§ *LORD ROBERTS OF KANDAHAR
My Lords, I rise to call attention to the papers recently presented to Parliament relating to British relations with the neighbouring tribes on the North-West Frontier of India, and the military operations undertaken against them during the year 1897–98. The question of what is the best and wisest policy to adopt in regard to our relations with the tribes on the North-West Frontier of India is one so bound up with our national interests, and of such supreme importance to our Empire in the East, and the well-being of our Indian fellow subjects, that it ought not to be dealt with from the point of view of any one party in the State. I hope, therefore, it will not be thought improper of me, as a soldier, to call attention to the papers on this subject recently presented to Parliament, or to take part in a discussion which must be of equal importance to all who have the honour and welfare of their country at heart, whatever may be their political views. So great has been the divergence of opinion expressed on this question by men whose connection with India gives them a claim to be listened to, it is no wonder that the public are puzzled with regard to it, and that statesmen should hesitate to commit themselves to any line of action until 750 the subject has been thoroughly thrashed out, and the right course to pursue has been made clear to them and to the nation generally. This divergence of opinion, my Lords, amongst so-called experts, and which is apparently so unaccountable, is easily explained by the fact that those who oppose what has come to be known as the "Forward policy," entirely ignore, or treat as chimerical, the reason which makes the carrying out of that policy essential, if we are to retain our hold over India. The "Forward policy"—in other words, the policy of endeavouring to extend our influence over, and establish law and order on, that part of the border where anarchy, murder, and robbery, up to the present have reigned supreme—a policy which has been attended with the happiest results in Beluchistan and on the Gilgit Frontier, is necessitated by the incontrovertible fact that a great European Power is now within striking distance of our Indian possessions, and in immediate contact with a State for the integrity of which we have made ourselves responsible. Some 40 years ago the policy of non-interference with the tribes, so long as they did not trouble us, may have been wise and prudent, although selfish, and not altogether worthy of a great civilising Power. But, during that period, circumstances have completely changed, and what was wise and prudent then is most unwise and imprudent now. At that time Russia's nearest outpost was 1,000 miles away. Her presence in Asia was unheeded by, if not unknown to, the people of India, and we had no powerful reason for anxiety as to whether the 200,000 warriors on our border would fight for us or against us. To-day Russia is our near neighbour; her every movement is watched with the keenest interest from Peshawar to Cape Comorin; she is in a position to enter Afghanistan whenever it may seem to her convenient or desirable so to do; and the chance of her being able to attack us is discussed in every bazaar in India. We are bound in honour, by a solemn promise, made 17 years ago, to protect Afghanistan, and between us and that nation are these 200,000 fighting men, who may either make the fulfilment of that promise easy, or else most difficult if not impossible; 751 for if we should have to subdue these 200,000 tried warriors before going to the assistance of Afghanistan, any army we could put into the field would be used up before we could reach that country. Throughout the last Afghan War so persistently were we harassed by the tribesmen, that the greater number of the troops employed were occupied in keeping open the line of communication. On the Peshawar-Kabul line alone, between 11,000 and 12,000 men were required, and, as I told the Viceroy at the time, had there been anything like combination or organisation amongst the tribes that number would have had to be doubled. The all-important question, therefore, that we have to consider is, by what means can we ensure that this enormous military strength may be used for us, and not against us. The opponents of the "Forward" policy, tell us that this can only be done by continuing the system, tried for nearly half a century, of letting the tribesmen alone, no matter what atrocities they commit, so long as they do not interfere with us, and, when their conduct necessitates punishment, recurring to the punitive expeditions which have already cost us such a heavy expenditure in blood and money, and inflicted such cruel misery on the innocent families of the delinquents. Burning houses and destroying crops, necessary and justifiable as such measures may be, unless followed up by some form of authority or jurisdiction, mean starvation for many of the women and children of the enemy, and, for us, a rich harvest of hatred and revenge, in more daring acts of outrage, so soon as the tribesmen recover from their temporary check. The advocates of the "Forward" policy, on the other hand, contend that the system they recommend, and which has also been tried—but with far different results—on our southern and northern frontiers, is the only one which will enable us to gain the confidence and secure the allegiance of the wild and lawless, but brave and manly, inhabitants of the central section of the border, who have so clearly proved, by the part they have taken in the late disturbances, the absolute failure of the policy of non-interference. For, my Lords, so perfectly was the policy of non-interference tried with the border-men, especially with the Afridis, that 752 their country was, until the other day, a terra incognita to us, and so anxious were we to avoid giving them the slightest cause for suspicion that we wished to interfere with their independence, that the political officer in the Khyber, who commanded the Khyber Rifles, and was responsible for the Pass being kept open, was strictly prohibited from going to the right or left of the narrow road which leads through the Pass; and the only British officer who ever ventured to enter Afridiland, before Sir William Lockhart's force went there, was punished by being removed from his appointment. We gave the Afridis large sums for permitting Kafilas to go backwards and forwards once a week through the Khyber Pass for trading purposes, and we paid them an annual subsidy for allowing us to make use of the shortest route between Peshawar and Kohat, which runs through a corner of their land, and which they closed against us whenever it pleased them to do so, greatly to our inconvenience and annoyance. Is it possible, my Lords, for non-interference to be carried further? My Lords, the recent very serious rising which is still not altogether suppressed, as well as most of the Frontier troubles with which we have had to contend of late years, have not been caused, as is frequently stated, by the "Forward" policy, but by that policy not having been pushed far enough, by our refusing to recognise the responsibilities of our position with regard to India and Afghanistan, and by the half-hearted manner in which we have carried on our dealings with the tribesmen; not, in fact, by what we have done, but by what we have left undone. The "Forward" policy must, my Lords, in my opinion, be gradually and judiciously, but steadily, pursued until we obtain political control over the robber-haunted no-man's land which lies on our immediate Frontier, where every man's dwelling is a miniature fortress fortified against his neighbour, and must be continued until our influence is felt up to the boundary of our ally, the ruler of Afghanistan. When the responsibility for the defence of the North-West Frontier devolved upon me, as Commander-in-Chief in India, I never contemplated any defence being possible along the Frontier, as marked on our 753 maps by a thin red line—the haphazard Frontier inherited by us from the Sikhs—which did well enough so long as we had only to guard against tribal depredations. A Frontier more than 1,000 miles in length, with a belt of huge mountains in its front, inhabited by thousands of warlike men, over whom neither we nor any other Power had control, and with a wide, impassable river in its rear, seemed to me then, as it does now, an impossible Frontier, and one upon which no scheme for the defence of India could be safely based. For that defence, it is evident that we must have the command of the most important of the roads which run through those mountains; and, to use a favourite expression of the great Duke of Wellington's, "We must be able to see the other side of the hill"; for, unless we know for certain what is going on there, and are in a position to block the passes, it will be impossible to prevent an enemy from making use of them, and debouching on the plains of India when and where he pleases. So satisfied was I, my Lords, as to the weakness and unfitness of our present Frontier, that I pointed out to the Government, of which I had the honour to be a Member, that money would be thrown away on fortifications and entrenched positions along such a line, and that, after securing the safety of the two most advanced arsenals (Quetta and Rawal Pindi), we should devote ourselves to improving and extending our Frontier roads; and, so far as financial considerations would permit, our railway communications, to enable the Field Army to advance whenever a further movement might be necessary. I never ceased, at the same time, to reiterate that roads and railways could not be made through a hostile country, and that we should do all in our power to enter into closer and more friendly relations with those tribes through whose lands the roads and railways would have to run. This course, my Lords, will assuredly be forced upon us whether we like it or not, in the interests of civilisation and by circumstances over which we have very little control. It is a great satisfaction, therefore, to know that wherever it has been thoroughly carried out it has proved eminently successful. In support of this statement I would 754 invite your Lordships' attention to the fact that, throughout the present unusual Frontier excitement not a shot has been fired in that part of Beluchistan which is under our control, or in Chitral, where British officers have been in direct communication with the tribes, and where our boundary is practically conterminous with Afghanistan. And, as your Lordships will doubtless remember, when disturbances broke out in Chitral in the beginning of 1895, the very men who had most strenuously opposed us in Hunza-Nagar, three years before, actually volunteered to serve under our officers, whom they had learned to know and to trust, and a body of levies drawn from those robber hordes did excellent service on that occasion. I trust, my Lords, you will not be persuaded to believe that the tribesmen would fight for us if left to themselves. Why should they? They would have nothing to fear from us, and nothing to gain by siding with us, for we should have nothing to offer them in return, whilst they would be induced to fight against us by the prestige which an advancing force always carries with it, and by promises, which would be freely given, that they should be sharers in the plunder of the riches of India. My Lords, the question we are discussing is, believe me, of vital importance to our future in India, for the attitude, not only of the border tribes, but of the whole Afghan nation, will depend upon the character of our Frontier policy. If we are able to convince them that we have the will and the power to protect them, and are determined to let no other nation interfere with them, we may confidently reckon upon their throwing in their lot with us. But this desirable result can only be brought about, by extending our influence over the tribes in the centre of our Frontier, as it has been extended over the people of Chitral and Beluchistan, and by letting the Afghans see that we are prepared to go to their assistance should occasion arise. I would point out that the "Forward" policy has not been simply a military subjugation; for, although at times force has had to be resorted to to bring the tribesmen to order, the conquest on the north and south has been largely a peaceful conquest. If anyone doubts this statement, I would ask him to read the life of Sir Robert Sandeman, one of the greatest 755 Frontier administrators—the very embodiment of the "Forward" policy. With very little fighting, Beluchistan, an immense tract of mountain and desert country, and inhabited by clans as wild and unruly as any on our Frontier, was rescued by that practical border officer from a condition of absolute chaos, and turned into what is now a peaceful and prosperous province, where our officers move about freely escorted by the tribesmen themselves, and are everywhere met by signs of confidence and respect. Sir Robert Sandeman used to describe his policy as one of "peace and goodwill," and that it certainly was. In 1885 Sir Charles Aitchison, Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjaub, one of the great Lord Lawrence's most devoted followers, and who, as Foreign Secretary in India, had been a steady adherent of the policy of "masterly inactivity," wrote to the then Viceroy, the Earl of Dufferin, in the following words—Sandeman is doing noble work at Quetta. He knows personally all the heads of the tribes and all the leading men, and has great influence over them. The people are rapidly settling down and learning respect for law and order. I believe the change between Quetta now and Quetta five years ago is greater than between the India of to-day and the India as I knew it before the Mutiny, and that is saying a good deal. For this we have mainly to thank Robert Sandeman, whose personal influence is something marvellous. Cultivation is rapidly spreading on the Quetta plateau, and villages with foliage are springing up all around the cantonment. I cannot speak too highly of the work he is doing. It is noble pioneer work.My Lords, it is this same system of tribal management which has been so satisfactorily introduced on the Gilgit frontier, where law and order have taken the place of raids, brigandage, and the horrors of the slave trade. The occupation of Gilgit and Chitral and the successful Hunza-Nagar expedition brought about this desirable change, by which numbers of unhappy people who had passed long years in slavery have been restored to their homes. When the expense and loss of life involved in the Chitral expedition are dwelt upon, and we are urged to withdraw our troops, these facts should not be forgotten. Moreover, my Lords, the evacuation of a country which has been the scene of warlike operations is not, as some people imagine, always an advantage to 756 the inhabitants. When Dost Mahomed Khan was allowed to return to Kabul as Ameer he made short work of everyone who had helped us during the first Afghan War. Yakoob Khan, in the few months he was ruler after the Treaty of Gandamak, showed that he had every intention of following his grandfather's example, and all who assisted us in Afghanistan in 1879–80 have either been made away with or are obliged to live as exiles in our territory. In considering the question of what advantage we are to gain from the series of extremely difficult questions which have been so successfully carried out by the distinguished officer in charge—General Sir William Lockhart—an officer in whom the country may have every confidence, and by the loyal and brave soldiers (native as well as British) serving under his command, we must bear in mind that our present Frontier position is not due to any desire on the part of the rulers of India to acquire territory or subjugate races for our own aggrandisement. We have been constrained to press on, partly by the action of the tribesmen themselves, who have made it impossible for our fellow-subjects to live at peace with them as neighbours, partly by the advance of Russia, and partly at the special request of the Ameer of Afghanistan, who, when we objected to his interfering with recalcitrant tribesmen, justly remarked that it would be impossible to maintain peace on his side of the border unless these men were brought either under his or our control. So anxious was the Government of India not to be drawn on, that, in some instances, positions taken up were abandoned, only to be of necessity re-occupied later on; and each successive Viceroy, Liberal and Conservative alike, has been compelled to move forward whether he wished it or not. When we left Kandahar in the early days of the Marquess of Ripon's Vice-royalty, it was intended to fall back to Jacobabad, if not to the Indus. But, with all the will in the world to follow this course, it was found impossible to do so, and we were obliged to remain at Quetta, because a further retrograde movement would have endangered the safety of Sind and the Lower Derajat. So nearly, however, was the retirement to Jacobabad carried into effect that the 757 railway which had been laid through the Bolan Pass was taken up and the materials sent to Bombay, only to be brought back again and re-laid at considerable additional expense before the noble Marquess left India. This measure had only just been determined upon when the aggressive action of Russia on the northern boundary of Afghanistan necessitated the railway being extended to Chaman, and sufficient materials stored there to carry it on to Kandahar if occasion should require. It was much the same with Kuram. There was such anxiety to give up what we had gained that, after I had, under instructions from the Government of India, and in accordance with the earnest solicitations of the people, promised that in return for the help they had afforded us, we would never desert them, but would continue to preserve them from the hated Afghan rule, we abandoned them to their fate—only to be obliged to return a few years later. We have heard, my Lords, a good deal of righteous indignation expressed lately at a supposed breach of faith on the part of the Government of India, in making a road, with the consent of the people, to Chitral, but was there ever such a breach of faith as that abandonment of Kuram, and the desertion of a people who had done us good service, after our solemn promise to stand by them? And is it not strange that that breach of faith has never aroused the least indignation, or been denounced by anyone except by the unfortunate people of Kuram themselves? At first they refused to believe that we really meant to act towards them in such a faithless manner, and implored us to return and befriend them. But when the time for our departure arrived, and the general officer commanding had to read the proclamation intimating to them that our troops were to be withdrawn, the greybeards stood up in the durbar and upbraided the Government in no measured terms. Their words were—We welcomed you as friends when you first arrived amongst us, and relieved us from the tyrannical Afghan Government. We freely met your demands for supplies, raised levies for the escort of your convoys, and assisted you in your operations. We identified ourselves with you, and we have made enemies outside our territories thereby. Now, on your leaving us, all peace and security will be gone; internal feuds will again be revived. We cannot 758 govern ourselves, as there are two parties amongst us, one of whom is certain to call in the Afghans. We believed that we were to remain under your Government.After we left anarchy again reigned supreme, and the people of Kuram entreated us to return and take them under our rule. At length, in 1892–93, we were forced to send troops into the valley to restore order, and we re-assumed political control. Peace and security once more prevail, and the Turi Militia, under British officers, are now doing us loyal service. Our relations with the Gilgit Frontier exemplify in even a more remarkable manner the impossibility of our being able to keep aloof from the strategical points on the natural boundary of our great Indian Empire. As far back as 1873 Lord Northbrook, the then Viceroy, considered it necessary to establish a British officer at Gilgit for the purpose of watching British interests on a Frontier to which the Russians had advanced. Lord Lytton continued his predecessor's policy, and shortly before the Afghan War he deemed it advisable to depute the Resident at Gilgit to proceed as far as Chitral; but at the close of the war this officer was withdrawn and the whole of that Frontier was left in the charge of the Kashmir authorities. It was, however, found impossible to continue this course, and in 1885, when there seemed every probability of a war between Russia and Afghanistan, the Earl of Dufferin, finding it necessary to have more complete information regarding the Gilgit Frontier, dispatched a mission under Colonel, now General Sir William Lockhart to examine and report on the several Passes, and to enter into definite relations