad and debited to the home Government, and was wholly fortuitous. These items made up a total of about 2,395,0001. On the other hand, the famine caused a decrease of 382,9001. in the estimated Land Revenue, which was the only main heading of income that showed a falling off. The net result was thus, as already stated, an increase in revenue of about 2,100,0001.
On the expenditure side, the apparent excess of about 3,530,0001. was reduced to a real one of between 600,0001, and 700,0001. by the exclusion of the 2,900,0001. under “Mint as already explained. The most important heads of Expenditure which showed an increase were Famine, 876,0001., Railways, 323,0001., Interest, 200,0001., Provincial Accounts, 576,0001. These items gave a total increase of 1,975,4001. Against this must be set a decrease in expenditure under the following heads: Other Public Works, 118,0001. (out of which 42,0001. is to be attributed to reduced expenditure on military works); Army Services, 1,185,0001. ; Salaries and Expenses of Civil Departments, 124,0001.-total 1,427,0001. These figures give a net increase in Expenditure of 548,4001., raised to 630,0001. by small variations under other heads.
The net result of the revision of the Estimates of 1900 and 1901 was to show an increase in the Revenue of about 2,100,0001., and in the Expenditure of about 600,0001., thus giving a balance of about 1,500,0001., which raises the estimated surplus of 160,0001.