§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to the important letter from The Times Correspondent with Sir Peter Lumsden's Mission in Afghanistan, which appeared in that paper on the 3rd March, and especially to the following extracts:—I have pointed out the great strategical importance of Pul-i-Khatun, a place which has always been considered Afghan, and beyond the pale of discussion. Another important position is Penjdeh, in the Valley of the Murghab. Its inhabitants have always been subject to Afghanistan, and it is occupied by an Afghan garrison. Russia does not desire the definition of the Afghan frontier, for it will put an end to her successful system of stealthy encroachment. …. Three years ago the nearest Russian 1241 outposts on the road from the Caspian were at Krasnovodsk and Chikislar, 700 miles from Herat; now they are at Pul-i-Khatun, only 150 miles from Herat. Three years ago the nearest Russian outposts on the road from the Oxus and Merv were at Katra Kurghan, say 500 miles from Herat; now they are at Yolatan, 140 miles from Herat. Nearly all this progress has been made by unopposed encroachments since we evacuated Kandahar;whether it is true that the Russian troops have occupied Zulfagar, 40 miles south of Pul-i-Khatun, Ak-Rabat, and Penjdeh (all four places being on Afghan territory); whether any further advance has been recently made beyond these places, and where Sir Peter Lumsden's force is now stationed; and, whether he can now, consistently with the public interest, state that Her Majesty's Ministers intend to protect the absolute integrity of all Afghan territory, including these important positions, from Russian occupation and influence, in accordance with their own pledges and those of the Ozar's Government?
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
I have seen the letter referred to. The Russians have occupied Pul-i-Khatun and Ak-Rabat; but Penjdeh is held by the Afghans. We have not heard of any further advance being made beyond the places above mentioned. It would not be for the public interest that I should make any statement such as that suggested by the hon. Member.