with the ruler of Chitral, over which state, in consequence of its proximity to the Hindu Kush Range, the Viceroy considered it essential to exert our influence. The same policy was followed by Lord Dufferin's successor, the Marquis of Lansdowne, and by the present Viceroy, the Earl of Elgin, warmly supported by the Members of their respective Councils. Thus, my Lords, we see that during the last 25 years five out of six Viceroys, beginning with Lord Northbrook, whatever their political opinions, were unanimous as to the wisdom of our having control over the 759 Gilgit Frontier, and that four of them found it necessary to extend that control to Chitral. It is difficult, therefore, to understand how, in the face of such a consensus of opinion on the part of those who have the best means of judging, people comparatively ignorant of the subject should think themselves entitled to raise such an outcry as we have recently heard against our remaining on the Chitral Frontier. For myself, I will only say that, in my opinion, it is imperative for us to occupy that northernmost corner of the great natural Frontier of India; for, although I consider the chance of a successful attack upon India from that direction as infinitesimal, the danger of allowing even 2,000 or 3,000 Cossacks to cross either the Kilik, Dorah, or Baroghil Pass would be great, for the report of their presence in Chitral would cause a vast amount of excitement and alarm in Kashmir and the Punjaub, and would have a most disturbing effect on the restless and warlike races along the border. It is sometimes urged, my Lords, as a reason against our endeavouring to get control over the inhabitants in the central part of the Frontier, that they are more difficult to deal with than the people of Beluchistan. Beluchis, no doubt, are less fanatical than Pathans, but they are just as warlike and were just as much given to pillaging and murdering as their more northern neighbours. Moreover, a great number of the inhabitants of Beluchistan are Pathans, while in Gilgit and Chitral the characteristics of the people are infinitely more Pathan than Beluch. The truth is, my Lords, that Pathans—robbers and murderers though they may be, because they know no better—are fine, gallant fellows, and, like Orientals everywhere, are responsive to vigorous and sympathetic treatment, as we know from our experience of those of them who have served in our ranks. If our present operations are followed up by an administrator of the Sandeman stamp being placed in political charge of the frontier tribes, by the occupation of some commanding position in Afridiland which will ensure our having the control of the Khyber Pass, and will form a much-needed sanitarium for the fever-stricken garrisons in the Peshawar Valley, by giving the tribesmen employment on 760 such roads and railways as may be needed for our requirements, and by making our influence felt in establishing law and order, without interfering with their habits, customs, or religion, the Afridis, and, in time, the rest of the border tribes, will settle down, and become, not only peaceful neighbours, but as brave and loyal soldiers in our service as the Sikhs, Goorkhas, and other warlike races who have fought against us have proved themselves to be. It is impossible to doubt this, my Lords, when we call to mind the recent splendid behaviour of the Khyber Rifles, who, even after having been deprived in a most incomprehensible manner of the support of their British officer at the time when that support was most needed, defended Lundi Kotal against their own kith and kin until overcome by numbers, when they retired to Jamrud, and have since been fighting alongside our Regular troops. If, my Lords, you will bear with me a little longer, while I refer in a few words to the position which Russia now occupies in Asia, I trust I shall be able to explain to your satisfaction why I differ from those who think that we can afford to disregard Russia's advance, and believe that physical difficulties and want of supplies and transport would prevent her from again bringing about complications in Afghanistan which would necessitate our once more entering that country. My Lords, when we recollect the enormous physical difficulties that the energy, perseverance, and intrepidity of her soldiers have enabled Russia to successfully overcome in gaining her present position, it is ridiculous to suppose that any obstacles that are now before her, in the comparatively short distance that separates her from Afghanistan, could deter her from making a further onward move if she wishes to do so. Twice during the last 60 years Russia has compelled us to go to war with Afghanistan, by sending her emissaries to Kabul. On the first occasion she could not possibly have backed up any diplomatic arrangement by force of arms, on account of the distance which separated her from Afghanistan; and on the second occasion, although she had approached considerably nearer, and had actually a column in readiness for the purpose of assisting the Ameer, it would have been difficult 761 for her to have collected an army of sufficient strength to oppose us, for the Caspian Sea route was not then open, there were no railways in Turkestan, and troops would have had to march all the way round by Orenburg. Six years later (1885), when war between Russia and Afghanistan seemed probable, and we began to mobilise in India, in pursuant of our agreement with the present Ameer, a Russian Army could have reached Herat almost as quickly as we could have reached Kandahar. Thirteen years have elapsed since then, during which time Russia's position in Asia has so immeasurably improved that she is at least as favourably situated as we are for a further move. My Lords, there is no blame attaching to Russia for having gained the position she now occupies. I, for one, recognise the immense good effected by her having made herself mistress of the slave-dealing Khanates of Turkestan, and I see clearly that the same power which impelled us to move northwards from the Bay of Bengal to the Indus has impelled her to move southwards from Orenburg to the Oxus. Up to these points, neither of us interfere directly with the other, but Russia is near enough now to make the people of India anxious as to her future movements, and to unsettle their minds, unless we show ourselves determined to stop any further advance. It seems to me, therefore, absolutely necessary for us to set our frontier in order, and to prepare for contingencies which any reasonable person must admit to be possible, if not probable. My Lords, I have been derided as a Russophobe, and taunted with being disturbed by a phantom Forward movement of Russia. Well, my Lords. I do not object to the appellation of Russophobe, if Russophobe means one who is convinced that the forces of civilisation will compel Great Britain and Russia to eventually meet in Asia, and who is equally convinced that, if Russia is ever allowed to cross the great Hindu Kush barrier, and possess herself of Afghanistan and the Borderland, an attack on India will be merely a matter of time. This barrier, my Lords, Russia must never be allowed to cross. I am no Russophobe, in the sense of being fearful as to the result of a meeting of the 762 forces of Great Britain and Russia, but, my Lords, I love India, and in her interests, and in the interests of the trade and commerce of our own country, I desire to make every effort to delay the meeting as long as possible, and to ensure that, when it does take place, it shall be as far from our possessions, and under circumstances as favourable to India, as possible. I lay the greatest stress, my Lords, on our never permitting an enemy to set foot on Indian soil, for, although I thoroughly believe in the loyalty of the Native chiefs, and of the varied and various races who inhabit the vast continent of Hindustan, it would be foolish to forget that they are not our own flesh and blood, and that their loyalty is the outcome of their belief in our invincibility, and of their reliance on our power to defend them, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to keep their faith in us if ever we were to allow an invader to pass the great mountain range that separates India from Central Asia. If we are true to ourselves the people of India will be true to us. There is one point of view from which I have not discussed this question, and that is the financial point of view; not because I do not recognise its immense importance, but because it has not seemed to me to be my business. I conceive it to be my duty, as one who has had peculiar opportunities of making himself acquainted with our position on the North-West Frontier of India, to lay before you as clearly as I am able to do the reasons for the policy I advocate, and which I believe to be the only policy that can insure the safety of India; and it is for you, my Lords, and the nation, to decide on the course to be followed. I can only venture to express my firm conviction that, whatever may be the cost of the measures I propose, the cost, to say nothing of the danger to the Empire, will be infinitely greater if we allow matters to drift until we are obliged, in order to resist aggression in Afghanistan, to hurriedly mobilise a sufficient force to subdue the hostile tribes through whose country we should have to pass before we could reach those strategical positions which it is essential we should be able to occupy, without delay, if we do not intend to allow India—that brightest jewel in Great Britain's Crown—to pass out of our safe keeping.
*THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The Earl of ONSLOW)
My Lords, I rise with some diffidence to make some remarks on behalf of Her Majesty's Government upon the speech of the noble and gallant Lord who has just sat down, because he has an acquaintance which is unrivalled with the theatre of operations on the North-Western Frontier of India, and because he is admitted to be the first military authority, either in England or in India, on the strategy which we may have to adopt in the event of an invasion of India from the North-West Frontier. Three times expeditions have gone through those Passes into Afghanistan—expeditions which have been marked by gallant deeds of arms, and sufferings heroically borne. Those campaigns have brought but little glory, and but little advantage, to the Empire, save only in the case of the one brought to a successful conclusion by Lord Roberts of Kandahar. If I understand the proposal of the noble Lord aright, it is that, we ought to assume political control over what he calls the "robber-haunted no-man's-land" between India and Afghanistan; that we should take up our boundary so as to be co-terminous with that of the Ameer of Afghanistan; that we should take control of all the roads that lie between the two countries, and construct railways up to the frontier of the Ameer's territory. Now, I do not for a moment wish to differ from the noble Lord, that it would be most desirable that we should have roadways and railways up to the frontier of Afghanistan; but, I think the noble Lord will agree with me that that can be accomplished upon one condition, and one condition only—that we should, first of all, place the tribes, through whose territories these roads and railways will run, under subjection to the Government of India. My Lords, there was one feature of the noble Lord's speech which I welcomed. There was in it no attempt, I think, to suggest that the military operations which have been carried on recently upon the Frontier of India were due to the action either of one party in the State or the other party in the state. There has been, I think, a good deal too much in the controversies which have arisen on this subject of trying to attach blame to one set of Her Majesty's Ministers or 764 another. I welcome the speech which the noble and gallant Lord has delivered as a contribution towards an attempt to solve a most difficult question, and one which has been of perennial embarrassment to successive Governments of India. The noble Lord did not suggest to us, I think, by what means he would proceed to the subjection of these independent tribes upon the Frontier. No doubt it is a fascinating picture to draw that we should occupy the great and, I believe, healthy plateau of the Tirah, which stands at a considerable elevation above the level of the sea, and compares most favourably with the unhealthy situation of Peshawar and our cantonments lower down the Valley. But though the Tirah commands some of the Passes, such as the Khyber and the Bolan and the Kohat, it does not command the whole of our North-West Frontier. That Frontier is 1,000 miles in length, and the occupation of a part of it would not bring under subjection all those tribes which lie to the North-East of the Kabul River—the Mohmands, the Swatis, and the Bonerwals—nor would it give us control of the territory of the Waziris, or the Valley of the Gomal, or the Zhob. Therefore, it is obvious that even if we were to adopt the suggestion of the noble Lord and establish a sanatorium in the Tirah, we should still have a large extent of the Frontier, with which we should have to deal otherwise. The noble Lord said it was no part of his duty to call your Lordships' attention to what might be the financial considerations involved in his proposal. My Lords, I very much regret that the noble and gallant Lord did not give us some opinion on that subject, because I think that this is a consideration of the utmost importance, more particularly in the present and very special condition of the finances of India. We have something like 50,000 men along the Frontier at this moment engaged in the present operations at a cost which has not been estimated at less than four crores of rupees. I should like very much to know what, in the opinion of the noble Lord, would be likely to be the cost of permanently maintaining in the Tirah a force sufficient to keep under control the warlike races that inhabit that district. I should like to know whether, in the noble Lord's 765 opinion, it would not be necessary permanently to increase the Army stationed in India; I should like to know whether all this could be accomplished at once, and in a short time, or whether the force stationed there would not be exposed for a very long time to come to very much the same sort of guerilla warfare, which is known along the Frontier as "sniping," from which our officers and men have suffered in the present expedition. My Lords, I think that your Lordships will agree with me that a very large sum of money would have to be expended for this object, and I want to know how that sum is to be obtained. Is it to be obtained by additional taxation of the people of India, who, although their condition is, I am grateful to think, improving year by year, are still, when compared with the more fortunate condition of their fellow-subjects in this country, in a state which we should consider as one of absolute squalor and poverty. I should like to know whether it would be necessary to divert some of the funds which are set apart annually to redeem the debt against the possibility of an outbreak such as we had last year of famine, and whether we might not have to curtail the railway projects which the Government of India have before them, and which have added so much in the past to the stability and prosperity of India. The noble and gallant Lord compared the nature of the Beluchis and the Pathans, and he advised your Lordships that if you were to seek to establish relations with the Pathans similar to those which Sir Robert Sandeman succeeded in establishing and maintaining in Beluchistan, you would be likely to have no more trouble than Sir Robert Sandeman had with them. But, I venture to think, from what I have read, that the character of the Beluchis and the character of the Pathan are essentially different. In the first place their system is totally different. When you have to deal with the Beluchis, you have a headman at the head of the tribe; and once you have got the consent of that man to any proposal, you may rely upon it that you have also got the consent of the whole tribe. That 766 is not so with the Pathans. Their leaders have not by any means full control over the tribe, and I am told that among them there is a system of government with which we are not wholly unacquainted in this country. I believe that they enjoy what is known here as Party Government, and that in no country in the world, not even in France, are such rapid changes made amongst those who administer the affairs of the country. But when the noble Lord says that, in his opinion, we should endeavour to cultivate more friendly relations with the tribes upon our frontier, I venture to say that that is a very different thing altogether from the first proposal of the noble Lord, that we should occupy that territory and take political control. My Lords, these tribesmen are not wild animals, that you have to seek out in their lairs, or that you have to stalk like deer in the Highlands of Scotland. They come down, and they mix with our own fellow subjects in their thousands, and they spend many months with our fellow-subjects on the other side of the Indus, but their relations with them have in no way changed their republican and their fanatical character. They have relations with us which may be described as entirely friendly, and even now, when we have been engaged in what many of us think—but what I venture to say they do not—a very bitter warfare, they send down their women to Peshawar to be looked after by the ladies there; they are satisfied that they will be well treated and well cared for, and even, I am told, when they have sought to send their letters to post, they have not hesitated to hand them to our outposts, satisfied that they will be safely delivered. To what may we attribute a report such as this? Is it not to a feeling of confidence that we are sincere in our declarations that we will leave them in the entire occupation of their country, and that we have no desire to interfere with their tribal customs? I heard the other day, in another place, a speech of the Leader of the Opposition, in which he took great exception to a statement of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for India, in which he described these tribesmen as hereditary robbers, and it 767 was said, in portentous tones, that these words would resound throughout the length and breadth of the frontier of India. Well, my Lords, I have yet to learn that Hansard has any very great circulation among the Pathan tribesmen. I had the advantage in 1894 of being present at a solemn Durbar, held by the present Viceroy, Lord Elgin, at which he made a speech, addressed not only to our fellow-subjects of the Punjaub, but also to representatives of the tribes from the confines of India, from Afghanistan, and from other districts, and these were the words that he made use of—It is our aim and ambition so to regulate our relations with the brave, undisciplined inhabitants of the hills on our Western Border as at the same time to ensure the peace and security for life and property upon which our Treaty obligations and the dictates of humanity compel us to insist, and to leave to them the entire occupation of their country, the fullest measure of autonomy and the most complete liberty in their internal affairs to follow their tribal customs.My Lords, when these words were translated into the language which they understood, I thought that even upon the unimpassioned faces of the Oriental listeners there was an exchange of glances, which seemed to me to say that the words fell at least upon no unwilling ears. That declaration is the policy of Her Majesty's Government now. The despatch, which your Lordships will find at the end of the Blue Book, to which the noble Lord has called attention, distinctly lays down that this policy of Her Majesty's Government is to avoid any extension of administrative control over tribal territory. But, at the same time, the Government recognises the necessity of the fulfilment of its responsibility, which we have already incurred. Now, my Lords, what are these responsibilities? They are, in the first place, that we must protect our own border, and those who dwell within our border in British India; in the second place, that we must fulfil the solemn engagements that we have entered into towards the Ameer of Afghanistan; and in the third place, that we are bound to see that the stipulated undertaking of that tribal service, and those engagements which the tribes have entered into are duly and punctually performed, and with a view to carrying out that policy the Secretary of 768 State for India has laid down that the roads and communications necessary for the purpose must be preserved, and that posts can be established. But in the establishment of these posts, a very careful limitation is placed in the dispatch. All those who have followed the operations on the North-West Frontier will have observed that in many cases the posts that have been attacked, some of which have