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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 57

Summary Of Conclusions Arrived At

Summary Of Conclusions Arrived At.

(i) Afghánistán (including in this term the border tribes), as she at present exists, is a perfect defence to India.

(ii) In contact with Russia, or if permeated by Russian influence, Afghánistán is no longer a defence, but a danger to India. The Hazáras would prefer a Russian rule to an Afghán domination, and so would all other tribes alien to the Afghán race. All the hill passes into the Kandahár and Kábal districts would then pass into Russia's hands, and, with them, the possibility of successfully invading those Provinces—a possibility at all hazards to be prevented.

(iii) But, inasmuch as the existence of Afghánistán, as a nation, is impossible between two civilized powers, and the British and Russian boundaries page 24 must touch eventually—in ease of a division of it with Russia, what is the very utmost that can be relinquished to her, provided we are not bold enough to strike for the whole?

The answer to this question has been shown to be that:—

The Hindú Kush must be secured to India with its western spurs and its northern and western skirts including those of the Paropamisus; the Herát Province intact, if possible, and if not possible its districts of Sabzawár and Farah at least. The possession of these southern districts secures Sístán, prevents any further southern expansion, and they form a point d'appui for the offensive towards the north and a watch tower whence to guard the integrity of Persia. They take in Hanks any movement, from Herát through the Hazára Hills, although not completely preventing such a movement. If the walls of Herát were razed the security of the position would be enhanced greatly, if it be impossible for us to occupy it ourselves:

(v) With any other portion, or portions of Afghánistán in Russia's hands, the defence of India is endangered more or less; the danger in each case has been considered.

(vi) With the Hindú Kush as a frontier the fighting front is contracted from 600 to 350 miles and the immediate security of the Indian empire is ensured by a garrison (inclusive of India) of 230,000 men. The reserves to this force, to be stationed in Great Britain, must depend upon the forces of Russia capable of being brought to operate on the line Herát-Kandahár.

With the Indus as a frontier or the skirts of the Suleimán range, India must keep up a garrison capable of counteracting a power that can put into Afghánistán and feed there an army of about 700,000 men, should she desire to do so.

(vii) Finally that, with the acquisition of Afghánistán, Russia will have cracked the Eastern nut, and it will be in her power to break it into pieces and appropriate its contents whenever it may suit her to do so.

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