Ought We to Hold Candahar?


Ought We to Hold Candahar? is a pamphlet that was published in London in May 1879 with the intent of influencing the negotiations then underway between Great Britain and the government of Moḥammad Yakub Khān, amir of Afghanistan, aimed at ending the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The war began in November 1878 when an Anglo-Indian force invaded Afghanistan from British India, ostensibly for the purpose of forestalling Russian moves into the country. The British force met with initial successes and was at this time occupying Kandahar. The author argues that in the peace treaty, Britain should demand the right to continue its occupation of the city as a guarantee against possible Russian advances. The British government chose not to follow this course of action. The Treaty of Gandamak, concluded on May 26, 1879, required the amir “to conduct his relations with Foreign States in accordance with the advice and wishes of the British Government,” but it restored most of the Afghan territory under British occupation, including Kandahar, to the amir and Afghan rule. The author of the pamphlet, Demetrius Charles Boulger (1853–1928), was a British orientalist who wrote many books, articles, and pamphlets on the British Empire and related topics. He described Kandahar as “the chief town of the southern portion of the country, the former capital of the whole State, the one spot which more than any other is associated with the glory of the Afghans….”

Last updated: September 30, 2016