unfortunately fallen, were not sufficiently defensible, and the Viceroy has been enjoined to limit the establishment of any posts upon our Frontier outside our own border to those that are sufficiently defensible, and only those those that can promptly and immediately repel an attack; and in addition to that the Viceroy has been enjoined to take into consideration the financial considerations. Not only must any of these posts or lines of communication be desirable, and no doubt, in the opinion of the noble Lord, there are many that are desirable, but in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government they must not only be desirable, as I said before, but the gain of their establishment must be commensurate to their expense. There is one road, and one road especially, to which we should allude, and which has been taken a little further than those which I have just described to your Lordships, and that is the Pass through the Khyber. The Khyber Pass is one of great antiquity, and of great importance, and its preservation is undoubtedly of the very greatest importance to what is known as the prestige of the Government of India, and as far as that Pass is concerned, very clear injunctions have been given to the Government of India that they may take all such steps as they think necessary to keep the Khyber Pass open for the passage of caravans, and in order that it may be available for us to send troops through, should we ever be called upon to discharge the obligations which we have entered into with the Ameer of Afghanistan. The noble Lord referred to the policy which was adopted by the Government of the Punjaub, and the Commissioner of Peshawar in withdrawing the officer commanding the Khyber Rifles, and in not sending troops up to their relief when they were threatened. I will not delay your Lordships by going into the question of the Proclamation, because 769 the noble Lord has not done so. The matter was very carefully considered by Aslam Khan, the political officer in the Khyber Pass, by General Elles commanding at Peshawar, and by the Commissioner and Superintendent at Peshawar, Sir Richard Udny, and all three unanimously agreed that it would be most unwise to withdraw the Khyber Rifles from the Pass. General Elles was also of opinion that the military position did not justify him in sending Imperial troops to the relief of the Khyber Rifles. I would like to read to your Lordships a few words from the Blue Book, page 90, in which the Commissioner at Peshawar gives his reasons for that decision—We are all three absolutely and unanimously opposed to calling in the Khyber Rifles from posts in the Pass to headquarters at Jamrud, even if matters were as bad as represented in my telegram of 17th; such a measure would have worst possible effect, as it would at once be supposed that we had abandoned the Pass, and the posts at Landi Kotal and Ali Masjid would probably be looted by tribesmen. We are all of opinion that we must trust the Khyber Rifles under their own native officers to the end, and that even if they eventually failed us, and bolted with their arms and ammunition, this would not be so bad as showing distrust of them by calling them into Jamrud before they had been fairly tested.That decision was arrived at after very careful consideration, and with the approval of the Government of India, and in connection with it I should like to draw your Lordship's attention to what are the conditions under which the Khyberis hold the place for us. It has been insisted from the beginning that the Government of India are in no way called upon to support the tribesmem in maintaining the Pass. The agreement which was entered into with the Afridis contains clauses, of which these words are the most important—Our responsibility for the security of the road is independent of aid from Government in the form of troops; it lies within the discretion of the Government to maintain its troops in the Pass, or withdraw them, and reoccupy at pleasure; we will provide such number of men as the Government may direct to carry out the duties, and to enable us to render the road secure.Now, my Lords, with that agreement before them, the Government felt that they ought to leave the defence 770 of these posts entirely in the hands of those who had undertaken to defend it, believing that they would suffer no great loss, and their belief was justified by the result, because out of the whole of the men who were employed in the Pass, only 10 or 11 were killed in the attack made upon it by their fellow tribesmen. My Lords, the Government of India believe that the system which has obtained in the past is one which it will be in the main safe to follow in the future, and that when once these disturbances have come to an end, and when punishment has been meted out to those who opposed this arrangement, arrangement will be possible, and this is also the opinion of the Government of the Punjaub, by which the Afridis will be willing to keep open the Pass again upon terms somewhat similar to those which were imposed in the past, and they have every confidence that they will be able to keep it open with native tribal levies, without employing any number of Imperial troops for that purpose. I do not think that the noble Lord went with any great detail into the question of the appointment of a Frontier Commissioner. We know that some years ago, during the Administration of Lord Lytton, there was a proposal to separate all the districts on the other side of the Indus from the Government of the Punjaub and Scinde, and I think that the noble Lord himself was designated as Frontier Commissioner for that purpose. The noble Lord has referred to Sir Robert Sandeman, and, no doubt, no officer ever served the Crown with greater distinction and success than Sir Robert Sandeman—but I would venture to ask the noble Lord whether he can point to any man who fulfils the condition of Sir Robert Sandeman, and whom he would point out as the one upon whom all eyes would concentrate as the man who ought to be appointed as the Frontier Commissioner or Warden of the Marshes, and I think that until there is some one man to whom all eyes would point, this is a question that must remain slumbering. At all events it has done so since the days of Lord Lytton. I do not say that this is a question which ought not to be considered, but for the moment much has been accomplished in the direction of better relations with Afghanistan, and I do not think that the question of the separation of the Trans- 771 Indus, and Scinde, and Punjaub is of that importance which it was at the time to which the noble Lord has alluded. Well, my Lords, I think that in the history of every country—in the history of England and of Europe—there have been many cases where proud hereditary hillmen have retained their independence facilitated by the propinquity of mountain fastnesses where they have for a long time resisted the advancement of civilisation and of their absorption in the great states suffered by their neighbours in the plains. But in almost every one of those instances these populations and these mountaineers have ultimately had to accept the civilisation brought to their doors, and have had to accept absorption in the great states around them. I do not think that any of us would predict any other ultimate destiny for these proud but barbarous tribes upon our North-West Frontier, and I am quite sure that we can wish for nothing different, but the time when that shall be accomplished seems to me to be in the hands of destiny. But whether it shall be accelerated or not lies in the hands of the Government of India and of this country. I understand from the speech of the noble Lord that he would hasten its accomplishment at once. I would submit to your Lordships that the moment is not opportune for the hurrying on of this question, and I would venture to doubt whether the undoubted sacrifice of treasure, and perhaps also of men, involved, would be commensurate with the objects which the noble Lord seeks to attain. He spoke of the rapid advance of Russia, and I am not going to follow him into that part of his speech. All I would like to say to your Lordships is that in the past gigantic strides have been made by Russia towards our Frontier in India, but at the present moment, at any rate, whatever may happen in the future, Russia seems to be intent upon other parts of her Empire rather than upon this part which borders upon Afghanistan and India. Trans-Continental railways and her ports in the Far East are apparently occupying her principal attention now, and therefore I think that, whatever may have been the case in the past, the present moment is not one which shows any special reason for our making an advance in the Forward policy as rapidly as has been desired by the noble Lord. I would 772 rather wish that the matter might be allowed to remain in the position in which it now is; that we should go on endeavouring to cultivate those friendly relations, which, I believe, are so easily cultivated with these tribes, but that we should not do anything to attempt to administer their territory or to obtain greater control over their tribal customs. My Lords, the position which I think we now stand in may be summed up in a very few words. What we have done is to dispel the illusion which seems to be entertained by the tribes that there is any part of their territory which is inaccessible to us, should we choose to go there. We have proved our sincerity and the sincerity of our declarations, that we do not desire to occupy any part of their territory, nor to interfere with their tribal system of government. The terms which we have imposed upon them are leniency itself compared to the terms which they would expect from men such as they are themselves, and just as a Bank of England note has currency all over the world, because it never enters into the mind of man to imagine that the obligation written on the face of it will not be discharged, so it is known that the declaration that we will avenge any attempt at a raid upon own territories is equally certain to be accomplished, but that when once it is accomplished we shall return to the solemn undertaking we have given to the tribes which I have read to your Lordships, and which was made in open durbar by the representative of the Queen-Empress, and that, without any desire or ambition of conquest, or to extend our boundaries, we have no other wish than to cultivate the friendship and goodwill of our neighbours who live in the North-West Frontier of our Indian territory.
§ *THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
I am sure that your Lordships must have been glad to hear the noble and gallant Lord who introduced this discussion, and who has brought this Question of the recent serious outbreaks on the North-West Frontier of India to your Lordships' notice. In your Lordships' House, where so many of us have had important connection with India, where there are no less than four who have had the honour of filling the high office of Viceroy, and I believe five who have filled the office of Secretary of State for India, putting aside 773 other noble Lords, like the noble and gallant Lord who addressed your Lordships, it seems to me to be highly desirable that some discussion should take place upon this very important matter. My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble and gallant Lord that such a discussion ought to be carried on without any recrimination between one side and the other of the House, and I shall certainly avoid raising any topic which could excite any Party feelings in any of your Lordships' minds. It seems to me to be a matter of very little consequence who happened to be Viceroy or Secretary of State for India when such or such a Measure was adopted. What I think is necessary is to consider as calmly as we can what are the probable causes of this outbreak, and what should be the future policy in dealing with the Frontier tribes, so as to avoid so serious a position of affairs as we have had to meet on the present occasion. For, my Lords, at no time in the history of India has so large a force been under one command as has been collected in this miserable war. The financial results of the war must be most serious to India, and what is quite as important is, that while this war has been carried on it has been almost impossible for those responsible for the administration of India to pay that attention to home affairs which is so necessary in the present condition of that country. My Lords, I will say at once that I am not quite in accord with the views expressed by the noble and gallant Lord, more particularly with reference to our dealings with the tribes during the past eight or nine years. The noble and gallant Lord correctly observed that our first connection with these tribes was in consequence of the annexation of the Punjaub when we succeeded the Sikh Government in possession of the country, on the other side of the river Indus, which is bounded by the mountainous territory occupied by these tribes. At that time the other side of the Indus was only held by the Sikhs by force of arms. They sent a military force into the country from time to time to collect revenue, but there was no real holding of the country at all. Fortunately, some of the very finest administrators and soldiers that ever graced the British Army and the British rule in India were employed in the Punjaub at that time. 774 Men like Nicholson and Edwardes, and others, were placed in this difficult country, and the result of their administration was most successful. We organised a force, which was a good deal composed of men belonging to the tribes themselves, for the purpose of restraining and repressing any inroads upon our territory. We got rid of the capitation taxes and of the Customs duties which the Sikhs had collected. We invited the cordial relations of these gallant tribesmen with our officers. We introduced a system of irrigation, which enabled the land to be cultivated, and so successful was our administration that after only 10 years' at the time of the Indian Mutiny, this country, instead of being a source of danger to us, was a source of safety; Nicholson and others brought down from the Punjaub the forces which materially assisted in the capture of Delhi, consisting, curiously enough, of gallant soldiers who were hereditary enemies of one another—namely, Afridis and Sikhs, but who combined to support the British Government on the ridge of Delhi. My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord has said that the Punjaub system of dealing with these tribes has failed, and that he wishes to substitute some other system. I thought that this assertion had been completely disposed of by some very able articles which have recently been published in the Times newspaper, giving an account of the system which was carried on by the Punjaub Government. It has been said that there were 28 punitive expeditions in the first 30 years of our occupation of the Punjaub. The Punjaub system, by men who are masters of what are called "vituperative epithets," has been described as a policy of "alternate violence and inaction," and some who are not quite so delicate in their language have called it a policy of "butchery and scuttle." Nothing can be more inaccurate than such a description of the Punjaub policy. An examination of the history of these punitive expeditions shows that in the first 10 years of our occupation there were 19 punitive expeditions, in the second 10 years of our occupation there were five punitive expeditions, and in the third 10 years of our occupation there were only four punitive expeditions. During the time that I had the honour of filling the position of Viceroy, and in 775 the time of Lord Mayo, eight years in all, there was only one punitive expedition. Since the war with Afghanistan there have been only two such expeditions, and therefore I may say, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that the Punjaub system of dealing with the tribes has been successful in this, namely, that on the whole these raids by the tribes ceased to exist in any serious quantity. So far, my Lords, for the noble and gallant Lord's criticism of the Punjaub system. Now, my Lords, the noble and gallant Lord desires to substitute for the Punjaub system of dealing with these tribes the system pursued by Sir Robert Sandeman, in Beluchistan. There is no member of your Lordship's house who has a greater right to express an opinion on the merits of Sir Robert Sandeman than I have, because it so happens that when I was Viceroy I had the satisfaction of placing Sir Robert Sandeman in the position in Beluchistan which enabled him to render those very great services to India which have been correctly described by the noble and gallant Lord who has just addressed your Lordships. No man can have a higher opinion of the merits of Sir Robert Sandeman than I have. He had an extraordinary power of dealing with the tribes which he had to deal with, and he exercised it with very great advantage to the State. But, my Lords, when the noble and gallant Lord said that the fact that Sir Robert Sandeman had been successful in Beluchistan proves that his system can rightly be applied to the Pathan tribes, I venture to differ from him, and I do not think it is fair to quote Sir Robert Sandeman as an officer who, if he had had his own way, with only administrative matters to consider, would have been in favour of applying his system to the Pathan tribes in the manner in which it has been recently applied. The reason I say this is because it is Sir Robert Sandeman's own recorded opinion. A very interesting book has recently been published, entitled "The Life of Sir Robert Sandeman," by Mr. Thornton, and at the end of this book, the memoranda which Sir Robert Sandeman wrote upon these subjects have been published, and in one of these memoranda—namely, one written in December, 1890—he used these words in explaining his 776 views as to the relations with the Waziri and the other Frontier Tribes. Sir Robert said—Were it not for military considerations affecting the defence of India against Russia, I would be an advocate of masterly inactivity instead of conciliatory intervention, and I should consider it a mistake to make any attempt to include within our control the fringe of independent tribes which lie between ourselves and Afghanistan proper.So much for Sir Robert Sandeman's views upon this matter. Now, my Lords, I will briefly explain to your Lordships what happened when the Sandeman system was applied to the Pathan tribes in 1889. In 1889, Sir Robert Sandeman took a force into a district which is called Zhob, lying between Beluchistan and the Afridi country. He found some of the head men ready to say that they would like us to occupy that country. He made arrangements with them for the protection of certain roads going through the Zhob country into Afghanistan, and he went back again to his own administration in Beluchistan. Well, my Lords, in the very next year, 1890, it was found to be necessary to send a very large force into that country in order to carry out the arrangements made by Sir Robert Sandeman. Two or three bodies of troops marched all through the country to show our strength, and one section of the tribes with whom Sir Robert Sandeman desired to deal having refused to be dealt with, were coerced, their country was invaded, and they were obliged to submit. The officer commanding that expedition thought it would be a very "useful thing" if a very high mountain in that country, which is called "King Solomon's Throne," could be ascended, "in order that any mystery that was connected with that mountain should be entirely done away with," and the consequence was that some troops were sent up to the top of that mountain. I can conceive nothing more likely to create suspicion among these tribes than for them to see our officers at the top of their hills, surveying and making maps of the country which they have always considered to be independent, and a country that was held up to that time to be independent of us. These Pathan tribes guard their independence with the same jealousy as the natives of Switzerland and other mountainous 777 countries. I must say that the officer, who went up to the top of the Throne of Solomon was not governed by the wisdom of Solomon in that operation. My Lords, that was the result of the first of the attempts to extend the Sandeman system to the Pathan tribes, but I am afraid I must explain how it proceeded. The effect of that expedition, which, in the view of the noble and gallant Lord, was for the purpose of enabling us to protect Afghanistan against Russian invasion was far from agreeable to the Ameer of Kabul. It created great suspicion in his mind, so much so that he sent some of his officers into that country, over which he considered he had some rights, and this was one of the reasons why it was necessary to send in 1893 Sir Mortimer Durand to meet the Ameer, and arrange the different spheres of influence of Afghanistan and British India on that Frontier. Moreover, in