Southern Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier of India


Southern Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier of India is a pamphlet containing two separate works, “Southern Afghanistan. The Tal-Chotiali Route,” and a paper entitled “The North-West Frontier of India.” The first work is a reprint of two articles that appeared originally in Army and Navy Magazine arguing the importance of the Tal‒Chotiali route as a link between southern Afghanistan and British India. The author, Griffin W. Vyse, advocates the permanent stationing of British troops at Tal (in present-day Pakistan) in order to control the eastern terminus of this route running from India to Kandahar via Pishin. Vyse had served as field engineer in part of the Tal‒Chotiali Field Force in southern Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80), and he bases his argument on information obtained from his service in the field. He begins with a general discussion of the passes from India into Afghanistan and notes that until very recently European writers knew of only three such passes, the Khyber, the Gulairi (or Gomal), and the Bolan. He points out the existence of many more passes, including 92 alone in the part of Afghanistan bordering Baluchistan, of which he argues the Tal‒Chotiali route is the most important. The work contains a detailed discussion of the geography of the region, with many historical references to the routes taken by military leaders, going back to the Emperor Babur in 1505, to cross the mountains separating Afghanistan and India. The second essay is a bitter attack on the importance assigned by British policy to the districts of the Northwest Frontier, which Vyse argues are much poorer and harder to control than southern Afghanistan and Baluchistan. The pamphlet is subtitled “A Refutation of Mistakes Made in Parliament” and is dedicated to the Marquis of Hartington, Secretary of State for India. It contains a large fold-out sketch map by Vyse of southern Afghanistan and northern Baluchistan showing the Tal‒Chotiali route.

Last updated: September 30, 2016