the winter of the same year, a survey was made for a railway through that country, and shortly afterwards it was annexed to Beluchistan—in point of fact, annexed to British India. The noble and gallant Lord, in that most interesting and able book that he wrote, giving us so graphically and so charmingly the account of his experiences in India, called the inhabitants of that country "our new subjects." Some of these tribesmen have a very picturesque way of expressing things, and one of the headmen of that country of Zhob expressed himself in this way to one of our gallant officers after the occupation. He said—What can we do? We have got the Zhob force on one side of us, and the Punjaub frontier force on the other.He then put his little finger in his mouth, closed his teeth, and said, "What can I do with my little finger now?" Your Lordships may accept this account of the real feeling that we have created in these people. They are a little finger between our teeth, and is it not likely that if our teeth are ever opened they will not extricate themselves from our control, and assert, if they can, their original independence? The noble and gallant Lord (the Earl of Kimberley) did not allude to the Durand Convention of 1893, and therefore I will only say that I heard with great satisfaction the views expressed by 778 my noble Friend on this side of the House upon the subject of the Durand Agreement between the Ameer of Afghanistan and the British Government, because the noble Earl can speak upon that matter with greater authority than any other man, having at the time filled the office of Secretary of State for India, and being, in point of fact, responsible for the Agreement; and, therefore, it is most important that the noble Earl's view of the Durand Agreement should be emphasised. The noble Earl said it is—not an agreement for extending our frontier, nor did it necessitate our moving forward; its object was to mark the line between us and the Ameer, beyond which the Ameer on his side, and we on ours, should not interfere with the tribes. It was a negative agreement as to what we were not to do, but it did not bind us to a Forward policy. The tribes may have regarded it as handing them over to us, and they may have concluded that the consequence would be an interference with their independence The Government of India ought to have acted with the greatest possible caution, and to have had the tribes clearly to understand that the Durand Agreement did not affect their independence.These were the words of the noble Earl, and I was glad to hear them, because there was great uncertainty upon the interpretation of this Agreement, and it has been used by those who share the views of the noble and gallant Lord to advocate further advance and greater interference with the tribes. My Lords, I wish that I could say that the views that my noble Friend expressed had been carried out in India, but that is not so. The Durand Agreement laid down a line of frontier between the Ameer and ourselves, and in order to mark out that line a brigade of troops was marched into the independent territory of the Waziri tribes to support those who were to mark out the boundary, and I do not see from the papers that the consent of the tribes was asked to the march of our troops through their territory for that purpose; but the result of it was disastrous, because the tribes fired into our camp at night, and then an expedition, consisting of 9,000 men, had to be sent all through their country, and posts were established throughout Waziristan. My Lords, I will not dwell on this much longer. The result was again disastrous. When we began to establish these posts, which, it appears, we were in the habit of putting where they are not always 779 defensible, the tribes began to break out again. Murder was committed—a fine was imposed. An English officer—Mr. Gee—with a force, was sent up to collect those fines, and to settle the position of the posts. He was treacherously attacked by the tribes—almost all the English officers were killed or wounded, and there was only one matter of satisfaction connected with that unfortunate affair—viz., the extraordinary courage of the Native officers who had to lead the troops back to the nearest support. That was the result of the second attempt to introduce the Sandeman policy among the Pathan tribes. The noble and gallant Lord has complained with respect to our troops having evacuated the Kuram. I was surprised to hear that from the noble and gallant Lord, because I well recollect that the withdrawal of the troops from the Kuram was done under the noble and gallant Lord's own deliberate advice given to the Government of India of the day. Here are the words used by the noble and gallant Lord in 1881, when that evacuation was ordered. They are in a formal and most important document written by the noble and gallant Lord at the conclusion of the campaign in which he so greatly distinguished himself, when the future operations of the Government of India with respect to the Frontier were being discussed. The noble and gallant Lord said—I strongly advocate the complete withdrawal of the troops from the Kuram.These are the words of the noble and gallant Lord, but he added that he strongly protested against the tribes of the Kuram being put back under the Ameer of Afghanistan. That was provided for by my noble Friend the Marquess of Ripon, who had to carry out those arrangements. Therefore I am surprised to hear such an attack as that now made. I think the noble Lord called it a breach of faith. I consider that the reoccupation of the Kuram in 1893 was a very doubtful proceeding. It is not necessary to dwell upon it, and I should not have mentioned it if it had not been for the observations made by the noble and gallant Lord. Besides this, there have been other movements of the same description in other parts of the tribal territory. The crest of the 780 Samara hills was occupied—and I think that must have been when the noble and gallant Lord held the position of Commander-in-Chief—forts were placed there which had to be abandoned when the attack on the troops took place lately, and where, unfortunately, many gallant Sikh soldiers lost their lives. That is one of the results of the new policy—to construct forts in tribal territory in order to protect lines of communication, and for other purposes. My Lords, I should have said, in respect to the introduction of the Sandeman system into Waziristan, that the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjaub, Sir Dennis Fitzpatrick, entered his protest against the manner in which that advance took place. He explained the difference between the Beluchi and the Pathan—that whereas in Beluchistan you can deal with the headman of the tribe with perfect confidence, the Pathans form a kind of republic, and the fact that you have two or three of the headmen on your side does not at all prove that the whole tribe will go with you, or will accept the decision of the headmen. There are always to be found among these Pathans men who are very fond of the English rupee, and would be only too glad if the British Government should occupy part of their country, but it is soon found that they do not carry their tribesmen with them, and this has been proved by the example I have given, and also other events on the Frontier. My Lords, so far as to the operations which have taken place in the last eight or nine years to the west of the Peshawar. To the east a similar course has been taken, and there is one expedition at which, when I read about it, I was, I may say, almost shocked, because it appeared as if we had sent a force up into the Black Mountain to pick a quarrel with the tribes in order to enable us to send an expedition into their country. We sent a force up into the Black Mountain, and the tribes were asked to come and help to make a road through their country. The instruction given to the officer in command was that he should go back into the plains if the tribes opposed him. They did oppose. He went back. In the next year a large force was sent into the country—to coerce them. That was another of these expeditions that have taken place in these last eight or ten years 781 —not a punitive expedition, of which the noble and gallant Lord complained, but an expedition intended to carry out the "Forward policy." My Lords, last of all there was the establishment of the force at Malakand, which I will not discuss, because I think the House has heard quite enough of the Chitral Question. Now, I should like your Lordships to consider what the feelings of the Afridi tribe must have been in consequence of all these operations. What did they see? They saw the country of Zhob annexed to the British territory. They saw Waziristan undergoing the same process. They saw forts on the Samana Range close to them. They saw Kuram re-occupied. So much for one side of Peshawar. On the other side they saw the expedition to the Black Mountain, and forts put up on the Malakand. When I examined the causes of these outbreaks I was irresistibly forced to the conclusion that although, doubtless, there was a great wave of fanaticism amongst all these tribes—they are subject to great waves of fanaticism, and very much under the control of their mullahs—unless there had been these constant encroachments in their neighbourhood, and unless they had entertained a reasonable suspicion that we were going to encroach upon their independence, there would not have been that combination among the tribes which we have lately seen, and which has caused this serious war on the Indian Frontier. That is the conclusion, my Lords, to which I am forced after reading these papers to which the noble and gallant Lord has called our attention, after giving the most careful attention to the subject. I beg, in making these remarks, to say that I make no accusations against anyone. I am perfectly satisfied that all the officers concerned endeavoured to do their duty to the best of their ability, and thought at the beginning that these measures could be carried out without doing any injury. They were mistaken, and there cannot be a greater proof of their mistake than the history of their attempt to extend the Sandeman policy to these tribes. My Lords, I was very much pleased to see in the dispatch of the Secretary of State for India of the 28th January last, which has been laid 782 before Parliament, that he has arrived at the same conclusion, for he distinctly lays it down that the system which has been successful in Beluchistan ought not to be considered as applicable to the Pathans. He says in the 15th paragraph—The character and internal government of the Beluchi tribes, controlled from Quetta, so differ from those of the Northern Pathans that the arrangements working satisfactorily there need not now be reviewed or criticised as necessarily forming a foundation upon which to base our actions elsewhere.And in his speech the other day, in another place, he emphasised that paragraph. He said—Keep the Sandeman system and the Punjaub system to their respective and legitimate spheres of influence, and not harshly seek to introduce the Southern system under the more difficult conditions.My Lords, I beg to express my entire concurrence with the view which has been expressed by the Secretary of State, in his dispatch and in Parliament, and I shall pursue that part of the subject no further. My Lords, the other subject upon which I wish to say a few words is the future policy which is to be pursued in respect to these tribes. I am happy to say that I am able to tender my cordial support to the policy of Her Majesty's Government, as shown in the dispatch to which I have referred, and explained in the speeches of the Secretary of State elsewhere, and of the Prime Minister in this House. My Lords, I think that as to the misconduct of these tribes there can be no dispute, because they attacked our forts and attacked their own fellow tribesmen in the Khyber. We had the right to treat them as a defeated enemy after a war, and I think the moderation of the terms imposed upon them is highly to be commended. There is to be no interference with their independence; no annexation of territory—we are not to have what the noble and gallant Lord recommended, the occupation of the centre of the Afridi country; no tribute is to be imposed upon them; no general disarmament; no condition about roads passing through their country, or surveys to be made on their hills. Again, with respect to the posts to which the noble and gallant Lord has alluded, and which the noble Lord the Under 783 Secretary of State for India dealt with in his excellent speech in reply to the noble and gallant Lord—these posts are to be reconsidered. I think there can be no doubt as to the necessity of reconsidering these posts, so that we shall not be subjected to the calamities which have resulted from establishing posts without sufficient support. With reference to the Khyber Pass, I was very glad to hear from the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India that it is not intended to occupy the Khyber Pass with British troops. That question was considered in 1881, and it was the opinion of everyone that the occupation of the Khyber Pass by British troops could not be recommended, for reasons with which I need not trouble your Lordships; and I observe that the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjaub, Sir Mackworth Young, has recently expressed, in the strongest terms, the same opinion. The noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India did not allude to the force that has been placed in the Malakand Pass. I did not expect that the Government could be in a position to express an opinion now, but I am bound to say that I consider that the disposition of that force ought to be reconsidered. It seems an extraordinary thing that we should have had 4,000 troops, or more than a brigade, on the Malakand and at Chakdara, and that a force which ought to have been able to hold its own against any attack from the tribesmen, would have been exposed to disaster if it had not been for immediate reinforcements from the Punjaub. I trust that Her Majesty's Government will not be afraid, if they think that they were wrong in respect of the protection of the road between Chitral and the Punjaub, to change their mind upon the matter, and to make some other arrangement. I was much struck with the opinion given by Major Deane, the political officer in charge of the road, which will be found in the Blue Book, at page 46 in the second volume—that the present arrangements for the protection of the road are not sufficient. This opinion was given before the outbreak of the tribes. Now, it would be a most serious matter if there should be any further disturb 784 ance along that road. Major Deane says—Experience of the working during the last eight months has convinced me that the Malakand is too far from Dir for certainty of control over Dir. This could only be remedied by moving the troops now forming the flying column near Dir to the open country.And then he goes on to suggest certain other arrangements for making this road secure. I call the attention of Her Majesty's Government to these plain facts of this matter because it is of very serious importance. In respect to the general principles of the management of these tribes, as explained in the dispatch, and as repeated by the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India, I have nothing to do but to express my entire concurrence. I think, however, especially after the speech of the noble and gallant Lord, that something more remains to be done. None of your Lordships can have listened to his speech without feeling that it is our duty to carry out our engagements with the Ameer of Afghanistan if necessary, and to protect his country against any attack from Russia. The assurance given the Ameer by my noble Friend the Marquess of Ripon in 1880 was, I think, couched in nearly the same words as the assurance I myself had given to the former Ameer in the year 1873. It was not a new engagement at all. The only question which is to be discussed is, what is the best way of enabling us to carry out that assurance? That is a matter of the gravest importance, and there is no man who can speak upon it with greater authority than the noble and gallant Lord who has addressed your Lordships. At the same time, there are other gallant officers, whose opinions may be considered to be equal in value to that of the noble and gallant Lord, who entertain different views. There is the opinion of the gallant predecessor of the noble and gallant Lord, in the position of Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir Donald Stewart. There is the opinion of Sir Neville Chamberlain, of Sir Henry Norman, of Sir John Adye, and many others, and this will be sufficient to prove to your Lordships that it is not the general opinion of all military experts that the 785 precise manner in which the noble and gallant Lord proposes to carry out these engagements is the best for the purpose. My Lords, the view expressed by the noble and gallant Lord is that the only way in which we can properly carry out our engagements to the Ameer is by holding the Kabul, Ghuznee, and Kandahar line, and by having control and making roads over all the passes between Afghanistan and British India. Now, my Lords, the view expressed by a most distinguished authority in the year 1881 was not the same as that expressed now by the noble and gallant Lord. The opinion then expressed was that the position at Kandahar, on the flank of any advance upon India, was the essential position to hold, and that it would not be wise to distribute our forces and to advance either by the Khyber or by any other of these passes into Afghanistan. My Lords, circumstances may have somewhat changed since that time, but I doubt whether they have changed to the extent of making it necessary to abandon that most important principle of strategy laid down in the opinions then held. These were the views then held by this very high military authority—Military operations undertaken in the direction of Kandahar, will be from the base of Kurrachee, and this line will henceforth be the theatre of any war carried on by us, the Afghans, or Russia, in Central Asia.He went on to say that—Under any circumstances, it is by this road that all offensive operations on our part could most advantageously be carried on";and, again—That it would be best to decide to remain strictly on the defensive on our North-West Frontier.And further, this high military authority thought that—We should advocate all our energies to striking vigorously on the Kandahar side.And then he mentioned a very important consideration, namely, that—We have neither sufficient money nor men to warrant our operating on more than one line.Of course, these questions are not to be settled by a map and a pair of com- 786 passes—we must look to the nature of the people to whom the territory through which we have to pass belongs. And further, this high military authority whom I am quoting, said—It may not be very flattering to our amour propre, but I feel sure that I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us; and should Russia in a few years attempt to conquer Afghanistan, or invade India, we should have a better chance of attaching the Afghans to our interests if we avoid all interference with them in the meantime.Now, the very gallant officer who gave these opinions was Sir Frederick Roberts, just after his return from Afghanistan, and when he had to consider the defence of India immediately after the last war with Afghanistan. My Lords, I think I have shown, at any rate, that there are military opinions adverse to those which are now given by the noble and gallant Lord. What I have to impress upon Her Majesty's Government is this: that after the speech of the noble and gallant Lord, in which reference has been made to certain strategical considerations which are to govern all our dealings with the Frontier tribes, the matter ought not to be allowed to stand as it does now. This question, in my opinion, should be thoroughly threshed out with regard to the number of troops we have available in India; and to the effect of any measures such as those recommended upon the tribes, and upon some of out most gallant soldiers in the Indian Army. All these things might be considered, and, likewise, the financial power of India to defray the enormous expenditure which would be involved if the policy advocated by the noble and gallant Lord were undertaken. I do not know how many miles of railway he does not recommend. All the strategical points must be connected by railway. One matter must also be considered which was omitted by the noble and gallant Lord in his able speech, and that is—What is the opinion of the Ameer of Afghanistan upon the policy of the noble and gallant Lord? The noble and gallant Lord wants to defend the territory of the Ameer of Afghanistan against the Russians. What will the Ameer say to his plans? Does the Ameer wish us to make roads and railways into his country?
§ LORD ROBERTS OF KANDAHAR
I never proposed to make railroads in his country. I said we were to make roads and railroads up to our frontier.
§ *LORD NORTHBROOK
My impression is that I have seen a map in which the future strategical railways for the defence of India are laid down, and that that map came out of the office of the noble and gallant Lord in India. It shows railroads to Jellahabad, Kabul, and Kandahar. I believe that the plans of the noble and gallant Lord involve strategical railways through Afghanistan, and perhaps railroads across the passes between India and Afghanistan. Does he suppose that the Ameer of Afghanistan, whom he wishes to defend, would like that kind of defence? All we know is that the Ameer of Afghanistan is at present opposed to such advances into his country, and I do not wonder at it. The Ameer of Afghanistan has behaved loyally to us in respect to these frontier outbreaks. He has done his best to discourage the tribes from continuing their resistance to us, and he has sent them back over and over again from his capital when they begged for his help, and I think his opinions are not to be ignored in dealing with this important question. My Lords, I must apologise for having detained you so long, but the military defence of India must be of the highest interest to anyone who has had the honour of filling the position that I have filled in India—I cannot admit for a moment that I have not the same interest in the defence of India as the noble and gallant Lord. We both have the same interest at heart, we both feel that this jewel of the British Empire must be defended at all cost. The question is how? My Lords, if it is necessary for the public interests that this question should be discussed and decided, it should be discussed and decided not by military men alone, but by the military men and statesmen, that Her Majesty's Government should make up their minds, and that the arguments on both sides should be laid before Parliament. It is very unfortunate that the opinion of so distinguished an officer, who has filled so important a position in India, should come to the knowledge of the country only through a speech in the 788 House of Lords. Surely, the noble and gallant Lord must have put his opinion on record whilst he was in India—the matter must have been discussed by the Government of India and by the Indian Council at home—where distinguished Members sit who are thoroughly acquainted with all these subjects. Surely Her Majesty's Government might put the country in possession of all the information which is in their hands, besides that contained in the two Blue Books here, in which there is not one single word touching the strategical views of the noble and gallant Lord, and the public should know what arguments can be used on both sides. There appears to me to be no valid reason why this should not be done. Papers were given to the public freely enough in 1881. There can be nothing new to be disclosed to the Government of Russia. The gallant Lord said that he did not complain of the advance of Russia, and we have no fear whatever of the result, supposing Russia should make an attack upon India. They probably know in Russia quite as much about the views of the different military authorities in India as will be told them by any Papers that may be presented to Parliament, and the whole subject has been discussed quite lately, and with great ability, in letters written to the Times newspaper, giving the arguments fully on both sides. My Lords, there is only one other observation which I have to make, and that is that I cannot look with satisfaction at the position of Parliament in respect to recent events in India. Under the Act of 1858, when troops in the pay of the Government of India leave the confines of British India, an Address from both Houses of Parliament is required. It has never been considered that Frontier expeditions come under that provision of the Act; and I suppose it was rightly so considered. At the same time, 70,000 men have been engaged in hostile operations on the confines of India without any communication to Parliament. I do not think this is right, but it is difficult to say what remedy can be applied. I think also that some check should be put upon annexations of territory taking place without the knowledge of Parliament. I do not think that there is any legal provision on the subject at the present time, but I should like to see something 789 of the kind introduced, because, in my opinion, full consideration ought to be given to annexations of territory. There was a Proclamation issued in 1858, after the Indian Mutiny, the Queen's Proclamation to the Princes and Peoples of India. In that Proclamation solemn assurances were given that Her Majesty, acting, of course, under the advice of her Ministers, did not desire any extension of her territorial possessions. What is the proposal of the noble and gallant Lord for occupying the whole of this Frontier territory, which is as large as Switzerland and the Tyrol combined, but a policy of annexing territory to the British Empire? Of course, I do not say that there may not be reasons which justify the annexation of territory—we were, for example, obliged to annex Upper Burmah, which has been done, of course, since the Proclamation was issued. But I think, where it is necessary to annex territory, there should be some solemn Act—some Resolution of the Secretary of State for India in Council, confirming the proposals of the Government of India, and that full information defining the limits of the annexed territory should be laid before Parliament; and, if Parliament should not be sitting, then at a certain time after the meeting of Parliament. My Lords, I believe that the policy which has been explained by the Secretary of State for India in his dispatch of the 28th January is a right policy. If steadily carried out, I trust that the evil effects—there must be some evil effects—of this unfortunate Frontier war will be removed, and that the Government of India will soon be able to divert their attention from the Blue Mountains beyond the Indus, and direct it to the larger and, in my opinion, far more important questions which affect the interests of Her Majesty's subjects in our great Dependency.
§ *LORD REAY
My Lords, on the speech of the noble and gallant Lord I wish only to make two observations. The noble and gallant Lord said that the circumstances on the Frontier had changed very much; but one of the most important changes he left unnoticed. He did not allude to the Treaties concluded with Russia, by which the Fron- 790 tiers between Russia and Afghanistan are delimitated. Now that seems to me to have made a considerable alteration in the old situation; at all events it has deprived Russia of that facility which the noble and gallant Lord ascribed to her—of being able to come over the Frontier whenever she desired. It would constitute a distinct breach of Treaty, and I ask whether it is politic to attribute to a great Power such a desire in a Debate which cannot fail to be noticed abroad. If the wider question has to be considered with regard to our defences in case of war with Russia, that is not a question which concerns India only, but which should be decided as an Imperial interest by the Home Authorities. The problem is too complex to be left to the decision of the Government of India, and the decision must rest with those who deal with the defences of the Empire as a whole, with due regard to our military and naval resources. The noble and gallant Lord also mentioned that "comparatively ignorant people" had influenced the late Government in their decision with regard to Chitral. Now, I beg to give the noble and gallant Lord the assurance that we were not guided by "comparatively ignorant people," but that we consulted the most eminent experts, military and civil, who were at our disposal, and that it was on their advice that the decision was taken; that we do not regret that decision, but that everything which has happened since that decision was taken has confirmed us in the opinion that it was a wise step to take, for which we are fully responsible, and for which we accept the full responsibility. My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord does not allude to the financial position. Now, I am one of those who believe that our position in India mainly depends upon the financial situation. If the Imperial and local Governments have not got the necessary funds to spend on roads or on original works, the Administration is disheartened, and the people compare the condition of our Exchequer with that of a Native State. The noble Earl opposite, I was very pleased to see, laid stress upon our financial obligations towards India. I cannot adduce better evidence for my opinion than a statement made in July, 1894, by Sir Charles Pritchard, Sir James 791 Westland, and Sir Anthony MacDonnell—In conclusion, we would urge abstention from aggressive activity on our North-West Frontier. We have at last arrived at a satisfactory understanding with the Ameer; we have thus and otherwise attained to a strong Frontier position. This we should endeavour by all means to consolidate peacefully, and with it we should rest content as long as circumstances may permit. Many important questions of domestic politics now press on the attention of the Government of India, and we believe that conflicts and warfare with the Border tribes would add greatly to the difficulties of the present situation. The need for a policy of un-aggressive watchfulness on the Frontier is indicated as much by the feeling of unrest which is perceptible in India as by the overwhelming need for economy in all branches of expenditure. No expenditure would be more distasteful to the public in this country, or in our opinion more unjustifiable, than expenditure incurred in attempts to subjugate those independent Frontier tribes.The authority of these three eminent members of the Viceroy's Council cannot be gainsaid. If there was an "overwhelming need for economy" in 1897, the need is certainly not less urgent at the present time. I was, therefore, very pleased to hear that the noble Earl did not contemplate the appointment of a Warden of the Marches. I am afraid that the appointment of such a Commissioner would lead to fresh attempts at expansion, and I hope that the control as now exercised by the Punjaub Government will in no way be removed. With regard to what the noble Earl has said about the concentration of the various scattered posts, as stated in the dispatch to the Government of India of the 28th January, I need hardly say that I cordially agree. Then I understand that the noble Earl also endorsed the policy that no tribute is to be levied, and that the policy of disarmament is not to be carried through. The Commander-in-Chief in India, I see, was the only dissentient in the Council of the Viceroy in regard to the permanent occupation of Tirah, but I was very glad to notice that the military member of the Council of the Viceroy did not join in that dissent. I shall say nothing about the Sandeman policy, excepting that I fully endorse what the noble Earl has said, as to the merits of Sir Robert Sandeman with regard to the Beluchi tribes; and after all that has 792 fallen from the noble Earl with regard to the extension of the policy of Sir Robert Sandeman to the Pathan tribes, and the assurances given by the noble Earl opposite, I need not dwell further on that point. My Lords, if the Government are carrying out the policy which the noble Earl opposite has this evening announced to the House, they will have our cordial support. That policy is identical with that which was so well described by the noble Duke opposite in the year 1881, when he decided to evacuate Kandahar, and with those words I shall conclude—The moral effect of a scrupulous adherence to declarations which have been made, and a striking and convincing proof given to the people and princes of India, that the British Government have no desire for further annexation of territory, could not fail to produce a most salutary effect in removing the apprehension and strengthening the attachment of our Native allies throughout India and on our Frontiers.My Lords, what India wants is rest and peace, and the restoration of confidence.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR War (The Marquess of LANSDOWNE)
I I cannot help thinking that those of us who listened to the remarkable speech of my noble and gallant Friend on the Cross Benches must have felt that, whether they agreed with him or not, he at least laid before this House an account of the so-called Forward policy, differing very widely indeed from some of the very grotesque caricatures of that policy which have been presented to the public in the Press and on the platform during the past few months. We have been constantly told that the Government of India had been captured by a little clique of military gentlemen, inspired with a desire for wild schemes of annexation, and animated, above all things, by a thirst for medals and decorations; and it has been confidently stated that the councils of these gentlemen have resulted in a series of military operations thoughtlessly undertaken, and calculated to impose on the finances of India a strain which they were quite unable to bear. Now, my Lords, at any rate, my noble and gallant Friend did not recommend to the House anything which might 793 be described as a scheme of wholesale and reckless subjugation of the Frontier tribes, and I cannot help thinking that the Under Secretary of State for India scarcely apprehended the meaning which my noble and gallant Friend intended to convey to the House, because I certainly did not understand my noble and gallant Friend to suggest that what is described as the "Forward policy" should be applied in any but the most gradual and cautious manner. There was no suggestion of an immediate occupation of tribal territory or of an advance to the boundaries of Afghanistan. In point of fact, I gather that what my noble and gallant Friend advocated was very much what was advocated by the Under Secretary of State himself, who told the House—I took the words down when they were spoken—that the result of the recent operations had, in the first place, been to dispel the illusion of the inaccessibility of these tribes, and that, the result having been achieved, he was in favour of the establishment of more friendly relations with the tribesmen. That is the policy of the dispatch, and that, I venture to say, must be the policy of every reasonable person who has ever considered these matters. Then I wish to notice for a moment what was said by the noble Earl, who, I think, is no longer in the House. Lord Northbrook imputed to the noble and gallant Lord on the Cross Benches a desire to apply the Sandeman policy indiscriminately throughout the whole Frontier. Now, as Lord Northbrook himself said, Sir Robert Sandeman himself admitted very frankly that no one policy was applicable to conditions so varied as those which are to be found at different points along the line of the Indian Frontier. The noble Earl cited, as an example of what he described as an unwise application of the Sandeman policy, several military operations, which he described to the House. Now, he cited in the first place, the conduct of the Government with regard to the great Orakzai tribe in 1891.
§ *LORD NORTHBROOK
I made no criticisms upon the operations, or the cause of them. I said that there had been operations, and that the Samana forts were likely to make the Afridis afraid of something similar in their country.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR
I should be sorry to misunderstand the noble Earl, but I thought he quoted that as a case of the bad results of the application of the Sandeman policy.
§ *LORD NORTHBROOK
Certainly not, in no way, because I knew that that expedition was in consequence of the raids upon our territory.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR
That is what I was going to say. That is true almost without exception of the greater part of the Frontier operations which have taken place during the last 10 years. The noble Lord referred to the Black Mountain operations. I do not know whether that was intended also as an example of the inapplicability of the Sandeman policy.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR
Let me tell the noble Earl how that came about. The tribes near the Black Mountain had for years rendered the condition of the neighbourhood intolerable. They raided into British territory, and at last it became necessary to send an expedition to keep them in order. Certain conditions were imposed upon the tribes, among them being the condition that they were to get rid of a very notorious ringleader, who was at the bottom of half these troubles. They failed to fulfil the conditions, and reverted to their old lawless habits, and two other expeditions had to be sent within the next three or four years. But, my Lords, that is not an example of the application of Sir R. Sandeman's method. On the contrary, it was rather an illustration of the old-fashioned procedure of going up into tribal territory, punishing the tribes as severely as you could, and then coming away again. Now, my Lords, I have protested against the exaggerated descriptions of the Forward policy which have been placed before 795 the public of late, and I think public opinion has been even more bewildered, because people were told that they had to choose between this Forward policy and the policy of Lord Lawrence. We all know that the policy of Lord Lawrence, excellent as it may have been in his time, is a policy that we have left very far behind indeed. I am not going to say which political Party had the greater share in the abandonment of that policy. I do not, however, think it would be very difficult to show that the more numerous and the longer strides have been taken by the Party opposite. What is perfectly obvious is that the advance of Russia to the very gates of Persia and Afghanistan, our own advance to points very far beyond the line of the Indus, and, above all, the engagement which we have entered into with the Ameer of Afghanistan, render it absolutely impossible that the old policy of Lord Lawrence could be resorted to in the present day. And, my Lords, another thing which has, I think, further accentuated the difference between the present order of things and the old order is the conclusion of the Durand Agreement, to which several allusions have been made. I know that it has been held that one result of the Durand Agreement has been to create a feeling of unrest among the tribes, and there may be some truth in that assertion. On the other hand, I am convinced that the Durand Agreement was the greatest step that has been taken for a long time in the direction of placing our relations with the tribes, on the one hand, and with the Ameer on the other, in a more satisfactory condition. ["Hear, hear!"] I am glad to hear that cheer from the noble Earl opposite, who approved of the Agreement, which was negotiated under my instructions. My Lords, during the years preceding the conclusion of the Durand Agreement we were engaged in one continuous series of recriminations and differences with the Ameer. The burden of his complaint was—"Tell me where my Frontier is, and I will observe it." As a result of the absence of any ascertained boundary between his sphere of influence and ours, the tribes were continually playing off the Ameer against us, and the Government of India against the Ameer; and the Ameer, who, no doubt, cherished 796 some dreamy vision of gradually recovering the great Afghan kingdom ruled over by his predecessors, was perpetually intriguing with the tribes and encroaching upon our borders. My noble and gallant Friend, I am sure, remembers that when he and I were in India together the Ameer was encroaching among the tribes of the Kuram Valley, was occupying positions in the heart of the Waziri country, and had even sent a post to occupy a place which was well within the Beluchistan borders. Now, my Lords, all that friction has disappeared, and I have no doubt whatever that it is mainly owing to the Durand Agreement that the Ameer's attitude has been as correct as it has been during the troubles through which we have lately been passing. But, as has been said by one or two of your Lordships, the real question which we have to consider is the future management of these important tribes. We are concerned with them as our neighbours—neighbours who, I am afraid we must confess, do not always conduct themselves with the strictest propriety; and we are also concerned with them, as the noble and gallant Lord told the House, as the occupants of a great belt of tribal territory which, unless our system of military defence is to be altered, may possibly lie behind us should we be engaged in hostilities beyond the Frontier. This tribal belt includes, I believe, something like 200,000 fighting men—men of very great bravery, and men who, we know to our cost, are armed with weapons of precision. My Lords, it does seem to me that we should spare no effort in order to render our relations with these tribesmen of a kind which shall give us some hope that their behaviour will be of the character that we should desire, in the event of our being engaged in serious hostilities on the Frontier of India. And, my Lords, we are also concerned with these tribes because in their territory we have a recruiting ground which supplies us with many excellent soldiers—a recruiting ground the fertility of which may, perhaps, to some extent compensate us for the exhaustion of other sources of supply. Now, my Lords, as to the manner in which these tribes should be handled. There is, I am glad to say, on several points, a very near approach, at 797 all events, to agreement. I think it is not denied that if the tribes commit outrages they must be punished for those outrages. I have heard nobody dispute that, nor, again, is it contended that their external relations are not to be controlled by us. I think I heard a suggestion from the noble Lord opposite that, because we have concluded a boundary treaty with Russia it was less necessary for us than it was before to consider that point. But I do not think that our experience in other parts of the world at all suggests to us the idea that because we have laid down a line on the map we can afford to sit still behind that line and take no thought for further developments in its neighbourhood. Then, my Lords, there is the question of the Passes. With regard to some of them there is not, I believe, any difference of opinion. That we must keep the Khyber open has been admitted by all the noble Lords who have noticed this question. Nor, I suppose, will it be disputed that the Passes leading to Kandahar, through which our railways run, must be kept open and protected. Then there is the Kuram Pass. I do not gather that even the noble and gallant Lord desires to keep the Kuram Pass open as a military road. We are there for the purpose of fulfilling our engagements to the Turi tribe, and so long as these are scrupulously observed I take it that our obligation will be fulfilled. I should like to say a word as to the Gomal Pass. It was opened when I was in India without firing a shot, and it is, as the House knows, not only the shortest, but the easiest trade route between India and Afghanistan. Caravans pass through it in large numbers, carrying with them the merchandise of Afghanistan to India, and returning to Afghanistan with piece goods, metals, and other commodities procured in India. I must say that to allow a great trade route of that kind to be closed against us because of the bad practices of a mere handful of these tribesmen, who have hitherto terrorised the neighbourhood of Gomal, seems to me to be a confession of impotence utterly unworthy of a great Power. We are at this moment all over the world endeavouring to obtain facilities for trade, and why we should allow a few of these hillmen, against the will of their fellow- 798 tribesmen, to close that Pass in our faces I cannot conceive, and I am glad to think that that is the view which has found favour with noble Lords opposite. They will remember that the late Secretary of State, Sir Henry Fowler, acceded to the request of Lord Elgin's Government to place a military post at a point in the neighbourhood of the Gomal. He did so in the teeth of a strong and energetic dissent from three Members of Lord Elgin's Council, an ably-written and carefully reasoned document, which, greatly to my surprise, a noble Lord opposite (Lord Reay) quoted just now as an explanation of the policy which he desired to follow. It was the policy which his own Secretary of State had declined to accept when placed before him on a memorable occasion, described by the dissentients as the "parting of the ways." The way which the Secretary of State chose was not the way indicated by the noble Lord, but the way indicated by Lord Elgin and the other members of the Council, who insisted, and rightly insisted, on the necessity of placing a post for the protection of the Gomal Pass. My Lords, during these discussions we constantly hear that it is desirable to exercise an influence or a control of some kind over these tribesmen. I doubt whether a single speech has been made, or a single dispatch written, in which that expression "influence" does not occur. I want to know what it is we mean when we talk of influencing these tribesmen. The word is, perhaps, a little wanting in precision, and we are more likely to arrive at its true meaning if we consider first what it does not mean. In the first place, when we talk of "influence" we do not mean the subjugation of the tribes or the annexation or administration of their territory. I am rather inclined to think that we have extended our system of provincial administration too far, even within the limits of our own tribal territory. These tribesmen are rough and lawless people, who do not at all understand technicalities or formalities, and who value the substance of justice more than the form of it. I do not think they are at all grateful to us for giving them elaborate codes of law, or for conferring on them the right of appeal from one court to another, ending possibly in a suit before 799 a high court, sitting many hundred miles away from their homes. And, if such procedure is distasteful to the tribes, I believe its effects on our own officers are not altogether advantageous. It has the effect of overwhelming them with work—dry technical work—leaving them little or no leisure for work of another kind; and I think it has the effect of creating in them a tendency to depend rather too much upon mere technicalities and matters of form, instead of looking to the substantial justice and effectiveness of their administration. I am, therefore, by no means in favour of bringing these tribesmen outside our limits within the scope of our administration. Now, my Lords, another thing that "influence" does not mean is, in my belief, a policy of mere abstention. I do not think in private life you will influence your neighbours by pretending to be unaware of their presence; and if occasionally you vary the procedure by violently assaulting them, you may, perhaps, arrive at some kind of influence, but it certainly would not mean what the noble Lord opposite (Lord Kimberley) called in a speech of his the other day "friendly influence," which is what I understand he desires to obtain over the tribes. There is also this to be remembered. Much as you may desire to maintain an attitude of pure abstention, the facts will not allow you to do so. We sometimes see fancy pictures drawn of the Frontier with the tribes on one side and ourselves on the other, as if we need have no concern with what passes on the other side of the border. But we know that that is not the case. Those tribes are, as it were, astride on the Frontier. They frequent our territory; they move backwards and forwards between the plains of India and the hills; and it so comes to pass that neither their proximity nor their habits and character enable us, even if we desired to do so, to ignore their existence. The result is that there is forced upon us, not a policy of abstention, but a policy of abstention qualified by very severe police measures. My Lords, those who have watched the events on the Frontier of India are familiar with the kind of vicious circle round which these events travel. You have months, perhaps years of lawlessness and misconduct on the 800 part of the tribes, the authorities keeping their blind eye to the telescope as long as they can. At last the outrages, or the raids, become too numerous. Then comes the fine, which is usually paid by the most respectable section of the tribe. If it remains unpaid, you have a blockade, which means that the hard-working, laborious members of the community who have some lawful business to follow are prevented from following that business. Then comes the expedition. The troops go in, the villages of these wretched people are destroyed, and their crops are burned, their wives and children driven out on the hillside, perhaps their fruit trees are cut down—a punishment which seems to me to be a singularly ruthless one—and then the troops go away. As often as not a submission of some kind is patched up with scarcely decent delay, and we are fortunate if we go away without a few shots being fired as the troops retire through the narrow valleys. My Lords, we come away leaving behind us a legacy of hatred and contempt; hatred for the wrong and injury we have done, contempt because, having gained an advantage, we are apparently unable to maintain it. My Lords, I ask your Lordships whether that policy is one altogether dignified and worthy of a great Power, whether it is a humane policy, worthy of a nation which is very fond of lecturing other countries for any acts of undue severity, whether it is an economical policy, judged by the large sums which have been spent upon it during the last few years? I ask your Lordships whether you can be surprised that there should have grown up in India a school of public men who have, without harbouring any sinister designs on the independence of the tribes, desired to see something better, something more worthy of a great Power like ourselves, adopted in the management of their country? Now, I noticed the other day that the Leader of the Opposition recommended his hearers to read an extremely interesting book which has lately been written by Mr. Thorburn. I should like to read to your Lordships Mr. Thorburn's account of the way in which these things are done—As a rule such counter-raids—officially designated expeditions—cost us tens of thousands or lakhs of rupees, whilst inflicting compara- 801 tively insignificant loss on the offending tribe, and ending in our accepting a nominal fine, declaring bygones bygones, and taking hostages for good conduct; in other words, paying a few score starving Highlanders several hundred rupees a month for idling in British territory for an indefinite time, under surveillance, in a comfortable serai or barrack. Thus our enemy, though officially beaten, in reality blackmailed us.And he continues—Such a way of making war produced no finality, and entirely failed in its object. Every soldier in the force has known that the expedition had not been a success because prosecuted on lines which insured failure.And then he goes on further; and this, remember, is the book recommended by the Leader of the Opposition as a volume in which sound doctrines of tribal management are to be discovered—To teach a hill tribe a lasting lesson, a lasting loss must be inflicted—a big bag must be made, as in 1891–92 on the Samana, or a wholesale destruction of valuable property, such as towers, houses, crops, stored grain, must be relentlessly effected. Failing either of those desiderata, a slice of territory should be annexed, or leading men, or a famous family or section of a clan, blotted out by deportation. De, lenda est Carthago, the principle followed by Romans and Russians, is the cheapest and the least bloody in the end if the work is to be thorough and enduring.I am not prepared to go nearly as far as Mr. Thorburn, but I say distinctly that there are in India many men who are weary of a Frontier policy of this kind, and who desire to substitute a different policy for it; and I can assure your Lordships that if that feeling is entertained it is a feeling which has originated not with ambitious soldiers, but with a great many of our best and most intelligent Frontier officers and civilian officials, who are convinced that it is within our power to manage the tribes upon a different principle. The policy which I understand to be advocated by Lord George Hamilton's dispatch with which the Blue Hook concludes, is a policy of control over the tribes within our sphere of influence coupled with the minimum of interference with their domestic affairs. To talk of tribal independence is, I cannot help thinking, a little misleading. There can be no complete independence in the case of a people that has not the power of transferring its allegiance in any direction it pleases. We know that that power is not given to 802 these Frontier tribes, and I think, therefore, it is better, perhaps, not to speak of them as independent. That condition of qualified independence is a very common one all through the borders of India, not only on the western, but also on the eastern side, on the borders of Burmah and Siam. The small States and Frontier tribes are not strong enough to stand alone. They know they must lean upon some stronger power, and, in the case of the tribes whom we are speaking of this evening, I take it it is our intention that they should lean upon us, and not upon any other Power. But, my Lords, if that policy is to have any success, I hold strongly, and I find nothing in the dispatch inconsistent with that view, that we must show the tribes that they have something to hope as well as something to fear from us. That, I take it, is the essence of the policy which is advocated by the noble and gallant Lord on the Cross Benches, and that is the policy which is certainly indicated in the dispatch, in which I find that even in the case of these Afridi tribes, who have most defied our authority, the Government of India is instructed that it is, if possible, to enlist their goodwill and to secure their assistance in maintaining the road through the Khyber Pass. My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord mentioned the question of roads and railways. Now, I think he will scarcely deny that in the matter of railways he was always a little bit ahead of the government of India. And very naturally. He desired to see certain strategic lines made. We, on the contrary, knew that a strategic line of railway is a very expensive line to make, and that it brings little or no return, and we were consequently not always able to meet the views of the noble and gallant Lord in the matter of railways. In the case of roads, I think the matter stands on a very different footing. That the main arterial roads are to be kept open is not denied. When we come to the secondary or subsidiary roads the case is less clear, but I do not think any money can be better applied on the Frontier than that spent in encouraging the tribes themselves, of their own free will, to make and improve roads. A road is a great civiliser; it civilises the man who makes it and the man who travels along it. I believe that, cautiously 803 and judiciously pursued, the policy of promoting the construction of roads is a perfectly sound one. Then, my Lords, some reference was made to the question of posts, and there, I think, the policy laid down in the dispatch is perfectly clear. We desire to see as few military posts as possible, and these placed in the strongest and most carefully selected positions. I believe I am right in saying that the tendency in India of late has been to concentrate these posts. I know there was a considerable amount of concentration in the Gilgit Agency, and that posts occupied by regular troops have been replaced by what is known as levy posts. But that there must be some posts to guard these roads is inevitable, and it is idle to imagine that you can secure the safety of these roads without keeping a certain number of troops in their neighbourhood. My Lords, there is one other point on which I am in entire agreement with the noble and gallant Lord. I attach, as he does, the utmost importance to the selection of the Frontier officers by whom these tribal affairs are to be managed. An officer may be a most excellent and able administrator in an Indian province, but he may be altogether deficient in the special qualities which are required to manage these wild mountain tribes. If you select the right men for employment of this kind, they will not entangle you in military expeditions; they will, on the contrary, avoid the necessity of anything of the kind. In spite of the severe things which were said by the noble Earl below the Gangway as to the results of Sir Robert Sandeman's policy, I am convinced that the effect of his administration in Beluchistan—
§ *LORD NORTHBROOK
I beg pardon; so far from saying anything severe of Sir Robert Sandeman, I praised him as much as I possibly could.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR
I understood the noble Lord to find very serious fault with Sir Robert Sandeman's dealings with the tribes in certain cases.
§ *LORD NORTHBROOK
I should be very sorry to blame Sir Robert Sandeman, because it would be contrary to my convictions. I gave him every praise I could. I cannot use words too strong in praise of Sir Robert Sandeman's management of Beluchistan. The subsequent operations in the Zhob country were not embarked on by him on his own authority, but were in consequence of orders, and were from military considerations alone.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR
I am very glad to find that the noble Earl admits that in the Beluchistan Agency the policy of Sir R. Sandeman was signally successful. It is, of course, a truism to say that the Beluchi and Pathan tribes differ very widely. The organisation of the tribes is different, the character of the men is different, but I have always believed that there were some qualities which you would find in any tribesmen, and that there were some principles which, if judiciously applied, would operate successfully whether you were dealing with the northern or the southern portions of the Frontier. My Lords, I do not think that is a mere theory, because, if your Lordships will consider what has been the condition of the Indian Frontier while these operations have been in progress, I think you will be struck by the extreme difference between the conduct and demeanour of the tribesmen in those regions where the old stand-aloof policy has no longer been applied and the conduct of those tribes, on the other hand, where we have still abstained from having any relations at all with the tribesmen or exercising any influence over them. Those who believe, not indeed in a reckless policy of subjugation and aggression, but in a policy based partly upon the exhibition of overwhelming force when it is required, and partly upon wise measures of conciliation and control, may point to the success of that policy wherever it has been tried. Following the Frontier from north to south, your Lordships will find that in Hunza, 805 where a very few years ago a severe struggle took place—in Chitral itself, in Dir, and in a great part of the Swat Valley, in the Kuram, and even among the Waziris of the Gomal, true Pathans, who, a few years ago, were the greatest raiders on that part of the border, there has been scarcely any trouble, while the whole of the Beluchistan Agency, managed according to the principles of Sir R. Sandeman, has been quiet, in spite of the fact that throughout these regions intrigue had been rife and no effort spared to organise revolt. If, on the other hand, you turn to the Mohmands, whose country was unknown to us, to the Afridis, whom we treated with distant respectfulness, and to the Orakzais, on whose borders we had, indeed, established posts, but with whom we had never entered into any relations—in their case the struggle was bitter and prolonged, and the temper of the tribesmen most irreconcilable. My Lords, I sum up by venturing to ask your Lordships to dismiss from your minds the idea of a Forward policy such as that described in some of the travesties which have sometimes done duty for descriptions of that policy; to dismiss also from your minds the idea that we have to choose between such a policy and a return to the policy of Lord Lawrence; I ask you to believe, equally, that it is possible to administer the Frontier in a better manner than by reverting to the old system of inflicting severe punishment on the tribes and then withdrawing altogether from intercourse with them. We cannot move back; events will not allow us to stand still; to a Forward policy we are bound to come. But it need not be a policy either of subjugation, or of raids and counter-raids, and if it is pursued with patience, with consideration for the feelings and prejudices of the tribesmen, if its execution is entrusted to properly selected Agents, it will succeed. Those of us who are sanguine of its success found ourselves on the assumption that, whether a tribesman be a Beluchi or a Pathan, there is a good deal of human nature in his composition. We also found ourselves upon the belief that amongst the qualities which distinguish the race to which we belong stand out conspicuously those qualities of self-reliance, of impartiality, of fearlessness, 806 and, above all, of broad sympathy, which have enabled us all over the world to win over to ourselves, and to lead, men belonging to races less civilised than our own.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, I have listened, I must say, with great regret to the speech of my noble Friend who has just sat down. When the noble Earl opposite, the Under Secretary of State, resumed his seat, I had hoped that I and my Friends would have been able to say that we had little criticism to make upon the views of Her Majesty's Government, and that we had listened with satisfaction to the noble Earl; but, my Lords, the situation is altogether changed by the speech of the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess ventured upon the rash assertion that there was no difference between the policy of my noble and gallant Friend who was just now on the Cross Benches and the noble Earl the Under Secretary of State for India. Yet those who listened to the noble Earl thought there was a very marked difference between the two policies, and that one of them was wrong and the other was right. My Lords, the noble Marquess assures us that, in the statement which he has made, and in the defence which he has gone into of the speech of my noble and gallant Friend—because, practically, the speech of the noble Marquess was a defence of the speech of Lord Roberts—he is only following the policy of the Secretary of State for India, as declared in his dispatch, and as explained to us by the Under Secretary of State. Now, my Lords, I venture to say that I cannot take that view. For instance, here is a paragraph out of the long dispatch of Lord George Hamilton, in the second volume of this Blue Book. What does Lord George Hamilton say?—The two main objects to be borne in mind were indicated in my telegram of the 13th October, namely, the best possible concentration of your military force, so as to enable you to fulfil the several responsibilities to which I have adverted, and the limitation of your interference with the tribes so as to avoid the extension of administrative control over independent tribal territory.Now, my Lords, I heard with regret my noble Friend remark that the expression "independence" as applied to these tribes was a mistake. But that expression, "independence," is Lord 807 George Hamilton's expression, and I think it is an expression which ought to be applied to these tribes, because they do not occupy British territory, and, unless you intend to annex them and make them British subjects, you are bound to recognise them as independent tribes. Then Lord George Hamilton goes on to say—The second principle upon which stress must be laid is the avoidance of any interference with the tribes which can be avoided, with due regard to the interests already set forth.I confess that the tone of that dispatch is far wiser than the speech which we have heard this evening. From the beginning of this discussion I greatly regretted the absence of the Prime Minister. I regret it because of its cause, but I confess I regret it still more because nothing could be clearer or more explicit than the declaration of Lord Salisbury on the first night of the Session upon this matter, and I am sorry that he is not here to mediate between the Secretary of State for War and the Under Secretary of State for India. The noble Marquess talked about the great exaggerations which had been indulged in upon some platforms and in some newspapers in regard to what is called the "Forward policy." My Lords, I think my noble Friend greatly overstated any exaggerations that may have been put forth. Some exaggerations there may have been in some cases, but the speech of the noble and gallant Lord to-night was an exposition, sufficiently startling, coming from him, of the whole of the Forward policy. The real difficulty of this question lies here—Secretaries of State for India and Viceroys of India may make wise declarations with respect to the policy they intend to pursue, but there are persons in India and there are persons at home who desire to pursue a different policy, who are always pressing forward to another ulterior end, who have that end constantly before them, and when the Government of India or the Government here take any step which is in their direction they receive that step with gratitude, but use it only to go forward. That is the real danger which is con- 808 nected with this question. I observe that the noble Marquess said—My noble and gallant Friend does not propose to carry out all these things to which he alluded at once. He does not mean to make all these roads and railways immediately.No, my Lords, of course he does not. But these are the objects for which they are intended, and the ultimate aim is this: the attainment of the line which goes by the name of the Kandahar, Ghuznee, and Kabul line. Now, my Lords, my noble and gallant Friend talked as if what is called the Forward policy, or, at all events, the policy which he defended and laid before us, was a new policy. My Lords, it is not a new policy at all. It dates back to the first Afghan war. It is the policy which produced the first Afghan war. It is the policy which resulted in the failures and disasters of that war. It is the policy which produced the second Afghan war, and it is the policy which produced the expenditure and mischiefs of the second Afghan war; and I venture to think it is a policy which has had much to do with the recent outbreak, which has cost so many valuable lives, and will cost such a large sum of money, and which has not proved itself to be a success. My noble and gallant Friend made one or two observations connected with the Government of India at the time I was there, and before I pass to the consideration of other parts of his speech, I should like to be allowed to say a few words on them. With regard to one of them, my noble Friend now sitting on the Cross Benches has disposed of the remark in which the noble and gallant Lord said that our troops were withdrawn from Kuram, and that we broke the pledge which we had given to the people of that valley. I deny that in toto. Our troops were undoubtedly withdrawn on the recommendation of the noble and gallant Lord himself. But we firmly and consistently adhered to our obligations to the people of Kuram. These obligations were entered into by the noble and gallant Lord. I am bound to say that I regretted these obligations. I regretted the engagements which he had made with the authority of the then Government of India, but when I came to look into it, I saw that these obligations were of a strict nature. Our promises 809 were definite, and nothing was ever done, while I was in office or afterwards, which was inconsistent with those obligations. On the contrary, the language which we always held towards the Ameer, with regard to Kuram, was that he must not meddle with the tribes of Kuram, because we were under obligations to defend them, and we should have done so if he had attempted to interfere with them. Then there was the question of Quetta. We did not occupy from Quetta. My noble Friend sent Sir Robert Sandeman there first, and as I have mentioned Sir Robert Sandeman's name I should desire to say, having known him well, that he was a very able public servant, to whom the public of this country and India owe a great debt. But it does not follow from that that the policy which he pursued in one part of the country was necessarily applicable to another part of the country. He was sent to Quetta. He remained there. It is quite true—perfectly true, as the noble and gallant Lord said, that a certain railway which had been partially made towards Quetta was taken up and destroyed, and had to be put back again. I think I had better leave my noble Friend opposite—the Lord President—to defend that proceeding, because it was done under stringent orders sent out to us by him when he was Secretary of State for India. Now, my Lords, with regard to the question of the management of the tribes, I understood the Under Secretary for India to say he felt—and I suppose, therefore, the India Office feel—that there was a great difference between the Pathans and the Beluchis, and that the system which would be suitable to the one would not necessarily be suitable to the others. Now, I understand the noble Earl to say—
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I said it was much easier to deal with the Beluchis than the Pathans, because the Beluchis were represented by one man.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
I should be sorry to misrepresent the noble Earl, but I think it comes to the same thing. That, my Lords, is really the state of the case, and I was very sorry to find the noble Marquess implying, as I thought, that the Government would like to apply the Beluchistan system to the Pathans. 810 I do not think that would be a wise proceeding, and I think it would not be likely to be successful.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR
I did not suggest that the Beluchistan system was applicable in its entirety to the Pathan tribes. I said there were certain characteristics that you would probably find in any tribesmen, but I believed that, by a friendly intercourse, it was possible, even in the case of the Pathans, to make some impression.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, there is another matter of detail with regard to which I should like to say something—the keeping open the Khyber. We all agree that the Khyber must be kept open, but I do sincerely hope that the Government here and in India will not hastily give up the hope of maintaining the system which has been in force for the last 18 years. It may be impossible—I will not say whether it is impossible or not—but I hope it will not be hastily abandoned. It is impossible, I believe, and most undesirable, I am sure, to occupy the Khyber Pass by British troops because of climatic circumstances, and therefore I hope that, in dealing with the case, Her Majesty's Government will give the fullest consideration to the possibility of reestablishing, with modifications it may be, the system previously in force. The arrangements which were in force for 18 years or more were under the management of Colonel Warburton. He left his position there only a short time before these outrages took place. Looking to his great influence and peculiar qualifications, he might, if he had remained, been able to restrain the Afridis. I do not know whether he would, but I understand he is now again on the spot, and I hope, therefore, that the Government will not, as I say, hastily adopt any system of occupying the Khyber Pass by British troops if it can be avoided. My noble and gallant Friend on the Cross Benches seemed to point to the creation of roads and railroads. He denied that he wished them to enter Afghanistan at present, but they were to go in that direction through the territory of these tribes. As I understand it, he proposed to make those roads and railroads in order to enable the British 811 Government to fulfil their obligations to the Ameer. Now, I should very much like to know whether the Ameer himself desires that these roads and railroads in his immediate neighbourhood should be made? My impression certainly is that if the Ameer remains now in the same mind in which he was when I was in India there are few things which he would dislike more than the construction of roads and railroads in the direction of his own territory; and when we are told we must do this in order to fulfil our obligations to the Ameer, surely it is only reasonable we should ask whether the Ameer himself wishes us to take that mode of fulfilling our obligations. My Lords, I am not, of course, thinking of entering into any strategical discussion with the hon. and gallant Lord, but I must make a few observations on that part of the question. In the first place, he will, I am sure, acknowledge that political and financial considerations must also enter into any question of this kind, and that any Government, however much they may desire to follow in military questions the opinion of their military experts, is bound not to put those considerations aside. But in this case, my Lords, the whole force and weight of these considerations may be fairly acknowledged, and ought to be acknowledged—and why? Because, great as is the authority of my noble and gallant Friend upon questions of this kind, there are, as he knows, military experts of the highest authority, and of the greatest and most intimate acquaintance with India and the Frontier, who differ in toto from him; so that we are not dealing here with a question in which you have the opinion of all military experts on the one side and the exponents of political and financial considerations on the other, and consequently to these latter considerations the Government may give full weight, and, indeed, are bound to do so. I was sorry to hear my noble and gallant Friend say he would not deal with the financial part of this question. The noble and gallant Lord has been not merely Commander-in-Chief, but in that capacity he was a member of the Government of India, and was responsible not only for military questions, but for all questions that come before the Government, and therefore he cannot 812 separate himself from financial considerations. Those considerations enter so entirely into all Indian questions that it is absolutely necessary to deal with them, and deal with them on a broad view. I believe there is nothing which would be so likely to affect injuriously our position in India as a dispute in regard to the matter of taxation. There are not, in my opinion, fresh sources of taxation available in India at present which could meet any large additional expenditure. The revenue of India grows, but it grows very slowly; and I had occasion when I was there, with the assistance of Lord Cromer, to look with great care into these financial questions. At that time we were fortunate enough to be able to make large financial reductions, but the financial reductions we then made have been swept away, owing to the increased fall in the exchangeable nature of the rupee; it has been unavoidable, but most unfortunate. I cannot think there could be a greater danger to the prosperity of our rule in India than to embark on a policy which would lead to a large additional expenditure of money. Of course, the cost of these recent operations may be paid out of borrowed money. But the credit of India is not unlimited, and I well remember when I had the honour of serving under the late Lord Halifax, he always used to consider carefully any question of a new loan in India; but it is not a question of loan alone, for if you pursue a policy which will entail upon you, as I firmly believe this policy will, a permanent addition to the Army, and, consequently, an addition to the annual expenditure of India, you will be involved in difficulties which will far transcend any of those which have been put before us by the noble Lord. In regard to dealing with these tribes, I am one of those who believe that the best way to deal with them is to inspire them with friendly feelings towards us. That is what the noble Earl opposite said was the policy of the Government, and the noble Marquess in that respect used the same language. He spoke of his desire to maintain friendly relations with these tribes. But these tribes value their independence—which is to the noble Marquess a shadow—they value their independence above everything. They are, like most mountaineers, extremely 813 attached to their freedom, and if you want to make them your friends and the enemies of your enemies, you must follow a policy which will confirm them in the belief that you do not mean to threaten their independence, or to take over what the noble Lord on the Cross Benches called the political control of their country. My Lords, I trust that that will be, in fact, the policy which will be pursued by the Government of India. I was full of hope at the commencement of this evening, but my hopes have been dashed by the speech of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for War. Of course, I recognise that my noble Friend desired, to the utmost of his power, to say something in defence of the policy of the noble and gallant Lord on the Cross Benches, whose views had received no support from anybody in the House up to that time. I hope he was thinking most of his noble Friend at the moment, and that I may take the noble Earl the Under Secretary of State, and the Prime Minister, as the real exponents of the policy of the Government on this subject.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (The Duke of DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, like my noble Friend opposite, I very much regret the absence of the Prime Minister this evening, but I think I may assure him that there is not the slightest foundation for the conjecture which he makes. He would have confirmed the impression which he has formed, that there is any divergence whatever between the views of the India Office and those expressed by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for War. I do not know what the foundation is upon which my noble Friend has formed his inference, unless it is that my noble Friend the Secretary for War spoke with great respect for the very able speech which has been delivered by the noble and gallant Lord on the Cross Benches, and pointed out that if it was an exposition of what is called the "Forward policy," it was an exposition of that policy very different indeed from some which we have been accustomed to hear of that policy. I find it very difficult indeed to understand what is the divergence which my noble Friend opposite thinks he has found between the speech of the Secretary for War and the dispatch of Lord George Hamilton. My 814 noble Friend has explained that it is not possible at the present time, after all that has happened, to revert to the policy which is associated with the name of the late Lord Lawrence in respect to Frontier tribes. That principle is also fully admitted in the dispatch to the Government of India, to which reference has been made. That dispatch contains this passage—As communications multiply, so the tribes will mix more freely with British subjects; and this intercourse, becoming closer in the course of years, cannot fail to increase our responsibilities on the Frontier by drawing the tribesmen out of their highlands into closer contact with their neighbours and with your officers. Whether the risks of collision will have been thereby augmented or diminished remains to be seen. By care and foresight it may be possible to avoid actual conflict, and the effect of frequent intercourse may be to mitigate the lawless and predatory instincts of the hill men without interfering with the tribal system of self-government.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL
No; it is a dispatch of Lord George Hamilton. That, my Lords, is very much to the effect of what my noble Friend has just said. It was impossible at the present time—at all events, it was extremely undesirable—to revert to what is called the aloof policy, and refuse to have anything to do with tribes upon the Frontier borders, unless upon those occasion when he thought it necessary to visit them with a punitive expedition and then to withdraw. My Lords, at the conclusion of his observations my noble Friend opposite said that the true way of dealing with those tribes was to cultivate friendly relations with them. But it is admitted by the late Government of India, and by the present Government, that our responsibilities with regard to these tribes have very greatly increased; and the system which may have been the best policy a few years ago is one which can now no longer be pursued. The noble Lord said that the policy which is advocated by Lord Roberts—the Forward policy—is the policy which led to two Afghan wars, and to all other complications, but I see no trace of any indication to revert to that same policy. What has been said by Lord Roberts himself 815 to-night and still less what has been said by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for War, could not be regarded by any human mind, that any reversion to that policy was intended. Which is the independent tribe with which it is proposed to make any aggression whatever now? The only question is, how a certain number of tribes, with which everyone admits we have been brought into closer relations, are to be dealt with. My noble Friend says that we cannot treat them exactly on the same plan as used to be adopted; and I fail to see that my noble Friend opposite, in his very vague allusions to the cultivation of friendly relations, has indicated any other policy. He is absolutely mistaken in supposing that if the Prime Minister were present to-night he would have given the slightest shadow of confirmation to the inference which my noble Friend has drawn. The words which the Prime Minister used during the Debate on the Address were these—If you look into this country, wherever you see a barbarous mountain population by the side of a civilised population dwelling in the plains, those people have never been able to live long in peace with each other; and it has been the rule that ultimately the mountain population must accept the civilisation of its neighbour.… I trust that we shall be able to perform what is the inevitable conquest by the gentle means of example and gradual intercourse.I have not heard a word to-night which departed in the slightest degree from the principle thus laid down by the Prime Minister.
*THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I have not the quotation before me, but I believe there was a further statement to the effect that the conquest was not to be made by military occupation. The statement of Lord Salisbury, of course, is perfectly in accordance with what my noble Friend advocates, namely, that no step should be taken, except by means of friendly intercourse, to bring the tribes into closer relation with us, and I do not suppose that any person would endeavour to bring "friendly tribes" into closer relations by force. But I am sorry to say that I am quite unable to agree with the noble Duke as to there being no aggressive policy advocated by those who take 816 the military view of this question. I hailed with great pleasure the opportunity of bearing from the noble and gallant Lord upon the Cross Benches a full statement of the policy which he would pursue, which he has most ably given; but I am obliged to say that that policy is, as I always understood it to be, an aggressive policy. It is distinctly based upon the object which the noble Lord has in view—to bring the whole of these tribes under our control, the whole of them, and all the passes up to the Frontier of Afghanistan. That is what we always understand to be the "Forward policy," and that is a policy which. I believe to be calamitous to India, and which I have always been disposed to hinder and impede by every means in my power. I distinguish that policy entirely from those police measures on our Frontier which we may have to take from time to time, and which may be caused by our relations with the tribes near our territory. As to the Lawrence policy, I entirely agree with the noble Duke that the time has passed when we can revert to it; but the question is, what have we in view? Do we merely wish to establish friendly relations with the tribes on our Frontier, or do we look forward to having control of these tribes, bringing the whole of them under the direct control of the Government of India? I do not assert that the noble Lord would advocate immediate measures for that purpose; but my objection to that policy is that it is a policy which is pursued steadily by a party which influences the Indian Government. It is constantly the cause of Forward movements, not for the purpose of protecting merely our own Frontier, or for purposes merely of police, but for the purpose of little by little creeping up until you shall bring the whole of this vast territory inhabited by these barbarous tribes under our direct control. I believe that the attempt to do that is fraught with danger to India, because, far from, in my opinion, it being likely to bring about better relations with the tribes, I believe it to be a certain mode of exasperating the tribes and preventing friendly relations with them. It has the directly opposite result to the civilising process alluded to by Lord Salisbury in his speech. You irritate the tribes, you expend large sums of money in attempts to subjugate them; and, 817 after all, when you have carried these operations into effect, far from finding your communications with Afghanistan safer, in my opinion, you will find them more dangerous than ever; for, unless this process of civilisation has gone on for a quarter of a century or so—when, perhaps, there may be a change—if you are in difficulty, the tribes which you had brought under your control would seize the opportunity of rising against you. And what would be your position if you were engaged in a great military occupation of Afghanistan and the tribes rose behind you? Although I speak with great diffidence about any military matter, I know that the noble Lord will not contradict me: the great difficulty in conducting military movements in Afghanistan against such a Power as Russia will consist in the maintenance of our communications with India. When I was Secretary of State we were alarmed at a prospect of such a possible collision with Russia; and I know that the anxieties of the Indian Government were largely directed to the difficulty of maintaining the long lines of communication. Now, if you have these tribes that you have brought under your control against their will, will they not attack your communications? Will not your position be more dangerous than it was before? But I have a much stronger reason for deprecating this policy. I believe it is certain to produce discontent and dissatisfaction throughout India. I believe now, from all I have heard, that it has already had a very considerable effect; and the strength of our position in India does not rest upon the command of certain passes, but it rests upon the contentment and prosperity of the people whom we govern—a consideration so important that, although, no doubt, for stringent, military reasons, you may from time to time be obliged to make Forward movements, deprecate, in the strongest manner, any policy which does not veto, as far as possible, any extension of our responsibilities to the north. India has been suffering from terrible calamities, of famine, and of plague, and, though I am glad to hear that she is recovering to some extent, yet the prosperity of the country must be seriously injured by such calamities. India has also to contend with what I am sure the noble Lord opposite must know is a most 818 difficult question—the question of currency, and of the scarcity of money, and when so many things tend at such a moment to produce a feeling of dissatisfaction, it is most unfortunate that we should find ourselves engaged in this Frontier war. I will not go back upon the causes of it, but I do say that it is most important that we should be able to agree in emphatically repudiating a military Frontier policy. Whilst we ought to take every possible step to increase our friendly relations with the tribes, we should avoid anything which could interfere with their independence, such as placing posts in their territory, or making roads for military purposes in passes, which it is not essential for us to hold. On every ground it is desirable that we should abstain from any such provocation as these measures are sure to produce. I heard—I will not say with alarm, but with a feeling of very modified satisfaction—some remarks made by my noble Friend the noble Marquess opposite; and, although I do not seek to establish a difference of opinion of a serious kind between noble Lords on the Bench opposite, I must say that there was a very different tone indeed running through the speech of the noble Marquess and that of the noble Earl the Under Secretary for India. No one who heard that speech could help feeling that it was not altogether in accordance with the spirit of the declarations made by the Secretary of State for India in Parliament, in the country, and in his dispatch now on the Table. It is evident that the noble Marquess sympathises with the Forward policy advocated by the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, and he let us see plainly that he would be in favour of extending our control over all these tribes. My Lords, that is exactly what we deprecate, and what I believe the country at the present time does not desire. I would fain believe, notwithstanding the fault I have found with the remarks of the noble Marquess, that the noble Duke who spoke last, is correct in telling us that in point of fact the Government stand upon the declarations and instructions of the Secretary of State, and that they are as desirous as we are of avoiding any further complications, and of taking every possible means of not countenancing 819 that Forward policy, which, I believe, if indulged in may bring about grave calamities. In regard to our relations with Russia, I think there has been a disposition to undervalue the agreement as to the Afghan frontier which has been arrived at with Russia. Of course, that arrangement is not a protection in case of war; but by having laid down by Treaty a distinct line of frontier between Afghanistan and Russia, we have, I believe, entirely put a stop to those expeditions and incursions in the parts of Afghanistan to which we were liable when there was no defined boundary, and which were of a nature to give rise to complications in time of peace, which might easily lead to disagreeable controversies with Russia, and possibly even to a quarrel. That has been done by Treaty, and I may remind the noble Lord on the Cross Benches that with regard to the north-western Frontier there was a very remarkable example of the way in which this Treaty arrangement works. There were disagreements between the Russians and the Afghans, on the north-west Frontier of Afghanistan, and, instead of any measures being taken of a forcible kind, the Russians represented to us that they had reason to complain of certain proceedings on the part of the Afghans, and, recognising us as responsible for their actions, they called upon us to take steps with the Ameer to put an end to the annoyance. What was the result? We made our representations to the Ameer, the result of which was that a Commissioner was sent by us to meet a Russian Commissioner on the Frontier, and all these differences were peaceably and satisfactorily arranged. These are the advantages gained by having a distinct line of Frontier. In a case of war, the Frontier, as laid down on a map, would be no protection, but in time of peace it is a protection against occurrences which may lead to controversies, and possibly to quarrels, and, therefore, so far I think we have reason to feel more secure than 820 we were before. I entirely agree with what was said by the noble Marquess on one point—namely, the good effect of the Durand Agreement—and I am the more disposed to take that view because I am jointly responsible with him for that commission. The noble Marquess most correctly described the effect of that Agreement, and I am certain that he did not exaggerate the difficulties in which we were placed with the Ameer before that Agreement was made. Those difficulties were of a very serious nature indeed, and extended throughout the whole of that vast Frontier. By the Durand Agreement a complete stop has been put to them, and I believe that our relations with the Ameer have been established on a more safe footing than they have ever been before. A sure and certain proof of that is the attitude of the Ameer during the recent Frontier trouble, when he behaved in a most friendly manner. I must apologise to your Lordships for detaining you at all, but the questions which are at issue concerning this Frontier policy are, perhaps, as important as any other questions that can affect our Indian Empire, and they well deserve the careful attention and consideration, not only of Her Majesty's Government, but of all who are interested in the welfare of our Indian Empire.
§ LORD ROBERTS OF KANDAHAR
May I offer a few words in explanation to the noble Earl who quoted a statement which I made in 1881, in regard to the Kandahar line. The noble Earl quoted quite correctly, but matters have very much changed since that time, and any opinion I held then with regard to the Kandahar line must of necessity have been quite changed by the great change in the Russian position. That change in the Russian position made the whole change in the strategical position of India.
§ House adjourned at 8.35, till to-morrow, 4.15.